Arrow: “The Magician” Season 3 Episode 4 Review

Photo Credit:

Two of the Arrow’s greatest villains face off this week in an episode that once again raised the bar for what this show is capable of.

With two solid seasons behind it, Arrow‘s third season has done a lot with the groundwork that has already been laid, writing a mythology that is as exciting as it is fun. Going into The Magician, we knew that both Sara Lance and Malcolm Merlyn were members of the League of Assassins. We knew the former had a relationship with the League’s leader’s daughter while the latter had been excommunicated.

Now, Sara is dead, Malcolm is alive and back in Starling City, and Nyssa al Ghul is out for revenge. All of this came to a head in this thrilling entry that made great work of just about every character on the series right now.

When Nyssa first confronts Oliver, she reveals that his archnemesis is alive and that he likely killed Sara. They, along with Diggle and Roy, go on a mission to seek out Merlyn, which ends with him escaping, but not without the Arrow drawing a little blood. John Barrowman’s smirk at this is a serious contender for best moment of the night.

As Oliver continues to hunt for his old foe, Malcolm intercepts his comm signal and tells him to meet him in a public place alone. As the viewer, we know Malcolm was probably in Corto Maltese when Sara was killed (though he and Thea were, perhaps strategically, left out of the premiere in which she dies). Watching Merlyn convince Oliver of this was excellent. Their conversation, their first face to face meeting since the Season 1 finale, was so charged. Both Amell and Barrowman sold every second of it, making you believe the history these enemies share but also buy every word coming out of Merlyn’s mouth.

I can’t blame Oliver for trusting him. Narratively speaking, it would be too easy for Merlyn to have killed Sara. Well, Nyssa doesn’t believe it and decides to take matters into her own hands. After Oliver reveals that Thea is both his sister and Malcolm’s daughter, the youngest Queen finds herself in the clutches of the League of Assassins as bait.

But this ends up bringing both Merlyn and the Arrow, leading to a three-way fight that ranks among the best the show has ever done. Watching them all in costume duking it out was like a comic book come to life, which means Arrow is doing its job. In the end, Arrow has to let Merlyn go, much to Nyssa’s disdain. He doesn’t believe Merlyn killed Sara, and Starling City is still his city.

Nyssa’s final moments of the episode were all foreboding. With Laurel training at the Wildcat Gym, Nyssa looks like she might be able to bring her over to the League before she suits up next to Oliver. Then, we met her father. Matt Nable made his very brief debut as the legendary Ra’s al Ghul. Nerd shivers, everywhere.

Despite all the brilliantly plotted movements of the episode, it still sticks out that Detective Lance doesn’t know Sara is dead yet. How long can this really go on?

The flashbacks in Hong Kong went pretty slow this week too, though Oliver did get that hysterical scene with the kid.

But other than that, The Magician ranks among Arrow‘s best by weaving in the different plot threads of Oliver, Thea, Nyssa, Malcolm, and Laurel just about flawlessly. A few stray subplots aside, this episode delivered everything we have ever wanted Arrow to be. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *