As was widely expected, this week’s episode sees Oliver’s return to Starling City, neatly wrapping up the Brick storyline in three episodes and providing some clear direction on where the rest of the season is headed. What perhaps wasn’t so widely expected was that this episode would also feature a Malcolm Merlyn flashback story.
Oliver’s return doesn’t happen straight away, however. The majority of the episode features the remaining members of Team Arrow (which now includes Laurel / New Canary) wrestling with their consciences as they try and decide whether they should accept Malcolm Merlyn’s offer of help in order to take down Brick. Roy and Laurel (as fellow costumed vigilantes) realise how outnumbered they are and are willing to work with Malcolm for the greater good, but Felicity and Diggle’s moral high ground swings the decision against him, nicely setting up the end of the episode.
With Malcolm not an option, Team Arrow have to mobilise whoever they can for the upcoming fight against Brick and they actually do a pretty decent job – Roy hits up Cin, who seems to have a hotline to the Glades’ street gangs, while Laurel enlists none other than Ted ‘Wildcat’ Grant, who even busts out his old costume (well, mask) for the occasion. Ray’s A.T.O.M. suit apparently isn’t ready yet, as he’s nowhere to be seen in this episode. (We’re now envisioning a season finale where Ray finally shows up in the suit and shrinks Ra’s al Ghul just as he’s about to kill Felicity or something.(
To be fair to an episode called The Uprising, the uprising itself is nicely handled, with an outnumbered-but-valiant group of heroes stepping up against Brick and his thugs. (We particularly enjoyed Ted ‘Wildcat’ Grant going up against Brick and even landing a few decent punches before getting trounced.)
Also wonderful this week are the interactions between Roy and Captain Lance. Hilariously, Lance immediately recognises Roy in his Red Arrow / Arsenal get-up, adding weight to the theory that he does indeed know Oliver’s secret identity, he just chooses not to admit it. (Because otherwise, come on, Arrow and Oliver both missing and both return at the same time?) He also gets in a nice dig at Roy’s new superhero name (“Arsenal? What, are you just pulling names out of hats now?”). Then Lance runs into Cin, who tells him that the new Canary is not his daughter (managing to be both right and wrong at the same time), which probably means Lance is going to find out the truth about Sara very soon, especially given the title of next week’s episode. Still, at least we’ll be spared the awful voice modulator stuff from last week again.
Roy actually has several great moments this week and it seems like the writers are finally getting a handle on the character, so here’s hoping he still gets to shine in the same way now that Oliver is back. His best moment in The Uprising is a neat shout-out to The Flash. “Aren’t you that red streak I been hearing about on TV?” asks one thug. “Wrong city…” he shoots back, as he knocks him out.
As for Brick, it turns out that he isn’t meant to be Season 3’s Big Bad after all. Instead, he provides a different plot function, in that he is instrumental in Malcolm Merlyn’s possible steps towards rehabilitation. Early in the episode, Malcolm discovers that Brick’s gun was used to kill his wife all those years ago, meaning that the man he killed was innocent. Malcolm, of course, wants to kill Brick, but a back-just-in-time Oliver talks him out of it, suggesting that Malcolm may be capable of saving after all, if everyone can just forget about the time when he a) killed 500 people in The Glades and b) brainwashed Thea into killing Sara.
This leads to the episode’s ending, in which back-from-the-dead Oliver (who apparently rushed straight to the Glades just in time for the end of the uprising, without bothering to tell anyone he was back) announces that he is going to be working with Malcolm in order to take down Ra’s al Ghul. Given that Team Arrow had just voted to have nothing to do with Malcolm, they are understandably annoyed at this and Felicity lets Oliver have it in no uncertain terms, effectively ending any chance of their romantic relationship getting rekindled, at least for the time being. It’s going to be interesting to see where the writers are going with this – clearly John Barrowman is a popular character and an asset to the show, so they’re presumably not killing Malcolm off anytime soon, but do they really expect the audience to forgive him for killing Sara? And, sure, Oliver needs Malcolm in the fight against Ra’s, but he’s not exactly swearing vengeance for Sara, once Ra’s is taken care of. Still, time will tell.
And speaking of time, this week, instead of a trip to Flashback City, we get a Malcolm Merlyn flashback, complete with a dodgy 90s hairdo and a couple of unconvincing kids playing young Tommy and Oliver. The flashback doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know, but it shows Malcolm losing his wife, killing the thug he thought responsible and then high-tailing it to Nanda Parbat to take up with Ra’s al Ghul. The bit where he pulls a coin from young Nyssa’s ear and earns the name The Magician is a nice touch, at least.
All in all, this is a pretty satisfying wrap-up to the Brick Saga and with Brick left alive, we’ll probably be seeing Vinnie Jones again at some point. We now, finally, have a very clear idea of where the rest of Season 3 is headed and the writers have explored some interesting ideological clashes within Team Arrow, exposing a few intriguing cracks into the bargain. Now all we need is for Ray Palmer to get his A.T.O.M. suit up and running and we’re good to go…
Season 1, 2 and 3 of Arrow are available on Amazon Prime, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription – or, for free next day UK delivery on Amazon items, as part of a £79 annual Prime membership.
Where can I watch Arrow Season 3 online in the UK?
Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.