It looks a little different than it did at this time last year, but Team Arrow is back.
I daresay Arrow Season 3 Episode 11 was yet another installment when Oliver was not needed. It could have stood quite well without his presence, and in light of the strength of the characters and the action in Starling City, his business and flashbacks were almost a distraction.
That was even more evident given the opening and the sense of urgency Maseo/Samba tried to impart upon Oliver that he had to get better because of what was happening in Starling in his absence.
What struck me was he never really followed up on that statement, and how would he know what was going on there, anyway? Sure, we know now, but at the time it sure seemed odd that anything in Starling would be on Maseo's radar.
It's a brilliant turn of events learning that Ra's al Ghul has never let Malcolm Merlyn out of his sites and he probably knew Oliver had nothing to do with Sara's death, as well. Would that be surprising? Unassuming Chase the kissing DJ is working with Maseo keeping tabs on the Merlyn duo. That's a stunner. How on earth does he connect?
What's not shocking is how pitiful Malcom remains as he attempts to explain himself to his daughter. He and his family is marked for death "because of the undertaking that killed my son," he tells Thea, as if he had nothing at all to do with it and we should feel sorry for him. I hope I'm wrong about a redemption story being on the way for him, but mentioning his motivation for his actions being grief after the death of his wife rubs me the wrong way.
Onto the good stuff! This week showcased the Felicity I have grown to know and love. The adverse reaction from last week has been tossed aside and she's not only on course in her own life, but gathering the troops and leading them into battle, assembling Team Arrow and even promising Ray with her help she may keep him alive, too.
In my expert opinion on grief, this was the Felicity I expected to see first then, when a mishap occurred, I would have expected a break, for her to falter in her belief that she could do it. That she immediately faltered threw me. Can I forgive her? Hell yes. She's Felicity and she proved her heart is the heart of Team Arrow. She even welcomed Laurel as Canary, noting they aren't fighting for those they lost but those that are still alive.
Laurel: So you don't have to worry. I'm not going to be putting on that mask again. I'm not strong enough to fight for Sara.
Felicity: Maybe you're not supposed to. Maybe it's not about Sara, or Oliver or anyone else that we care about who we lost. Maybe what we're doing, we've been doing because there are people that we care about that are still alive. Maybe we're doing it for them.
Laurel: I thought you quit.
There was no doubt Laurel was going to charge out of the gate and take a tumble (and keep on tumbling for a while). Then seeing someone killed in front of her really hit her hard. It's easy to forget how real the stakes are when you're not playing on the field. She was out there in the thick of it and it wasn't easy.
Yet even when not suited up, she was snapping a heel off her shoe to go on the attack, as Ray beside her was strangling one of Brick's thugs in the Mayor's office. It was pretty cool stuff. Still, Laurel wanted to give up and without Felicity's intervention she may have. When Capt. Lance called Felicity, I choked up a bit at her response.
Lance: We need help, we need it now. Look, I know you said the Arrow is gone, are you sure about that?
Felicity: Yes, I am. But I think I know where to find the Canary.
In the end it was Felicity's decision to activate Laurel as Canary, which is a brilliant move on the part of the character and the show because it immediately raises the decision into one both the team and viewers can get on board with because we believe in Felicity.
Roy: Us? What, are you and Laurel a team now?
Felicity: I was wrong when I said Oliver's mission was over because it's not just Oliver's mission anymore. It's ours. It's our home that is under attack.
Laurel: For all we know, Oliver could be dead and Sara certainly is, but there are people that are still alive. People who need us.
It was also incredibly touching, yet somewhat painful, that Felicity created the voice algorithm so Laurel could talk to Capt. Lance as Sara. It's a tough call, whether or not he should know about Sara's death, especially when he was pleading with her about getting Chinese. Is this the new lore, when he'll no longer have direct access to either Arrow or Canary? There were too many people on the inside.
"Midnight City" wasn't about a city in peril at all. It proved Oliver can take a vacation if he wants and the city will be fine without him. Maybe someday he and Felicity will take a honeymoon.
- The opening dream/nightmare scene being from Oliver's POV was well done. One more time he told Felicity how much he loves her, even if she didn't get the message.
- Has any member of Team Arrow ever been broadcast on TV before? Even if Laurel was stumbling in her fighting, the Arsenal/Black Canary duo were being called out as heroes on TV. Not bad.
- Two times Felicity was wrong! She was wrong about Team Arrow not being able to do it without Oliver and about helicopters not having keys, sort of.
- Laurel as Black Canary launching herself out the window and grabbing that chopper ladder was pretty tough and not just a rookie move!
- Someone called Roy Red Arrow, and the way he stood up to Malcolm was badass.
- So, does anyone know for sure? Was Oliver on the cliff for three days or one day or did he die or what the hell?
Alright. Your turn Arrow Fanatics. I'm sure you're itching to talk about it. Love it or hate it? Is Team Arrow on the right track?
Don't forget, if you need to catch up you can watch Arrow online any time via TV Fanatic.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.