We’ve had three episodes of season three of Arrow so far on the CW, and this is a quick catch-up before episode 4, “Penance,” that airs this Wednesday at 8 PM.
Last season’s finale on Arrow tied everything up in a neat bow after major upheavals via magical villains, bombs, and the death of Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). Oliver (Stephen Amell) was sworn in as Mayor of Star City, Diggle (David Ramsey) re-enlisted into the military, Thea (Willa Holland) backed off from crime-fighting, and life in the wake of tragedy and destruction continued as always.
The season opens with “Legacy,” and shows Oliver struggling to balance being Mayor with his night job. He’s late for a media event introducing his Anti-Crime Initiative, created to curtail corruption within the police force, due to saving the city as the Green Arrow. However, he’s not late for the unveiling of the statue of Laurel Lance, commemorating those lost who protected the city.
This season’s new bad guy, Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman), stages a kidnapping of Oliver and other government officials from the event in order to flush out the Green Arrow, not realizing he’d inadvertently captured him. Using his trademark smart-ass attitude, Oliver manages to isolate himself in order to get free and rescue the rest.
We get back to a bit of a darker Arrow, as Oliver goes back to killing criminals when he considers it necessary. Thea doesn’t want to pick up the mask again, and relationships are strained as he deals with having held a holding pattern after losing Laurel and his fighting team. Oliver receives help from Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), in the form of vetting the first police team that will work directly under the Mayor.
Using his new four-person unit, Oliver saves the day, and narrowly avoids this week’s exploding building while the bad guy gets away. Crisis averted, Felicity pushes for the formation of a new group, recruiting from the young vigilantes inspired by the Arrow. Curtis (Echo Kellum), who had previously wanted nothing to do with it, decides to join in after getting beaten while seeking information on a potential recruit.
As a season premiere? It was pretty good.
*Yes, I’m leaving a chunk of the story out, bear with me, I’ll get to the Bratva in a little bit.*
The end of the last episode showed a hooded figure, highly reminiscent of the Green Arrow, attacking an off-duty policeman, one of the corrupt ones. We find out who this is, and meet Oliver’s new team, in “Recruits.”
We start with Wild Dog/Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez) messing up a chase, and Green Arrow saving his bacon. I had to stop and laugh when Ollie gave him the line about becoming “someone else… something else.” Rene’s definitely going to be the problem child of the group.
Next, we get Curtis trying to use the salmon ladder, and failing. Ollie makes it look easy, and we’re reminded that we are ALL Felicity.
We get some short scenes, one with Diggle in his new unit, and Oliver making it through a meeting with Amertek to secure funding for a medical clinic event. Then, we meet the new team, which includes Rene, Curtis, and Evelyn Sharp (Madison McLaughlin). Evelyn was the Black Canary impostor from last season. The training commences with much merciless kicking of butts, in order to teach them teamwork. (Yes, I’m still bypassing the Bratva plot, it will get summarized near the end.)
Our mysterious hooded figure makes an appearance, attacking a vice president of Amertek. This threatens the clinic’s funding, with Oliver making a rash decision to keep it going. Felicity convinces him to use his recruits to keep an eye on things as volunteers, and surprise! Wild Dog goes off-script, letting the attacker get away when the clinic is disrupted by the hooded figure, who has some sort of magical mummy wraps.
Of course, Oliver is pissed, and dresses down the group, before going back to his day job. Felicity takes the one scrap of evidence they have of the hooded figure to her detective boyfriend, that she must have started dating during summer hiatus. Personally, I don’t mind the secondhand embarrassment I feel whenever Felicity awkwardly stumbles through explanations.
Oliver and his new group get a tough lesson about respect and trust, while Thea discovers that Amertek is actually working with the new Big Bad, Tobias Church. This is how they discover that the “Ragman” (Joe Dinicol) is actually a mystical, radioactive vigilante. Oliver gets the vigilante to back down from killing the company’s CEO, and we discover that he is the only survivor from Havenrock.
Speeches about trust prevail, Oliver gets his team back, and Quentin becomes the new Deputy Mayor. We also learn that the Ragman calls himself Prometheus.
Diggle’s storyline seems disjointed in this episode, because it doesn’t really connect to the story arc yet. He helped a new soldier, only to be betrayed by his unit. The parallel between his unit acquiring illegal nuclear weapons and the Amertek betrayal seems a bit contrived, but we have to get through it in order to progress to whatever is planned for him this season. Why is Diggle in this predicament?
