What They Say:
Midnight City – Diggle and Arsenal confront Laurel about her dangerous work as the Black Canary.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The return of Arrow with the second half of the season last time around definitely was fun in its own kind of dark way. The show didn’t play coy with Oliver being alive like some shows might, but there is an appeal in making the flashback material more meaningful by having that as his main appearance in each episode for a bit. But bringing Tatsu and Maseo together in this way in the flashback works nicely and also reinforces other potential events that are coming. The episode dealt mostly with the fallout from his going missing back in Starling City and while Felicity’s reaction was natural, especially with her pushback against Ray, I was really enjoying watching Roy and Diggle trying to figure out there place and then having Laurel jump into things in a fun way. That left me wanting more Ted though to get her trained in a deeper way going forward.
The cold open here is a pretty cruel thing as we get the dream/nightmare sequence for Oliver about his being ready to fight Ra’s, with him agreeing to stay instead of fighting and making a go at things. You think it’s Felicity’s dream at first, but it plays out in the cruel way that you expect with it all going to hell, allowing a decent transition to him waking up in the small shack that Tatsu is operating out of. She’s doing what she can to help him recover since Maseo asked, but he does learn that the two of them are still not in contact with each other overall after the events of years prior. The setup here is decent when you get down to it as Oliver is showing concern for Maseo should Ra’s learn what happened, as Maseo is getting ready to head back to Nanda Parbat. But maseo is giving him the right incentive to get better, reminding him that he needs to be focused on his own city and how bad things could be going back there in his absence.
Which is, certainly a mixed bag, as Diggle and Roy are doing what they can to deal with pieces of it and LAurel is out there doing her part as well. She’s fighting the good fight, but she’s not doing as good as she could since she is just starting out. She’s trying to utilize Sara’s memory in a difficult way here, since Canary had caused plenty of fear for many, but as everyone keeps pointing out, she’s not Sara. It’s no surprise to see everyone trying to warn her off of this, but she’s finding herself more and more compelled to do this, even with the damage she’s taking. The show provides a number of quick catch-up moments to set the stage of where everyone is and it works well to see how Felicity is handling things with Ray by just being professional, and downbeat, while around him and we see Merlyn doing what he can to get Thea to leave since the bounty on his head is still out there since Oliver failed. Each of the various plots are moving along well enough, some more than others.
Brick’s storyline goes into overdrive early on as he’s intent on cementing his position in the city now that others are going after him more and we see him crashing a meeting at the mayor’s office where he wants to grab her and the alderman while killing the rest. Which includes Laurel, her father, Ray, Felicity and a few others. While trying to hide who they are a little bit, it’s fun to see Felicity being fairly competent here in handling this while Ray is protecting Felicity and then making his own attempt to take a stab at the bad guys since they’re definitely being rather kill oriented. Saving the mayor keeps things from going completely bad, but Brick has managed to grab the aldermen, which gives him some power and position.
While Felicity is doing her best to stay out of things, there are moments where she gets drawn back in, such as when Quentin asks her why the Arrow hasn’t shown up since he’s hearing reports of Sara being back in town as well. That reveal has her realizing she’s not in the loop to be sure now and sets her to figuring out what’s going on. Since she knows it’s got to be Laurel, she ends up going to try and talk some sense into her, though it turns out a bit different than she expected considering what Laurel’s going through, and Felicity herself. She basically talks herself back into things, which is good to see happen sooner rather than later, since it’s not a plotline that I’m all that interested in seeing being drawn out too much.
The hunt for Brick is a natural event at this point and it’s fun to see how Roy ends up working with Laurel over it since he knows he can’t do it alone and she’s got the info he needs to deal with it. Diggle is even less pleased, but even he realizes there’s only so much he can do at this point. Their attempt at rescuing the aldermen doesn’t go quite so good overall as Brick manages to get away, but Roy’s attempt at taking out Brick falls apart and Brick gets his revenge by offing one of the aldermen. That just makes the seriousness of what they’re doing feel all the more real. Interestingly, Brick changes his approach after all of this by trying to set up a parley with the mayor since he’s not exactly pleased with the vigilante situation in the city either, as it’s making his own criminal enterprise more difficult.
Brick’s approach here is definitely full of confidence and a certain kind of swagger as his goal is to have the Glades emptied of a police presence so he can cement his position there. It’s bold and has some roots in actual history, and Brick certainly has the bargaining power at hand to try and push it through. But there’s that vigilante problem as well. And while Oliver isn’t a part of it at the moment, it’s good to see how things are coalescing around the others as they’re changing the view of Oliver’s mission to theirs as well, so they have to take responsibility for it. And it’s a hard responsibility, especially as we see Laurel having to take on the role of Sara with her father as well.
The third act gives us the expect big action sequence as the team heads in to go after the aldermen and stop Brick since ceding control of a district in the city is just not going to happen. While Roy and Laurel handle it pretty well, Laurel ends up getting separated and having to go up against Brick herself as part of her own trial by fire and baptism as a costumed hero. She’s actually handling it pretty well here, though enough of it is luck as well, but it makes for a pretty exciting rescue sequence overall. While Brick isn’t dealt with here permanently, the aldermen are saved but the glades are lost as the mayor caves in on all of this since there’s still enough threats that Brick can carry through on. It further sets into motion Brick as a solid badass here with some real potential that gives us something different from the previous bad guys.
Oliver’s story this time around spends its time in the present as Oliver is trying to understand how Maseo is, since he’s Ra’s man and taken the name Sarab, but a lot of it draws back to the past from five years prior when things went really bad. Events went badly then as Maseo was giving up the Alpha to China White in exchange for his wife, but it turns into the event that has everything going down badly for all three of them. While the past is key, the present plays out well too as we see others of the League show up and discover what’s going on there, though Maseo certainly tries a bluff that doesn’t work in order to throw them off track. I plays out briefly, and has some serious sadness to it as well since Maseo is simply bound to Ra’s and unable to leave him, no matter who asks him to do so. In the end, it’s all about protecting his family, past and present circumstances, and that’s what drives him.
Arrow works through a lot of stuff here overall and it largely works in a very good way. Thea’s story is minimal as she’s trying to understand why her father wants to flee instead of fight, but it has some nice moments. Oliver’s story in past and present furthers the kind of relationship he has with Maseo and Tatsu and that’ll be key as events play out going forward. But mostly I just really liked seeing Team Arrow come together again in a solid way as they realize that his mission has really become theirs as well. With Laurel doing her best to cement herself as a part of it, she mostly manages to do that while still having all the right mistakes along the way to make it work well enough. I’ve been wary of Laurel in this role since she was first cast and the first season hit, but even though it’s being done in an accelerated form this season, it’s definitely appealing to me in the right way.