Arrow Round Table: Is Malcolm Merlyn Insane?

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This week on the Arrow Season 3 Episode 14 Round Table, we're talking about the return of Slade Wilson, Malcolm Merlyn's insanity and how Thea took the news she killed Sara, among other things.

Join participants Allison Nichols, Paul Dailly, Hank Otero, Carla Day and Carissa Pavlica in the conversation by sharing the discussion and jotting your thoughts in the comments. Join in the fun!

Arrow RT 1-27-15 - depreciated -

What did you think about Slade's usage in "The Return?"

Allison:I have missed him so much. It was only a matter of time before him being alive came back to bite Oliver in the butt, and it's interesting that it happened due to Malcolm. I kinda wish Slade knew more about what was going on. He always has some harsh insights for Oliver, and I did like that he commented on how dark Thea has gotten. Slade is Oliver's weird older brother who wants to kill him, and I love their dynamic.

Paul:I don't like him. He was used way too much last season and he should have been written out the series. He did a lot of crappy things and when he returned he was still talking about his lost love. The guy needs to move on and stop wallowing in the past because he is going to end up killed.

Hank:I'm with Allison, seeing Slade again was a total blast. I think what made Arrow Season 2 so much stronger than this year is we had a solid antagonist with a plan. I have to disagree with Paul, there are still plenty of Deathstroke stories to tell. Unlike Malcolm, this guy has not overstayed his welcome. Besides, Manu Bennett is a force of nature and without a doubt one of Oliver's best enemies.

Carla:I love Slade and it was great to see him again, though I don't understand why he didn't just kill Oliver. It was disappointing that Malcolm manipulated Slade's release from his cell. For me, it tainted the whole thing a bit. I'm tired of Slade's rants about Shado, he needs to get over that and move on. I want to see Slade and Oliver fighting on the same side again.

Carissa:Slade is a mere shadow of his former self. The way he was used was unfortunate. One pitiful man using an even more pitiful man to try to manipulate his daughter one more time? I would have liked a triumphant return for Slade. I'd still like to see him given the Deadshot treatment in the future.

The flashbacks were all over the place. From Oliver's perspective and some outliers. How did they fit with the story?

Allison:The flashbacks were odd. You kinda just have to accept that Oliver happened to be in the right time to see Thea and to follow her where she would talk to his grave and then try to by drugs before Tommy breaks it up. I did enjoy how much little moments the writers included just for the fans. We saw Diggle's brother. Felicity talking aloud in Queen Consolidated. The flashbacks were there to partially further the story, but mainly for the fans.

Paul:The flashbacks annoyed the life out of me. I was sitting commenting to myself that Lance's hair had grown A LOT in the last week. I feel like the ones including Ollie at the party were just thrown in there for the fans and they felt forced. It was nice to see Diggle's brother, but apart from that I'm over the Amanda Waller stuff.

Hank:The flashbacks have mostly sucked this season. I did enjoy spending some time with Tommy again. It's crazy how much I liked the character after he died. Meeting Andy Diggle was cool, as well. Totally agree with Paul that Amanda Waller has not worked this season. I'm really hoping the writers sit down and figure out what has successfully engaged us in the past and plan out Arrow Season 4 better. This one has felt very experimental and not in a good way, to be honest.

Carla:I hated the flashbacks more than I can express with a few words. They went against everything from Arrow Season 1 when Oliver returned to Starling City. The little quips that were for fans irritated me, like the "You're not my brother" or the "You're cute" from Felicity. Also, Oliver left behind evidence he was alive and no one figured it out? He used his fingerprint to get into Queen Consolidated computers and left his fingerprints on the railing after killing the drug dealer. Not a fan of these flashbacks at all.

Carissa:I agree that they felt misplaced. The more we learn about Oliver's time away, the less I buy his origin story. He had so many chances to escape. After a point, it comes down to blackmail. Was it like that in the comics? Three years in and he's still whining, too. When did he finally get a spine? I was also uncertain why we were seeing flashbacks outside of Oliver's perspective as we have always seen them from his perspective in the past unless expressly shown otherwise. Not a fan.

What did you think of Thea's reaction to learning about killing Sara?

Allison:I liked that Thea kept pushing Oliver when she realized that there was still another secret. I don't think Thea has really grasped the new world she is living in. Yeah, she can protect herself now, but she can also kill. She has finally realized this, and the fact that she killed a friend without even realizing it is just heartbreaking to her. She seems to now be of the mindset that she's already killed once, so might as well keep going.

Paul:I liked it, but I don't think she's fully processed it yet. How can she realistically speak to Laurel or Lance again without feeling horrible about this? It's a pain that will probably never go away. I'd like her to find a way to put it behind her, but that won't happen for quite a while, if ever. I do like the character transformation she's gone through.

Hank:It was a tough thing to process, but more importantly she's realized Malcolm is a slime bucket and never cared about her. I think finally learning the truth will teach her there are very few people she can trust; even "family." She's lucky to have Ollie and I can see her joining Team Arrow as Speedy!

