Whereas The Flash has taken a very slow – ironic – and predictable pace, Arrow continues to shake things up and keep you glued to your seat. This weeks episode was a perfect blend of Season 1 tie in as well as begin the build up to the true conflict this season – a conflict that was hinted at in Season 2: Ra’s Al Ghul. With returning characters and new each coming in with enormous space for growth, let’s get started in analyzing “The Magician”.
A Family Of Secrets:
If we have learned anything the past few Seasons, its that the Queen family excels when it comes to secrets. Though as it’s been said before, these secrets are what will tear the family apart. So it’s quite refreshing to see Oliver and Thea’s relationship this season be based on one of no more secrets. Though as nice as that sounds, the implementation of this plan has only led to more.
Sure Oliver is being honest with Thea now; but he has still yet to mention anything about his pursuits as The Arrow. Sooner or later the question will come up since he no longer has a multi-billion dollar company to run. Then again, Thea isn’t really in a position to call people out on secret double lives considering the lies she’s keeping.
She’s always been the one to be upset about lies; and yet this season we find Thea blatantly lying to Oliver about the night of the Slade Wilson’s attack as well as knowing about Malcolm Merlyn still being alive – not to mention that she spent the past 6 months with him. It seems like secrets might be something the Queen family will never be able to get past; but it’d still be so fulfilling to just see everyone show their hand. Though considering the threat that might be coming to Starling soon, it might happen son enough.
The Magician Returns… Again… Again:
If any other character on any other show came back as much as Malcolm Merlyn, you could start to get annoyed. How does the big villain of Season 1 – a man the Arrow was dedicated to stopping once and for all – still live and seem relevant two seasons later after we’ve already introduced much stronger villains? The simple answer, “we don’t know, but its John Barrowman’. I mean for Pete’s sake, the man has ARROW in his name; and he’s an amazing actor. So however long they want to keep bringing Merlyn back, we will love it each time.
Though Merlyn this season is turning out to be much more than we ever thought he could be. Seeing him interact with Thea has really humanized him; and that is always where Merlyn’s power has come from: his family. This is what makes him a great foil for Oliver. All the evil things he’s done have been – in his head – as a way to avenge his wife’s death; as well as to make up for his inaction of ignoring that call when she asked for help while bleeding out. Sure he went over the top, but it does come from a good place.
Since his actions caused Tommy’s death and he’s now found Thea, Malcolm seems much more defensive than offensive. It wasn’t exactly explained why he was in Starling on and off – while he would have been with Thea -; but I’m sure this will be addressed soon enough. Though regardless of what it is, it honestly doesn’t seem that sinister. As Malcolm explained to Oliver, he has a huge bounty on his head by Ra’s Al Ghul so he wouldn’t want to draw attention to himself – especially not by killing the ‘beloved’ of his daughter.
Again, despite being the usual ‘over the top one’, Malcolm served as a very ration voice of reason in this witch hunt for Sarah’s killer. He even seems to have called the notion that Sarah could have been killed by one of Al Ghul’s men, which would make a TON of sense from a viewer perspective considering Sarah looked surprised to see the person there. She knew the killer and seemed to be on acquaintance terms with him/her. So another League of Assassins member does sound most plausible. With Al Ghul hunting for both Malcolm and Oliver now, I really hope we see these two team up more in the future to fight Al Ghul – they’ll need it.
The Path Of Vengeance:
For the past few weeks, we’ve seen Laurel head more and more down the path of following in Sarah’s footsteps. Though with the return of the original badass woman – Nyssa – the previous contrasts between these two faded as both seemed to be heading down the same path. Despite some initial insults, Nyssa grows to respect Laurel through the episode and even mentions how Laurel reminds her that “the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire” –foreshadowing that Laurel has the potential to become much stronger. Considering Nyssa is the one who originally gave Sarah that black leather jacket, it means a lot that Laurel now has the jacket and Nyssa’s blessing.
Laurel has put aside her differences with Nyssa too it seems as she asks her to do what she – and Oliver – cannot: kill Malcolm. Laurel might blame Nyssa for putting darkness in Sarah’s heart; but as Nyssa replied that it was always there. The same seems to be said for Laurel as she is definitely growing darker. Hopefully she can control this darkness as Nyssa seems to be doing; but will Nyssa be able to control it if the true killer is indeed her father.
The Demon Revealed:
We started hearing about Ra’s Al Ghul last season; but just who is he and why is he known as ‘The Demon’. Well compared to Slade, he might seem pretty unassuming; but there is he actually ruthless enough to kill his daughter’s lover for taking her heart? It certainly seems like it, and the look of confusion and fear on Nyssa’s face at the end was brilliantly acted.
We’ll have to find out in the coming episodes just what Ra’s is capable of as he declares war on Oliver Queen. Though the initial introduction of Ra’s Al Ghul emerging from the bath was a brilliant reference to the Lazarus Pit, the spring from which Ra’s Al Ghul rejuvenates and heals himself – sometimes at the cost of sanity. Again, too soon to tell if this was the Pit or not – though I’m willing to bet probably not. Then again, if he’s already paranoid enough to kill his daughter’s lover, then maybe he has already taken a dip in the Pit.
Where The Past And Future Collide – Flashback:
Much like how this episode brought back Malcolm Merlyn in order to begin to face a new threat (Ra’s Al Ghul), the flashbacks of this episode as well had a sort of past/present duality. While in Hong Kong, Oliver learns that Edward Fyers (Season 1 island bad guy Oliver and Slade fought against) was actually working for Amanda Waller. It turns out the plan to shoot down that plane wasn’t to destabilize China’s economy – as Fyers thought it was – but actually to kill Chien Na Wei (the leader of the Chinese Triad in Season 1).
It’s safe to assume that she will become one of the flashback villains for this Season, which is again a nice tie into Season 1 (both in the greater story arc as well as the flashback story arc). Though that being said, I just find it strange that Fyers would go through such trouble to kill one person. Did Waller appoint Fyers to make a false narrative – which resulted in him spending a lot of time recruiting Yao Fei to make another false narrative – all to kill one woman? Either I missed something, or they just used cannon to kill mosquito.
All in all this was a great episode that really drove the tension for this season forward. As for the flashbacks, I haven’t quite gotten into the groove of them this season; but I’m interested to see where this is going. Since Oliver Queen was found back on the island, I’m assuming Waller leaves him to die at some point.