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: The dead are returned to life! Long-held feelings are finally revealed! A plane is requisitioned!

  • In Starling City

    Generally, I divide these recaps up into the week's villain-of-the-week plot and then whatever else happened, but there isn't a viillain this week (thank heavens), so I'm going geographically (and later, romantically).

    Things start where they left off last week, with Thea on the floor of Theapartment, bleeding profusely from a stab wound administered by Ra's al Ghul. She crawls on through the broken glass from her coffee table for a bit before Ollie shows up and rushes over to her. He calls 911 while telling her not to fall asleep. Then he picks her up himself and seemingly carries her straight to the hospital.

    Cut to: The most exciting hospital scene in Arrow history (and boy, there are a wealth of them), because there's some actual urgency and medical drama happening. Doctors rush Thea into an operating room and begin working when she starts flatlining. They administer CPR and get her heart beating, and Ollie looks like he's having a heart attack of his own, via some nice dialogue-free acting from Stephen Amell.

    The urgency dies down considerably after the opening credits, and we see Ollie hanging out on the good old hospital set we've come to know so well over the years. A doctor comes up and tells Ollie that Thea's in bad shape and he might want to consider pulling the plug, but he pretty much ignores that and asks if he can see her.

    In Thea's room, where she's breathing through a tube, Ollie tells her he's sorry and finally, finally lets those tears out. There's piano music like you wouldn't believe. Then Malcolm comes in and starts crying, too. He's better at crying than Ollie is. More piano music. Manly crying piano music.

    Later, Smoak and Dig come by and find Ollie pretty much in shock. As Ollie explains how badly he's failed, Team Arrow notices a smoke signal outside the window. Ollie goes to check it out and finds Maseo, who explains that Ra's can save Thea, but only if Ollie agrees to become the new Ra's. So Ollie goes straight to Theapartment and starts packing.

    Smoak, Dig and Malcolm catch up to him there, and Ollie starts pre-emptively telling them to can their attempts to stop him from leaving. They also cast some aspersions of the idea of a Lazarus Pit (Smoak calls it a "magic hot tub," as if I wrote that line of dialogue for her), but Malcolm says it's the real deal. He even uses the term "Lazarus Pit" and doesn't immediately call it stupid! That's progress.

    Eventually, Smoak and Dig say they're not going to try to stop Ollie, but they are going to go with him.

    But wait: How are they going to get there? It's never mattered up to now; Ollie and other characters have jaunted to Nanda Parbat and back numerous times before with no problems at all. I assumed they just jumped on a city bus, and it was a suburb of Starling. Now, though, it's a big deal to travel there.

    It's really all just an excuse to have Smoak go see Ray Palmer, who's working at his office, as he always is. Here's the totality of my notes about this scene: "He jelly of Ollie, but he lets her take the plane." That's the long and short of it.

    Team Arrow (and Malcolm) assemble at an airport hangar while some medics roll Thea to Palmer's plane on a stretcher. Malcolm tells Ollie he's very concerned about the Lazarus Pit, because it completely changes a person's soul. Ollie shuts that down pretty fast, because he just wants Thea alive.

    Later, on the plane, Ollie engages in further self-blame while he tells Smoak about how he killed Thea's drug dealer a while back. Thea looks on sympathetically instead of asking why he didn't just recommend Thea go to rehab. So much piano music.

  • Nanda Parbat (pre-coitus)

    Team Arrow arrives to quite the welcoming party, as what looks like hundreds of assassins stand in front of the entry way to the League's HQ. It's a cool visual, with lots of neat-looking flags in the shot. Ra's walks up and calls Ollie Al Sah-him, which (according to my Googling) translates to "The Arrow."

    Inside, Maseo takes Thea to prepare her for her dunking and says he'll treat her as if she were a member of his own family. He dispenses with that quickly, though, because the next scene is him showing Dig to his room at League HQ. Dig decides this is a good time to take some shots at the League, so he says the assassins are cowards who are running away from their lives. Maseo tells him to shut up, because he had to lie to his kid while he was dying (spoiler alert there, Maseo). Dig says he's sorry, but he's really not, because he then asks if Maseo's son would be proud of him.

    Just about then, the Lazarus Pit ceremony gets going, and a priestess who looks like Raven recites an incantation in Arabic. Assassins, along with Ollie and Dig, lift Thea up and into the pit with some pulleys. She plops into the water and the ropes burn away.

    Then, something wonderful happens. Something amazing happens. Thea comes blasting out of the water like she's been shot out of a cannon and kicks Ollie right in his highly toned chest. That one moment made watching three years of this show almost worth it.

