A quick review of last night's “Arrow” coming up just as soon as I know just enough to make me dangerous…
We're still early enough in season 3 that I'm not especially worried about the bigger picture, but it does feel like the two main architectural pillars – the mystery of who killed Sara, and Oliver's adventures as Amanda Waller's captive assassin – aren't as sturdy as last year's. There were times in the first two seasons when the island flashbacks felt obligatory and/or clumsy, but there was still an urgency to them that's sorely lacking in the Hong Kong scenes. The show has always loved to parallel Oliver's past and present, but here it felt like overkill because the repressed memory material was slipped into the same episode that was already hitting us over the head with the similarities between Oliver's current sidekick and Ted Grant's former one, both of them murderers.
And speaking of which, this episode leaned much too much on Colton Haynes, and on Katie Cassidy, than what either has demonstrated the ability to pull off so far. Roy's been pretty marginalized this season, as if the creative team recognized what he can and can't do as an actor; here, we got tons of Roy angst and it was… not great. Ditto Laurel's ongoing turmoil – and especially her response to Roy's confession, which should have been a huge emotional moment but wasn't. We're in year three of the show trying to make Laurel happen – to the point where they killed off her much more compelling sister just so she'd be free to put on the Black Canary costume(*), and thus far it doesn't seem worth all the effort.
(*) The CW released the first promotional photos of Cassidy in costume yesterday, and my main reaction was “Why so many buckles?” I know in general we're not supposed to question how long it takes any superhero who isn't named Barry Allen to put on their costume, but this one in particular looks like Laurel is going to have to ask the bad guys to stand around for 40-odd minutes while she gets changed.
On the plus side, J.R. Ramirez is doing a good job as Ted Grant, and I liked the idea that he's already been Wildcat – that Oliver isn't the first superhero/vigilante of this version of the universe, and that we aren't going to have to spend time on a Wildcat origin story, versus Ted at some point putting the suit back on to help out his new pal in crime-fighting. On the minus side, the use of the boxing glove arrow – a nod to one of the most famous, albeit silliest, of Green Arrow's gimmick arrows from the comics – went by much too quickly. If you're going to have Ollie stick a boxing glove onto an arrow, there needs to be some combination of fanfare, slo-mo, and Oliver shrugging at how desperate circumstances are forcing him to do such a ridiculous thing.
What did everybody else think? Is season 3 working for you so far? Are you engaged by the Sara mystery? Laurel's training? Roy's guilt? And is anyone irked that Roy gets a fancy red costume while Diggle has to make do with a cheap ski mask?