When the episode title ‘The Magician’ was announced a few weeks back, I remember the first thing that popped into my head, and perhaps many other comic book fans heads: Zatanna would be making her entrance at last. Nope! That was shot down in the dirt almost instantly. By Magician they were referring to Malcolm Merlyn’s comic book title: Merlin the Magician. And as mildly disappointing as this news was at the time, one really must try hard to dislike John Barrowman’s enigmatic yet magnetic portrayal of the character. And again, Barrowman nails it.
In light of Sara’s absence we sink ever deeper into the pit of whodunnit territory. Nyssa al Ghul joins the fray this week, immediately pointing the finger at the most likely suspect, the Magician himself. But really the only time he acts magical is when he drops smoke on the ground to run off. It works funnily enough. With Nyssa the daughter of the leader of the League of Assassins guild, and Oliver still abiding by his oath not to take lives anymore, they’ve got decidedly different philosophies on how the situation need be handled. Where Oliver needs answers, she just needs to shoot him. Laurel is on her side… Kinda. Well she is at first, and then she just slides back into a more subdued “I’ll let you guys handle it” mode.
Will we eventually get to see Laurel train with the League of Assassins, under Ra’s al Ghul himself? I kinda hope so. She really needs to get out of Starling City for a bit. And that punching bag isn’t going to teach her how to fight – rather it’ll help her land punches. But people punch back and stuff… so. Wait, Nyssa come back! Take her with you!
This is the first Oliver learns that Merlyn is still around oddly enough. And although he suspects something off with Thea, the thought never crosses his mind that he’s already gotten to her. Which he has, and she is guarding that with everything in her, protecting Merlyn – but to what end? I mentioned last week that I’m really starting to like her sub-story and I expect that to become indelibly linked with this season’s main plot, so I’m eager to see where that heads. What I’m really curious about is why nobody thinks it’s weird she’s wearing crop tops all the time. Seriously. It’s midriff city in Verdant. Roy doesn’t seem to mind. He’s willing to do unnecessary flips in front of her to protect her.
It’s gotta be really frustrating for Oliver at this point. Now that his ally/enemy base has grown to become a bonafide club, keeping everyone on track must be like herding cats. And although he was right to allow Merlyn off the hook (as he clearly had no reason to kill Sara), this has caused a division between himself and Nyssa – in turn essentially declaring war against the League of Assassins. That is of course how Ra’s al Ghul takes it. And we finally get our first glimpse of him. Was a little anticlimactic on my end – I was kind of hoping he wasn’t going to be some white guy – but hey. You can’t win em all. I’m sure he’ll be great. The aerial shot of the Assassin base was unbelievably gorgeous. Send Team Arrow out there please.
It was a crowded episode, which actually ended up helping its continuity. What I mean is that Felicity left Starling city during last week’s episode, so as to appear on this week’s Flash. She makes room for Nyssa’s return essentially, and when Nyssa departs she conveniently came back at the end of the episode. That’s one way to get rid of overcrowding – send your characters over to The Flash. I realize I sound like I’m being sarcastic in this paragraph, but I really don’t mean it that way. I truly think that’s excellent writing. On that note, it’s good the left Ray Palmer out this week.
The only thing that really dragged incessantly for me was the flashback scenes. They served no discernible purpose this week, and actually diluted the excellent tension building throughout the rest of the reasonably paced episode. No episode is perfect, but Arrow’s doing a great job.
Current ranked average for Arrow Season Three: 8.57