'Arrow' Episode 3.11 "Midnight City" (8 out of 10) Starring Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Colon Haynes. Guest Starring Vinnie Jones, Brandon Routh. First aired January 28, 2015.
At the end of last week's episode, we saw Laurel Lance put on the Black Canary costume for the first time. She's had some missteps, but she handily kicked some ass, saying "This is the justice you can't run from." Which I suppose is her "You have failed this city." This episode begins where that left off, with Black Canary trying her hand at combat with some of Brick's thugs. She runs into Arsenal, who saves her life and then gives her a stern talking to. Or as stern a talking to as an Abercrombie model can muster.
Back in the Arrowcave, Roy's stitching her up, and then Diggle comes and chews her out. And later her dad. And then Felicity. Basically everyone's saying "You're not Sara you're not Sara you're not Sara..." And hey, she's not Sara. Who knew?
Laurel Lance, to me, was the most useless character in Season One and the first half of Season Two. To the point that I wanted them to kill off the character. She was annoying when she was threewaying with Oliver and Tommy (okay, not simultaneously, it's not that show)(I think?), she was annoying after Tommy died, she made an annoying drunk, she was an annoying rival to Sara...holy crap. Have I mentioned she was annoying? In the course of the last twenty episodes, she's transformed. She's gone from the character I wanted to see the least of to the one that's among the best. Laurel Lance at this point last year would have collapsed into tears with all these confrontations from friends. This Laurel...she's found strength. She's strong enough emotionally to be Black Canary, now she's just learning the skills. Black Canary has been a favorite superhero of mine for decades, going back to the 1980s. Because yeah, I'm old. And I'm still alive. And that's awesome. For Laurel to finally be strong enough to say "look, assholes -- Oliver Queen is dead, you're not saving the city, I'm going to save it or die trying..." That's a huge leap forward for the character, and the showrunners have made it organic enough that it's not ridiculous.
"I'm going to save the city or die trying"
Okay. That's off my chest. Expect some sort of Black Canary retrospective sometime soon. Because I've got a lot to say. And I'm sorry.
As is the case with a show that's become as ensembley as "Arrow" has, there's a lot going on. A lot of shows have an A-plot and a B-plot...this episode gets us through at least a G-plot. We find out Brick's big plan is to take over the Glades--a run-down district at the heart of Starling City. Laurel has to deceive her dad to make him believe Sara's still alive...including impersonating her on the phone and in person. Over in Nanda Parbat, Oliver Queen has been nursed back to health by Maseo, who leaves him with Tatsu to rejoin Ra's Al Ghul and the League of Assassins. In the flashback, Oliver and Maseo survive battle with China White. Felicity and Ray Palmer survive an attack by Brick's gang, and after ongoing conversations with themselves and others, Felicity decides to help Ray with his A.T.O.M. techsuit. *deep breath* Aaaand Malcolm fails to get Thea to safety by fleeing Starling City, as she says "Daaad, this is what you trained me for...let's kick some Ra'ss." That joke was funnier in my head.
They're juggling a lot, but this episode gelled better than many recent ones have. Part of it is that the Nanda Parbat and Hong Kong flashback stories are drawing to a close, and you know Ollie's on his way home. Part of it is that Laurel is emerging from the superhero closet and moving from training mode to action. Part of it is that Felicity and Ray are making progress. Thea's ready to move forward. Everything that has been circling, parlaying, ready for action...is finally moving into action. It bodes well for the second half of the season, but more importantly, it will make for better, more interesting, more fun TV right now.
The sophomoric joke I couldn't quite work into the review: "it opens with Oliver's wet dream about Felicity...but the wet is BLOOD!!" Gross, I know. But it was gross to watch. Don't tease the Olicity 'shippers, man. It gets ugly quick.