Carla:Thea's proved to be a strong woman and no longer the young school girl we saw in the flashbacks. Her reaction was natural and proved that she's ready to be part of this hero world. She's strong-minded and strong-hearted. I'm enjoying Thea more than I ever thought possible.

Carissa:What I love the most is that Malcolm taught her to withstand intense pain, never realizing the pain she would need to withstand was him. She's so strong and capable and I'm sad Moira didn't get to see the new woman she has become. She would be so incredibly proud. I'm very interested to see how she bears the weight of Sara's death long term.

Malcom continues to say he used Thea to kill Sara because he cares for her. Can you make any sense of him at this point? Are they even trying?

Allison:I'm convinced that there is something clinically wrong with Malcolm Merlyn, and therefore it makes no sense to try to understand anything that he says or does. It makes things easier on me. His view on love, protection, and family is so twisted.

Paul:He makes no sense. It's like the writers want to keep him on board and are throwing us plot holes in the process. I hope I'm wrong and we get a big pay off with this, but at the moment, it sure looks uncertain.

Hank:Nope, I've said it a million times the character and his motivations make no sense since Arrow Season 1. I love John Barrowman, but I've got my fingers crossed Malcolm meets his maker by the end of the season. Maybe even in Arrow Season 1 Episode 15.

Carla:I don't know if it's poor writing or if Malcolm's line of reasoning is just so illogical. If it's the latter, I'd like him to show what is motivating this line of thought and how he thought it would actually go down. From using Thea to kill Sara to sending Oliver to attempt to kill R'as to releasing Slade ... none of those decisions were logical means to Malcolm's stated ends. Is he crazy? Or does he have a different end game?

Carissa:His entire storyline is downright crazy now. I can barely stomach him. That said, did you see the photo of him from the upcoming episode, kneeling in front of Ra's al Ghul? Pure fear in his eyes. He's a coward. At least that helps define some of his actions.

Talk about what happened between Capt. Lance and Laurel and the potential fallout to come from that.

Allison:I liked that the flashback showcased the bond that he spoke of at the grave. He was the only one who called Laurel out on her decision to take a fancy gig at a law firm. I'm so glad that Lance is upset that Laurel lied to him of all people. I wish there was something more about what she chose to lie about. I took it as him being mostly upset about the Sara lie, but it wouldn't surprise me if keeping the decision to wear a mask from him is another thing that bothers him. I want to see Laurel work to get her relationship back with her father. I want some of Lance avoiding her or dealing with Roy/Arsenal instead of talking to Laurel.

Paul:This family has witnessed so much pain. It would be sad if they didn't make it up eventually. Sure, Lance has every right to be annoyed, but Laurel was worried about his health and that's why she kept it from him. It looks like Lance isn't going to be using team Arrow any time soon.

Hank:It's not like he's hasn't lost faith in Laurel before right? I think it will take some time for Quentin to trust Laurel again, but it will happen. I like Allison's idea about Quentin avoiding Laurel and turning to Roy/Arsenal instead. He's always dealt mostly with the Arrow though, so perhaps he'll go back to that.

Carla:Either Lance will isolate himself or he'll get over it soon. I hope it's the latter because while Laurel shouldn't have kept the secret from him as long as she did, it did make sense to protect him initially. Lance was not physically healthy enough to withstand the news. He's a logical man and loves his family. He's a father with unconditional love for his daughter.

Carissa:Until I watched, it escaped me completely that he kept Sara's return from Laurel for the same reasons she kept her second death from him. At a time when Laurel needed to know Sara was alive more than ever, deep in the throes of alcoholism, he kept it from her. They're very much alike, indeed. They need to call it a wash and realize they only have each other. Is it worth the possibility of losing each other to hold back those feelings? No.

If you have anything else to say about "The Return," now's your chance!

Allison:I really loved how Oliver wore a hood when he went back to the island. It was adorable. My hands down favorite exchange is Maseo being upset with Oliver that he thought a hood would disguise his identity, and the line, "That disguise wouldn’t work even if you smeared grease paint all over your face."

Paul:The episode was full of muddled flashbacks. It was confusing. I don't like where the direction the show is going. I can only hope we don't get more filler episodes this season.

Hank:I agree with Paul, the filler episodes this year have killed the momentum of previous seasons. Luckily, the writers have nine more episodes to impress us. Arrow is still one of my favorite shows, but I feel like all the creative energy transferred over to The Flash this year.

Carla:Oliver and Thea are my favorite relationship on the show right now. Despite Malcolm's illogical actions, he did train Thea to protect herself and his actions pushed the siblings closer together than they have ever been. Thea's gone from one of my least favorite characters on screen to one of my favorites.

Carissa:It's so interesting how many readers found it to be their favorite episode and yet we found it lacking. I can't figure out what the disconnect is. If anyone has the magic formula, I'd love to know it.

You can catch Arrow Season 3 Episode 15, "Nanda Parbat," Wednesday, February 25 at 8/7c.

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, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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