The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson is back for the third season of the popular series in our recap feature we’re officially dubbing Pointed Commentary.

This week: Vinnie Jones makes a bold demand, Canary and Arsenal are only barely effective superheroes, and everybody lies a bunch.

  • The Action

    The big Starling-based development of this episode is Laurel coming into her own as Canary, and apparently all it takes is a rousing pep talk to take her from completely incompetent to pro status.

    The first we see her, she's attempting to save a young woman from a thug I'll call Poor Man's Dax Shepard, who apparently works for crime boss Danny Brickwell, a.k.a. Brick. Even though she gets the drop on the guy, PMDS manages to slice her on the arm with a knife. It's so bad that Not-Dax even comments on how she's not the old Canary. Tough crowd. She'd be done for if Arsenal didn't show up and give the guy a kick in the butt.

    This in spite of the fact that we saw Canary beat up two Brick thugs singlehandedly last week. It's one of many examples of the show hitting the rewind button this week for some weird reason.

    With Brick still at large, the mayor calls a meeting of Important People at city hall to figure out what to do about him. Before it starts, Captain Lance tells Laurel that Sara's apparently back in action. Laurel, as is her wont, says nothing to dissuade him from that belief.

    The meeting starts, and Lance says the cops have no idea where Brick might be. Just then, Ray Palmer arrives and suggests calling in the National Guard, because surely Starling has them at the top of their contacts list at this point.

    Before things progress much further, Brick and some goons burst in and start shooting up the room. Brick says he always wanted to meet the mayor (despite this being only the second time we've seen this particular mayor, given that Starling's chief executives have a bad habit of dying all the time), and orders his lackeys to kidnap all the aldermen and kill everyone else, because Brick is just plain not f---ing around. Again: He's really the bad guy this show needed.

    His main problem is that he leaves rooms too early, though. Palmer bumrushes one of the goons, which gets Lance and Laurel in on the action, too. After taking a hit, Laurel manages to capture one of the guys and gets him in an interrogation room at police HQ.

    In there, Laurel just starts threatening to charge him with crimes, including the death of a gang leader. That... seems pretty wholly unethical there, Laurel. You're on some Jack Bauer kick there. He should probably hire an attorney. But it works. The guy gives up Brick (and thereby the kidnapped aldermen's) location.

    In the Arrowcave, Dig, Roy, and Laurel have one of several arguments about how Sara isn't her sister and probably isn't prepared for any of this. Roy has training from Ollie; Laurel has a law degree. Roy has come around by this point, though. Dig still won't have it, so Laurel throws the whole thing about his dead brother back at him, like those are the only credentials he has. Laurel, Dig did like 15 tours in Afghanistan. It's not exactly parity here.

    Nonetheless, Dig lets Arsenal and Canary head out and take on Brick, whose location was apparently "a van somewhere." They attack the van and force it to stop, so Brick does what he does and comes out blasting what looks like an M-16 at them.

    Canary goes in for the attack, but Brick just tosses her away, saying he prefers not to hit women. Classic heel move. Brick eventually gets back in the van, which starts speeding away. Seemingly out of spite Arsenal shoots Brick in the shoulder with an arrow, and of course, that just makes him mad. He tells the heroes this is their fault, and shoots one of the aldermen in the head.

    Back at City Hall, everyone is watching footage on Starling's One News Channel of Canary and Arsenal utterly failing to do anything productive. How embarrassing.

    Brick calls up the mayor and tells her that he wants to talk. He does this by quoting Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar and saying he wants to parley. It's the most stereotypical thing an English villain can possibly do, but there's something about Vinnie Jones doing it that makes it so great.

    Before that meeting happens, Laurel sits in a room in City Hall feeling bad about what happened. Smoak walks in, and before she can really say anything, Laurel says she isn't good enough to fight for Sara and won't be wearing the mask again. Smoak tells her to buck up and fight for the people who are alive, which is all Sara needs to get back out there and risk her well-being, as well as the well-being of others.

    The sad thing is it's not even an original pep talk; it's one Smoak got from Palmer earlier in the episode.

    The mayor goes to meet with Brick out by the docks, and after some verbal sparring with Palmer (Brick is apparently a fan of his; he knows about the Star City plan and everything), Brick says he'll release the aldermen on one condition: No more police presence in The Glades.

    Lance pushes back, but Brick insists. So Lance calls up Smoak and asks if Arrow can help. Smoak says Arrow is definitely, totally gone, but Canary can maybe do something.

    In the Arrowcave, as Dig and Roy toast with Ollie's secret vodka (Ollie may not be too happy about that, because he's a jerk), Smoak and Laurel swoop in and say the mayor has decided to cave to Brick's demands, leaving saving The Glades up to Team Arrow.

