Last night marked the end of a trilogy of episodes on the CW’s Arrow that began after the fall of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). For three episodes, Brick (Vinnie Jones) terrorized Starling City. He forced the police out of the Glades and pushed those who originally fought in the background to fight at the front, to become the protectors of a dark city.
What did last night’s episode give us? Ep. 12 “Uprising” brought a gigantic showdown between citizens of Starling City and Brick and his posse of criminal followers. With Canary (Katie Cassidy) and Arsenal (Colton Haynes) leading the pack, Starling fought against the evil in a spectacle similar to that of the season 2 finale of Arrow. That, in itself, is impressive, considering the show is nowhere near a finale – but we are getting finale-worthy action!
Aside from that, “Uprising” was an emotionally charged episode. Rather than Oliver flashbacks, this episode was focused on Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and the journey he traveled to become the Dark Archer, trained by the League of Assassins and Ra’s Al Guhl (Matt Noble). During season 1, we learned that Merlyn began the Undertaking because of the death of his wife in the Glades. In a twisted way, he believed he was cleansing the city to be able to begin again fresh. Last night’s episode further illustrated the events, taking us back 21 years to the fateful night when Mrs. Merlyn was murdered in an alley. We see the moment that Merlyn transitioned from loving family man and father to a broken man hellbent on revenge, who seeks to fall in with the deadliest of assassins in order to take action.
Flash forward to today, we see a man brought to a similar position once again when the past repeats itself. Did Merlyn learn a lesson the first time? Did a knowing voice advise him how things could be different? If so, does he listen? I’m all for spoilers – but this part, folks, you’ll need to see to truly appreciate. I’ll just say that I had a major case of the feels.
But the emotional roller coaster doesn’t end there. If you’ve been keeping up with the episodes, you knew the Emerald Archer would have to return to his city. But Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) warns him that his return will certainly lead to a battle, once again, with Ra’s Al Guhl. She warns that to defeat his attempted killer, Oliver would have to think like him and that he would likely have to give up the thing that meant the most to him, that made him human. Guys… we all know what that is. (Olicity, anyone?) Upon his return to Starling City, we find that the man who left to fight Ra’s may not be the man who returned. (Nearly dying will do that to you.)
Truly, I could go on and on about ep. 12 “Uprising.” There were a lot of great things about it. But I found a couple things disappointing. Once again, Diggle was left back at base while Arsenal and Canary fought the good fight (until a good rumble in the street later in the episode). Although I understand the desire to push Laurel forward as a viable superhero character, I am disturbed by the lack of action given to a former Special Forces man with proven combat experience. And thus I am also bothered by the overly quick development of fighting abilities from Laurel. One episode of having one’s butt kicked is simply not enough. Oliver had 5 years in hell. Malcolm Merlyn had several years of training from Ra’s Al Guhl. Even Thea (Willa Hollan) had several months of training with a former League of Assassins member. Laurel had some boxing lessons. Synopses of future episodes show that Oliver isn’t pleased about Laurel’s actions, and I am (not-so-secretly) hoping he gets pissed at her and sets her straight.
Other than those two hangups from last night’s episode, I thoroughly enjoyed the television experience last night. I haven’t been that emotionally drained from an episode of Arrow since the midseason finale when Oliver was stabbed and Spartan kicked from the mountain top. To sum things up… I was proud of Oliver for returning. I was moved to a place of deeper understanding for the pain of Malcolm Merlyn. I was glad to see Brick get his hiney finally handed to him, in the right way. Wildcat made an appearance, which was a joy to see. I cheered when Arrow returned. And when the episode was over, I ranted and raved about a little speech our IT girl, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) made. I usually love her; she’s usually right. But last night I had a few choice words for her. Not because of anything with Olicity, but because she saw only black and white in a world in shades of gray.
Keep watching Arrow on Wednesday nights at 8/7c on the CW for more. Oliver has returned to Starling City. What will the Arrow Universe look like in the latter half of this season?