    It looks like the rest of the episode is going to be about calming Thea down from her furor, but Ra's and crew quickly deal with it. It's kinda disappointing. An assassin doses Thea with some sedative powder and she's quickly whisked away into a room to rest.

    In that room, Thea wakes up and is super confused. She doesn't recognize Ollie and says she thinks he's dead. She calls Malcolm "Dad" and asks where her mom is. Malcolm says this is all bad news, but Ollie says he's just glad she's alive. Then Smoak says it's all BS and goes storming off into the pit chamber.

    There, Smoak confronts Ra's and really lets him have it, telling him the way he's manipulating Ollie is perverse. Ra's dodges and says he sees what Ollie loves in Smoak. Smoak says she'll go to war with the League, and Ra's launches into a story about how he had a wife, a son (Dusan, I suspect) and a daughter (Nyssa, or maybe Talia). The League gave him a similar choice (or lack thereof) and threatened to kill his family if he didn't agree, so he did. He tells Smoak she's only delaying the inevitable, so she should go tell Ollie she loves him while she can.

    So Smoak goes and visits Ollie in his Sex Bedroom of 1,000 Candles (it's like Ra's knew this would happen and set the room up for just this purpose). She asks if he's okay, then rambles for a while about how he can't be. She's so her. Ollie says he's struggling to figure out who he is, and doesn't know if he should be the next Ra's, but everything he's done has led him here. She says she wishes she could change his mind, but knows she can't, so she doesn't regret anything.

    Then Smoak blurts out that she loves Ollie, and he takes off her glasses like it's She's All That. They start making out, then they start undressing, then he picks her up in front of an open window through which you can see the moon. It's pretty fantastic. Then there's a pretty tasteful CW sex scene that ends with a camera pan down to lit candles.

    Yes, they did that.

  • Nanda Parbat (post-coitus)

    Smoak pretty immediately ruins the mood in the next scene by saying, "That happened." You don't have to do that, Felicity.

    She pours herself and Ollie a drink of... something that she just found laying around in a den of assassins, so odds are probably even that it's blood. They toast to each other, and Ollie drinks, but she doesn't. She says she's sorry, and Ollie passes out.

    Moments later, Dig and Malcolm are in the room, and Smoak explains that she gave Ollie some of the sedative from the ceremony so they can get him out of there. Dig asks how they're going to manage to leave unnoticed, and Malcolm says if they get caught, they'll definitely be killed.

    Smoak says Malcolm has to know a secret exit, though, and turns out he does: The catacombs. All these old murder castles have catacombs. Smoak sends Malcolm off to get Thea, and they all meet up in the hallway.

    Of course, lots of assassins stand in their way. Malcolm kills a few, Dig shoots a few, and Smoak brains a few with a stick. For some reason, the path to the catacombs leads through the Lazarus Pit chamber (it was one of the few sets they had, I guess), and there they run into Maseo, who has decided to help them because of that talk he had with Dig earlier. He gives them some directions and fends off the guards.

    Team Arrow gets into the catacombs and starts making their way through, but not far in, Thea starts hyperventilating. Soon, more guards show up and block the way. Just about then, Ollie wakes up and tells the guards to stand down. He says he'll be back soon.

    Outside the HQ, Ollie leads Team Arrow back toward their plane, and says his goodbyes. He straight-up lies to Thea, who's still in a pit-induced daze, and says he'll catch up to her. He and Malcolm just kind of nod at each other. Dig gets a full on bro-bye, in which Ollie tells him he's the best man he knows and he's his brother.

    Smoak says she's going to regret leaving Ollie there, so Ollie gives her a speech about how the only way he'll get through being the new Ra's is by knowing that Smoak is living a happy life. It's the most genuinely nice thing I think the character Oliver Queen has ever said. Smoak says she doesn't want to say goodbye. Ollie says they don't have to, and they just kiss.

  • Back to Starling

    Like last week, Laurel gets all of one scene on the show again. (And it's not what's in the promo image above, which is a lie.) Smoak goes to see her to tell her that Ollie has joined the League and to cry. That's all she gets to do.

    Meanwhile, at Theapartment, Thea is sort of getting her faculties back. She awakes to see Malcolm and immediately gets testy with him. Malcolm observes that she's getting back to normal and asks if she remembers anything from the past few days. She says the last thing she remembers is being attacked by Ra's, so he has to explain that Ollie traded his life for hers.

