Oh, Arrow, what were you thinking?  

“The Return” was a hot mess, and it made me wonder what sort of purpose came from it at all other than making me livid.  Only one good thing came out of it, and that was I got to see Colin Donnell on my TV again as Tommy Merlyn.  The bad news, he deserved a better story!  Then again, so did we all. 

Where do I begin with the “just hell no” comments?  It was bad enough that Oliver took Thea to the island.  Why was that again?  So they could go on an exotic camping trip and swing sticks at each other in the woods because it’s the perfect spiritual retreat before you take on the most feared assassin in the whole world?  Considering the place is an A.R.G.U.S. prison facility, it might not be the best place to go find themselves.  The mean streets of Starling City provides a better education.  

Second, all Malcolm had to do was remove a couple of guards and Slade was free?  At a maximum security prison?  For what purpose other than to bring back Manu Bennett for marketing purposes?  Give the guy a plot!  The story wasn’t organic.  It especially didn’t work when Oliver “reluctantly” confessed to Thea that she killed Sara. She was mind controlled!  She didn’t really do it!  Except she did, but it wasn’t her fault!  It was Malcolm’s fault.  Yeah, that makes Thea feel better.  Of course she’s not going to take it well.  

Third, it’s an inescapable facility, but Thea just has to dislocate her shoulder and suddenly she can reach around and push the button to open the cage?  Why wasn’t the button across the room like it should have been?  Was A.R.G.U.S. was cutting costs on wiring for the switch since underground prisons on remote islands aren’t cheap?  

The biggest problem I had though was the idea, introduced last week, that Oliver went back to Starling City while under control of A.R.G.U.S.  I already had issues with the idea that he was in Hong Kong and couldn’t get hold of anyone instead of being on the island the whole time.  But the idea of him watching Thea at his grave, spying on Felicity at Queen Consolidated headquarters and going to Tommy’s party and actually killing Thea’s dope dealer?  Ludicrous!  I threw the remote when he sadly walked into the Queen mansion and played a video from Robert on a device that just happened to be sitting there while no one noticed.  That is manipulative plotting with a capital M.  

It didn’t see anything emotionally touching about Oliver’s return home.  All I could think was what in the world drove the writers to this level of desperation?  That flashback story could have easily been told through Laurel’s eyes, her remembering how devastated her dad was the first time they lost Sara.  Her POV would have certainly made her sweet moment with Tommy at the end more realistic because why would that have been in Oliver’s flashback?  Maseo and Oliver’s little bad guy adventure could have happened any where else in the world, like China.  That would have made more sense.  

The worst part was the flashbacks took up a majority of the hour, leaving the showdown on the island with Thea and Oliver vs. Slade Wilson the b-plot!  You know it’s a bad hour with your very weak b-plot ends up being the more rational part of the episode and it makes no freaking sense.   Talk about the most anti-climactic showdown with a prior season super villain.  Oh, I know, instead of real action, let’s bring up Shado again!  You know, since they didn’t run that into the ground enough in season two.  Or that Oliver has made peace with the fact that it wasn’t his fault because it saved Sara.  No, Thea wouldn’t understand that at all.  Hey, talk about the time she killed Sara instead!  That’ll change the subject.  Oh, and don’t kill Slade either, because killing is wrong and that gives him the easy way out.  Forget the fact that he would have killed you both in a flash and will never stop trying.  That’ll give you everything you need to take on Ra’s.  You were only sent there by Malcolm to re-find your killer instinct.  I’d say the mission failed. 

Just when we think we couldn’t take any more manipulation, the writers go whole hog and think, “Nah, you need more.”  Thea gets to confront Malcolm, who somehow is shocked, I say shocked!, that Oliver told her that she killed Sara.  Um, secrets come out during bonding time Malcolm, remember that?  But, they still need Malcolm to help against the whole Ra’s Al Ghul wants them dead thing, so Thea just resolves she’ll work with him but won’t be his daughter anymore!  She even storms off to her room when she’s done.  That’ll teach him.  

I will give the writers of this episode credit for one thing, they obviously have been studying their TV tropes!  Because they managed to work just about every trope in the book into one hour.  At this point, and hour of filler would have been preferable.  There have been some bad Arrow episodes (see season one), but I think this one earns the prize for the worst one ever.  I can’t believe this ever got rubber stamped.  Ah well, no series bats 1000, so better luck next week show.  I’ve already deleted this one from the DVR.  

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