Ok, remember how I was all down on the last episode of Arrow and wasn’t very confident of the direction they were taking the show? I should have faithfully waited a week. Episode 3, ‘Corto Maltese’, picked it up a notch, put some work into fixing some characters, and moved the show forward in a big way, once again.
Minor spoilers to follow
First of all, Laurel. Laurel has been my biggest problem with the show since season 1. She normally hasn’t dragged the quality of the show down too much, because they haven’t put too much weight on the characters shoulders, but it was starting to look like that would change in season 3, and it has, but it might be ok.
The problem isn’t the acting from Katie Cassidy, it’s jus that the character is written as a weak helpless woman, and often used as a plot device, resulting in the classic princess peach hostage trope. We’ve seen it happen enough times, that I was thinking there wouldn’t be an easy way to correct it, but the route to a better Laurel was introduced this episode in the form of Ted Grant, AKA, Wildcat, played by J.R. Ramirez.
Fans of the comics may know that Wildcat is the beast responsible for training some of the most talented superheroes how to fight. One of those heroes is Dinah Lance, Black Canary. This season started with the death of Sara Lance, thus ending her run as Black Canary, and leading to laurel donning the mantle. She started down that path this episode, and failed spectacularly, but the dynamic already at play with the introduction of Ted Grant is already showing its benefits. I’m still holding my breath, but we might actually have an improved Laurel Lance this season.
My second biggest issue with the show has always been Thea, for similar reasons. The character was too shallow for how much the story relied on her to be deep (again, the writing, not acting). Well, a few months with Malcom Merlyn, and she’s been toughened up significantly, and may be a much stronger character moving forward. We’ll see how well these changes stick, but it at least made this episode far more tolerable than I would have ever though an episode heavily featuring both Laurel and Thea plots would ever be.
Aside from that, we got to see some good action as most of Team Arrow goes to Corto Maltese. I thought Diggle would be a minor role and absent from most episodes this season, since the team is bigger and he’s now a dad, but he’s just as involved as ever. I like him, but hopefully he sits out a few episodes, otherwise they sort of undermine the fatherhood responsibility strings they were pulling in the last few episodes.
Arrow his skillfully reset the board with the first few episodes of this season. It’s poised to make a leap as big—if not bigger—than the leap from Season 1 to Season 2. That is a high bar, and my confidence has been shaken, but episodes like this do a lot to reassure me that this arc is going to be epic.