    Thea starts flipping out, but Malcolm says that now that the League isn't after him anymore and he's free, he and Thea can be a family. It cuts away before Thea side-eyes him out of the room, but she does.

  • The Flashbacks

    Last week, Ollie, Maseo and Katana decided they were going to save Hong Kong from General Shrieve's plan to use the alpha/omega bioweapon, and this week, they do just that. We open on them doing some reconnaissance on an army base. Ollie sees Shrieve arming the weapon and handing it off to some soldiers who take it onto a truck that might as well have "decoy" painted on it. There's also a conspicuous food cart there. Ollie even comments on it. And you know what Chekov's Law says about food carts.

    But, of course, Maseo, Katana and Ollie go after the truck in a car Ollie stole in the most cartoonish way you could imagine. He's literally standing next to them one second, and then the next, he's driving that car. Are these flashbacks actually dreams?

    Ollie Fasts and Furiouses his way up to the speeding truck full of soldiers shooting automatic weapons. Then pops out through the sunroof. He manages not to get shot somehow, and jumps up onto the truck, beating up a bunch of the soldiers. Katana provides an assist, too, and it involves a sword, and it is great.

    Katana tosses out the driver and Ollie grabs the briefcase that's supposed to have the weapon in it, but it's empty. Katana finds a soldier who's alive and threatens to sword his junk if he doesn't tell her where the real bioweapon is. He says it's on the food cart. Chekov would be pleased.

    The team goes to a set we've seen before: the marketplace. And wouldn't you know it, that's where the food cart is! Ollie runs toward the cook who has the alpha/omega vial in his hand and a firefight breaks out. Katana and Maseo hold off the guards while Ollie fights the cook, who sort of kicks Ollie's butt.

    In the fight, the cook flings the bioweapon vial into the air and it smashes on the ground. Bioweapony stuff floats into the air.

    It's weird how no one before this has mentioned how everyone in Hong Kong died three or four years ago.

  • The Cliffhanger

    At League HQ, Ra's asks why he shouldn't hunt down and kill Team Arrow for killing members of the League. Ollie says it's because he came back and held up his end of the bargain. Then, Ra's asks who helped Team Arrow get to the catacombs anyway, and Maseo immediately gives himself up. He kneels down and tells Ra's to kill him.

    Ra's, old softy that he is, spares Maseo's life because that was just his old life peeking through. By giving himself up to Ra's, he proved his loyalty. Plus, Ra's is going to need him to transition Ollie into the role of being the new leader. The League is very corporate.

    Next, we see Ollie, shirtless, standing in a weird box while Ra's explains how, "um, actually, people often misuse the word 'assassin.'" Ra's is a real "um, actually" kind of guy. He says assassins are total outsiders who must completely give up their old lives, and that must happen by fire. So he brands Ollie with a League logo.

    I'm sure the makeup person who already has to paint a ton of fake scars and tattoos on Stephen Amell's torso absolutely loves that. Another hour added to the work day!

    Cut to: Ollie, in full Dark Arrow gear, being introduced as Al Sah-him.

  • Final Notes

    • The first two minutes or so of the broadcast on my local CW affiliate was messed up so that the bottom of the picture was at the top of my screen and the top was at the bottom. It was bifurcated. In a weird way, it was a cool symbolic visual to go along with Thea more or less being cut in half. Avant garde, even.
    • When he wakes up in the catacombs, Ollie refers to himself as "Warith al Ghul." Google once again comes through to tell me "warith" means "heir."
    • The softening of Malcolm Merlyn is almost complete. When he was crying about Thea, you could almost forget that he killed half a neighborhood in the first season.
    • They broke up Palmer and Smoak kind of fast, didn't they? I mean, Ray has to run off and be on a new spinoff show, so I guess that's par for the course.
    • For Christ's sake, Ollie, if you're going to be the new Ra's, learn how to say it.

    Hey, guess what: I thought this one was really good, especially after last week's clunker, villain-of-the-week episode.

    I know this is a superhero show that requires fighting villains, but villains of the week are always awful. They have no time to develop. This week's episode was focused, had a lot of character relationship development, and used an established, complex villain in Ra's. Sure, the plane stuff was unnecessary and goofy, but for the most part, it was really solid.

    If I could advise the writers (because I'm an authority, right?), a good course for season four would be to focus on season-long villains or those who at least get multi-episode arcs (Brick was this season's other genuinely good bad guy). Take a page from Daredevil and really develop these villains. This episode proves the show will be better for it.

  • Next Week