'Arrow' Episode 3.12 "Uprising" (8 out of 10) Starring Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Colton Haynes. Guest Starring Vinnie Jones, John Barrowman. First aired February 4, 2015.
Since the mid-season hiatus, I've felt like "Arrow" was in a rut. Oliver was "dead" over in Nanda Parbat, Laurel was starting her Black Canary career, Brick had taken over the Glades...but there wasn't much moving forward. We know Oliver's alive and will come back, and the Hong Kong flashbacks (which have always bothered me) were taking up more of the show than they should. Felicity was mourning Oliver and pre-mourning Ray Palmer, and just turning around in circles.
"Uprising" finally moved everyone out of their rut. The episode has Arsenal and Black Canary finally taking the superheroing to the level that Oliver had been at when he left Starling City. Alongside Captain Lance, and with the support of Diggle and Felicity, they're able to take on Brick...they think. Then, in the midst of getting their asses womped, Malcolm Merlyn comes in and saves the day. He's asking for their help, and will eventually be asking again. It turns out Brick is the thug who killed Rebecca Merlyn 21 years ago, and now Merlyn wants revenge.
Instead of Hong Kong flashbacks this time around, we get Merlyn's flashbacks--Tommy and Oliver were just pups, and Rebecca Merlyn had just been killed. We see (some incredible mid-90s hair) Merlyn's first revenge killings, and how they propelled him to join Ra's Al Ghul's League of Assassins. This episode's flashbacks dovetailed more neatly with the current storylines, with conversations there finding resonance with Malcolm's relationships with Thea. "Arrow" has looked at the difference between revenge and justice before, at the heroism of deciding not to kill. It's revisited here, and as we move forward with Thea's role in the death of Sara, that conversation will probably be happening often.
A few small things I liked about this episode: I love that Captain Quentin Lance just called Arsenal "Harper," in the middle of a conversation. Roy tried to play it off, "uhhh I don't know what you're..." and Lance called him on it. "From a red hoodie to a red hood?" He's a detective, and he finally just called him on it. Didn't threaten to expose the "secret identity" or arrest him for vigilantism, just told him to watch out for his daughter. Which was kinda heartbreaking. Anyway. I love that Lance just stopped playing dumb. I'm wondering if he's sussed out that Arrow is Oliver Queen...lately I've been assuming he knows, but it's irrelevant. Kind of like Commissioner Gordon knowing/not knowing that Batman is Bruce Wayne. Let the hero do their thing, I'll do my thing.
I also liked that Arsenal and Canary, with the help of Sin, Wildcat, and Glades residents were able to take on Brick. That they had enough charisma and power and courage to take back the city without Oliver's help. At the last minute, Oliver does return. He makes a great speech, and, as the Flash did on that other CW show, stopped being urban myth and became the hero for his city. It's a big step, one there's no turning back from.
There were also some sad moments in this episode. There are the expected ones, like Malcolm finding out about the death of his wife (in flashback), but also some moments we knew were coming, but we weren't sure how or when. Sin tells Captain Lance that whoever the blonde chick in black leather is, it's not Sara. He'll find out soon enough that Sara's dead--again--and that will be hard to watch. The other sad bit was Felicity's final, heartbreaking confirmation of the breakup between her and Oliver. And ten thousand #Olicity fans wept. When she said "I don't want to be a woman that you love," it hurt, man. It hurt. She was a big part of Oliver clawing his way back to Starling City, but she's tired of the BS.
I'm wondering if this will spark her jumping ship to Central City (as fans have speculated), or how it will change the dynamic in the Arrowcave. I would like to see some of the "old" Felicity back, where she smiles and jokes and isn't crying over some superhero boy or another. She's a genius, she's a strong woman, let's get back to that.
And last thing--William Shatner was live-tweeting "Arrow" last night, and cracking me the hell up. I don't know if it's really him or one of his harem or servants or whatever, but wow. It was good times.
Next week, Count Vertigo is back, and it looks like Black Canary confronts Canary or sisters wrestle or...yeah. Lots of blondes in black leather. Thumbs up.