Arrow: “The Return” Season 3 Episode 14 Review

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Sometimes to prepare for the future, you have to address the past. Every season, Arrow has a flashback heavy episode. For better or worse, this season’s is “The Return.”

While I applaud the creators’ choice to move the flashback story off the island for the show’s third season, Oliver’s journey with his new A.R.G.U.S. comrades has no real drive. Granted, there’s no way season three was going to top the brilliant mesh of Slade’s transformation on the island and his present-day siege of the Starling City from last year. So instead of focusing on the season’s villains or new characters, Oliver took a trip back to his home city to see how everyone was doing.

Yes, it is pretty implausible that for how close Oliver gets to Thea, Laurel, and Tommy, (!!!) no one recognizes him. At least they made a joke about it, with Oliver saying he had a hood on and that was enough. How’s that for some meta humor?

Logic aside, Oliver watching over Thea made for a strong parallel to what was going on between the two in the present. Despite primarily being a flashback episode, “The Return” still made time for some forward movement in this season’s story by pairing Oliver and Thea against Slade on the island. However, it was frustrating how easily Deathstroke was defeated by the siblings. Sure, he’s no longer got the Mirakuru beefing him up, but a little more of an even match would have been nice. I have to admit, I rolled my eyes pretty hard at Slade yammering to Oliver about letting Shado die. That is so season two Arrow.

But the true climax of the episode was Oliver telling Thea that she killed Sara. It’s good that all the little details surrounding Sara’s death are finally getting ironed out, even if Laurel still doesn’t know Thea killed her sister.

Speaking of Laurel, the flashbacks were way to heavy on her. We didn’t need to see her fighting her then-alcoholic father over and over again. But then we got a scene in the present where she and Quentin appear to be fighting again.

Between this and Thea’s freak out on Malcolm, “The Return” had more soapy melodrama packed in than the rest of the season combined. Arrow is better than that now. I feel pretty confident in claiming that this was the worst episode of the season so far. Here’s to hoping the next time we see Slade is far more fruitful. Grade: C


Some Other Thought Bubbles:

– This was the worst of the show’s three flashback episodes, including season one’s “The Odyssey,” which was a few episodes shy of when Arrow truly hit its stride.

– Colin Donnell made his most significant and likable return as Tommy Merlyn in this episode. I had high hopes Susanna Thompson would show up as Moira Queen once more, but alas, my dreams are dead.

– Know what scene was missing this week that would have been awesome to see? Merlyn letting Slade out. The show’s two biggest villains coming face to face. Come on!

– Next week, we finally get to see Matthew Nable back as Ra’s al Ghul. More than halfway through the season and it’s hard to believe this year’s big bad has only showed up twice.

– After this year, Arrow really needs to drop the flashbacks. Oliver can just spend the last two years on the island in solitude. Whatever.


By Matt Dougherty

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