Monday, November 03, 2014

Arrow S03 E04: "The Magician"

"My father may be The Demon, but yours is The Devil."

Comics fans know what to expect when they see the title of this episode. John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn was the big bad for the first season of "Arrow," but he was based on a character from the comics - Arthur King. King was an assassin whose weapons of preference were bows and arrows and he went by the name Merlyn the Magician while a member of the League of Assassins. He also served as both inspiration and archenemy for Green Arrow.

In "Arrow," Merlyn is actually the character's last name, and The Magician is a name he took on as part of the League of Assassins. Deep in the soap opera roots of the show, he is also the birth-father of Oliver's sister Thea, from an affair with their mother years before. Last episode, Thea returned to Starling City from Corto Maltese where Malcolm had been training her as... his sidekick? A junior super-villain? Or like in the comics, the second Speedy?

In our cliffhanger last time, Nyssa, the daughter of R'as Al Ghul, invaded the Arrowcave demanding to know where Sara was. Uh oh. Disappointingly, the encounter is talked out despite weapons drawn. What boggled my mind is when she left, Oliver told Roy to follow her while he went to see Thea. Wait, what? Number one, when did Oliver start trusting Roy that much, and number two, Nyssa is the daughter of the demon! This is just asking for trouble.

After Nyssa and leatherjacketed Laurel have a harsh meeting at Sara's grave, Oliver and the daughter of the demon forge an uneasy alliance to find Sara's killer. The number one suspect is enemy of the League, Malcolm Merlin. League sources had determined that he had faked his death and was still alive - but we knew that.

The don't-tell-Dad thing with Laurel being involved with Team Arrow is beginning to get tedious. Almost as tedious as the don't-tell-Iris nonsense going on at "The Flash." Speaking of which, there's another bit of continuity in that Felicity is in Central City this week. One thing I have noted about Barry over on "The Flash" is that he is a good soul, trustworthy, loyal, a real hero. That contrast may be hurting "Arrow," because everyone on this show, good or evil, is a liar.

Oliver lies. Malcolm lies. Thea lies. Laurel lies. It's to a point where when the only person whose word you can trust is the daughter of R'as Al Ghul, we are all in trouble. Oliver may think he's taking the high ground by not killing, but he's still a liar. I was so troubled by all of the deception on this show that I really didn't care all that much when Thea was kidnapped by Nyssa.

And that is the point at which Nyssa says the words I began this review with. Arrow's rescue of Thea brings him into conflict with Nyssa and them both with Malcolm. The three way fight is intriguing for a moment until you realize you can't really tell one hooded archer from another in the dimly lit arena. In the end, Malcolm lives, and Oliver swears as long as he's in Starling, Merlyn is under his protection... earning the enmity of the League of Assassins. And we get our first look at the television version of The Demon.

Flashback Hong Kong ties up some loose ends from season one, but does little else. There's also the matter of the Arrowcave. Thea wants to reopen Verdant, and buy it from Queen Consolidated. What happens to the Arrowcave when Thea finds it in the basement of her club? Or does she already know?

Next: The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak!

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