The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing us he was gone, in this case however the devil is Malcolm Merlyn and he is great. Unfortunately everything else in the episode was just so meh as Oliver and his crew attempted to deal with a ticking time bomb in the form of Nyssa. For an episode titled “The Magician” you would think there would be some sort of great reveal or swift left turn. Rather this was a fairly by the books episode and unless Merlyn is flat out lying to our faces we are no closer to discovering who murdered Sara. Even the big moment at the end where we get our first look at Ra’s was surprisingly cheap as the scene was so short and lacking any punch that it seems unfair to even call it his first appearance. So let’s dive in.
Let’s start with the star of this episode John Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn, who has always been a scenery chewing megalomaniac, but damn if he wasn’t the best part of the episode. All of his scenes tonight from his first interaction with Oliver to the final confrontation during the three way archer fight were fantastic. Even with Malcolm being a complete psycho he brought up plenty of valid reason as to why he would not have been the one to kill Sara. He does not want to piss off Ra’s any more than he already has, let alone Nyssa who at this moment is the more formidable threat. Once again we only know how dangerous Ra’s is by reputation and until we see him physically come to Starling and put the fear of god into Oliver he is the second most dangerous assassin. We also got the fun fact that Merlyn somehow knows about Supermax on Lian Yu which means it is only a matter of time until someone breaks Slade out to wreak havoc.
On the other side of things I can’t decide if I like Laurel now that she is not taking shit from anyone or if she is going to continue to be a source of frustration. Despite everyone having a point that Oliver or someone should just kill Malcolm, Laurel was the only one with the balls to put out a hit on the man. She made the same mistake all but two weeks ago when she wanted so badly for Komodo to be her sister’s killer. Even when Laurel realized that Malcolm was innocent of this particular crime she became so blinded at the thought that He is alive while Sara was dead. When Laurel get’s her revenge, and I fully believe she will, I want her to have earned the right to capture and or kill the murderer. More than anything I am becoming more frustrated at the fact Laurel and everyone on Team Arrow is continuing to lie to Lance about Sara being killed. The sheer amount of backlash they will eventually receive will ruin them let alone if someone like Ra’s or Nyssa are the ones to inform him.
As for the strongest part of the episode I would have to say that much like Barrowman, Stephen Amell really brought out the best aspects of Oliver this week. Even with everyone constantly questioning Oliver’s choice to not kill Malcolm, Oliver managed to stick creed of no longer killing anyone. You could clearly see Ollie’s hesitation at doing this as he knows just how much of a monster the man is and exactly how dangerous it is keeping him alive. For Oliver to go as far as to say he is now officially under his protection puts Oliver in a very tight predicament. Once the world finds out that Malcolm is back, and I fully believe they will, where will that leave the city’s trust in The Arrow. Their belief in Oliver as a hero is fully based around all of the good he has done and if one of Oliver’s biggest victories, killing Malcolm, is wiped from the board people will begin to wonder just how many other dangerous psycho Ollie let get away.
The last character to have a lot of big moments this week was Thea, and it is nice to have her actually be in the know on a ton of different details. Everything from Oliver telling her about Merlyn being alive to her referencing Roy working with the Arrow, this is officially the most involved in the plot Thea has ever been. Hopefully her subterfuge and ever expanding involvement will continue although it was weird that she thanked Malcolm for saving her as Malcolm had no part in saving her from Nyssa.
Overall it was an ok episode that just never managed to deliver on the promise of the plot.
Final Grade C
+The three way archer fight
+Malcolm and Ollie material was great
+Thea actually being involved in the plot
-Laurel putting out a hit on Merlyn
-Ra’s debut was underwhelming
-Roy needs to stop doing front flips
-Lance still out of the loop
-Seriously Roy I know you think it looks cool when you do front flips, but it just makes you look like a douche
-Nice of Felicity to show up after all of the fun stuff happened
-I have not formulated an opinion on Matthew Nable as Ra’s, for the time being he certainly was imposing enough when he said Ollie declared war on The League.