    The first step in that process: Laurel calls her dad to ask if the cops have any clues as to Brick's whereabouts. Here's the weird part, though: She calls using Sara's voice. It's explained, but the explanation is basically, "Smoak can do technology magic."

    But really: Isn't it super morbid for someone to talk to their dad using their dead sister's voice? Like, how is this protecting anyone at this point? This is just going to make it that much worse when Captain Lance finally learns all this stuff. Are they waiting for Sara to be not dead? (Which is possible, I guess.)

    Anyway, Lance reveals that one of the alderman has a pacemaker, and apparently pacemakers have GPS trackers now, so Team Arrow traces Brick and the aldermen to--where else?--a warehouse.

    Smoak borrows Palmer's personal helicopter (there's a cute little discussion about whether it has keys) and Dig flies it to the warehouse with Arsenal and Canary in tow. Somehow, Brick's goons don't hear the helicopter right over the building and Team Arrow gets the jump on them.

    Canary and Arsenal hold their own pretty well for a while, with Canary saving Arsenal at one point to even the odds from earlier in the episode. They find the aldermen and release them with some hilarious video game logic. You know, that thing where as soon as you untie the hostages, they're OK? Roy helps them escape.

    Canary finds herself trapped in there with Brick, who says he's rethinking his policy on not hitting women. Canary asks Dig to get her out of there, and after a quick fight with Brick, she busts out a window and jumps onto a ladder hanging down from the helicopter. It's not a bad move.

    Brick looks out the window and goes, "Grrr!"

    Not that any of it really mattered. Canary (again morbidly talking in Sara's voice) meets up with Captain Lance in an alley. There, he reveals that the mayor took all the police out of The Glades anyway because Brick knows all the city council's home addresses and could still eff them up. (So why'd he bother kidnapping them?) Even in winning, Canary and Arsenal don't succeed.

    Canary turns down a dinner offer from her sad father and just leaves him standing there in the street. What a great daughter.

    (That said, Captain Lance doesn't seem to notice that Canary is like four inches taller than she used to be.)

  • The Revival

    Ollie is officially not dead anymore, but nobody knows it because he's stuck in a snowstorm in Katana's Healing Hut in the mountains.

    The very first scene of the episode is a neat little fake-out where things flash back to two episodes ago, where Smoak is telling Ollie not to go fight Ra's al Ghul to the death. Instead of saying he has to go, Ollie says he'll stay this time, and tells Smoak he loves her. Then blood comes pouring out of his mouth and he collapses. I sort of wish this is how the scene had really gone.

    Ollie then wakes up in the Healing Hut, where Katana is mixing up magic herbs for him (she says it's penicillin, but it's pretty clearly not) and Maseo is chopping wood outside.

    Maseo eventually comes in and establishes that he and Katana are on the outs. He's also planning to go straight back to Ra's after the storm clears. Ollie says Ra's is definitely going to kill Maseo, but Maseo waves it off.

    I should note here: There is hella shirtless Ollie in this episode. More than the entire season up to this point. The makeup person who has to put on Stephen Amell's fake tattoos and scars must have been gearing up for this episode (and the mid-season finale) this whole time.

    The whole discussion about Maseo going back to Ra's continues, and Katana reveals that Maseo blames himself for "what happened," which I suspect has something to do with their son who is conspicuously not around.

    Eventually, the storm clears and Maseo says he's got to go. Ollie begs him to stay and Katana tells him she loves him, but no dice. He's ouuttttaaaaa heeeeere. Just then, though, a bunch of assassins show up to find Ollie.

    You'd think they would see Ollie through the big, open windows, but they don't, so when they come in, all they find is Maseo, who comes up with a tale about how he was sent to find Ollie's remains, but found the cabin empty.

    The assassins don't really go for it, though, and search the cabin anyway. That means those assassins got to die. Maseo and Katana take care of that.

    By this point, there's no way Maseo can go back, right? He just killed some assassin brothers. And yet, he does, after cutting himself on the neck to make it look like Ollie injured him during his escape. Dude is stubborn.

  • The Romance

    The Palmer-Smoak relationship continues to build this week.

    Before that disastrous meeting in the mayor's office, Palmer finds Smoak at her desk, where they talk about how she isn't going to help him with his plan to become Iron Man ATOM.

    My big question here is: Why would she come to work at all? Isn't helping him become ATOM her entire job? Isn't that the only thing Palmer Technologies does?

    After that disastrous meeting, Smoak does some first aid on Palmer's face while he tells her that she was right; he shouldn't be trying to save people for the sake of revenge. This is about the people who he cares about who are alive, people like her. (This is the speech Smoak regurgitates back to Laurel later.)

