Arrow: “Left Behind” – Looking Ahead

After it’s killer midseason finale, Arrow returned tonight to the CW; but how can a show return when its title character is more or less… dead? Well, this episode begins a trilogy that will bring our hero back to the city. Though before that can happen, we must see what becomes of everyone he’s “left behind”. So draw back your bow and pick your target; because we’re about to take a closer look at this week’s episode of Arrow, “Left Behind”.

The Meaning Of “Left Behind”:

The last we saw of Oliver Queen – and as the ‘previously on Arrow’ reminds us – he was throat punched, run through and then kicked off a snowy mountain. The only marker was the sword left in stone by Ra’s as a symbol of remembrance. Beyond that, there is no body brought back. There’s no one to see where he fell. It seems as though life will go on in Starling as Oliver’s body is literally left behind.

Left Behind

Though this idea changes as we see someone come for Oliver and things in Starling get worse and worse in his absence. By episode’s end, it is strikingly clear that it is Oliver’s team – and not Oliver himself – that has been “left behind”. In fact, the juxtaposition of these two trains of thought – Oliver left behind vs Team Arrow left behind – is actually brilliant. Let me explain. As the show progresses, we see how the members of Team Arrow feel more and more forlorn and lost without Oliver around. At the same time, we find Oliver becoming more and more saved and surrounded by long lost friends.

When All Hope Is Lost – Felicity:

Speaking of those ‘left behind’ in Starling, everyone is taking it differently; but not worse than Felicity. With so much still obviously unresolved between her and Oliver, it makes sense that it’d hit her the hardest. The fact that she remained hopeful for so long is admirable; but is also the reason why she fell so hard later on. With the blood on Malcolm’s blade testing 99.997% match with Oliver, Felicity goes from hoping beyond hope to realizing that she is 25 and has already lost two people incredibly close to her within the span of several months.

This leaves Felicity broken, the full extent of which can only be seen when Diggle finds himself facing Daniel Brickwell (aka Brick) in a losing battle. As Diggle screams Felicity’s name for assistance, she is eerily silent. Roy of course swooped in to save Diggle in time; but both found themselves locked in the warehouse by a steel door. Rather than assist Diggle in the showdown and help them take down Brick, Felicity locked both in to protect them from anything happening.

With Oliver gone, so is Felicity’s faith in anything getting accomplished when bows and arrows go up against machine guns. Felicity’s worry is completely understandable; but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it was an ‘over correction’ that just left 8 months worth of arrests go free in 8 minutes. Oliver is gone and so are all the men he helped take down side by side with the Starling City Police Department. Until further notice, Felicity has left the Superhero Support Game – right after putting the city in tremendous peril – for when hope is gone, trust in everything else – including your team – goes with it.

We Are What Motivates Us – Diggle, Roy & Laurel:

As Felicity leaves Team Arrow behind, it becomes painfully clear that each character is there for a different reason. They might have fought side by side and started a family together; but that still can’ overrule their original motivation for getting involved – and that is what makes all the difference now. For example, Diggle has been Oliver’s right hand man for many years now; but in many ways he still saw himself as Oliver’s bodyguard. Then again, he did also sign up so he could do some good again like her did when he was on missions. Then again – again – would his new family at home override that? He understandably needs to figure some things out.

Though whereas Diggle has to sort through conflicting motivations, Roy doesn’t. Since day 1 he has wanted to fight by the Arrow’s side and protect the city. We saw this back in Season 2 when he and Thea were dating; and he’d constantly go out and try to save the day – prior to any actual training. Now Roy not only has the training but also wants to honor the memory of the man who saved his life – many times. Team Arrow might be done; but Roy will continue fighting the good fight because it’s what he’s wanted long before signing up. Though he won’t be fighting alone.

The Black Canary Laurel

We’ve seen Laurel go through many different mindsets. First she thought the Arrow was good, then back, then she got super depressed, and finally found her focus just to loose it when her sister died at the start of this season. She has had quite the struggle – especially keeping all this secret from her father – but as Nyssa told her, sometimes the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fires. She’s been training and whereas she still has a long way to go, that won’t stop her from trying to bring justice back to this city and honoring TWO people who mean a lot to her – Sarah and Oliver. Laurel finally has her priorities straight and hopefully more control than the last time she tried to fight. Her training might not be complete yet; but I for one am glad to see the new Black Canary finally rise! Though will they be enough to stop Starling City’s latest threat?

