“The Magician” represented the 50th episode in the Arrow catalogue (man, does time fly), but it really didn’t feel like a milestone episode. It was pretty lackluster overall, and failed to hit the mark (or should I say bullseye?) on what it set out to do. We were supposed to feel something. Yeah, got nothing. When coupled with last week’s episode, “Corto Maltese,” it does feel like Arrow is digging into their filler material early in the season.
Part of the problem I think is that we’ve already had our chance to mourn Sara and move on. So when Nyssa al Ghul shows up and takes us through the whole process again, it was sort of a “been there done that” type experience. Not that I didn’t sympathize with her pain, she was utterly devastated over hearing the news of Sara’s demise, but something didn’t quite click in the scenes with her and Laurel and her and Oliver. The plot didn’t quite click either.
Before I get into the happenings (or lack of happenings) for “The Magician”, let’s cover the happenings (or lack of happenings) in “Corto Maltese” (Sorry, for missing the review last week, life got in the way). Both these episodes slowed down the pacing dramatically, which is a shame considering they mark the return of the most awesome John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn. He and Thea even got the flashback segments for the episode. Malcolm has taken it upon himself to train Thea, kicking it all off with tough love and brutality since Thea wasn’t exactly responding to the daughterly approach. One way is to get her to not respond harshly to scalding hot tea (or was it wax?) being poured on her hand. This becomes a great parlor trick when she’s in the airport with Oliver and she doesn’t flinch when coffee is split on her hand, signifying that whatever Malcolm did it worked. She’s now a badass.
The other plot hints that Lila’s doom is all but imminent (called it!). In order to give Diggle a plot (hey, I appreciate the attempt) he checks in on a missing ARGUS agent, Mark Shaw, that Lila was worried about and who just happens to be in Corto Maltese where Team Arrow is headed to find Thea. How convenient! The dude is up to something shifty so Team Arrow disguised as their regular identities trail Shaw and whatever army he hired (against Team Arrow? Pfft!) and stop him from doing something horrible, selling the identities of ARGUS agents to the bad guys. What do you know, Lila is right there on the first page. Diggle gets really mad and teaches Shaw his lesson about exposing his family to danger by…um…letting him go. He’ll tell the world he’s dead. Oh yeah, that’s so not going to come back and bite him. Ah well, it was nice to see Digg get that plot.
Then there’s Oliver and Thea, which was a total snooze fest. Oliver was going to tell Thea that he was the Arrow, but Diggle put some sense into him. The truth will actually do more damage than the lie! Personally, I think he’s screwed either way, but Diggle is at least right it’s not the time. Ollie eventually convinces her to come back, and her besting Malcolm in a cute little ninja skirmish (I swear he let her win!) earned his blessing (not to mention he’s coming too). Yeah, that was a whole side plot for the hour. Back in Starling City, Felicity, starting her new job for Ray Palmer, gets a bitchin’ window office and a personal assistant (you go girl!), while Laurel decides to play vigilante and gets one very well deserved smack up that puts her in the hospital. She THEN decides she wants to train, but Ollie won’t help her. Sara would hate the idea. So, Laurel goes to a local boxing coach instead. Great.
Yep, that’s pretty much all. Nothing like a weak setup to go into an even weaker episode! If you thought “Corto Maltese” was too fast, then the writers really go out of their way to slow things down in “The Magician.” Nyssa drops the bomb in the teaser, Malcolm Merlyn is alive. Gee, it’s kind of a letdown when we’ve known that since EARLY last season. Everyone assumes he’s the one that killed Sara, even though there’s no evidence, and everyone wants him dead EXCEPT Oliver, cause he don’t kill people. Nyssa tries, but Malcolm is pretty good at dodging arrows and getting away. He decides instead to meet Oliver in a very public place, telling him he saved Thea during the whole Mirakuru soldier siege and his only purpose is her protection. Oh, and he didn’t kill Sara. His theory is its Nyssa’s dad, R’as al Ghul . He makes a good point, why would he kill Sara when he’s trying to lay low from the league of assassins? Oliver believes him (thank you!) but he’s the only one.
Nyssa finds out from Ollie that Malcolm is Thea’s Dad, so naturally she kidnaps Thea to get to Malcolm (I so didn’t see that coming, *sarcasm*). He rescues her, then Nyssa, Malcolm, and Oliver in full hero garb fight, and fight, and fight, and fight and fight…fight, fight fight (yes, that’s Itchy and Scratchy). Considering how well trained all three are, it’s pretty much a standoff. They are all that good. Malcolm does eventually pin down Nyssa to the wall with arrows, but that just gives Oliver the chance to point an arrow at Malcolm. He’ll have to kill Malcolm to stop him, except Malcolm and all of us know that Ollie won’t kill him. Not only does Ollie let him go, he later declares his protection as long as Malcolm is in Starling City. That makes Nyssa mad enough to run off to daddy, and considering he said that Sara was never one of them, it’s so clear Malcolm has made the right call about Sara’s true killer.
Let’s see, anything else? Nyssa and Laurel go from hating each other to respecting one another after a few exchanges, Laurel has reverted back to hothead who wanted Malcolm dead without proof (oh, that so worked out for her a few episodes ago), and Roy and Thea are bonding in a total friends way as Thea is getting ready to open Verdant again. I like these two this way much better. More chemistry. I must have lost a plot point as to how they ended up getting the building back. Is Ray Palmer letting her open it, or did Malcolm buy it? It’s interesting that Thea and Malcolm have both decided to keep their summer in Corto Maltese a secret. Thea even lied to Oliver, pretending to be surprised when he told her Malcolm is alive. I wonder what those two are plotting? I like it.
So, what we can take away from these two episodes? They’re dragging the “Sara is dead” thing out a bit much, the flashbacks in Hong Kong are slowly building to something but it doesn’t seem we’re close to anything yet, Laurel even with her new resolve can still be written annoying, Felicity was way more fun on The Flash this week (her Arrow absence was completely noticeable), Detective Lance is totally awesome, Malcolm Merlyn is totally awesome, Roy is about as fun as a Ken doll, Thea needs to kick ass more and lie less, Diggle is the best overprotective father known to man, and Oliver, well, I’m missing those shirtless workouts. In other words, there’s not a lot of forward movement right now. Coming up next week, Team Arrow do their laundry! Laurel gets a hangnail and decides to take vengeance into her own hands!
Oh, I kid. I’m sure at some point the plot will get moving again. It just feels like we’ve been through two weeks of stalling though and I’m a bit eager for more. I suppose until that happens, The Flash will fill that need. It’s all about the character journeys right now and I guess that’s better than nothing.