Review: Arrow Season 3 Episode 3 – “Corto Maltese”

by David Hestand III
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Team Arrow is going on a road trip this week.  Oliver and Roy finally find Thea’s location in Corto Maltese and are prepared to bring her back.  Diggle is ready for some time with his daughter until Lyla encourages him to go along to check on an issue with an Argus agent.  Meanwhile, Laurel is beginning to get her Canary on, meeting Ted Grant along the way.  Plus, we get to do a little catch up with the Merlyns and their training for the past few months.  Let’s recap in reverse.

Our training flashbacks really helped to set up Thea’s new confident and capable characterization.  We didn’t get to see a lot of training, and in all actuality we mostly just saw early training.  But even the small amount we get gave us a pretty solid idea of the kind of teacher Malcolm is.

Laurel met with a certain boxer about a case she was working on, and was called out on the pent-up feelings she was experiencing about her sister’s death.  He offers to help her let some of that out, and after a failed attempt to exact some vigilante justice on an abusive drunk and being turned down by Oliver, she accepts.

The two Corto Maltese storylines intertwined.  When the boys weren’t trying to convince Thea to come home, they were finding, and subsequently chasing, Mark Shaw.  What seemed like an Argus agent gone bad turned into a not-so-shocking revelation of Waller’s ruthlessness.

Easter Egg Check:

Ted Grant is the name of the hero Wildcat.  Champion boxer, trained the Black Canary in the comics.

Mark Shaw is one the people to hold the Manhunter mantle.  Granted, Kate Spencer was another, and we know what happened to her.

The blueprints Ray was looking at definitely had O.M.A.C. on them.  Interesting seeing the deadly robot/cyborgs of Infinite Crisis referenced weeks after The Flash references Crisis on Infinite Earths while people like Geoff Johns are commenting on a TV/Film Multiverse.

The name “Mia” that Thea went by in Corto was a reference To Mia Dearden, the second Speedy.

Gerry Conway (the assistant’s name) is reference to a comic creator who introduced several characters, including Steel, Jason Todd, and Firestorm.


The trip to Corto Maltese was a far more fun ride than we have been used to seeing.  A lot of very funny moments throughout, though Diggle wins the award for funniest lines of the night.  This was interesting and much appreciated tonal shift from last weeks mourning and next weeks apparent intensity.

The makeshift bows were an awesome touch to the episode.  Not only does it showcase that Oliver does have some ingenuity to him, but it keeps us feeling a little bit “comic booky.”  Plus that action sequence was top-notch.

It was nice seeing Oliver come clean to Thea on a few things, but I have to wonder how much longer the Arrow secret itself will be kept hidden from her.  It was also good to see that Laurel’s first vigilante experience was not a success.  They are taking a good route of easing her, as opposed to leaping into the jacket.


I really liked J.R. Ramirez’s debut as Wildcat.  Short and sweet, and I look forward to more of him.  I’m personally fine with his age, especially since we don’t have the JSA legacy aspect at play here.


Laurel and Felicity’s scenes.  They were not bad scenes, they just didn’t fit in.  There was already way too much going on in Corto, and adding in these scenes just made the story seem more disjointed.  Both scenes had a point (bringing in Ted to train and getting Felicity to Central City) but there was already not enough focus on the multiple plots of Corto that these just made that fact more glaringly obvious.

Which brings us to the fact that Thea didn’t get that much screen time for a Thea-centric episode.  As of now, the Mark Shaw storyline seems like it was shoe-horned in to give us an excuse for some action to go down, which was quite successful.  More development of Argus is sure to come, which will make me feel better about this.  As of now it just took time off of Thea and Malcolm in an episode that was supposedly about them.

The Verdict

“Corto Maltese” was a great field trip for Team Arrow.  Not the best put together episode in terms of plot focus, but it sure was a fun ride either way.


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