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 rapture doesn't happen, as the title may imply. In fact, people are pretty upset or in denial about last episode's apparent death. Also, Vinnie Jones shows up and is pretty awesome.

  • The Action

    It's tough to say which story is the A-plot this week. I'm tempted to say it's the one about everyone in Team Arrow being sad and quitting, but since I usually start with the villain stuff, let's circle back to that.

    The show's newest villain, Danny Brickwell, a.k.a. Brick, actually has a lot going for him. He's an honest-to-goodness Green Arrow villain (rather than one of Batman's castoffs, which is what this show often does), it appears that he's going to have a multi-episode arc, and he's played by former soccer goon and Bullet-Tooth Tony himself, Vinnie Jones. Even with limited screen time, he's the best organized crime bad guy the show's had.

    The episode kicks off with the cops chasing after a van while a dude with an assault rifle shoots wildly out the back. Eventually, the goons cut off the cops by wrecking a semi truck and blocking the road. But then Roy (in his Arsenal gear) and Dig (in Ollie's Arrow costume) blast up and attack the van with some trick arrows. They're able to snag one of the goons, but not the other, who takes off in the van.

    In the Arrowcave, Smoak connects the two goons to Brick. In fact, they broke him out of prison. In a scene that does little except establish Laurel is a prosecutor and Starling still has a justice system of sorts, the guy who got caught is denied bail. (I guess it's a sort of foreshadowing, too.)

    Soon enough, we see Brick's henchmen giving the van driver who got away a beating in an abandoned warehouse in The Glades (where else?). Brick walks up and tells the guy he overstepped his bounds. But Brick likes to give people fighting chances, so he grabs a pearl-grip pistol (the one he made his very first kill with) out of a velvet-lined box and tells the guy to take a shot at him.

    The guy catches Brick in the shoulder, but Vinnie Jones is the real-life Juggernaut, so he's unstoppable. He beats the guy to death right then and there. It's bloody and gruesome and a great bad-guy moment. Then he laughs off getting shot. It's wonderful.

    Smoak somehow traces Brick's burner phone (Isn't the point of a burner that you can't trace it?) to that warehouse. Roy and Dig investigate it and find a badly charred body (the van driver's) and a bunch of torched evidence. They manage to salvage a blueprint and a few scraps of paper covered in seemingly random numbers.

    Dig eventually works out that the blueprint is to a police evidence storehouse and the numbers are case numbers, all of people recently apprehended for assault. Many of them were put away by Arrow, in fact. He figures that Brick wants to steal the evidence in those cases and get them thrown out of court, which would undo a lot of Ollie's work since returning to Starling.

    Cut to: The storehouse, where Brick and his men are stealing a whole bunch of evidence and loading it onto a U-Haul they rented. Dig and Roy start taking the lower-level guys down, Dig shooting a handgun and Roy shooting arrows. They both definitely kill some guys.

    After the room is somewhat clear, Brick chucks the same pearl-handled gun from earlier at Dig's head and offers him the same challenge he gave the van driver. Dig takes his shot right at Brick's head and manages to graze him. Even Brick's got to respect that.

    Brick gets the upper hand over Dig during the fist fight, but Roy breaks it up with an arrow. Even then, Brick manages to get away on the back of the U-Haul along with all the evidence he came to steal. Ah well! Turns out Felicity made that happen somehow (she remotely closed a door, I think; it's not the clearest) because she didn't want Dig and Roy to die.

    In what is almost certainly a miscarriage of justice, all the criminals get freed immediately. They're out on the street like that day. Dig and Laurel talk about it while Dig wonders whether his heart's still in this thing.

    Meanwhile, Laurel takes a gander at all of Sara's old Canary gear on a table in the Arrowcave (Has it just been sitting out there for months? You couldn't put it away in a drawer?) and gets some ideas.

    Brick gives a big speech to all the freed prisoners: "You are all part of my crew now, and if any of you have a problem with that, I can send a gift-wrapped package to the DA."

    His plan? To "take over the Glades." You mean that bombed-out wreck of a neighborhood that got mostly destroyed in an earthquake a year ago? You sure that's the best plan? Maybe steal a lot of money or something instead. You're too cool of a villain for this, man.

    Later, one of the goons from the start of the episode and another Brick henchman are walking to their car when Nu-Canary (Laurel) hits them with a Canary cry and beats them up with a Baton. I'll give her this: The new Canary costume is well designed.

  • The Five Stages

    A lot of this episode is about how Smoak doesn't want to believe Ollie's dead. No one has heard from him in three days, and even A.R.G.U.S. can't find him. Early on, Dig tells her she's going to need to prepare for the worst, but she's convinced he's alive. Maybe she's just read a bunch of comics and knows that dead superheroes always come back.

    Later, Malcolm Merlyn comes to the Arrowcave to meet them and ask if they've heard from Ollie. Though Smoak insists that he's alive, Malcolm says he's almost definitely dead.

