Well, that plot line was resolved rather quickly if I do say so myself as Oliver has somehow managed to escape death. However this week’s episode “Left Behind” is not so much about Oliver escaping death as it is about the effect he has had on those around him. Everyone, from all the members of team Arrow, to Merlyn, to even those we believed to have been his enemies have all been affected by Oliver in some way, shape, or form. Getting to see the rest of the characters have a chance to stretch and really display all of their talents was worth the price of admission and in addition we had a great beginning to what is supposed to be a three part arc involving Vinnie Jones’ Danny “Brick” Brickwell. All of the emotional content managed to work and not over complicate the entire affair while helping to define who these characters are without Oliver in their lives. So, let’s dive in.
Yes, Oliver Queen survived, we don’t quite know how Tatsu and Maseo were able to bring back our protagonist, but this episode is not so much about Oliver getting revived after four days. Instead we focus on the characters around our hero and how Oliver’s disappearance has changed them. Granted it has only been four days but in that time Roy has stepped up as Arsenal, Diggle is trying to outperform Alfred once again as a kick ass body guard, and Felicity refuses to believe that Oliver could lose to the worlds greatest assassin. The small moments that each character manages to get in order to explore their grief around Oliver being gone were absolutely the highlight of the entire affair. Watching Emily Bett Rickards confront Ray about his desire to become a vigilante was an especially strong point but the unsung hero of this entire episode is easily David Ramsey.
I have made my admiration for Ramsey’s character well known many times over, but this week he really managed to floor me as Diggle. We know Diggle is a good soldier and a great teammate, but I feel this is the first time we were truly able to see just how much Oliver has meant and given to him. There were two particular moments that stood out to me Diggle’s conversation with Roy and his talk with Laurel. Each of these could have come off as hokey or emotionally manipulative, but Ramsey sold the hell out of them especially when he was talking to Laurel about how he feels like he has failed Oliver by not protecting him. I think that is one of the most Alfred to Bruce-esque moments we have ever gotten the pleasure to see and it truly helped to nail just how far Oliver and Diggle’s relationship has come. I can’t wait to see what happens when Diggle and the rest of the team get Oliver back and to see just how much the dynamic changes.
The other character who really managed to excel this week was Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer, who continues to be nothing like the comic’s Ray at all. How do I know this? Because he is literally creating an Iron Man suit rather than a shrinking suit and he is behaving like Tony Stark without the sleeping with every woman in site bit. Palmer’s conviction and commitment to his cause after Felicity questioned him really helped to confirm much in the same way as Ollie did early on last season, that his mission is about more than honoring the memory of one person. Although in stead of trying to make up for his mistakes as a human being Palmer is trying to become a beacon for those around the world to stand up and fight back with. He is playing it much more like Barry than Oliver and I think this is to Routh’s credit that Ray is so god damn likable.
In similar likable character fashion, damn if Vinnie Jones is not awesome as Brick. He is clearly a man with a plan, happens to be the same plan that many other past villains have had, but it still had concrete action behind it. Jones nailed the parts of Brick that we needed to have come across: he is a planner, he does not accept people going off script, and he will make sure you obey him or else. The fight between him and Diggle was naturally fantastic as Jones is a natural force in any type of fight and it will be great to see if anything else comes out of his plan or if Brick truly does just want to be an almighty crime boss.
The only part which didn’t work for me was that Laurel suited up as the new Canary and went to beat up on Brick’s newly freed guys. Yes, we have seen Laurel working towards taking up her sister’s mantel all season but it just felt like everything happened so fast that she is now a vigilante. I mean we could have at least waited until next week or given Roy the big moment of saying it’s all hands on deck and Laurel is necessary. This just made her seem way to impulsive and it will obviously create issues for the team moving forward.
Overall a strong return with some room for improvement.
Final Grade B
+Amazingly strong side character work
+Did not drag out Ollie being dead
+Brick is a strong foe
-Laurel suiting up felt strangely out of place
-Merlyn deciding to run
-You know who would be really useful in an all hands on deck situation? Wildcat. What ever happened to him
-Seriously how did Ollie Survive without a Lazarus Pit? He fell off the side of a freaking mountain shirtless, bleeding, and freezing for four days. Unless we are being shown the timeline out of order Ollie should have been SUUUUUPER dead.
-“Dad, I could have killed you.” “Heh. It’s cute that you think so.” Malcolm Merlyn, your father of the year mug is in the mail.