Here is what you need to know about Arrow 3.14, “The Return”: Oliver and Thea are back on the island at Lian Yu, ostensibly for training purposes. Malcolm and Oliver have very different ideas about what training looks like. Malcolm has freed Slade from his prison, with the intention to awaken Oliver’s killer instinct (or possibly reinforce Thea’s? Maybe both?) Most of the episode was flashback-a-palooza, this time focused on Oliver and his first, previously unknown, return to Starling. Amanda Waller’s boss, and the head of ARGUS(?), is the Beastmaster. With this episode we can add both Oliver and Thea to the list of flashback-heavy episodes. Although, I think you could argue that this episode rounded out the last few years for most of the primary characters. My initial thought was that this was a very “Ollie” episode, but in hindsight I actually find myself thinking that Starling City might have been the “character” that saw the most development by the end. Our usual cast of characters all received their fair share of screen time, including some awkward (and possibly time displaced?) Felicity moments and a very shoehorned appearance by Diggle. As an aside, I’m the first to admit that the duo of Felicity and Diggle are usually the highlights of any episode, but neither of them really brought anything of substance this time. Those quibbles aside, the juxtaposition of a modern-day Lian Yu against the very corrupt past of Starling City created an interesting contrast. Switching the flashbacks off the island helped show just how far everyone, particularly Oliver and Thea, have come in the last few years. I’ve noted before that the flashbacks have been particularly clever this season, and this episode continues that trend. In a way, even though Oliver was clearly the protagonist, it was another episode in which Oliver’s story felt almost secondary. Which, ultimately, should be the case. Granted, the show is called Arrow, and Oliver will always take center stage, but, like any good hero story, what happens is often bigger than any one person. The hero will become a symbol, and the legend will long outlive the person behind the mask. In many ways “The Return” serves to put a fine point on the events witnessed in “Uprising.” You could hear the echoes of Ollie’s mission in the cries of the citizens of the Glades when they took up arms to defend themselves. Felicity noted then that Oliver had created something greater than himself, wondering if Oliver himself could live with what he had started. I find this to be the most compelling aspect of Oliver Queen’s journey. He’s experienced his resurrection and, like the pantheon of heroes before him, returns to find that his true value is in service to the movement he began. Oliver Queen the man will fade into the background so that the symbol of the Arrow can serve the people of Star City. Which brings us to a very apt statement made by Slade: “How many people can Oliver Queen lose before there is no more Oliver Queen?” In my opinion, this statement summarizes the overarching plot of this season. From the start the primary struggle for Oliver has been maintaining his identity. Or, perhaps more accurately, Oliver is trying to establish his identity. Tommy’s party was representative of the life Oliver lost, and the murder of the drug-dealer is a remnant of a life that was thrust upon him, one that he is desperately trying leave behind. In a single episode we were able to witness Oliver come full circle, from playboy to killer and, finally, to hero. His secrets are gone; he doesn’t have to hide from Thea any longer. Furthermore, Thea as come into her own. She stood toe-to-toe with the devil himself (Slade) and maintained her identity in the process. As the season draws closer to the end, and Ra’s looms large, we’re seeing the facades fall away and bonds being made stronger, forged in the fires of battle. Slade was on to something with his question, but I think his assumptions fell short. It’s not about how much Oliver has lost, but what he has gained, almost in spite of the loss. The Oliver we see in the present, the man who was training with his sister, is a much brighter, more hopeful, man than the one stalking his sister from the shadows. At a time when things are about to be at their darkest, we’re starting to see some light. The Good: I’ve lost track of the total secrets being kept on this show. However, I think that they’ve all been shared at this point. Secrets have been deadly on this show, I’m excited to see where the truth can lead Team Arrow. Thea and Ollie training on Lian Yu felt very much like a team-up. It echoed so many of the things that I thought were great about the Flash crossover. I’m really enjoying seeing Brooding Vigilante Loner Ollie become more like the Green Arrow that we know from The Brave and the Bold. The darkness of Starling contrasted against the light of Lian Yu was fantastic visual storytelling. It really brought things around full circle in a very organic way. In fact, it was so smoothly done that it took a second viewing to fully grasp. The Might-Be-Good: I have no idea what’s going to happen with The Beastmaster (whose name I refuse to use, because he’s the freaking Beastmaster!!). I always assumed the buck stopped with Waller. Discovering that she has a boss introduces a whole new level of complexity. I’m just hoping that the story doesn’t suffer as a result. Historically, there are only so many balls that this show can juggle at a time. The Bad: Felicity and Dig deserve better than we saw here. While I liked the introduction of Diggle’s brother, the entire scene was mostly nonsense. It’s not as if the audience would forget those characters existed, they would have been better off if they were left out of the episode. Oliver and Maseo are probably the worst “buddy cop” duo ever. Even the extras couldn’t help but notice how awkward it was to see Generic Homeless Guy get into the car with Well Dressed Businessman. Related to the previous point, what in the blue hell was the deal with Oliver’s hair/hat combo?? It might have taken the crown from Merlyn when it comes to “bad 90’s hairstyles.” Which is not something I expected to happen ever, let alone within a few episodes. Arrow 3.14 "The Return"4.7Overall ScoreReader Rating: (1 Vote)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.