The Calm Recap
After several long months, Arrow is finally back, and the killer wait was definitely worth it, Arrow’s season 3 opening explosive in a good and literal way. With an explosion, great character moments, Ray Palmer, a first date, a kiss, a birth, and a death all crammed into one entertaining hour of television, one can’t help but think that Arrow just might be the best superhero show ever written for the small screen (I did love you Smallville…).
The Calm before the Storm
Five months later for our band of heroes, and crime rate is way down thanks to Team Arrow in a perfect rhythm of taking down bad guys, Roy now a full-fledged and effective member of the team. The Arrow, saving Starling City from Slade’s terrorist attack, is also no longer the feared vigilante but rather seen as a hero by the people. Detective Lance, promoted to Captain Lance (because his collapse in the season 2 finale prevents him from going into the field), even disbands the Anti-Vigilante Task Force in a news conference, thanking the Arrow for his heroism. The news conference scene, set up as a surprise by Laurel, nicely introduces the new business relationship between Oliver and Laurel. As she says, “You catch ‘em. I cook ‘em.” This is a great way to build upon Team Arrow without feeling too crowded. With the reveal at the end of the episode, however, one can’t help wonder how this dynamic will get shaken up…
As for Team Arrow, the dynamic from last season has been turned on its head. Roy can adeptly shoot arrows and bring down bad guys, Diggle is about to be a father and Felicity now works at the Buy More… I mean, Radio Shack or some kind of equivalent. Then there is Oliver.
While the city sees Arrow as a hero, Oliver has finally started loosening up. During “the calm,” Oliver is smiling and even dare I say it, happy? That happiness comes down to Felicity, clearly his romantic proclamation of love actually real (which I thought was obvious based on their last scene together in the finale), the two acting like a couple without literally being a couple. Felicity even adorably buys him a fern to go with his bed in the Arrow cave (broke Oliver has nowhere else to live). Diggle, always with his wise words of advice (and after picking up on the undeniable romantic tension probably for the millionth time over the last 5 months), tells Oliver:
Diggle: Things are good now as they ever will be Oliver. And you love her. You even told her so.
Oliver: I was trying to fool Slade.
Diggle: Yes, except now the only person you’re fooling is yourself.
With everything seeming better than ever, Oliver finally thinks it is safe enough to ask Felicity out on a date. Stumbling over his words, something Felicity usually does, he asks her to dinner and Felicity agrees.
During one of his missions, Oliver even asks Felicity if she likes Italian, revealing a much more light-hearted Oliver Queen. Am I the only one hoping some of his fun side sticks around? Is all this happiness too good to be true? Well, the episode is called “The Calm.”
In the midst of all the cheerfulness and smiles, darkness unfortunately looms covertly in the background. Vertigo is back and back with a bang. While Count Vertigo died at the hands of a protective Oliver (killing to save Felicity), a new Vertigo has risen to take his place. This version of the character is darker, scarier, and played by Peter Stormare of Prison Break fame, Stormare’s presence foreboding in the best way.
Attempting to take over the crime world of Starling City (coldly taking out a couple of guys in the process), the new face of Vertigo has an altered drug on the market, Vertigo now revealing your worst fears (I would love to see more of this with all the characters). Werner Zytle (the new Vertigo) wants to take down the Arrow as well. Setting Oliver up, he plants a GPS on his jacket, a GPS that leads straight to Oliver’s first date with Felicity.
Letting his guard down, Oliver arrives to have dinner with Felicity. Of course, he can’t help but notice how beautiful she looks all dolled up…
They hug and begin their awkward dinner. They are so used to being friends and already know everything about each other that they don’t know where to go from there. Felicity has already seen Oliver shirtless after all. Instead of the normal first date chitchat, Oliver takes the opportunity to tell Felicity more of his past, solidifying his trust in her in the process. First, he tells her a little about Hong Kong:
Oliver: The entire time that I was gone, I could never… completely trust someone. And when that goes on long, you stop… seeing people for people. You see… threats. Or targets. And when I decided to come home, I…I just didn’t know how to turn that part of me off. Then I walked into your office. You were the first person that I could see as a… a person. There was just something about you.
Felicity: Oh, yeah, I was chewing on a pen.
Oliver: It was red.
