Arrow: Midnight City

Ray: "See, that's why I need a technosuit."

What do you do when you depend on someone, and they are suddenly, irrevocably gone? That was the question explored in this episode, and I thought it was done rather well.

For Laurel, this is a compounded issue. Not only is her job at the District Attorney's office made more difficult because of the Arrow's absence, but she is also grieving over the loss of an ex-lover and dear friend. At the same time her greater struggle is dealing with the death of her sister, for the second time in her life. Just thinking about those incredibly heavy and impossible to deal with emotions makes me feel a bit chaotic and crazy. It is totally believable that Laurel has come to the inescapable conclusion that her only choice is to follow in her sister's footsteps.

To make things even harder, she has to conceal this major secret from her father -- not just her own identity, but also the fact that her sister is no longer wearing the mask. Talk about complicated. Add to that the rather rough task of trying to become a vigilante with an ill-suited weapon and without full training, and it's no wonder that her first outing was a mixed bag. She lacks the experience and perhaps commitment to the violence that her sister had. Still, cutting her teeth on a mid-level villain is a good starting point. Brick shouldn't be too difficult to take down. Well, on paper at least.

Roy is also doing his best. He's good, perhaps even great, but he is clearly not quite up to Oliver's level and he isn't ready to take on Merlyn, Deathstroke, or god forbid, Ra's Al Ghul. Together, Roy and Laurel did a passable job taking on Brick, even though they inadvertently got one of the hostages killed. But I think that was the point. I'm getting a very specific vibe from this half of the season, that working alone is no longer an option.

Oliver left to fight Ra's alone and was nearly killed (seriously, he didn't die from that wound and that fall... right). Roy has almost died at least three times since Oliver left, Laurel twice so far, and even Ray faced death once already. It is pretty obvious that being a vigilante in Star City is becoming more and more dangerous. The villains are no longer pulling punches, and the stakes just keep getting bigger and bigger. So what's the answer?

In part, Felicity. She provides stability and coordination. She is a voice of authority and order in situations that are often chaotic and dangerous. She adds humor to break the tension of the moment. In short she is the heart and brains of this group. Without her, their chances of survival dwindle greatly. But she isn't the only thing that needs to be in place. Without Oliver there, they are learning that going in as a team is far more effective than letting a lone hero go in alone. Maybe when Oliver does return, they will stick together instead of letting him do things like he used too.

Oliver's Recovery and the Flashback:

All the drama with Tatsu and Maseo tied in well with the current story of Oliver recovering from his 'injuries'. Maseo is a compromised individual. He has his own form of honor and love. But he is very closed off in the present, especially during that one sided kiss that Tatsu gave him, which was really painful to watch. The only thing I can think of that drove him to that level of detachment was the death of his son. It would also explain why Tatsu seems to be borderline suicidal as well.

Still, that doesn't excuse Maseo and his actions involving the whole Alpha/Omega virus exchange. I get wanting to save his wife, but at what cost? I'm on the same page as Waller switching the virus vials before Maseo could get his hands on them. It was a morally bankrupt choice, and it says more about his character than anything else he's done so far. He wasn't just working for Waller, he was almost the perfect man for the job. No wonder he ended up working for the League.


So the League has a mole in Star City, keeping an eye on Thea and by extension Malcolm. I knew I didn't like that DJ.

The scene where Laurel had to use Sara's voice to lie to her father was heartbreaking, and I think the actress did a great job with it.

I love the fact that Ray was the one that got through to Felicity about her role in keeping everyone safe. I also liked that she is so brilliant that she just casually gave Ray the answer to his A.T.O.M. suit prototype problem.

Arsenal and Black Canary do look good working together. I also have to say, if I crossed Black Canary I would be hard pressed to identify her. The mask is more effective on her than on Sara, who had a distinctive dimpled chin.

The cold open was a dream sequence where Felicity managed to convince Oliver not go face Ra's. I thought it was going to be a Felicity dream, but it was a nice surprise to see it was Oliver's instead.

I like the fact that the city underground fears the Canary as much as the Arrow.

The stuff between Thea and Malcolm continues to be the least important part of the show, but I really like how strong they are making Thea.

Mayor Castle is played by Christina Cox, who has been in a long list of genre shows and movies. Unfortunately she gave over the Glades to Brick, which could be a good plot development for team Arrow.


Roy: "What the hell do you think you're doing out there?"
Laurel: "Same thing as you."
Roy: "I've had training from Oliver and years on the streets. You have a law degree."

