It’s time to catch up with Oliver and Thea on this week’s Arrow as they train on Lian Yu as part of Malcolm Merlyn’s plan. But can he train them to be strong enough to take on the League of Assassins?
This is the closest thing we have to a bottle episode in a series like Arrow. With flashbacks, essentially it means viewers are never tied to one location. This time though, our Starling City scenes come courtesy of flashbacks and Amanda Waller’s scheming.
Right off the bat, Arrow shows how far it’s come. Oliver and Thea spar on Lian Yu, interacting more freely than they ever have in previous episodes. It’s awkward, but not in the same way it was before. Thea asks questions, and now Oliver answers them. The sibling relationship here is much appreciated after two seasons of avoidance, and it feels like a natural development as opposed to forced.
Things kick off when Thea starts asking about Sara’s death. For all his willingness to talk, Oliver can’t bring himself to tell her the truth and goes for a wander. Deciding to check in on Slade Wilson, he finds A.R.G.U.S’s most dangerous has been set loose by Malcolm in an effort to bring Oliver back to his killer side. Slade may not have the resources he had in season 2, but he’s still terrifying, considering how long he’s had to brood on what Oliver said to him when they last met.
Tommy makes a return in flashbacks. Once again Amanda threatens to bury Oliver and anyone who finds out that he’s still alive. So, when Oliver sees Thea buying drugs, he’s unable to do anything, but Tommy plays surrogate big brother and steps in. It’s nice to see Tommy in a stronger role. Though, this does make his character in season one a little confusing as he never had that drive when Oliver came back from the island.
The titular return seems to take on a triple meaning. One being flashback Oliver’s return to Starling City, Oliver and Thea going to Lian Yu, and of course Slade’s reappearance. Having said that, Lian Yu provides an atmospheric and almost ghostly version of itself. The action takes place at night, Oliver returns to his father’s grave for the latter’s gun that hasn’t made an appearance since the first season. In a sense Slade is another ghost brought back to haunt him. We’re left to wonder if Merlyn and Slade spoke at all, Slade’s need to vengeance seems to out-weigh anything else at the moment and the thought of him being on the loose provides a chilling few moments as Oliver calculates his next move.
While Slade’s return is not quite the Deathstroke appearance I was hoping for, it’s nice to see the character hasn’t been forgotten. And by his actions, a few revelations come up with regards to Thea killing Sara. Naturally this will continue to play on in the weeks ahead. With Slade Wilson’s actor currently working on Elfstones of Shannara, I doubt we’ll be seeing him as much in the weeks to come.
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Of course, now that Thea knows even more about the kind of things her father does to protect himself, I can’t imagine that will go well for him next time they encounter one another. Arrow is only training with him to protect Starling City and his loved ones, what happens when the training is over? Merlyn isn’t an idiot, so he probably has plans in place for that as well, but it’s unclear what those are at the moment.
Do you think we’ll see Slade again before the end of season 3? Will Thea continue training with Oliver and Merlyn now that she knows of her father’s betrayal? Let us know what you think in the comments below…