This has to be one of the sweetest moments of the whole show! I’m sure many of us noticed in their first scene together that Oliver finally smiled. Revealing that she was the first person he saw as a person in that moment? Icing on the cake. Oliver then goes on to get even more personal by going back to another memorable romantic moment (from season 2 this time around) when he told Felicity he couldn’t be with someone he really cares about. Giving Felicity hope, Oliver believes he might have been wrong. Except…then the restaurant explodes…
Perhaps Oliver let his guard down too soon, or that’s what he thinks anyway. Seeing Felicity in danger convinces him that he can’t be both Oliver Queen and the Arrow. When he faces up against the new Vertigo and gets drugged, not only does he put his own life in jeopardy, he feels he put Captain Lance’s life in jeopardy as well, the high risk excitement too much for his health, sending him back to the hospital. Oliver also faces his own worst fear: himself. He fears what would happen if he became Oliver Queen.
In fact, the explosion even convinces Oliver that Diggle can’t go out in the field because he is about to be a father. He can’t be put in that amount of high risk anymore. Of course, that leads to a huge blowout between the two because Diggle says he makes his own choices, Oliver claiming that since the crusade is his own, Diggle has no choice in the matter. Oliver can be a real jerk sometimes.
Aside from Vertigo and romantic developments, Queen Consolidated is back in play. Last we checked, Oliver lost everything, but now he has a chance to convince the board to let him return. Felicity’s his coach on the whole thing. Everything seems great, except a new player is in town, a charismatic character named Ray Palmer.
We first meet Ray at the Buy More (Chuck and Daniel Shaw memories, anyone?), where Felicity helps him buy a remote administration tool. Whoops. When Felicity and Oliver arrive at Queen Consolidated to fight for the company, they realize that someone else is bidding for the company: Ray Palmer. Uh oh! Oliver gives a heartfelt speech about the company being family, but he stands no chance against the entertaining, witty, well-researched Ray Palmer (he used that administration tool to look at the company’s unfortunate record while under Oliver’s leadership).
Not only does Ray Palmer have charm, he has a vision. That vision is Star City. I have to admit; even I was sold by this speech. Ray wants to fix the broken city, a broken city that needs to be saved. Sounds like he may be a hero in his own right…only time will tell if he becomes the Atom from the comics. The show certainly couldn’t have found a better actor than a prior Superman.
Later on in the episode, Ray tracks Felicity down to try and recruit her to work for him. Someone has to get rid of all the hacked porcupine flatulence in all his data files (a gift from Felicity). Felicity’s not too happy with him just yet and says no. He did after all trick her into helping him take over Oliver’s company. I think that it won’t be long, however, until Felicity returns to Queen Consolidated. Ray is quite the likeable Romeo. Their banter is pretty fun too.
With the loss of his company again, Oliver sets out for battle (without Diggle who leaves in a huff). They realize Warner is about to take out a stadium in order to take out some of his competition. Oliver attempts to bring down Warner, while Ray stops the bomb with Felicity’s help, revealing they do work well as the new team. However, there is a definite hole with Diggle no longer there to watch Oliver’s back. Thankfully, Sara returns to help out her friend:
Sara: “Don’t be so surprised. I haven’t been gone that long.”
After they take down the count, Sara even leaves with some words of advice:
Sara: We’re not our masks. And we need people in our lives who don’t wear one.
Unfortunately, Oliver doesn’t listen to her advice.
A Birth, a Breakup, and Standout Romantic Moment
The baby now born, Diggle and Oliver make up, Diggle even telling Oliver his friend was right, that being a father changed everything. Hopefully, this won’t last long. We need Diggle around because the team won’t be the same without him.
Meanwhile, still at the hospital, Felicity and Oliver finally have their talk, something Felicity dreaded because she knew as soon as they did it would be over. I hate when she’s right sometimes. Oliver apologizes, confessing he thought that he could be both the Arrow and Oliver Queen, but he was wrong. He couldn’t be Oliver yet, not right now anyway, and perhaps not ever. Aggravated by his speech, Felicity tells Oliver:
Felicity: Then say never. Stop…Dangling maybes. Say it’s never going to work out between us. Say you never loved me, say you—
Oliver stops her by saying her name (because he loves saying her name) and then plants a kiss on her in my definite standout romantic moment of the episode.
