'Arrow' Recap: 'Left Behind'

I’m sure many Arrow fans had dreams of Lazarus Pits and resurrections dancing in their heads during the winter hiatus, but the midseason premiere mostly focused on Oliver Queen’s legacy and the people he’s touched the most. Oliver may be dead at the foot of a mountain, but crime in Starling City continues.

This episode introduces Vinnie Jones as the city’s newest crime boss, Brick, who’s different from the character comics readers know. He does have impenetrable skin, but he isn’t literally made of brick; he’s just kind of Vinnie Jones playing that one character that Vinnie Jones plays. Brick is suitably scary, but he seems like just a cipher to give Diggle, Roy, Felicity and Laurel something to do while Oliver is, well, dead.

That said, let’s examine each member of Team Arrow.

John Diggle is the most solid; he understands that Oliver is probably dead, but he’s a soldier who knows full well the price of war. Oliver is gone but Diggle still wants to carry on the mission. Brick plans to destroy evidence in against all the crooks Oliver captured after the fall of Slade Wilson, but Diggle is willing to do anything to stop him and protect his friend’s legacy.

Roy follows Diggle’s lead and becomes even more competent and confident in his role of the city’s new solo avenger. He kicks some major butt this episode – and he doesn’t even get knocked out once! Progress. But seriously, this is the most convincing Roy has been as Arsenal; it’s nice to see him rise to the occasion.

Felicity is much more complex. She wants to continue Oliver’s mission but his loss so close after that of Sara has turned Felicity, the heart of Team Arrow, sour against the idea of vigilantism. This pain even extends to her relationship with Ray Palmer, who grows closer to completing the ATOM suit. In a powerfully tense scene, Felicity and Palmer fight about Ray becoming a hero because of the violent death of his fiancé. When Roy and Diggle go to stop Brick from stealing the evidence, Felicity makes a call that allows the new foe to escape because she doesn’t want any more of her friends hurt. Now, there’s a wedge between her and Diggle and her and Ray. Felicity is the most lost of the crew in Oliver’s absence.

The death of Oliver also has a great impact on Malcolm Merlyn, who knows Ra’s al Ghul will be after him next, which means he needs to flee with Thea. Although he placed his daughter in the sights of the Demon’s Head, he still forces her to run from Starling City. Aware of Oliver’s disappearance, Thea turns to Roy to help find him. She needs Oliver back because now her father has complete control over her future, which seems to involve an approaching showdown with the League of Assassins.

All of the players are able to step into the spotlight with Oliver gone, but the episode wasn’t entirely without star Stephen Amell: We’re treated to a Hong Kong flashback dealing with the aftermath of Tatsu’s kidnapping. Maseo is desperate to get his wife back, but Amanda Waller has other plans, namely the retrieval of a deadly weapon with the uninspired name Alpha. Maseo and Oliver embark on the mission with the pragmatic Maseo believing Waller will leave Tatsu for dead. He’s correct, but Oliver, in his wisdom, left one of the enemy soldiers alive and planted a tracking device so Maseo could find and rescue his wife.

Now, Maseo owes Oliver a boon. This is some nice circular storytelling, as the moment Maseo expresses his eternal gratitude to Oliver for saving his wife, it becomes clear who will save Oliver at the foot of the mountain in the present. The last thing we see in this episode is Tatsu bringing Oliver back to life. I’m sure the Lazarus waters will have something to do with the resurrection, but it’s just some cool storytelling to unite the flashbacks with such a pivotal moment in the current storyline. No wasted motion this season.

However, the return to life of Arrow wasn’t even the biggest development in the midseason premiere. That distinction goes to Laurel Lance, who witnesses all of Oliver’s hard work bringing down the scum of Starling City crumble at the hands of Brick. In her pain over Oliver’s death coupled with the loss of Sara, Laurel has the opposite reaction of Felicity. She dons Sara’s leathers, and a new Black Canary is born. Maybe Brick will be more Laurel’s test than Oliver’s, but it’s nice to finally see Laurel achieve her destiny. We all sort of knew this was coming since Day One, and the episode pulls off Laurel’s rise nicely.

So, Oliver’s back, Tatsu and Maseo are now part of the present, Merlyn is on the run, Felicity is plagued with doubts and Diggle remains steady. All in all, a very entertaining and eventful beginning to the second part of Arrow’s third season.

But seriously, if Ray Palmer doesn’t shrink soon, I may explode.

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