TV REVIEW: Oliver Makes a Timely Return in Arrow’s “Uprising”
BY The Screen Spy Team
Published 8 years ago
By Justin Carter
Every episode of Arrow opens with Oliver narrating about his time on the island and his goal of saving his city. In the second season, he said that he would honor the late Tommy Merlyn’s memory. The third season has added that others have joined his crusade, and to the rest of Starling City, he’s someone else. He is something else. That something is a symbol.
Like Batman, the Arrow has become a symbol of hope for Starling City, the lone man who would put himself between the people and those who wanted to plunge it into chaos. In his absence, the rest of Team Arrow has been trying to pick up where he left off, albeit in a sloppier fashion and without much direction. Where the Arrow would face the Mirakuru soldiers with the League of Assassins Sara summoned, Arsenal and Black Canary II ask for Ted Grant, Sin, and the citizens to help them go after Brick and his men. Where they stand with uncertainty as Brick points a gun towards them, Arrow would stare him down, arrows ready to fire. Simply put, the four members of Team Arrow are all trying to do as Oliver did and trying to uphold ideals that they themselves don’t have the experience required to act upon. Sure, they’ve all had their lowest moments, but Oliver has had it continuously over five years, and those experiences have made him into who he is.
Oliver’s ideals once again become a talking point when it’s revealed that Brick killed Malcolm Merlyn’s wife over 20 years ago. It’s a bit of a stretch, but John Barrowman and Vinnie Jones make it stick. Merlyn shares the flashback spotlight this week, chronicling his path from grieving husband with really 90s hair to murderer to future League of Assassins member with 90s hair. The revelation that Brick was actually Rebecca’s killer means that Merlyn’s murder of Kendrick Weller was all for naught, and Brick’s takeover of the Glades means that the gang lord needs to be dealt with. Merlyn’s request to have Team Arrow clear out Brick’s men so he can deal with the big man himself sounds like an easy choice, in all honesty. Sure, Merlyn is evil, and the things he’s done to the team haven’t won him any favors, but he also cares about the city, not unlike Oliver. Roy is more than happy to let him put an arrow through Brick, but the rest of the team doesn’t agree, Felicity straight up admitting that she can’t think that Oliver would agree to this. Roy shoots back with the best response: “Well Oliver isn’t here anymore, so we need to stop pretending like he is. We need to make decisions of our own.”
That decision leads to a mass fight between Brick’s men, and Team Arrow’s group of citizens. The show doesn’t focus on this for its final battle, but rather narrows it down to the three key people involved. Merlyn holds Brick at gunpoint, and Oliver shows up in Arrow gear to talk him down. It’s a bit of an unpredictable and implausible moment to give Merlyn some humanity before he’s truly gone in the eyes of the viewers and Thea, but the Arrow manages to appeal to his love for his daughter. In return for “saving” him, Merlyn will be teaching Oliver how to fight Ra’s al Ghul for round two. Much like how the city having to endure a time without the Arrow, Oliver will endure his training with Merlyn and come back stronger for it. This all comes back to the Arrow being a symbol. To Merlyn, he’s a symbol of endurance and conquering pain. To Team Arrow, he’s a symbol of leadership. And to the people of Starling City? He’s a symbol that they can take anything the world throws at them.
Most Comic Book Line of the Week: Actually a moment instead of a line. Surrounded by the people and cops of Starling City, Oliver shoots a grappling arrow and ziplines away, not unlike Batman. It’s cooler than it should be.
Lance recognizes immediately that Roy is Arsenal, and his explanation is perfect: “I’ve seen you wearing a red hoodie, I’ve seen you shooting arrows at people, you think I don’t recognize you with a little extra leather and lace?” Roy: “Well, I guess I won’t be needing this [voice modulator] anymore…”
On that note, Sin shows up again! Roy immediately tells her that it’s not Sara dressed up as the Canary, and she tells Lance once the turf war is over. I get the feeling that Lance is somewhat aware that it’s not his oldest daughter, though; when he’s talking to Arsenal, he tells her to “watch her back”. He’s gotta suspect something, right?
Laurel: “Is what we’re doing crazy?” Roy: “I’ve learned it’s better to ask that question when I’m not wearing a mask.”
So Ted shows up again as well, kicking Brick’s ass a bit before he gets a beating himself. Not sure if he’s alive, but here’s hoping he pulls through.
Roy finally delivers the “you have failed this city” line, further pushing him towards becoming the Arrow.
- Seriously, Barrowman’s flashback hair is so 90s, I can feel myself becoming a child again.