Oliver: Don’t ask me to say that I don’t love you.
Finally! A real confession…While Felicity walks away saying it’s over, I see real progress here. Oliver is no longer fooling himself with his feelings. While I agree with Felicity about maybes being totally unacceptable, I’m glad that Oliver is going to have step up his game, especially with Ray Palmer to step up the competition.
A Mystery Begins
Returning to the mysterious elements of season 1, a new mystery begins all in the name of Sara. Sara and Laurel have a nice sister talk, but Sara is rather cryptic with why she is back. Once Laurel leaves, a foreboding voice calls her name. She turns around, shock on her face (though she didn’t grab for a weapon…), and gets shot 3 times by arrows, falling to her death below.
Laurel sees Sara fall and runs to her sister’s side, the anguish already apparent on her face. While I wasn’t surprised by Sara’s death, I have to admit to being a little disappointed the writers went with the obvious choice (Sara having to die so Laurel can accept her destiny and become the Black Canary), I am intrigued to see how the mystery plays out. Who did kill Sara Lance?
RAY: So sorry I am late. Heh, traffic was terrible. Which is why I took my helicopter. I parked on your roof. I hope that’s OK. You guys validate, right?
Thoughts and Questions
Anyone else notice the blink if you miss it line about the criminals bribing cops? Do I smell a conspiracy similar to Fox’s Gotham? Some corruption in the police force with Lance as Captain could make for an interesting story, and may even connect to Sara’s death. Why was she back anyway? Why did she want to keep her return secret from her father? Perhaps she stumbled on to something she shouldn’t have…
The real question remains though: who did it? Who killed Sara Lance? The obvious suspects are Ra’s al Ghul (since he’s coming into play, Sara is part of the League of Assassins AND dated his daughter), Malcolm Merlyn (he did like to kill with an arrow), or even someone from Oliver’s Hong Kong past.
The flashbacks, now set in Hong Kong, also might have given an important clue. Attempting once more to escape Amanda Waller’s grasp, Oliver ends up in Maseo Yamashiro’s home where he seems to have no chance at all to find his way home. Maseo can’t let Oliver escape because he has no choice. If he fails, Waller will kill Maseo’s family including his son. This idea or theme of “no choice,” could be important. What if someone good killed Sara because they thought they had no choice? Sara did look shocked. Perhaps she was shocked because it was someone she didn’t think would harm her? Say like Roy, who can now shoot arrows like a pro? Just throwing a crazy theory out there, but breaking Oliver’s trust once more could make for an interesting story…
What did you think of the season 3 premiere of Arrow? Sound off in the comments…
Stay tuned for next week when I recap “Sara.”
Photo Credits: CW
Read my Oliver/Felicity/Laurel article HERE
Check out our Romantic Moment of the Week: Romantic Moment of the Week: Oliver and Felicity
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3 thoughts on “Arrow Season 3’s The Calm Recap – A New Mystery and Romance Begins”
A lot of things happening in the season opener. Sometimes it was hard to keep track.
It was good to see the extended Team Arrow working so well, and Diggle’s papahood was adorable. Poor Quentin, still not recovered from the season finale.
The Oliver/Felicity scenes were wonderful She knew he was going to end it as soon as he side-lined Diggle (nice directing in the shot of with Felicity crying in the foreground) but even with that I’m not sure I would have had enough strength to walk away.
I’m not a big fan of Laurel but I liked her in this episode. I think if they had left it like this for a few episodes, I would have felt better about Sara dying although I don’t think she needed to die at all. (She could have retired or been put into a wheelchair so Laurel could be the Black Canary.)
In the comics, Laurel is the Black Canary, which is why Sara died. But in the comics she’s also married to Oliver Queen. Do you think they would end Olicity, or worse kill Felicity next season, to have Laurel end up with Oliver?
I don’t think Sara needed to die either, but I guess it does add an element of mystery into the show. And I don’t necessarily believe that Felicity will have to die in order for Oliver to end up with Laurel. You never know I suppose, but the comics have introduced Felicity into the comics. Also, the comics did allow for Chloe to end up with Oliver Queen on Smallville, so my guess is the ending is wide open I think it would be smarter for the writers to not be perfectly married to the comics. No need to stifle creativity. For all we know, Oliver could end up alone in the end.