Arrow 'Midnight City' (S3E11) - Review

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Arrow 'Midnight City' (S3E11) - Review

Across the many seasons of Supernatural we’ve witnessed many an inspirational moment. Yet none more so than when the iconic warriors against the forces of evil..... The Ghostfacers (all together now “Ghost..... FACERS!”), came to realise why they fight in their much deserved spinoff web series. When in their moment of despair these fearless dark defenders disband having witnessed their perky intern Ambyr (hired only for her looks along with Harry & Eds farfetched dreams of nailing her) horribly disfigured at the hands of a vengeful spirit; only for Harry to reform them again for the greater good. Their work is dangerous but necessary and until the supernatural stops threatening their fellow mortals they will stand ready to shine the light of truth into the darkness of evil. This week, many residents of Starling City ask themselves why they fight.... for they are Team Arrow.  So spin the tyres, light the fires and let’s see what they have to face.

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Midnight City – While the mortally wounded Oliver is being slowly nursed back to health by Tatsu and Maseo, back in Starling City Brick makes his big move; ransoming several city hall officials to the Mayor for her and the police to relinquish their presence and authority over The Glades. Can the fractured Team Arrow rescue the hostages before The Glades becomes Brick City?

This is the second episode in what Arrow’s show runners are calling “The Canary Trilogy” plotting to tell the story Laurel taking up the dark jacketed mantle. Many people have voiced concerns that this transition is happening too fast for even comic hero realism. Once again the minds of Berlanti, Guggenheim and Kriesberg prove they should not be underestimated as this episode delivers exactly the opposite; showing that putting on the mask is one thing but being The Canary is something else entirely. For entire episode Laurel’s efforts feel amateur at best, excellently showing the difficulty of her transition as she gets her shiny black butt handed to her on a platter by almost everyone she encounters. The convoy rescue attempt sums perfectly as even in something as rudimentary as jumping onto a stationary van roof Laurel falls flatter than Bill Cosby’s reputation. Yet through all her failures you can’t help but embrace her determination and there’s a feeling of progression across the episode culminating in her final confrontation with Brick. She may not beat him but she’s tactful enough to get the drop on him compared her “couldn’t be more obvious” slow walk in approach in her opening alleyway fight. Also, against Brick we see her subdued for the 3rd time that episode with a throat choke hold but this time finally managing to fight her way out it. It creates the ideal that we are not suddenly seeing her as The Canary (despite the name checking, she’s still Laurel to us) but witnessing her earn the right to become it. The way the rest of the team acts towards Laurel’s membership application is also really well handled as they shift from mortified objections to reluctantly coming around to Laurel’s justification that in Oliver’s probably permanent departure they need someone like The Canary to be the symbol people know and believe in; even if this version 2.0 isn’t yet up to spec. Her story arc only losses its way a little during the fake call and meeting scenes with Captain Lance; while interesting it just feel like they’re pushing things too far there. We’d much rather see Sara’s death become known to him and witness him dealing with the loss and lies everyone has been telling him rather than continually stringing things on; if nothing else it feeling increasingly out of character for such a keen detective not to be putting these pieces together.

Following on a disappointment of last week, Midnight City finally gives Felicity not just something to do other than mourn but arguably the most crucial role in the episode as she rallies her defeated friends to remember why they’ve been fighting in the first place. Last week’s theme was the team coming to realise they can’t do Oliver’s work without him. Here it’s absolutely incredible to see them aspiring to a greater purpose; to realise that saving Starling City wasn’t just Oliver’s mission but theirs as well. Felicity’s scene with a distraught Laurel is the most touching moment of this season so far as she re-finds her faith upon seeing Laurel’s broken; “maybe it’s not about Sara, or Oliver, or anyone else that we care about. Maybe it’s not about who we’ve lost. Maybe what we’ve been doing we’ve been doing because there are people that we still care about that are still alive.... maybe we’re doing it for them”....... talk about an Arrow to the heart. Her renewed help of Ray Palmer is also great to see in both her reasoning of helping him not become the latest name on her dead vigilante friend list but also the Palmer/ATOM developments that will follow with their powers combined. Finally, even when most her scenes are of a more serious nature she still manages to make us laugh like only she knows how while enthusiastically trying to borrow Palmer’s helicopter. An interesting observation here is why Palmer doesn’t ask more about her intentions that urgently required air travel. This could imply that he is actually aware that Felicity is working with Team Arrow and plans to use that connection once his tech battle suit (without any ridiculous lasers) is complete.

As for the main villain story, Vinnie Jones’s brick was a riot last week and here he shows no sign of slowing down as he stakes his city district claim. It’s difficult to tell who’s having more fun, us or him, as he staggers about between cocky and crazy. He’s what River Tam would call a “petty thug with delusions standing”. Taking wry pleasure in bringing powerful officials down to his level and throwing some Shakespeare into his negotiations to make himself feel intellectually superior. He even manages to get a few great laughs in, such as his seemingly chivalrous treatment of Laurel’s Canary on their first encounter “lucky for you I don’t like hitting women”. Also from a series point of few it’s so refreshing to see that he’s still here! This is something we really haven’t seen from Arrow since Brother Blood in that a lesser villain is being a prominent presence for several continuous episodes (and even then Blood was much more behind the scenes) rather than just a villain of the week. It really gives these few episodes a great feeling of connection and purpose as (presumably next week) overcoming him forms its own enjoyable sub-story while still allowing the big bad setup to tick over in the background. This still looks like it will be Ra’s Al Ghul when he and The League return to Starling City as this episode makes it clear that they are still after Merlyn and following Thea’s little foot going down, he’s staying a Starling resident. Merlyn and Thea’s involvement in this episode is little more unrewarding. Roy’s foreboding talk with Merlyn doesn’t feel as tense or significant as should be (Merlyn is so obviously unthreatened by him that it feels meaningless). Thea making the pair of them stay also felt like too much of a foregone conclusion; although it does imply something rather more interesting in Merlyn’s acceptance of her decision...... was this his plan all along? Were they always going to stay but the threat of leaving was Merlyn’s gambit to give Thea a reason to fight in mirroring Felicity’s speech to Team Arrow (which from Thea’s “stand and fight” speech looks to have worked). Was this The Magician pulling another fats one on those around him?

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Midnight City was an episode with great delivery of its main focus that just wavered a bit with its more minor elements. Despite some good action moments in the club the Hong Kong sequences were a bit unfulfilling and Oilver’s present day recovery seems far too quick for the explanations given. Yet the magnificent highs more than make up for the troubled lows and most importantly the season as a whole continues to be heading in a great direction. With Brick’s new tenancy being surprisingly approved we could even be heading toward an Arrow play on Batman’s 1999 No Man’s Land story which would be quintessentially awesome. For now we eagerly await next week’s Uprising and the concluding part of this fantastic Canary trilogy.