Arrow: 310 “Left Behind” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
Due to the climactic and tragic events of Arrow’s midseason finale, it feels as though a relative eternity has passed between then and the midseason premiere episode. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait quite as long as we do for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to find out whether Oliver is alive or dead, but the wait has still been agonising.
The episode puts a lot of work into showing that Starling City has become somewhat reliant on the Arrow to keep things safe and secure: without him, criminals are running rings around the SCPD and everything seems a bit chaotic. While Diggle, Roy and Felicity are doing their best to keep things going without their fearless leader, Diggle is no archer, Roy is no leader and Felicity is in total denial about the likelihood of Oliver’s fate. Even when Diggle reminds her that he went to engage in a one-on-one duel with the world’s greatest assassin and things likely didn’t go Oliver’s way, Felicity refuses to acknowledge the possibility that he might be dead.
Meanwhile, a career criminal named Danny ‘Brick’ Brickwell has been released from Iron Heights prison because all the witnesses to his crime have miraculously stopped being alive, and he appears to have some kind of master plan. As Brick, Vinnie Jones is cast wildly against type as a man who enjoys punching people, often until they too are no longer alive, and judging by the evidence provided he appears to be at least a little bit bulletproof. Even without Oliver, the Bonkers Superhero Hour lives on.
Anyway, Brick plans to destroy all the evidence against a bunch of bad dudes in Iron Heights in order to get them released, and even though they put up a good fight and Diggle takes a bunch of hits like a true champ, without Oliver the team can’t stop him before he gets away. With the evidence gone and the bad dudes released, Brick manages to create an army to take over the Glades and, with no Arrow to stop them, it looks as though they have a pretty good chance of doing just that.
Other people around the city are affected by Oliver’s disappearance as well: Thea is distracted in her swordfighting sessions with Malcolm, and tells him that she’s concerned that she hasn’t heard from him. Malcolm offers to put out some feelers to try and find him, and heads over to see if Team Arrow have heard anything: when they inform him that Oliver is still missing in action, he heads overseas to the location of the duel and finds no sign of Oliver. What he does find is Ra’s al Ghul’s bloody sword left at the top of the cliff, which he takes back to Starling City and gives to Team Arrow as a grisly present and confirmation that their fearless leader is, in fact, dead.
However, as seen from the multiple visits to the consecrated League of Assassins ground we have already made throughout the episode, his body was taken by a figure wearing the uniform of the League. As the episode comes to a close, it is revealed that this figure was none other than Maseo, which Oliver finds out as he regains consciousness. Maseo reveals that he brought Oliver to Tatsu, who brought him back to life.
It’s not a particularly shocking turn of events, the show being named after Oliver’s alter ego and all, although I was pleasantly surprised to see Tatsu still alive: I had assumed that it would be her death that drove Maseo to join the League of Assassins, but now, even more tragically, it would appear to be something to do with their son instead.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Maseo and Oliver are dispatched to steal the ‘Alpha’ counterpart to the ‘Omega’ super-virus which is now in Chien Na Wei’s possession. Unfortunately, the Alpha virus is in a military facility, but after some tomfoolery with a zipline and an unexpectedly strong widow they manage to get in and grab the virus. Unfortunately, some armed men attack, and Maseo confirms that they are Chien Na Wei’s Triad soldiers as opposed to Hong Kong military, and they engage in an all-out firefight. However, Oliver is still apparently unwilling to make a kill-shot, and lets one of the men get away instead of taking him down: he later reveals to Maseo that the reason he let him go was because he planted a tracker on the soldier, and he would lead them straight to Chien Na Wei. Maseo tells Oliver that he owes him a debt for helping him find Tatsu, a debt that is presumably now repaid, what with the life-saving and everything.
Finally, back in Starling a few different things go down: first off, having studied the DNA evidence and denied the truth for so long, Felicity finally accepts that Oliver is dead and not coming back. She also declares that their operation is now over, because it was Oliver’s mission more than it was any of theirs, and with him gone they can’t keep it up. Diggle and Roy seem to accept this as well, but there’s one person who isn’t willing to give up the good fight.
As the episode comes to a close, two of Brick’s goons are attacked by a mysterious blonde woman dressed in black leather and armed with a stick and some crazy sonic grenades. When they ask her who she is, she replies: “I’m the justice you can’t run from”.
The Black Canary is born.
Without Oliver as a central grounding element, “Left Behind” feels a little bit all over the place, with a lot of story threads going on in a short space of time. However, that is somewhat symbolic of Team Arrow as we find them here, rudderless and lost: add to that a handful of intriguing surprises and teases for the future and you get a solid, if not entirely spectacular return for the Bonkers Superhero Hour