'Arrow' Recap: 'Midnight City'

If the latest episode of Arrow were a comic, it might be considered a crossover event. We have a member of the Outsiders helping Oliver Queen recover after he lost an epic battle to a Batman villain, while Ray Palmer is in Star City helping Black Canary and Arsenal take on a super-gangster. That’s a storyline running through Green Arrow, Batman, Birds of Prey, The Atom and Teen Titans. Happily we get to save some cash and just take in the whole thing on The CW.

While it was crowded and fun, not all of it worked. But before we dwell on the negative, let’s take a look at the good parts of “Midnight City.” First, Tatsu and Maseo grow more intriguing by the week. In this episode we get to watch Maseo and Oliver’s daring rescue of Tatsu during the flashback, and see the estranged couple nurse Oliver back to health in the present. We don’t learn why Maseo and Tatsu are no longer a happy killer couple, but the absence of their son doesn’t bode well. Maseo is showing his abject loyalty to Oliver, despite the danger that it could bring down the wrath of Ra’s al Ghul upon his pony-tailed head. We do get to see Tatsu take part in some swordplay, which is always awesome.

More good: Back in Starling City, the relationship between Ray Palmer and Felicity Smoak continues to develop. Felicity has been refusing to help Ray build his ATOM suit and join the vigilante pool, but after witnessing him protect some aldermen from Brick’s me, she realizes just how brave and dedicated the future Tiny Titan truly is. “Midnight City” is all about fighting crime for the right reasons. Palmer may be on a mission to avenge his dead lover, but when Felicity recognizes his true purpose is to protect the innocent, not punish the guilty, she peers into the heart of a hero and helps Palmer build his ATOM suit. There’s such chemistry between actors Brandon Routh and Emily Bett Rickards, and it gets better each week.

The not-so-good? Laurel Lance as Black Canary. I enjoyed it when Laurel is inspired by Felicity to stop seeking vengeance and start helping to protect the innocent; it’s a good moment of transformation for the new Canary. However, I’m just not buying her in the role of vigilante. She had some boxing lessons with Ted Grant (where is the former Wildcat anyway?), but I don’t believe she could survive wading into gunfire and taking on seasoned criminals. More than that, she’s posing as Sara so their poor father doesn’t realize his daughter is dead. An iconic hero based on a lie just doesn’t sit well with me, and it makes Laurel look like a manipulative sociopath. It’s not worthy of the legacy, and it’s an unneeded soap operatic element that dilutes the gravitas of the arrival of a new Black Canary.

Back to the good: Thea Queen standing up to her father and not leaving Starling City, despite dire warnings that Ra’s al Ghul will be coming for the Merlyn family. Thea is being every bit as solid and true as Laurel is being dishonest and manipulative; she isn’t afraid of being in the sights of the League of Assassins. You have to wonder what Merlyn’s end game is with Thea. He already used her to kill Sara, so why does he really want to protect her? We even get a return appearance of Chase, the arrogant new Verdant DJ who turns out to be much more than he seems, as revealed by a shocking call he places to Maseo reporting Thea’s whereabouts.

It bears repeating that Diggle, Felicity, Roy, Thea and Ray are sincere in what they’re doing. They may all have had their dark moments, but they come from a place of truth. The same can’t be said for Laurel, which makes her story a chore to endure. Arrow hasn’t let me down yet, and hopefully the producers will try to make Laurel worthy of the legacy of Black Canary, but so far she appears to be lacking.

Before we sign off, let’s talk about the evolution of Brick. I didn’t really dig Brick last week; he seemed generic, just Vinnie Jones being Vinnie Jones. But this week, Brick became much more of a threat, killing an alderman in cold blood, holding Starling City hostage, and holding his own against Roy and Laurel. He now seems like a true Shakespeare-quoting badass, one who’s being built up until Oliver returns. I still kind of wish he looked like his comic counterpart, but I guess if you pay money for Vinnie Jones you want Vinnie Jones, not a special effect.

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