**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.11 of Arrow, “Midnight City.”**
So last week I said I was pleasantly surprised by Arrow, and that on a scale of 1 – 10, I gave it a 5 while I fully expected a 2. Unfortunately, water always meets its level, so hopefully this week’s episode, “Midnight City,” is as bad as Arrow gets. Previously, I thought “Sara” or “Birds of Prey” were the worst episodes of this show. I was so wrong.
I’ll start with the good stuff: Maseo and Tatsu. I hate that we’re really only getting their story in drips, but that’s not a real complaint because everything else on this show lately has been in anvil form, so I’ll take any form of subtlety at this point. We got more of their flashbacks, namely that Maseo was willing to risk the lives of thousands of people for his family and that China White had anticipated that quality in him. Oliver looks a little unnerved by this kind of loyalty over all else, and of course it’s in direct contradiction to the Maseo we know in the present day, but that plotline continues to be one of the more compelling plotlines of this show.
In the present day, Tatsu is helping Oliver recover while Maseo protects them and prepares to return to the League. Oliver is overly concerned with his old friend’s fate, so Maseo fakes a cut on his neck to indicate Oliver fighting back. Oliver asks him to come back to Starling City with him, but Maseo chooses to go back to the League, leaving Tatsu in tears.
Speaking of anvil-like imagery, the episode starts out with a dream sequence, going back to the moment Oliver told Felicity he was leaving. In this version, he abruptly decides to stay because he loves her so much, and they kiss for one joyous moment before he leans back and starts spewing blood. They both glance down in shock to find a sword going through his midsection, and cut to — Oliver waking up. This is the sort of thing this show used to do really well, or at the very least, they did it with a little more finesse. This time it was just clumsy and shot weird and had odd emotional beats without any indication that it was a dream at all. It even seemed like it should’ve been Felicity’s dream until we saw Oliver wake from it. Just so strange. But it’s nice that he’s dreaming about her, I suppose.
Elsewhere, people are making — just — I can’t even talk about the stupid decisions almost everyone on this show is making. Just mind-numblingly stupid. The only people not doing dumb stuff in this episode are Oliver, who is healing, and Lance, who is being lied to by every single person in his life. I don’t even know where to begin, but since my ire with this show begins and ends with Thea Queen, I guess I’ll start there.
Malcolm is still lying to her. Roy is still lying to her. And now greasy grungy shady DJ guy is lying to her, because — surprise! — he works for the League of Assassins somehow. He’s Maseo’s man in Starling, I guess. We’ll get more on that later. But Malcolm spends the episode trying to convince Thea to leave the city and she tells him that they should be strong and face down their enemies, and Malcolm… agrees. So sending Oliver to his death was totally worth it.
Speaking of lying, Felicity (yes, Felicity, because as much as a certain faction of fandom would like to blame Laurel for this, it was actually Felicity who came up with this particular atrocity) had the bright idea to use old scans of Sara’s voice to have Laurel talk to Captain Lance as The Canary. Lance has been wondering why there are reports of a masked blonde woman running around town beating people up, but he hasn’t heard from his daughter, and somehow this little detail never occurred to Laurel as she was putting on the mask. After Felicity has a crisis of conscience about saving the city, she comes up with this awful idea and Laurel stands there in the foundry, talking to her dad as Sara as Katie Cassidy finally sheds a tear. I was too angry with the writers and show and the general production for pulling this stunt to really appreciate that she gave it her all, so props to Katie for trying to drag that scene out of the abyss that it belongs in, because it was terrible. I hated every second of that plot and I hate writing about it now.
But no! That wasn’t the only time she impersonated her sister! Later she stood on a fire escape four stories high to tell her dad, as Sara, that she couldn’t be in contact with him right now, and Lance looked devastated. It was bad enough when his daughter was lying to him, but now, thanks to Laurel donning the mask and Felicity rigging up her voice, the entire team has been pulled into the conspiracy, and it’s just terrible, you guys. It casts a pall over everything, and that’s saying something, because it’s hard to cast a pall over an episode where everyone still thinks the main superhero is dead.
Felicity continued her tour of bad ideas by figuring out the nanochip thing so that she could eventually send another billionaire to his snowy mountaintop grave. I guess I can chalk it all up to grief but it’s getting old.
Roy and Diggle contributed to the fiasco by not really trying to stop Laurel. We can’t blame them too much, Laurel’s gonna be Laurel, but after last week’s emotional scenes, they both just seemed off, like this show can’t carry storylines through multiple episodes anymore. There was a funny scene where Roy went to try to threaten Malcolm for lying to Thea, but I think Malcolm likes being threatened. I think it keeps him young.
And Ray Palmer still exists, because Brick didn’t do us a solid and just shoot him while he had the chance.
Eventually, it won’t be so painful to watch the Black Canary join the fray, but for the love of God, Laurel, train.
– This scene was fun:
– For most of the episode, it seemed like Laurel thought Oliver was dead after all; she had a couple lines alluding to that. I was initially bothered by her lack of a reaction to his demise, until she indicated at the end of the episode that she still wasn’t sure he was gone. Whew!
– Vinnie Jones was still great as Brick.
– Thea read a book in the dark. No, really:
– Felicity and Laurel finally, finally had a not-awkward scene of mutual respect and support. It was great, and it needs to continue.
– I miss Slade. Who else misses Slade? Things were so fun when Slade was around! Except for all the death and stuff.
Next week: three terrorist attacks on Starling City in three years! What will Joe West and Harrison Wells have to say about this?! Oh and I guess Oliver’s coming back, but that’s no indication that this show will get any better.