Felicity: "By help you mean money and council, not a suit powered by dwarf star alloy that fires lasers at people?"
Ray: "Lasers. That'd be ridiculous! They're compressed hard light beams."

Oliver: "Your penicillin tea tastes like penicillin."

Felicity: "I've sort of been living under a rock these days."

Roy: "Felicity was right."
Felicity: "Actually, I was wrong and I'm not wrong a lot."

Ray: "To be honest, I'd feel a little more confident in your aeronautic abilities if you knew, for instance, helicopters don't actually have keys."
Felicity: "They don't have keys?"

Ray: "I'm going to hold you to the no crash promise."

Diggle: "Sometimes me and Oliver would come down here after, you know, tough nights. He would pour this and look up and say 'Prochnost'.
Roy: "What does that mean?"
Diggle: "I have no earthly idea. To Oliver."

This is another good installment in what is shaping up to be a strong return from the mid-season hiatus.

3 out of 4 New heroes looking for their place in the city.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow, The Originals and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.


Katerina said...

FYI, my Russian dictionary tells me that "Prochnost (Прочность)" means "durability; solidity; firmness; strength". Maybe a native speaker out there, or someone more familiar with the language, could say exactly what the sentiment is when used in a toast, but this might give a general idea.

I look forward to this show every week. I'm liking Laurel again, which is saying something because I was hoping they'd write her out for a while. I like the new team dynamic. I thought Felicity might think about bringing Ray in (I'm not familiar with the comics so I don't know if that's a possibility). My favorite exchange in this episode was definitely between Felicity and Ray about the helicopter. It made me laugh out loud. I'm really looking forward to Oliver getting back, though.

Bea said...

I'm really looking forward to Oliver coming back, too (next episode's promo looks awesome), but at the same time I really like how they've used his time away to build different dynamics with the rest of the characters. I think it helped Laurel a lot as a character to be closer to the Arrow team, and to get a chance to interact with all of them one on one. I thought both scenes with her dad, especially the phone call, where heart-wrenching. Also, she makes a surprisingly good team with Roy. I didn't expect that particular dynamic to work that well, but the actors had great chemistry.

JRS said...

Yeah - the whole Laurel/Canary thing could have sucked. Instead she's trainee-heroing with Roy under the direction of Diggle, and that's actually probably better than Oliver whining over her shoulder. I can't imagine Laurel tolerating mystic proverbs long.

migmit said...

2Katerina: I'm having a sort of an Arrow/Flash marathon now, and I've just watched this ep, so I'm a little late answering. However, as a Russian, I think I'm capable of telling you what we mean when we say "Prochnost" as a toast. Simply put — we don't. "Prochnost" is not a toast, or at least not a widely known one. I have absolutely no connection with Russian crime world, but I think that if that toast was used by criminals routinely, I would have known, or at least heard about it. Also, this word is rarely applied to humans at all — the only use of it for humans that I can think of is "испытывать на прочность" (ispytyvat' na prochnost), meaning "test (someone's) strength".

BTW, we don't say "Na zdorovje" as a toast either.

Marianna said...

I think the problem with Roy and Laurel's botched attempt was more strategy than lack of fighting skill. (Although Laurel's clearly could use some work.) Oliver was always the one who would tell everyone what positions to take and was very good at being aware of his surroundings to keep a handle on the situation. The lack of Felicity in their ears didn't help of course.

Oliver did die and Katana... I mean Tatsu brought him back somehow. Maseo told her to "bring him back to life" when he brought Oliver's body to her. It wouldn't be comic-bookish if people didn't come back from the dead. =)

Strategically I think Waller's not considering the safety of her agents' families a serious concern is a bad move on her part. They won't exactly be focused on the mission if they are afraid for their families. I think they're gearing up to eventually make Waller the big bad, which is intriguing, but I don't particularly like what they've done with her character. Yes the Amanda Waller from the comics is all about the greater good and not afraid to crack some eggs to make an omelette, but she is also brilliant and would see that some of the decisions she is making could come back to bite her in the long run. Shooting down a commercial flight to kill one person is a lot messier than just having someone assassinate her on the plane when she presumably doesn't have any weapons.

I'm liking Laurel much more this season than in previous seasons. I noticed that for the first time I know of she said her name "Dinah Laurel Lance" which is Black Canary's name in the comics. I guess they decided to go with "Dinah" after all but have her go by her middle name.