When Arrow returned from its winter hiatus after a literal cliffhanger of a midseason finale, I knew what to expect: Heartbreak, pain, anger, denial and crying. Lots of crying. But however prepared I thought myself to be for “Left Behind,” I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sinceriously.
Arrow‘s midseason premiere was by far the series’ best midseason return as it packed all of the emotion, action and shockers into what could’ve been a three-episode arc.
Make no mistake this episode was all about Team Arrow dealing with life after Oliver Queen. The beginning was falsely reassuring as Team Arrow is doing their thing and taking down bad guys. But we soon learn that it’s been three days since Oliver left to fight Ra’s al Ghul and the reactions are varied: Felicity believes that Oliver is still alive and Roy is doubting Oliver’s survival, while Diggle seems torn between the two conflicting emotions as he has to step up in a leadership role in Oliver’s absence.
It’s not until Malcolm Merlyn pays Team Arrow a visit in the Arrow Cave that the seed of doubt is planted in Diggle and Roy. Felicity and Laurel both refuse to accept that this is something Oliver won’t return from, which I admit was a nice bit of bonding for the two ladies.
But when Malcolm returns from the scene of Oliver and Ra’s battle with the sword Ra’s put through Oliver’s chest, the cold hard truth comes crashing down on everyone. It’s no longer a maybe it’s confirmation: Oliver is dead.
It’s no surprise that Felicity struggles the hardest with the news. She’s someone who’s lost people she’s loved in her life: her father (who left), her boyfriend (who faked his suicide), her friend (who died by arrows to the chest) and the love of her life (who left her with an “I love you” as he embarked on a suicide mission). Every time Emily Bett Rickards is able to tackle the emotional stuff she hits it out of the park each time, which is evident throughout the episode. When Ray approaches her after she learned the news about Oliver, Felicity finally breaks down. “When we lose someone, when someone dies…they’re gone. Forever. And there is nothing…there is nothing…nothing that we can do that is going to bring them back.” And that’s when the floodgates opened.
For Diggle, coming to the understanding that Oliver is dead is something that impacts him deeply but something that he can’t show (conceal don’t feel, ya know). Diggle has to be strong for Felicity and Roy, but when afforded an opportunity to confide in Laurel, Diggle lets it all hang out. For Diggle, Oliver was the brother that he could save after he lost Andy. He admits that he still finds himself acting as Oliver’s bodyguard, trying to protect him. “I just couldn’t protect him,” a distraught Diggle musters as I cling to my pillow like life support.
We haven’t seen much of Roy this season in terms of where he’s headed as Arsenal, but that’s all changed with Oliver’s death. He stepped up big team in this episode and will continue to in the next couple of episodes. While Felicity and Diggle handled the news of Oliver’s death in ways that we expected of them, Roy is much more shaken then he lets on. He doesn’t understand the depth of the loss just yet. He lost a mentor, a brother, a hero.
It’s no secret that Laurel has been my least favorite character on Arrow and that when those promotional photos of her dressed as Black Canary were released a few months back that I doubted where the writers were going with her story. But I’ll admit that I actually didn’t mind Laurel in this episode. In fact, there were a few times that I enjoyed — her sharing Felicity’s belief that Oliver isn’t dead and comforting Diggle her episode’s end. She’s not officially a part of Team Arrow yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic about where her relationship with Team Arrow and her journey as Black Canary is going.
After that genuine heart-to-heart with Diggle (“I just couldn’t protect him,” he says as I sob) Laurel realizes that without The Arrow and with his team potentially falling apart that there’s no one left to protect Starling City. Laurel’s eyes wander to Sara’s Canary gear lying out on a table and a light goes on. She feels obligated to protect the city as a means to honor her sister and to honor Oliver. So Laurel suits up as Black Canary to go deliver some “justice you can’t run from” to a couple of Brick’s lackies. Get ready, Black Canary is officially in training.