    At the end of the episode, Smoak returns to work to tell Palmer that she will help him after all, and present him with a chip to make his ATOM suit work. There's technobabble. It's flirty.

    "With my help, you  might not end up dead," she says. I like them together.

  • Family Stuff

    Once again, Thea is pushed to the fringes this episode.

    We first see her walking into Verdant just as the new DJ she hired a few weeks back (remember that subplot?) is leaving with his gear. He's heard about this new guy, Brick, and he's worried that this master criminal's first priority is stealing DJ equipment from a club.

    They flirt a little, but just as that's heating up, Malcolm pulls up in a limo.

    Remember last week how Malcolm told her they had to get out of the city immediately? Turns out he meant something more along the lines of, "As soon as convenient." He asks her why she hasn't started packing, and she says she doesn't want to leave, especially since he won't tell her anything beyond, "We're in danger." That's about where that ends.

    A few scenes at Thea's apartment follow. In one of them, Thea is reading a Brad Meltzer novel, which feels like trolling the audience (I guess his one Green Arrow arc wasn't that bad). There's a scene between Malcolm and Roy where Roy tells him to stay away from Thea. Malcolm says, "This is a family matter."

    In the end, after Malcolm reveals how Ra's wants him dead, Thea makes the very valid point that Ra's is going to want him dead no matter where they are, so they might as well stay and fight him. Malcolm agrees.

    One minor quibble, though. Wasn't Malcolm sending Ollie off to die supposed to end Malcolm's death warrant, no matter the outcome? Wasn't that Malcolm's whole plan? Does he somehow know that Ollie isn't dead, which sours the deal? Did he get a script to this episode?

  • The Flashbacks

    After a very rare "five years ago" title card, Ollie and Maseo sneak around a Hong Kong nightclub where they suspect the kidnapped Katana is being held.

    They are terrible at blending in and get apprehended by Triads immediately. They're taken directly to China White, who asks Maseo to hand over the Alpha half of the chemical weapon she's stealing. That's right! Maseo is a traitor!

    Maseo passes it to her immediately, which leads to Ollie and Katana, who pops up from the back, asking what in the heck he's doing. Maseo says Ollie can't judge him; he's trying to save the mother of his son. But Ollie's judging. Oh, he's judging.

    China insists on testing the serum, and it just so happens she has a device handy that tells someone whether chemical weapons are legit or not. She just popped over to Radio Shack and got one. She puts the vial in there, and, oh no! It's a fake. So she orders everyone killed.

    Ollie, Maseo and Katana fight their way out of there (Katana kills a dude by throwing a knife off a plate, which is PRETTY COOL) and then just go back home like nothing happened. China knows where you all live. You know that, right?

    Ollie asks Maseo why he tried to pass off a fake Alpha, but Maseo says he didn't know it was fake. Amanda Waller must have switched it out. He was more than willing to kill thousands of people to save his family.

    Dude is stubborn.

  • The Cliffhanger

    At Verdant, Thea casually joke about how The Glades are now a lawless land of chaos just like in The Purge. I'm not making that comparison. Thea does. She mentions The Purge.

    Anyway, they have a great laugh about how they could be murdered at any moment. The DJ guy walks over to his decks and calls someone. Maseo, of all people. The DJ reports that Malcolm isn't leaving Starling after all, and the League can attack.

    So on the one hand, this show has an Assassin Spy DJ. On the other, it's this guy.

  • Final notes

    • In one of their many debates about whether Laurel is fit to be Canary, Dig says, "This isn't how you deal with grief, Laurel." On the contrary, this seems to be how everyone on this show deals with grief. It is the sixth stage of grief: vigilantism.
    • This episode confirms that the ATOM suit is powered by a dwarf star alloy. That's pretty neat.
    • Laurel's Canary makes use of a voice changer like Ollie and Sara used, but for whatever reason hers just makes her sound like Emma Stone.
    • There's a silly bit in here where Canary and Brick play a game of hot/cold, where she leads him to a weird blinking light that doesn't seem to do anything. It was weirdly cute, though.


    I didn't think this one lived up to the promise of the previous two episodes--too much actively bad superheroing and speaking to dads in the voices of their dead daughters--but it did some stuff right, too. I continue to think Brick is really entertaining, despite his odd plan to take over The Glades instead of, I dunno, the whole city. Stuff is actually happening in the flashbacks. And Katana got to do cool stuff despite also being relegated to the "Asian lady who heals people" stereotype.

    In all, I'd say this one was pretty much a wash. And hey, that's better than terrible.