Arrow: Uprising

Malcolm: "Only the student has hope of defeating the master."

This was a bit of an uneven episode, and I'm not entirely sure I agree with some of the character choices.

I liked the Team Arrow stuff, as they came together and solved the problem of Brick taking over the Glades. Using allies, gathering numbers, and committing fully to taking back what was stolen was a good plan, even if it probably would've failed without Malcolm and Oliver. At least the only real casualty seems to have been Wildcat. Or did he make it? I'm a little fuzzy about that detail.

The real problem with the overall narrative of this episode was the back and forth with Malcolm. Is he redeemable? Is he too far gone? Did his choice not to kill Brick signify a real change? Or was it simply a case of him needing Oliver in his corner? Honestly, I'm not sure. He is a big bad, and yet he is also an undeniable resource. Oliver needs his expertise if he has a snowball's chance in hell of defeating Ra's Al Ghul.

But at the same time, is Felicity right? Malcolm has done pretty much everything possible to Oliver. He has set him up to die more than once, he manipulated his sister into becoming a murderer, and to top off that little cupcake of awfulness, the woman he had Thea murder was Sara. Felicity might have been a bit over the top in her anger, but she had a valid point. In what world could Oliver ever consider Malcolm a rational choice as an ally?

I guess that's the point, though. Oliver just went through a near-death experience, and he has clearly come back with a different perspective. It begs the question, if Felicity had let him get a word in, would he have chosen her? It is a touch frustrating, but I guess the show-runners need to create obstacles in the whole Olicity drama for, you know, reasons. Because god forbid the leads of a television series have a healthy, positive romantic relationship.

On the bright side, Laurel is now fully established as Black Canary, and I seriously doubt Oliver is going to bully her into laying down the mask. I also wonder what is going to happen to Thea. She is so close to finding out the big secret, and if she doesn't by the end of the season I'll be seriously disappointed. Thea is so clearly being set up to be a new member of Team Arrow that if they put it off much longer, I'm gonna call shenanigans.

The other side of the story was the rather lovely journey Oliver had with Tatsu. She is a true friend, and someone who has both the training and goodness that Oliver could trust completely. There were valid reasons why he had to go, and there seemed to be equally valid reasons why Tatsu felt she couldn't join him. But I can't help but feel that Oliver should've stayed. Not only to recover (seriously, he must've ripped open some stitches doing that zip line stunt), but to get some much needed training from an ally who is far more trustworthy.

Flashback:

So twenty-one years ago Malcolm was a devoted husband and father. Why do I think this flashback was shown through rose-colored glasses? If it is to be believed, Malcolm went a bit nuts after his wife was murdered and he killed the man who was supposedly responsible. He went to Nanda Parbot, joined the League of Assassins, and started formulating his plan to 'save' the Glades from itself. I supposed chalking up his evil plans as a case of prolonged survivor's guilt is moderately plausible. But at the same time, I think there is also a very strong possibility that that evil was already a part of his nature, and the death of his wife was only an excuse to become a monster.

Bits:


It was kind of interesting to see a young Tommy and Oliver. At least Tommy hasn't been forgotten.

Laurel refusing stitches was interesting. Does she actually want scars?

Wildcat was a bit rusty, and he got his ass handed to him. If he survives, will he pick back up his mask?

So Sin was observant enough to notice that Black Canary was not Sara, and unfortunately she told Quentin about it. With the focus yet again on his mysterious pills, I bet we are headed for some major drama in the near future.

The blood stain on Malcolm's forehead after he killed the guy he thought killed Rebecca was really interesting.

I really liked the interaction between Roy and Thea. I don't know if a romance between them works any more, but I like how they have become friends again.

Quotes:


Roy: "So Brick killed Malcolm's wife. What does that have to do with anything?"
Felicity: "It is just another reason for them to share bunkbeds in Hell."

Felicity: "Great, we can add irony to the list of charges against Brick."

Felicity: (to Malcolm) "You want us to team up with... you?"

Felicity: "Feels like recess and we're about to fight the school bully."

Laurel: "Is what we're doing crazy?"
Roy: "I've learned it's better to ask that question when I'm not wearing a mask."

Oliver: "No more death."
Malcolm: "That's easy for you to say, you just returned from the grave."

Thea: "I'm gonna make some tea and try to keep things Zen."

Not a bad episode at all, but I feel like the writers are doing things that don't really work on a character level.

3 out of 4 Cups of Penicillin Tea

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

5 comments:

Patrick said...

