I don’t think the season has quite hit its rhythm just yet. This episode didn’t really hit the high notes that the promo perhaps suggested it could. As we said on the podcast – it was as if it didn’t know if it wanted to focus on Thea or Diggle. It wasn’t a bad episode, not at all. It just wasn’t the best.
What’s Thea been up to?
Thea’s storyline is the one that has intrigued me most since the end of Season 2. After she went off with Malcolm, when Season 3 promos showed that she was in training – I’ve been really interested to see where they’re going to go with that. Tonight’s episode gave us the first glimpse of that. It’s just a shame that we weren’t given more of a glimpse – Thea didn’t really get the chance to shine as much as she could have in an episode which appeared Thea centric previously, but as it turned out, that wasn’t really the case.
We got the flashbacks where Malcolm showed himself to be a frontrunner for father of the year, pouring boiling liquid on his daughter’s hand and also punching her. We saw her reasons for wanting him to train her (so she wouldn’t feel the pain she did again), we saw her being drawn into training him after he pushed her to breaking point but then, that was that. The end of the episode showed us that she sure as hell knows how to use a sword now, but it would have been nice to see a bit more of her getting from A to B. At least one more flashback, showing her progressing in her training might have been a decent move.
She decided to follow Oliver home after he told her about Robert’s sacrifice, a U-turn after she was seemingly so adamant on staying as the episode got underway. Had her storyline and Diggle’s storyline not been competing with one another for top spot, her change of heart could have been further developed and fleshed out. In some respects, I feel the Diggle storyline was thrown in just so that we could have some action in the episode. I’m not sure it was needed. With more Thea flashbacks, you’d have plenty of action in the end, the more emotional moments between herself and Oliver could have had greater weight too – I mean, come on, they’ve lost their mother, as far as Oliver knows, they’re the only family each other has left. There’s plenty of material there which just didn’t feel as delved into as it could have been.
Nevertheless, Thea being scolded by hot coffee (or, insert alternative hot beverage here) and not flinching was a nice touch, calling back to her father’s bizarre methods in the flashback. She’s certainly come a long way and I’m intrigued to see Malcolm’s plans for her, she’s back to Starling and he’s told her he’ll see her soon. What’s coming next?
Damn. Why now for Dig?
The fact that we’ve had a Diggle shortage has been something that’s wound me up. He’s become the guy that stands in the corner and says little, ironically, rather like me at social gatherings. Nevertheless, I’ve been wanting to see him be more involved but why did it have to be in this episode? The Shaw storyline with the ARGUS agent threatening to sell secrets, that could have worked as a standalone episode but it just detracted from the Thea storyline – which I felt should have been top of the pile this week. There was no link between what Diggle was doing and helping Oliver – that’s what I and I’m sure others have been wanting to see.
Oliver and Dig were the ones that started this crusade together, but as time has gone by Dig has kind of been pushed to one side. It would have been nice to see Diggle more actively involved in Arrow business, as opposed to ARGUS business. The storyline itself with Shaw was fairly generic. There wasn’t anything overly major from it. The fact that he was willing to sell out his former friends (including Lyla) was probably the only ‘big’ thing to come from it. Obviously it serves to show Diggle he really has things to lose now.
Oh Laurel… And Felicity and Ray…
We of course had two more storylines here, Laurel’s transition to the Black Canary basically resembled going over a speed bump at full pelt and whacking your head on the roof in this episode. It didn’t work for me. She, untrained, goes and tries to put down what’s clearly a violent man? It’s not following in her sister’s footsteps, it’s stupidity and her transition feels a little forced with moves like this. Obviously the guy was abusing his girlfriend and it’s a call back to Sara’s line to Sin last season of, ‘No woman should ever suffer at the hands of men’ but it’s just a bit too in your face, too obvious and Laurel was being too reckless. It’s difficult to get behind a character behaving like that.
At least Oliver refused to train her, that was pleasing.
We also had Felicity and Ray shoehorned into the episode, with Ray discovering weapon designs. Now, I’d say that it was a storyline too many for an episode which felt a bit jumbled, but damn you Brandon Routh for being a brilliant Ray Palmer. He’s a cracking character, him and Felicity are great and the scenes with them always seem to be marvellous.
The end of the episode saw Nyssa arrive, demanding to know where Sara is which already looks to have set up a decent instalment next week. There were some nice ideas this week, the episode just didn’t really choose to focus well enough on any of them. More of Thea would have been preferable, but maybe they’re going to give us more of her progress over her months with Malcolm in the weeks to come.