Arrow 3×3 Review: “Corto Maltese”

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This week on Arrow it’s time for Thea’s superhero – or possibly super villain – origin story, using the tried and true arrow method of revealing heroic origins: flashbacks. Oliver decides it’s time for Thea to come home because the position of “kickass girl” has recently been vacated and Laurel is just, well she’s Laurel. So Team Arrow take a trip to Maltese, except Felicity because someone has to pay for the wifi in the bat cave. Despite the fact that there was so much doing on this episode, it actually worked pretty well. This show is still haunted by the fridging of one of its best characters of course, but the shift in focus from Sara to Thea distracted me from my anger, for the moment anyway.

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 10.56.23 am 1Generally, I’m not a fan of flashbacks, but Arrow makes it work and “Corto Maltese” is no exception. The contrast the Thea of previous seasons and the Thea we find in this episode is highlighted by the shifting focus between past and present. Of course she’s done the classic female character transformation trope of cutting her hair, but that’s okay. This show is built in cliches and I love it. The way she reacted to Oliver and Roy tracking her down against her will was the biggest tell that this is a harder, more mature Thea Queen.

There was a lot of good in this episode, some fantastic one-liners, a great action sequence, and lots of very heart felt conversations that managed to not get too soapy. Remember when Oliver made bows and arrows out of his hotel room? That was fab. John Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn is so fantastic that I’m finding it difficult to resent the fact that he gets to come back to life, and Sara gets tossed onto a dumpster. Don’t worry, I’m still a little resentful, but I’m more interested in what kind of evil plan he has going on with Thea. Is she a villain in the making?

The Thea-focused flashbacks meant that we took a break from Oliver’s time in Hong Kong, but that doesn’t mean this episode did push that narrative forward. Diggle’s entanglement with a disgruntled A.R.G.U.S. agent wasn’t just there to add a little action to the episode, although it did that too. Arrow has never been particularly subtle when foreshadowing, so if that bothered me I would have given up in Season 1. Shaw’s insists to Diggle, “You don’t know the things Waller made me do!” throwing further shade at Amanda Waller and increasing Diggle’s mistrust of A.R.G.U.S.

a2If Thea was the highlight of the episode, then the lowlight falls on another female character – Laurel Lance. I hate that I don’t like Laurel because I want to like her and honestly, Katie Cassidy does some wonderful things with the stuff she’s given and she’s really knocked it out of the park this week. The scene at the end with Oliver was beautiful. But it still doesn’t change the fact that they are still trying to crowbar her into the role of Black Canary in the most cliche way possible. I keep waiting for them to turn it around, and do something unexpected as they have so many times before but at the moment it keeps playing out exactly as I dreaded.

As much as I hate the way they’re handling her Black Canary transition, Laurel did have some entertaining moments this week. Like when she called Felicity, who wasn’t aware that they are “favor friends” or even friends at all, and asked her to google a guys phone number or something. Poor Felicity, it must be hard being the only reasonable person in a sea full of idiots with hero complexes. Speaking of Felicity, she’s certainly settling into her new job – it’s nice to see her get the kind of professional respect she deserves, it’s a shame her boss is evil.

The look of Corto Maltese was brilliant and added some much needed color and light to the usual drab of Starling City and the Island. Also, Roy is becoming one of the funniest characters on the show – he’ll probably never overtake Felicity but he’s getting up there – and I was a huge fan of both Colton Haynes and Willa Holland in the scene between Thea and Roy. Just enough angst to make it emotional, but it managed not the stray into full CW drama territory.

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Shout out to: Ted Grant aka Wildcat. Thea calling herself Mia (YES PLEASE). And the appearance of Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law). Where is Sara indeed? I too would still like some answers Arrow, answers that don’t involve her being fridged so Laurel can become the Black Canary.

Anyway, what did you think? Did you enjoy that episode as much as I did? Are you excited for Thea’s return to Starling City? What kind of DIY weapons will Oliver make next time? Let us know in the comments.

Author: Undie Girl

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.



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