After two very action intense and emotional shocking episodes, Arrow decided to use it’s third episode to try and slow things down. “Corto Maltese” brought a very personal touch to the storylines of many characters, and along the way set the paths for many this season. Albeit, many in very expected ways…and yet, some in not expected ways.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
The core of the episode (as was teased mercilessly) was the “reunion” of Ollie and Thea. As Felicity was able to track her down to the DC Comics eventful location known as Corto Maltese. And what an interesting reunion it was. Each conversation was laced with realism and true emotion. From Ollie just trying to get his sister back, to Roy being truly sorry for the events that happened leading up to her disappearance, you could tell that they both really wanted her back. But Thea didn’t want to come back. At least not at first.
Also teased was the fact that Ollie might reveal that he was the Arrow to Thea. I was fully expecting a “I’m the–” thing with the phone ringing distraction to make him stop. Instead, the writers went for a more simple approach, as Ollie revealed the true events of their father’s death. It was a nice touch, especially when Ollie added the line about how their parents gave up their lives so he and Thea could live. A statement that is actually 100% true.
What “Corto Maltese” also did was show what happened with Thea the last six months or so, and the reasoning behind why she returned to Malcolm. It’s great seeing John Barrowman back, and even though he only had some small scenes, he was still as charming, witty, and somewhat evil as we all remember. I do wish we got more flashbacks showing the training (especially since we only saw her wield a blade and not a bow…) but there’s still time for that.
A good twist in the tale was the story starring Diggle. As he was asked by Lyla to check in on an Argus agent who had missed a few check-in’s. And although the “reveal” of Mark Shaw (who’s been known to be called Manhunter…) being dirty was really telegraphed, it did play out nice in some unexpected ways. The funniest of which was Ollie making some makeshift bows and arrows for him and Roy. And when those ran out? He used a gun like a boss.
“I never said I didn’t know how to use a gun.”
Classic. But the true takeaway from the story was about Diggle, and how much Lyla and baby Sara mean to him. And when Shaw revealed that he did what he did to get out from under Waller, “you don’t know the things she made me do!”, it was clear he’s worried about Lyla, and what Waller might make HER do.
Easily the other big storyline concerned Laurel, and her path to becoming Black Canary. I liked how they didn’t just play it up as a “Sara would want me to do this!” kind of thing, and have her going after random jerks. Instead, they played off her Season 2 storyline and had her go after an abusive boyfriend of a member of her Alcoholics Anonymous group. Another small detail that makes a lot of difference. Her failing horribly was nice, as was Ollie’s downright refusal to train her. “Sara would never forgive me.” Too bad she doesn’t know someone else…
Oh wait, she does! Ted Grant is here everybody! YAY!!!!! But seriously, I really did smile when I heard his name said. As Ted Grant (aka Wildcat!) is the trainer of Black Canary in the comics. Though we only had two real scenes with him, he does appear to be the kind-hearted, helpful boxer that just wants to help people out. And seeing Laurel go to him at the end was nice.
Finally, Felicity and Ray Palmer had some nice scenes together. Not the least of which set up her crossover with Flash next Tuesday. But the real twist was Palmer looking at weapons plans from the Applied Sciences division that Ollie and crew blew up last season (“I’m sure he had a good reason…”). I’m not sure how to judge the look Ray gave as he looked at those plans. Was he angry that Queen Consolidated was making weapons? Was he looking at his future? Questions abound…
Oh, and Nyssa showing up at the end? Not good!
In the end, “Corto Maltese” truly started building the storylines for many characters this season. While some of the plot points were predictable, others gave some good surprises. And some heartfelt moments really made this something nice to watch. It wasn’t the best, but there’s been far, FAR, worse.