Arrow 'Left Behind' (S3E10) - Review

share to other networks share to twitter share to facebook
Arrow 'Left Behind' (S3E10) - Review

Have you recovered yet? 6 weeks really were not enough time to deal with Oliver’s body plummeting off the cliff like that. As heart wrenching a moment as it was it only went to show how much this archer’s tale deserves our attention and affections by taking such a big risk of benching its central character. Flashbacks aside Oliver Queen will not be back in hooded action for quite some time. So the question becomes now that the host has passed out who’s gonna crash the party. Is Starling City now vulnerable to a hostile takeover? With the Arrow gone who will step out of the black to keep it safe?

Left Behind – Unaware of Oliver’s fate the rest of the team continue to protecting Starling City. Yet the prison release of a new crime lord Danny “Brick” Brickwell (Vinnie Jones – Snatch, X-Men: The Last Stand) something big is about to go down. Meanwhile in Hong Kong, Oliver and Maseo go after the partner “Alpha” component to China White’s stolen Omega bio weapon.

So while the ending of The Climb was still great we all knew that the Arrow wouldn’t stay broken forever as even the post credits coda implied. Yet what Left Behind confirms to us is that it will indeed be some time before we say Oliver Queen return to Starling City leaving us with the fantastic and fascinating story of how the rest of the characters will act in his absence. Although many cast members are handcuffed in this first episode by the mourning and grieving process (Felicity in particular is given little to do but be upset) we already feel the emergence supporting characters stepping up to more prominent roles. The most significant is Roy. The other DC red hooded boy wonder was notably given very little story in the seasons autumn salvo. A few minor notes of wrongly believing he killed Sara or getting chummy again with Thea but nothing to stop him feeling underutilised..... yet now we’re loving it when a plan comes together as Roy steps up to centre stage. We even get a comical opening nod to this passing of the bow as the truck chase gangsters note “It’s him.... I thought he was green?”about Roy. He’s aptly filling Stephen Ammell’s shoes on the action front getting the best shots and sequences; especially his pipe running in the warehouse which really kicks ass. There are also some subtle hints of personal problems developing to as Thea sees Roy drinking for possibly the first time in a way feels quite significant. There’s a comics storyline of Roy becoming heroin addict. We could well be seeing a variant on this of Roy becoming an alcoholic in reaction to the pressure of filling Oliver’s shoes (most likely with some big failures along the way) which would be an excellent story. Next there’s Diggle, once the ever present voice of reason now trying to be the glue that holds the team together. He actually feels like the episodes best performance in the way he deals with both the hope of Oliver’s survival and the acceptance of his death. His speech about still feeling like Oliver’s bodyguard (and thus having failed him) is note perfect for his character. What’s more he even gives Roy a good assist on the action front from slugging it with Brick to that seriously cool under truck slide with the camera following him.

Advertisement
click to enlarge

Next there’s the much hyped new bird in down as we finally see Laurel in action, costumed up as the new Black Canary. Visually I’m not yet sold on the costume (especially the wig) but that’s probably primarily down to its unfamiliarity; but both Laurel and Katie Cassidy playing her; hell yes! It feels right the way she’s stepped into the game now when both the team and city have need a new hero and from a show point of view when we can spend the significant time with her character to develop this next stage of evolution. It’s great that they still incorporated the Canary Cry grenades/bombs and their preceding usage here gives Laurel one hell of an entrance harking back to Sara’s dropping in on the SCPD station in early season 2. As an extension of the alcoholic Roy theory we could well see Laurel earning her place within the new team by helping Roy to recover from it based on her own months inside the bottle last season. Keeping the female front going Thea still remains something of an enigma; especially now that Merlyn is whisking her away from Starling. She feels like she has a key role to play but for whom is still unclear. For now her training sequences with Merlyn are still brilliant and you have to love his cocky notion on the “cute” idea of Thea thinking she could kill him..... a subtle subtext that she may do just that in the season’s climax? As for Ray Palmer it’s clear that we’re still playing the long game over the ATOM suit while inflatable clowns still best him but as ever he makes a great contribution to the episode; particularly when defending his motivations to Felicity. It looks like he’ll take even more of a back seat in the weeks to follow as the focus stays on Roy and Laurel but with an ATOM spin off show being rumoured this could become an even greater payoff than we imagined. Finally let’s spare a brief thought for the absent Wildcat. J.R. Ramirez really impressed as Ted Grant the former vigilante earlier in the season but sadly it looks like his casting in the Starz show Powers will keep him out of any real screen time in Arrow. This is a real shame as so many (myself included) would have loved to see him coming out of retirement to help Laurel and the team in their hour of need. Hopefully we’ll still get the odd brief training scene of Ted and Laurel together.

Yet as much as the hero developments in this episode are great, in many ways, the placement of Brick as a continuing villain for the imminent episodes is even more important. Firstly he’s played by Vinnie Jones who’s always going to be fun in any role he gets to punch people as he shows here on a number of occasions (that thankfully sparing us from “don’t you know you I am?..... I’m Brick bitch!”). Secondly his implied big maniacal plan already gives the leaderless Team Arrow a clear objective rather than just moping about Oliver. His “muscle bust” to take over The Glades feels like a real challenge for the team yet realistic for them to overcome if possible. At the same time flashback Oliver has his own objective to mirror the time in recovering Maseo’s captured wife Tatsu from China White (with some bio weapon juggling for good measure). The surprising links in this flashback arcs conclusion to present do well to give it meaning and significance other than keeping Stephen Ammell on screen as we see that these past actions will ultimately contribute to his present day return. They also have some great fun and showing past/present contrasts from his highly undramatic window entrance.

So the big success of this episode is establishing that while we all want to see Oliver Queen make his back dramatic return he’s more than welcome to take some well earned weeks off as events and character developments in his absence are taking the show in such a fantastic direction. It still needs to make some pieces fit the new puzzle (like giving Felicity some more story to work with) but Left Behind is a bold, exciting and enjoyable statement of intend for the next section of this season. Arrow may have left behind its lead actor but certainly not its quality.

Advertisement