[The following is a review for Arrow season 3, episode 10, ‘Left Behind.’ There will be spoilers.]
After the events of the midseason finale, Arrow viewers were left with several weeks of speculation as to the full extent of Oliver Queen’s fate at the hands of Ra’s al Ghul. Oliver was very clearly stabbed and dumped off a cliff the last time we saw him, so the question of when and how he’ll recover is top of mind, right alongside the question: how will Starling City get by without him?
This episode answers both questions, jumping right into the second one, focusing on (s the title states) those left behind by Oliver, mainly Felicity. She initially doesn’t want to accept that Oliver is dead, despite not hearing from him for four days since his fight with Ra’s. After Malcom Merlyn pays a visit to the “Arrow Cave,” and produces a sword covered in Oliver’s blood, she has to come to terms with her loss.
Thankfully, the writers put the burden of processing the loss of Oliver on a few interactions between Felicity and Ray Palmer. Emily Bett Rickards and Brandon Routh have been successful carrying the emotional core for much of the season so far, so it’s good to see that continued.
The clash of ideology between the two of them is also apparent (and something I’m sure we’ll see extrapolated once Oliver returns). Ray is developing the A.T.O.M. suit to enable him to fight crime, which is mostly motivated by his own loss, since his fiancee Anna was killed during Deathstrokes assault on Starling City. Felicity, on the other hand, wants to stop not only him, but also Roy and Diggle, from putting themselves in harms way to fight crime.
This provides good contrast, as Ray, Diggle, and Roy all feel compelled to step up not in spite of their loss, but because of it. The only way they can protect more people from experiencing a similar loss is by standing in the way of criminals. Sure, they are putting themselves at risk, but there is no choice in their mind. Someone has to do something, and they have the ability, so it falls on their shoulders.
Ultimately, Felicity quits team Arrow and refuses to help Ray with his suit, but this likely isn’t the end of this thread, because evil doesn’t sleep. Danny “Brick” Brickwell is on the rise, and he’s uniting much of the disorganized crime in Starling City. Brick adapted comics, and brilliantly portrayed with the casting of Vinnie Jones, who brings some additional star power to the cast of Arrow.
Laurel is prosecuting many of the lower level thugs in Brick’s organization, but after he leads a full on assault of the warehouse where the police keep criminal evidence, she finds it necessary to finally take up her sisters mantle as Black Canary.
As Laurel and Ray attempt to enter the fray, we can expect more conflict with Felicity’s fears. It’s understandable that she doesn’t want her friends to get hurt, but those with the ability to make a difference feel to pressure to make a difference. As Rachel Dawes says of Gotham in Batman Begins: “What chance does Gotham have when the good people do nothing?” The same can definitely be said about Starling City here, and I’m sure it will be after Oliver returns.
Speaking of which, although he is only on screen for a few seconds at a time, Oliver is already alive again, in a fairly anti-climactic scene (especially for anyone hoping for a Lazarus pit) in the last seconds of the episode. I would have preferred to go at least an entire episode where he remains dead, especially since they saved it for so late in the episode. When so much of the narrative is about loss and those left behind in Starling, it undermines the message a little bit to rush him back so quickly. Hopefully he’s not back in Starling City for a few episodes so we can continue to see the current themes expanded.
The flashbacks continue to seem fairly useless, although this time it did provide some useful context, with Oliver helping Maseo to save his wife, Tatsu, which is influential in his resurrection at their hands. There’s still more story to be explained here, but hopefully it isn’t rushed too much (unless they do an episode that’s almost completely flashbacks).
After a strong ending to episode 9, ‘The Climb,’ ‘Left Behind’ serves as a very effective reintroduction after the break. Despite the occasional lack of cohesion between elements and awkward flashbacks, it establishes the need for strong heroes like Oliver and establishes the motivations for some of the new players do don a mask.
Stephen Amell has said himself several times that they are building a Justice League on TV. Although it may be missing some of the biggest players like Batman and Superman, Arrow is well on its way to establishing a team much larger than Team Arrow or even an Arrow/Flash crossover episode. Big things are happening in Starling City, and watching it play our over the remainder of season 3 should be exciting!
The next episode of Arrow ‘Midnight City’ will air next Wednesday, January 28th, at 8/7c on The CW.