Brains & Bulletproof Brawn – A New Class Of Criminal:

There’s a new powerhouse in town, or should I say a “brick house” – I’m sorry, I’ll never make that pun again. Anyway, who is this new bulletproof kingpin? Well this is Daniel Brickwell, who in the comics is a metahuman with invulnerability. As for whether Brickwell indeed retains that ‘Metahuman’ status for Arrow remains to be seen; but the odds are pretty good. We saw him withstand a bullet to the arm AND the head so there is no fluke about him. Sure maybe there could be mirakuru involved; but that would lead to some mental hindrances – and Brick is always in control.

Brick vs Diggle

The most frightening thing about this villain isn’t just his brawn; but his brains. He’s got big plans for Starling City and he doesn’t take any chances. Even after bailing out a ton of criminals and hired muscle, he still keeps all the evidence against them as added leverage. Roy and Laurel will be in for the fight of their lives – especially if they don’t have field and tech support from Diggle and Felicity. Where is Oliver Queen?

A Promise Kept, A Life Restored, A Mystery Remains:

This is the first time since Season 1 – Episode 14 “The Odyssey” – that we get Oliver flashback without Oliver actually being awake/around/alive. Though these flashbacks are of course extremely important due to the final revelation of Oliver’s savior and piecing together the time he spent OFF the island. You all saw the flashbacks, so you know that despite Oliver and Maseo infiltraited a warehouse in order to recover an Alpha serum before China White can combine it with the Omega. During this confrontation, Oliver let’s someone go but not before putting a tracker on him. Waller might not care about Tatsu – Maseo’s wife – but Oliver does.

Fun Fact: The warehouse raid flashback happens while Diggle and Roy are infiltraiting another warehouse. However Diggle stops using the Arrow suit, while Oliver in the flashback dons a suit similar.

It is because of this selfless act that Maseo vows to always be indebted to Oliver. This explains why Maseo goes after Oliver in the present to find his body and bring it back to . . . *wait for it* Tatsu! Somehow Tatsu will bring Oliver back to life; but that isn’t the biggest mystery right now. When Oliver and Maseo last spoke in “The Climb”, Oliver surmises that Maseo joined the League of Assassins after “IT” happened. “It” doesn’t sound good – especially when you consider that Maseo abandoned his name and now goes by “The Phantom”.

Something happened to either Maseo or Tatsu that we don’t know yet. There is still a missing piece to the puzzle as to why Maseo isn’t currently with his wife – or where there son is – and why he addressed Tatsu with how he had no where else to go for help. These aren’t the words of someone who has kept in good strong touch with his wife. Then again, maybe she joined the League too and still hates Oliver? But the question still remains where’s the son and what is “IT”. Oliver and Maseo’s adventure in the past isn’t over yet, and it probably doesn’t end as happy as we’d like.

Two Desperate Men – Ray & Malcolm:

Okay, before you ask me why I put Ray Palmer and Malcolm Merlyn in the same category, here me out. Ray is doing all of this A.T.O.M. stuff to avenge his wife and make sure such a tragedy never happens again. This isn’t too different from what start Malcolm off on his Season 1 crusade against The Glades. Now sure, Ray has made a much better use of his pain and loss; but the determination behind them is still the same.

Though while one of them is progressing on the long journey to suiting up and fighting the good fight, the other is tired and running scared. His master plan was a failure. Oliver couldn’t defeat Ra’s al Ghul; and that means Malcolm’s death warrant is still quickly approaching. Sure he used his daughter; but he does care for Thea. He has to protect her now and they must move quickly. That being said, there was a curious moment this episode where it seemed like Malcolm was actually sincere about Oliver’s death.

“NEVER tell me what Anna would have wanted!” - Ray

“NEVER tell me what Anna would have wanted!” – Ray

Perhaps this is just wishful thinking, but perhaps there is some part of Malcolm that does wish to make things right. No, I’ll never be able to forgive him for killing Sara; but we know there will be other major villains heading to Starling now and he does care about Thea. The idea of an actual team up between Malcolm and Oliver isn’t too far fetched an idea. Then again, maybe I just find it hard to hate John Barrowman.

As I said at the start, think of these first three episodes as a trilogy. The fun, excitement and danger of this particular story isn’t over yet. Brick’s plans for The Glades are about to be set in motion and what’s left of Team Arrow is operating at half strength. So stay tuned here, follow me on Facebook and see you all next week for another episode of Arrow.

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