Episode three, “A Matter Of Trust,” jumps right into the action, with Oliver chasing a drug dealer for information on Stardust, a new illicit substance out on the streets. He uses this as a teaching experience for his new team, with Prometheus, Rory Regan, as a new addition. Once again there’s tension with Rene, who insists he should take a more active role in the investigation, which Oliver denies.
On the political front, Oliver’s feeling the press fallout of Thea hiring Quentin as Deputy Mayor unbeknownst to Oliver. She tries to fix it by claiming responsibility, which only makes it worse as it’s then spun by a ruthless reporter as incompetence in Oliver’s role as Mayor.
Meanwhile, Evelyn follows Rene for some recon on Derek Sampson (Cody Rhodes), the source of the drug Stardust. Completely expected is Rene deciding to do more than recon, and his actions end up with the death of Sampson. However, Sampson isn’t quite dead yet, and revives on the morgue. But before that happens, Oliver gives Rene a dressing down for going rogue and messing up the plan to question Sampson for his suppliers.
Sampson, thanks to a dip in a chemical vat, has made him stronger, and unable to feel pain. He decides to use the chemicals left in the vat to recreate his condition and make an army of superthugs, and steals a (insert technobabble) device to replicate the formula before heading to the warehouse to acquire what’s left in the vat.
After some apologizing, humility, a little bit of pep-talk, and some comedic verbal fumbling from Curtis, who is going to be Mister Terrific, Green Arrow and co. take out the bad guys. Of course, we get our gratuitous wrestling scene between Oliver and Sampson, for reasons explained below.
Now that he trusts his team and they have a win under their belts, Oliver introduces them to the Arrow Cave. It feels like they’re trying very hard to make Arrow a substitute Batman, with the setup and feel of his lair, as well as portions of his backstory.
Felicity is the voice of reason on this series, and gives Oliver a pep talk about an incontinent puppy to convey responsibility for his team. It works, and she convinces Oliver to try trusting them. But she’s not without her own troubles, and feeling extremely guilty for hiding her involvement in the bombing of Havenrock, tearfully confesses to Rory, who… I’m not exactly sure how he takes it, he just kind of… walks away.
Diggle’s story: What’s the culmination of placing him in military prison? Why are we watching his apparent descent into madness, via hallucination of Deadshot? I’m not sure I care yet.
Overarching story of the Bratva:
In search of someone Oliver needed to take out during his “Five Years in Hell,” he gets together with a Russian friend named Anatoly, and decides to join his Bratva for the support and manpower it would provide. His first trial? A beating from a group of men. Next, ringing the bell, just like his training session with his recruits, except he doesn’t plan on killing anyone.
Oliver’s trials with the Bratva parallel his journey with his new, very green and undisciplined team. Arrow is no stranger to flashbacks, and a back-and-forth rhythm is set up to mirror the events in the past and present nicely, with some contrast as Oliver was trained to not trust, while he needs to trust his group, and gain theirs, in the present.
The story is all over the board for the beginning of the season, with multiple plotlines interweaving. Some successfully, others less so. Here’s hoping Curtis becomes more that comic relief for the team, and I’m interested in seeing what else the lessons from the Bratva have to teach Oliver.
~Amell was on the WWE last summer, and he ended up wrestling with Cody Rhodes, whose wrestling name is Stardust. They were supposed to have a rematch, but his insurance prevented him making a second appearance on the WWE. I guess this is how they resolved the issue.
~Oliver makes a comment about Rene’s hockey mask being cool, referencing his role as Casey Jones in the Ninja Turtles movie.
My hopes for the season: Oliver’s team needs to learn to work together as a unit, and I am hoping Wild Dog gets his impulsiveness under control. Curtis needs to get a bit more serious, and stop treating this as a game. I think he’s already heading in that direction, but I really hope he grows past his comedy-relief role as a male Felicity. Diggle’s story’s going to need to become relevant soon, instead of just having it dangle awkwardly between scenes. Also: We have a relatively normal human as our big bad. I hope they do something interesting with him, because after everything else we’ve seen our hero fight, Tobias Church just doesn’t seem like a very strong opponent.