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TV REVIEW: Heroes in the Making in Arrow’s “Left Behind”

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 7 years ago

By Justin Carter

Well, if this wasn’t one goddamn depressing episode.

Fans knew that the episode immediately following the midseason finale from December wouldn’t be full of smiles and laughter. After all, when an episode ends with its titular character getting stabbed in the stomach and kicked down a mountain, seemingly dead, it isn’t like the showrunners can just make people forget that for six weeks. And if you did somehow forget, the ‘previously on’ does a good job of reminding you that yes, Oliver Queen got stabbed by Ra’s al Ghul and kicked down a mountain. The rest of Team Arrow is worried about his lack of communication, yet confident that he’ll return, but Malcolm Merlyn knows how dangerous Ra’s truly is and brings them the sword Ra’s used covered in Oliver’s blood as a note of finality. Depressing, right?

Understand, though, that being ‘depressing’ doesn’t make this episode of Arrow bad. In fact, the focus on the other members of Team Arrow makes this a damn fun return after the show’s time off. The sad dial is toned up here more than in any other episode this season bar “Sara,” but just enough to make it feel believable. There’s one moment at the start where Felicity berates Roy for using Oliver’s motorcycle, and it’s heartbreaking to know how in the dark they are for the first 10 minutes of the episode. David Ramsey gives one of the best lines of the episode to Laurel near the end, when everyone has come to terms with Oliver being dead: “I just couldn’t protect him.” It was a nice, quiet scene that showed just how lost he feels without Oliver.

And then there’s Felicity. To say that Emily Bett Rickards is doing some of her best work in the show’s whole run in these 45 minutes would be an understatement. With Oliver “dead,” her drive to clean up Starling City goes with him, whether it’s helping Oliver or Ray Palmer. Her telling him that his mission isn’t what his dead fiancé would have wanted is pretty much the closest thing to letting her anger out as she can get without going into full on waterworks, and if nothing else, it does seem to give Palmer pause for thought and his cold response that she has no right to ever mention what Anna would have wanted gives a better sense of his experiences that led him to making the A.T.O.M. suit.

Of course, this is still a show based on ordinary people doing heroic things, and this episode doesn’t slouch in that department. James Bamford and the rest of his stunt team deserve major kudos for the mid-episode fight where Arsenal and Diggle face off against a group of Brick’s henchmen. It’s a fight that involves a lot of running and footwork, which is a huge contrast when compared to many of Oliver’s fights involving his motorcycle or hand to hand combat. This is an environment where Arsenal gets to put his parkour to work. Likewise, Diggle and Brick’s fight is fun to watch, not just because it’s the first time in a long time where Diggle is fighting without a gun, but also because of how brutal it is. Vinnie Jones is a big guy, and he definitely knows how to deliver a beating if Diggle’s face is any indication.

And right now, Brick is giving more than just the physical beatings. In just about a day, he managed to undo everything the team and Oliver had been doing over eight months. Without a leader to guide them, it looks like the end of Team Arrow, but the show doesn’t let us think our hero is truly gone. Like I said in the notes for the midseason finale, Maseo ends up saving Oliver on the mountain, taking him to Tatsu, who brings him back from the dead. The specifics as to how she did this aren’t disclosed, but the reason given is thankfully straightforward: five years ago, Oliver placed a GPS tracker on one of China White’s goons and saved Maseo’s wife Tatsu, and the Yamashiros have been in his debt forever since. It’s a nice moment that puts their reunion in the previous episode in a whole new light. This doesn’t bring their dynamic close to the Slade-Oliver flashbacks from last season, but it does show that even if Oliver went into that battle with Ra’s fully prepared to die, he’s alive because of he’s proven himself a hero. Like Oliver those five years ago, the rest of Team Arrow–and yes, this now includes Laurel, who puts on the Canary jacket and leather in the final minutes of the episode–has proven themselves as heroes in their own right, they just don’t entirely know it yet.

 

Additional Notes:

  • “Could you put the gun away? They don’t scare so much as annoy me.” This episode may have been dour, but Diggle’s response of pulling two guns on Merlyn after that line was hilarious.
  • Laurel grabbing her sister’s staff and beating the crap out of two dudes at the end is probably as close to healthy recovery as anyone in the Arrow universe can get. We’ll see next week just how healthy this all turns out to be.
  • Whoever came up with “justice is the new black” used in the promo for next week may as well retire now, because it can’t get any better than that.
  • Seriously, James Bamford can’t be commended enough for his stunt coordination in this episode. Great stuff.
  • “Clowns always freaked me out as a kid.” There’s a version where Brandon Routh is on Arrow but he’s Bruce Wayne instead of Ray, and I want to watch that version.
  • So is it “Roz” or “Raysch” al Ghul? Perhaps the world will never know, but at least we know it isn’t “Razz all Ghoul,” as Batman Begins showed us.

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