Review: Arrow Season 3 Episode 4 “The Magician”

by David Hestand III
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This week on Arrow, we address the elephant in the room:  Did Malcolm kill Sara?  Or more importantly, we address the more obvious fact of why it would be stupid for Malcolm to kill Sara.  It was interesting to see the sentiment expressed in two ways, one to remove suspicion and another to move to the final suspect on everyone’s mind:  Ra’s al Ghul himself.

The unfortunate thing about this half of the season is the focus on Sara’s death.  That focus has made the plot into a murder mystery, which makes the plot progression a series of checking off suspects.  It can make episodes where they clear someone’s name feel a bit like filler, like Komodo’s debut was very close to, but this episode managed to give us quite a bit more substance to alleviate that feel.  Plus, we got some answers to past mysteries.

One important answer came in the flashbacks.  First, we learned that Waller was indeed Fyers’s employer.  A lot of people were guessing that fact.  Second, we learned that attack on the plane was intended to kill China White.  That was not something anybody had guessed.  Needless to say, the intrigue regarding the Hong Kong plot has increased.

In a lot of ways, this episode almost feels like the “true” start to Season 3.  Laurel is in training with Ted Grant.  Thea is home, redoing Verdant and reconnected with Roy.  Malcolm is present in Starling City.  The League is ready to declare war on Team Arrow.  Well, I suppose the amount of effort and time spent on those negates the “true” start idea.  One thing we can say is that all the major players are ready to get this show going at this point.  Other developments included Thea and Oliver’s “no secrets” policy clearly not being so valid, Team Arrow managing fairly well without Felicity’s help.

In other news, we got to continue the trend of League names referencing the character’s comic book titles as Merlyn was revealed to be “The Magician.”  Also Ra’s finally made his debut.  This debut was roughly a minute long, with five seconds of real screen time.  This is not enough to judge anything about him so far, though I am leaning more toward a positive outlook at this point.


Katrina Law and John Barrowman were great tonight.  Granted these two seem to always bring their A-game to the episodes, but Nyssa’s grief and Malcolm’s drive and focus were the standout performances tonight.

Standoffs were great tonight as well.  Malcolm and Oliver meeting up for the first time since Season 1 was a great scene.  Malcolm vs. Nyssa was a fun little scuffle, but the true standout was the Arrow vs. Nyssa vs. Malcolm.  Arrow always manages solid choreography, and tonight was no disappointment.

It was great finally getting some answers to long-standing questions.  As much as I hate Lance not knowing about Sara, that last scene with him still was heartbreaking.


It really felt like we were just skirting the conflict for the first thirty minutes of the episode.  Confrontations were good and we got to see some solid grief from Nyssa and get Malcolm’s motives going to clue Oliver in, but it all felt like avoidance rather than building to conflict.

Slightly more nitpicky, but they seriously need to get Diggle a mask or something.  No, I’m not in the John Stewart Diggle bunch, but now that he has a family it really stands out when he goes on missions with his face in plain view.  It was especially glaring when they later had him back in the lair doing Felicity’s job, which he definitely could have been doing earlier just as well.

The Verdict

Arrow finally has all the pieces in play to move us from mystery to conflict.  Though Arrow finally followed through on several long-awaited promises and mysteries, the plot felt far too stalled this week.




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