When all the drama played out between Felicity & Oliver over his willingness to work with Malcolm and train to defeat Ra's(and seriously can they stop being so g-d schizophrenic when it comes to the pronunciation of his name?!?), a part of me couldn't help wondering if perhaps Oliver isn't running a long con on Malcolm. They made it a point of showing us that Malcolm was eavesdropping on Team Arrow, and I got a flashback to Season 2 with Deathstroke spying on the Queen mansion, Oliver discovering the cameras and using that to trick him into capturing Felicity. Could Oliver be trying to trick Malcolm into believing he's sincere by letting him believe his team is pissed at him for working with such a proven psychopath?

As for Malcolm's motivations, I don't think it's as simple as one or the other. I believe he genuinely cares about Thea, and I believe he wishes his life had taken a different path. I also believe that with the right encouragement from people like Oliver and Thea, he could learn to make better decisions. But I also believe that he has done far too much harm to be allowed his freedom. And I think he's done far too much for Oliver to ever consider letting him walk away when this is all over. Malcolm is responsible for the deaths of over 500 people, including Oliver's father, Tommy, Sara, not to mention what he forced Thea to do. He might be willing to work with him long enough to stop Ra's Al-Ghul and ensure Thea's safety, but if he doesn't have a plan in the works to ensure Malcolm sees justice afterward, then the writers will have made a serious mistake.

I'm still holding out hope that Tatsu journeys to Star City at some point. Rila Fukushima & Stephen Amell have very good chemistry. Not sure if I'd want her as a permanent addition to Team Arrow(don't want the team getting too large, and it sure is looking like they're prepping Thea to join soon), but she's a legit character in the comics, it'd be fun to see them expand on her in the show.

migmit said...

I understand Felicity's anger, but I think she's in the wrong now.

Using your enemy as a weapon is one thing — and Dig was right, it would be a first step into turning into him. But receiving training from him? I think it would be much safer. Not that Malcolm can't pull some dirty tricks — but Oliver is smart enough not to fall into his traps.

One might argue that it was what Malcolm himself did in the first place, he asked League for some training. But I don't think that was what turned him into a monster he is now. He was already insane when he went to them. They just gave him the means.

CH said...

I'm not sure how I felt about this episode. I do understand that the writers feel the need to draw out the drama between Oliver and Felicity (even though the audience hates when shows doe that!!!), but as much as I root for Felicity to be happy, I actually wish they had never put them together. I feel like it's made for some uneven stories this season. Also, I've never felt like the chemistry is really there.

I do think there are good sides to both arguments for Oliver working with Malcolm. Oliver receiving training from him in order to defeat Ra's makes sense, although I am sure the writers could have found another ally for Oliver to learn from (like Tatsu or Maseo or even Nyssa) that would have made more sense. I also feel like having Sara killed has to be unforgivable. It's a good question - is Malcolm redeemable?

That said, I am positive there is a way team Arrow could have used Malcolm to defeat Brick and not feel like they were jumping into bed with him.

Thea has to know that Oliver is the Arrow, right? She's not stupid. Also, I thought the little scene between Lance and Roy was telling..."you think I don't recognize you with a bit more leather and lace?" Does Quentin know Oliver is Arrow and just pretend he doesn't know?...I remember the scene with Laurel when she offers to tell him who the Arrow is, and he stopped her. Lance not knowing has bothered for me a long, long time.

Ugh, I feel like my comment is all over the place! I did enjoy Oliver's triumphant return to the city but I disagreed with a lot of what the writers did in this episode. That said, the writers have indeed earned my trust so perhaps it will play out all right.

CH said...

Oh, and I also thought it was totally strange that Dig wasn't out there fighting. Why is he the one behind with Felicity?

I get that Oliver wanted him to save himself because he's now a father, but come one. He's fought since being a dad.

There were just too many parts that didn't really work for me in this episode. But I love the show...

Marianna said...

I loved the way they took down Brick's gang! It reminded me of http://www.douxreviews.com/2002/01/buffy-graduation-day-2.html

Malcolm hacking into Felicity's computer and spying on them through it felt so wrong. I don't have a problem with Oliver getting trained by Malcolm. Teaming up with him to go up against a villain where you know there's a high probability he will kill someone is one thing. Getting trained by him where he has no reason to kill is another. What I don't understand is why can't Malcolm fight Ra's himself?

CH, I could have sworn I saw Diggle in the big fight with a gun. He was leading in one of the groups.