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Arrow is Not Holding Back in Season 3

November 6, 2014

Arrow is one of my favorite shows on the air right now, and America agrees: it’s the top show for The CW Network, and two years in a row, it was one of the first shows of the season to be renewed. The past two seasons have been a lot about Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his journey to become a hero, but season three is opening up the world a little bit and allowing a few other characters to step into the hero spotlight, much like Smallville did starting in season four of that show.

So far this season, we’ve seen flashbacks, formerly reserved solely for Oliver, for both Thea Queen (Willa Holland) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), giving us insight and history for those two characters while also furthering the plot in the present day storyline. Last night’s episode, entitled “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak”, in particular, shed light on a fan favorite character and gave Rickards an opportunity to bring some serious acting chops to the screen in a more emotional and powerful way than we’ve seen her before.

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In general, last night’s episode was one of the best the series has done to date. The opening montage shows Ollie and Roy (Colton Haynes) training, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) boxing, and Thea sword fighting with her father, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), all with various results before cutting to Felicity struggling with situps, a great contrast. Soon her new boss, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and her mother, Donna (Charlotte Ross) show up, and her world starts going haywire when a new villain calling himself Brother Eye (a distinct Batman reference) starts wreaking havoc on the city when he begins a digital assault with a virus that Felicity herself had written five years before. It turns out to be the ex-boyfriend Cooper (Nolan Gerard Funk), that she thought was dead, who kidnaps her and her mother in order to make Felicity write a program that will bring millions of dollars in cash to his doorstep. A clever device that was setup in the first ten minutes of the episode enables Felicity to alert Oliver to her predicament and though he does show up to save her, ultimately, Felicity is the one that disarms her kidnapper/former lover and takes him down. Guess she’s picked up a few tricks from Ollie over the last couple years.

From a writing standpoint, the episode is stellar. It sets things up and pays them off flawlessly, without the audience even realizing that things are being set up at all, thanks also to the excellent acting talent on the show. The episode gives us a viewpoint of the world through Felicity’s eyes, showing that it’s not just muscle and deadly accuracy with a bow and arrow that can make someone a hero. All the while, the main storylines of Laurel’s pain, Thea’s training, Oliver and Thea’s relationship, and the mystery of Sara’s (Caity Lotz) murder remain in play.

Speaking of Sara’s murder, the final moments of the episode finally revealed who the murderer was, and to say it was shocking is an extreme understatement. It would appear that Roy, in a mirakuru blackout rage, threw the arrows at Sara. He remembers this as he wakes up sweating from a dream. First, this is a huge moment for the show. We’ve been led down several paths about who could have killed Sara, from a league assassin, to Merlyn, to Ra’s Al Ghul (Matt Nable) himself. But to reveal that it was one of the family all along is an incredible revelation that will have repercussions throughout the entire season.

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This is something the show has been doing lately that is new. In previous seasons, the show would always end on a dramatic, tense moment, but it was usually just part of the story. This season, every episode has ended with something similar to a “tag”, where the episode wraps up, then the last scene brings in a new element: Sara’s death, the revelation of Thea training with Merlyn, Nyssa (Katrina Law) showing up, the reveal of Ra’s al Ghul, and now Roy’s involvement in Sara’s murder. Not only is this excellent storytelling and compelling television, it is also a gimmick of comic book movies/shows that Arrow is putting it’s own spin on. The “post credits scene” in big budget movies like The Avengers, Iron Man, and Thor is a staple for the genre now, a staple that was continued on television with the debut of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD last season, where they have a “post credits scene” at the end of every episode that teases something for the major story arc. The Arrow spin-off, The Flash, is doing the same thing, so it’s only natural that Arrow would start doing it too. What makes Arrow different, however, is that they are adding the scene before the show logo as opposed to after it, like the other two shows, and the extra scene isn’t so much a glimpse into the major arc of the story as it is a lead in to the next episode. It’s a great way to add the device while remaining true to the show’s own style.

The show is, and continues to be, excellent in all areas: writing, direction, acting, action, and story arc, while continuing to introduce iconic characters from the comics, whether they are villains or heroes. This season is bigger than ever and it shows no signs of slowing down. It remains the best comic book show on TV, and will likely go down as one of the best shows the CW has ever aired.

Arrow airs on Wednesday nights at 8pm on The CW.

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