    To prove it, he travels to the cliff side where Ollie and Ra's al Ghul battled last episode and finds the sword Ra's used. He quickly comes back (was that cliffside like a half-hour drive away?) and shows Team Arrow the sword. He tells them that the blood on it is Ollie's and though they'll think he's lying, he's not. Ra's leaves behind the weapons with which he kills people, as a way of honoring them, he says.

    Smoak tests the blood and it's Ollie's. So that's the end of the denial. She chooses to take the next step, anger, out on her boss, Ray Palmer.

    In the offices of Palmer Technologies, Smoak tells Palmer his plan to fight crime as A.T.O.M. is stupid and won't bring his dead fiancee back. I actually liked this exchange a lot:

    SMOAK: You can't bring her back. Anna, your fiancee.

    PALMER: I know who she is.

    It shows that Smoak is getting to Ray, but it also the whole characters telling other characters things they already know problem this and so many other TV shows suffer from.

    Anyway, the whole talk breaks down--Smoak says Anna wouldn't have wanted him to do what he's doing; Ray says she shouldn't speak for Anna--and Smoak leaves. It's a well-played scene, both by Brandon Routh and Emily Bett Rickards.

    Bargaining is next, which comes in the form of Smoak allowing Brick to get away with all that evidence in exchange for Roy and Dig being removed from harm's way. When Dig and Roy get on Smoak's case about letting Brick get away, depression sets in and Smoak quits Team Arrow. None of this works without Ollie, she says.

    Smoak also goes to Palmer and tells him she won't help him commit suicide because she's already lost too many friends. She effectively quits the A.T.O.M. project.

    Acceptance comes in the form of Dig, who tells Laurel he still thought of himself as Ollie's bodyguard. "I just couldn't protect him," he says. David Ramsey was really good this week, too. The acting was pretty good all around.

  • Family Stuff

    Poor Thea is the one character who just does not know what's going on this week.

    After a sparring match in her mostly fireplace apartment, she tells Malcolm that she's worried about Ollie, so he promises to send some of his "associates" to find him. He instead goes himself and tells her nothing.

    Later, while Roy is gettin' to' up on liquor in an empty Verdant, Thea relates those same worries about Ollie, asking if maybe Arrow can check in on him. He patronizes her and tells her, "Uh, sure."

    She never gets a straight answer from anybody, and by the end of the episode, Malcolm is telling her that she and he have to leave Starling forever because they're in grave danger, despite Malcolm having erased the League of Assassins bounty on his head. Thea is officially the Captain Lance of the Queen family.

  • The Flashbacks

    Stephen Amell's only major contribution to this episode is in the flashbacks, and Ollie actually gets to do something heroic in it, so that's a plus.

    A shockingly non-sleepy Amanda Waller chews out Ollie and Maseo for kidnapping that scientist last episode and finding out about the Omega bio-weapon. They tipped China White off to A.R.G.U.S. getting close, and she went to ground with Katana in her grasp.

    As it turns out, though, Omega is one part of a two-part weapon. The other part, Alpha, is in the hands of the Chinese military. Waller tasks Ollie and Maseo with recovering it rather than rescuing Katana.

    Maseo protests a bit, but he and Ollie end up going on the mission. Though they run into some Triads with automatic weapons in the facility's Resident Evil hallways, they get out with the Alpha pretty easily.

    As they're leaving, Ollie has a chance to kill a Triad, but chooses not to. Though he gets some guff from an A.R.G.U.S. agent and Waller for it, he later tells Maseo he planted a GPS tracker on that guy, which will hopefully lead them to Katana. Maseo is thankful.

    Nice hero thing, Ollie of the past!

  • The Resurrection

    Of course Ollie's not dead. This is a comic book show.

    When we first see him, Ollie is apparently still dead as hell on the side of the mountain, but a shadowy figure approaches and starts dragging his body to an outpost somewhere out in the snow.

    The masked figure knocks on the door and reveals himself to be Maseo, Ollie's Hong Kong A.R.G.U.S. handler, saying he didn't know where else to go.

    In the episode's cliffhanger, it's revealed that Katana is the occupant of that outpost and she used her mystical powers to bring Ollie back to life. So no Lazarus Pit; just a Japanese lady who knows some resurrection magic.

  • Final Notes

    • Boy, they're not even hiding that A.T.O.M. is basically Iron Man, are they? Smoak even says that movies make fighting crime in armored super suits look easy. Are there Marvel movies in the DC TV universe? Is that were Ray got this idea?
    • Hey, Vinnie Jones was pretty great, wasn't he? Wish there was more of him.
    • This episode had some really cool moments of total silence. Usually not a moment goes by without music of some kind, so those long stretches of silence coming back from commercial breaks really played into a different kind of mood.

    So yeah, this was a good one. A really good one. A little all over the place in terms of editing and the number of plots, but it was well acted and mostly well-written. I particularly liked how Smoak clearly worked through her grief.

    That's two in a row! You're making it tough to joke about your flaws, Arrow!


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