Arrow Season 3 Episode 4 Review: The Magician


This was the big 50th episode of Arrow and it was hyped by many to be one of the best of the series. It wasn't.

While all of the building blocks were present, the finished product failed to impress. Nyssa learned of Sara's death, Oliver and Team Arrow learned that Malcolm Merlyn was alive, the lies grew even deeper in the ever dwindling Queen family and viewers got their first glimpse of Ra's al Ghul. Despite all of that, it didn't come close to besting the other 49 installments.

So what did stand out in Arrow Season 3 Episode 4? Nyssa, or, rather, Katrina Law. She proved to be the strongest player of the hour and considering we were only missing one member of Team Arrow (granted, it was Felicity), that's unfortunate, given the weighty topic at hand -- the death of Sara.

It's no surprise Katrina Law owned her portrayal of Nyssa, as we have seen her in action before. She brings layers of complexity to a character that could have been far less nuanced. Instead she remains an enigma. She's a fierce and loyal fighter with a big heart, and it feel like there's much more to her yet to be revealed. 

What was unanticipated was how little the role of Team Arrow was in the 50th episode. Was it because they were missing their heart -- Felicity? I'm open to suggestions.

The question of the night was whether or not it was Malcolm Merlyn who killed Sara. When Malcolm swore upon Thea's life that Sara's blood wasn't on his hands, he took the time to point toward Nyssa's father, Ra's al Ghul. So, one father or the other just did something terrible to their daughter. 

Our introduction to Ra's al Ghul showed a teeth-chattering Nyssa trying to hide her anger at her father as he suggested Sara was never one of them anyway, only fueling Malcolm's revelation. If only life were that easy when it comes to Malcolm. He didn't show much grief over the death of his son, so would swearing on Thea's life mean much to him? He's also called The Magician. If that's not an indicator that he'll play with your mind, I don't know what is.

Oliver's team doesn't even buy into his vow not to kill. Diggle wanted Nyssa set free to kill Malcolm and Roy nodded his head in agreement. Nyssa smiled as she noticed the bloodlust from her lover's sister, Laurel. Oliver recollecting his time in Hong Kong didn't exactly help matters.

It makes sense from the flashback aspect to want to steer clear of killing. He had no reason to do it, and yet went along with it. In a city as crowded as Hong Kong, it's hard to believe a cunning guy like Oliver couldn't find a way to communicate with home or someone to help him out. 

Waller is dark and violent, yet her hold over Oliver didn't feel all that compelling. "Everyone thinks you're dead" is a hollow threat that seems too easily solved. Yet Oliver went along with it and even killed for her. Now even someone deserving death doesn't get snared. Malcolm really hit the gong on that with 502 people during The Undertaking, don't you think?

Considering the damage lies have done to everyone on Arrow, you'd think they would learn to tell the truth. The reality is there are more people lying now than before. Oliver and Thea are lying to each other on an enormous level, with Thea lying to everyone in her life outside of her new dad. Laurel is lying to her father and to others about her training. Everyone is hiding something and it's only going to make things worse overall.

For a 50th episode extravaganza, there wasn't a lot to cheer about. We had some small victories to move the story forward, and other developments that stalled.

Laurel was training and Nyssa was impressed. Thea will be opening Verdant again and to keep her enemy close, she hired Roy as Assistant Manager, their new banter is more interesting with the new Thea. Det. Lance remains in the dark about one daughter's death and his other daughter's life, something I hoped would be resolved at the end of this hour, but appears will be kept until Laurel makes her first appearance as Black Canary. Call me crazy, but I'm waiting for it. 

Maybe you all have a different take on the hour. What got your heart ticking? Are you loving the Hong Kong scenes? Are you counting the days until Nyssa returns? Was Ra's al Ghul as menacing as you anticipated? Do you believe Malcolm? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

If you just joined us because you love The Flash, we have good news! You can watch Arrow online via TV Fanatic and get all caught up. You're welcome! 

Here's your very first look at Arrow Season 3 Episode 5, which will delve deeply into the life of Felicity Smoak:

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.