VOD TV recap: Arrow Season 3, Episode 4 (The Magician)
Barrowman chewing scenery8
Roy's parkour fail7
Underwhelming Ra's al Ghul appearance6
Matthew Turner | On 21, Nov 2014
This week’s episode picks up immediately after last week’s cliff-hanger, which saw a vengeful Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) turn up at Arrow HQ, hell-bent on avenging the death of her ex-lover, Sara (Caity Lotz). Shortly afterwards, Oliver learns that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) is still alive, so naturally everyone assumes he’s Sara’s killer. However, Malcolm shows up in Starling City and convinces Oliver that Ra’s Al Ghul (aka The Demon, classic DC villain, Nyssa’s father, head of The League of Assassins and currently shaping up as this season’s Big Bad – pay attention at the back there) is probably responsible, although that doesn’t stop Nyssa and an equally vengeance-obsessed Laurel wanting to kill Malcolm anyway. Hell, even Diggle tells Oliver that maybe he should let Nyssa put a few arrows in him for good measure.
We are, of course, no closer to finding out who actually killed Sara. Malcolm could be lying (she was in Starling investigating rumours of Malcolm’s reappearance, after all) and we don’t yet have confirmation that Ra’s Al Ghul dunnit. Still, while it is going to be a little frustrating if they drag out the resolution for too much longer, it is at least giving Laurel something interesting to do, as she heads towards her destiny of becoming The Black Canary – her bonding scenes with Nyssa this week were particularly good. There’s also another reminder this week that finding out about Sara’s death could KILL Detective Lance (okay, so he’s Captain Lance now, we’re still calling him Detective Lance), a plot element so contrived that it makes us wonder whether Paul Blackthorne was making unreasonable salary demands.
There isn’t a whole lot else happening this week. Felicity heads over to sister show The Flash for a guest appearance, so whatever’s going on with her and Ray Palmer is put on hold. Roy hangs around and tries to be useful, but his only contribution to the show this week is a laughably clumsy and completely unnecessary parkour move that results in him getting knocked out anyway. Good one, Roy.
That leaves Thea, who’s now back in Starling City and running Verdant again with the help of a Mysterious Cash Donation. The show continues to hint at an intriguing direction for her and that’s pushed along here in a great scene, where she and Oliver blatantly lie to each other’s faces, while both pretending that they will be honest with each other from now on. Because Thea is more or less the only character left (apart from Detective Lance) who doesn’t know Oliver’s secret identity, she’s often shut out of the more interesting plot developments, so it’s great that Willa Holland is finally getting some interesting stuff to do. At any rate, her scenes with Malcolm are a lot of fun and we can’t wait to see what the show has planned for the two of them.
Speaking of Malcolm, he doesn’t have a great deal to do, plot-wise, but Barrowman makes the most of every single line-reading (check out his delivery of the word “illogical”) and is clearly enjoying the hell out of playing the part. At any rate, it’s good to have him back in Starling City – and under Oliver’s protection, no less. One small niggle, though: surely his very public appearance in the shopping mall would have elicited some crowd attention, what with him being behind The Undertaking that killed over 500 people and all?
Meanwhile, in Flashback City, Oliver gets on with the job of being Amanda Waller’s hired asssassin and bonds a little more with the family of his handler, Maseom. (We’ll call them The Flashback Family from now on.) He also learns that Amanda Waller was the shadowy figure behind Edward Fyers’ actions on Flashback Island in Season 1. This will no doubt be Important For Later.
The only other notable element of this week’s show is that we get our first glimpse of Matt Nable as Ra’s al Ghul in the closing moments, seen here making rumbling noises about Oliver making enemies of the League of Assassins by protecting Malcolm. Frankly, this first appearance was a little underwhelming and made for a fairly dull cliff-hanger. Here’s hoping they step up the Ra’s al-badassery for future appearances.
In summary, then, this is another solid episode that gets on with the business of pushing the appropriate pieces into place (e.g. moving Malcolm to Starling City), even if the season itself is yet to really catch fire.
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.
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Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.