Here’s what you need to know about Arrow 3.03, “Corto Maltese”:
- This episode was 80% Thea, 10% fight sequences and 10% Laurel being stupid.
- Malcom Merlyn does not play around when it comes to training.
- ARGUS has some crazy coincidental timing with regards to agents going rogue.
- Felicity is not Ray’s assistant so much as she is second in command. Also, her assistant’s name is Gerry Conway.
- Ted Grant runs a boxing gym in Star City. He looks younger than I remember.
- Ray Palmer uncovered schematics to Batman’s Tumbler various former QC Applie Science Division projects that seemed to spark his interest.
- Nyssa is back in town, and she is
Oliver and the dude-bro segment of the Scooby Gang Team Arrow head to Corto Maltese to try to convince Thea to come back to Starling City. I’m assuming that ARGUS funded the trip, seeing as how Oliver is supposed to be broke and kind of homeless. Actually, I have to assume that ARGUS funded the trip otherwise the entire subplot with Diggle chasing down Mark Shaw (aka Manhunter) definitely strains credulity. I’m not sure why, but I just find it much easier to believe that ARGUS would try to find a way to handle some of their own business in exchange for helping Oliver. It seems far more likely than ARGUS randomly discovering a rogue agent at the exact time Oliver planned his trip.
The bulk of the episode took place on the island and was probably one of the least Oliver-centric episodes we’ve seen so far. Which seems like an interesting choice in timing, given Oliver’s state of mind and current emotional and mental struggles. However, even with that being the case, it was nice to see the spotlight shift for a while. Obviously Oliver’s sense of urgency underscores his desire for stability and unity. She is literally the only biological family he has left. But, given that she ran off with Malcom Merlyn, we know that there is more to Thea’s departure and simply wanting some space. In that regard, it makes sense to focus on her development. It’s obviously going to play a huge part in Oliver’s struggles moving forward. It’s nice to have some kind of idea of where Thea is coming from so we can get a glimpse of what that role will be.
I’m just gonna toss this out here: I think Thea killed Sarah. Well, technically, it’s my wife’s theory, but one with which I am completely on board.
Honestly, it makes a lot of sense. First, Merlyn is no fan of Oliver. I think that was evident as he perched behind his door with an arrow at the ready should Oliver enter the house. Merlyn also blames Oliver for the death of Tommy and preventing “The Undertaking” from succeeding. Oliver took someone Merlyn loves, ergo Merlyn takes someone Oliver loves. Sara being a member of the League of Assassins only makes her death a greater victory for Merlyn. That pretty much sets the stage for Merlyn’s motives. But, how much sweeter is his revenge if, instead of doing it himself, he sends Thea to dispatch Sara??
Thea being the killer is brilliant for a couple reasons. First, it means that Malcolm will have taken Sara and Thea from Oliver. While Merlyn starts building a new family with Thea, Oliver becomes something of an orphan (ostensibly, since I’m assuming that Team Arrow, Oliver’s adopted family, will be the difference maker here). Second, it’s the kind of proverbial thumb to the eye of the League that seems to befitting of Merlyn. Imagine his pride when his daughter, after only six months, successfully tracks and kills one of the League’s top assassins. It makes him a much greater threat, and not just to Oliver. We saw what was involved in Thea’s training and it was brutal. A man who is willing to do that to his own daughter is, well honestly, he’s Ra’s Al Ghul. We’ve heard rumors regarding his appearance this season, and Nyssa’s appearance at the end of the episode shows that the League, or at least one of its highest ranking members, is going to get involved. It seems that there is a showdown on the horizon between Malcolm and Ra’s. It’s like a battle for “Worst Father of All Time.”
Another thing to note regarding Thea is her pseudonym while in Corto Maltese. Oliver was referred to as “Ms. Mia’s brother.” As I noted last week, Thea’s full name is Thea Dearden Queen. Mia Dearden is better known to fans of DC Comics as Speedy II. Suddenly, the throwaway childhood nickname from the first season seems very relevant. While we haven’t seen Thea use a bow, it’s probably safe to assume that, when being trained by a guy known as The Dark Archer, there was probably just a little time spent on such things in the last six months.
This episode was an interesting departure from the usual formula. It was actually nice to see so much daylight in an episode of Arrow, but I find that Oliver’s persona works much better under cover of night. Corto Maltese, which appears to be an island paradise, is about a million miles away from Lian Yu (comparatively speaking, I don’t know where they are geographically). This show has a tendency to swing between the grounded realism that was introduced with the Nolan films and just being pure camp. There were more than a few times where the needle swung closer to the camp, making the episode feel a bit more like Fantasy Island. Also, the less that is said about Laurel’s attempts at “filling in” while Oliver was gone, the better. It says something when I can fathom a situation in which Thea goes from zero to badass in six short months, but the idea of Laurel ever being ready to carry Sara’s mantle just seems absurd. Also, for a change, some of the best moments occurred between the action sequences. Which is actually more of a compliment than it might appear since this episode had some of the best action sequences yet (and didn’t include any motorcycle jousting).
Overall I found that I really enjoyed the episode. It was a nice change from last week, but it also didn’t ignore the emotional impact and long-term ramifications that “Sara” had. My suspicions are that this episode laid the groundwork for changes whose full impact won’t be realized until a few episodes down the line.
- “What’s with your family and islands, man?” Hands down, this was the best line of the entire episode.
- As I mentioned earlier, the action sequences were some of the best of the series. I’ve heard that Stephen Amell prefers to do as many of his own stunts as possible. If this is true, then I again have to give him proper credit for his devotion to the character.
- The interactions between pretty much Thea and everyone. Her character is really being fleshed out well, and having John Barrowman to act opposite you never hurts.
- Speaking of, John Barrowman will pretty much always be on this list any time he’s in an episode.
- Have I mentioned how much I’m enjoying Ray Palmer? I’m still wondering if we’re at the pre or post Atom point, particularly given his interest in those Applied Science documents. I’m not sure if we were looking at the search for a cure of some sort, or if we’re watching another hero in the making. Regardless, he could remain “Ray Palmer, Genius” and he’s still a great addition.
- We’re setting up a lot of great confrontations this season:
- Ray vs. Ollie (might not be a fist fight, but some kind of confrontation is unavoidable)
- Ollie vs. Merlyn
- Ra’s vs. Merlyn
- Thea vs. Roy (?)
- Ollie vs. “Jungian Shadow” Ollie (which I predict comes full circle either mid-season or season finale)
- The change in pace and location was a nice deviation and it managed to fit the story well. However, I’m not sure that it works more than once, maybe twice, per season.
- I like that Ted Grant has been introduced, I can even buy him as a boxing trainer. I’m just wary that the CW did a little too much “CW casting” and we’re going to end up with Ted and Laurel in some throwaway love story. Like my feeling about Amanda Waller, I would have preferred they got someone a bit older and just a bit closer to the comic version.
- Speedy vs. Speedy, we know this is coming. I’m just hoping it’s more action than it is teen-drama. This show only does one of those things well, and it’s not the latter.
- The completely random timing with regards to the ARGUS manhunt for Shaw (see what I did there?). It really felt shoehorned in to remind us that ARGUS is a thing and Amanda Waller make people do bad things.
- CCH Pounder is still not cast as Amanda Waller. (I refuse to let this go…)
- Laurel + baseball bat + ski mask = Exactly what you’d expect. Laurel, doesn’t need Ted Grant, she needs a dose (or 3) of venom.