Just when we think we’ve reached the end of Arrow‘s first present-day, Oliver-less episode, we’re delivered multiple shocks within mere seconds as we learn what we all kind of knew was coming (but perhaps not so soon): OLIVER QUEEN IS ALIVE.
Let’s be real, we all knew that Oliver was coming back. But honestly I had prepared to go a couple episodes with not just Team Arrow but us the audience believing he was dead. So when Oliver opens his eyes, breathing, and not wearing that God-awful flashback wig (hello present day), I screamed, “HE’S ALIVE!”
The thing that caught my attention (besides how good Oliver looks for someone who was just dead) is who and what was responsible for his not-dead status. Maseo said that his wife Tatsu (Katana) was the one that brought him back to life. So that means Oliver was dead, no? So how was he brought back to life? Some other mystical herbs? Guess we’re going to have to wait to find out.
Makes me wonder how I ever survived those six weeks without Arrow after Oliver was stabbed through the chest and literally pushed off a cliff. Thankfully we won’t have to know that feeling again until mid-May.
> We were introduced to a new villain that will be Team Arrow’s foe for the next two episodes in Danny “Brick” Brickwell. In short, Brick was able to bust out all of the criminals that Team Arrow had locked up over the past eight months. The reason? He plans to use them to help him take over the Glades. Get ready, Team Arrow, your fight isn’t over yet.
> If there was ever a point where Thea needed to stop being lied to then we’ve gone so far over the line that the line isn’t even a line anymore. Even with her brother dead, Thea continues to be lied to immensely, by her treacherous father and ex-boyfriend. Thea’s a big girl. She deserves to know what happened to her brother. Can someone please tell her?! Leave a note if you want to avoid the awkward conversation. Something.
> Also, Ray Palmer began testing out his ATOM suit as he prepares to suit up and protect Starling City. In the beginning of the episode he has Felicity on his side, but after the events that occur within the remaining hour, Felicity tells Ray that she won’t help him on his suicide mission. So she quits. Now what, Ray?
BREAKING IT DOWN
WHAT WE LIKED
- HE’S ALIVE!!!!
- Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity) had me crying the entire episode.
- Felicity not giving up hope that Oliver was alive (until Malcolm delivered the news in the worst way possible).
- I actually enjoyed Laurel this episode (I know, I’m shocked too).
- That perfectly edited shot of Felicity’s outstretched hand touching the blade and fading into Oliver’s open hand as he’s dragged through the snow (thank you, Glen Winter).
- Diggle taking control.
- The differing reactions of Team Arrow to Oliver’s disappearance and then death.
- Felicity refusing to help Ray Palmer (unfortunately I don’t think that’s gonna last long).
- TASTU AND MASEO SAVED OLIVER.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE
- Felicity breaking down after learning Oliver was dead. Watching her cry causes me physical pain.
- Diggle’s “I just couldn’t protect him” had me dry heaving. STOP THE HURT.
- Wish that Felicity and Diggle could’ve grieved together. They needed it.
- Can we please make it law to STOP LYING TO THEA.
- Malcolm is disgusting. Tormenting Team Arrow like that. Why is he still alive? (But I love me some John Barrowman so I’m conflicted).
- Felicity quitting Team Arrow (for the time being).
WTF MOMENT OF THE WEEK
- Arrow has mastered the art of a perfect cliffhanger, and following the show’s biggest cliffhanger to date they followed up with another that has me thanking the Arrow Gods that we only have to wait a week to see what happens next. We all knew Oliver wasn’t dead. It was just a matter of when he’d return. Turns out it was sooner than we thought. In the final scene, Oliver wakes up in a cabin somewhere on the mountain where he’s greeted by Tatsu (yay she’s alive!) and Maseo, who reveals that he called Tatsu and she brought him back to life. But how exactly?
NEXT TIME ON “ARROW”
Episode 3×11 “Midnight City”
Airing: Wednesday, Jan. 28, 8/7c on The CW
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.