So after the epic mid-season cliff-hanger (or should that be cliff-faller), Arrow’s return revealed that Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was alive and well. Well, maybe not well, but he’s alive at least. And with that reveal at the end of Left Behind, even the most ardent of Arrow supporters (which we at STARBURST generally all are) couldn’t help but feel a tad disappointed that the resurrection of Ollie was delivered so quickly. Surely it can’t just be us that felt that the Emerald Archer’s death could’ve been milked for a few more weeks, right?
Whilst the audience is now aware that Oliver Queen is alive, Team Arrow is still of the belief that their green hooded leader is no more. Midnight City sees the team look to carry on the good fight in a post-Oliver world.
Straight out of the opening gate, the episode provides a startling and even slightly unnerving dream/nightmare of Ollie’s where he instead stays with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) rather than seek out his death at the hands of Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). The way this opening is delivered is at first heartfelt and warming before then flipping on its head and looking like something out of Constantine. As Oliver wakes from this freaky dream, Maseo/Sarab (Karl Rune) informs him that Starling City is in the shitter. Clearly snowy, isolated mountain sides have impressive wi-fi signals.
Back home in Starling, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) is decked out in her Black Canary garb and looking to dish out some “justice you can’t run from”. Thing is, and in credit to the guys behind Arrow, she’s still quite frankly a bit shit at the whole hero thing. As such, it takes a timely save from Arsenal (Colton Haynes) to save Canary’s leather-clad behind. Whilst Roy and Diggle (David Ramsey) are initially against Laurel attempting to crack some skulls, by the episode’s third act they come to accept her as one of their own even it’s the equivalent of taking a toddler out on patrol with you.
When it comes to the threat on Starling City, Midnight City is the second of a three-episode run that features on Vinny Jones’ Brick who was introduced last week. Jones wasn’t exactly great in the last episode but he does a lot better in his second Brick outing, although the description of Brick’s rampage being dubbed as the worst gang movement seen since the days of Al Capone is a little too much to swallow.
One of the main standout points of Midnight City is Roy Harper. So often left in the shadows, he really steps up well here and Colton Haynes puts in some of his best Arrow work to date. It also helps the character that he gets a pretty impressive and dramatic save of Black Canary early on and that some of the best stunts/action are saved for the Arrow’s protégé. There are even moments where Roy feels like he’s stepped out of the brilliant Grayson fan film (which you can watch here) when he’s trying to deal with life after his mentor. And then there was the character going face-to-face with Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) in what was a mighty ballsy move. Plus, Midnight City seemed to give us our first mention of the Red Arrow name. But then if the news and press refer to the red garbed bowman as Red Arrow, surely that means that the green garbed bowman would be known as Green Arrow? Just saying. Maybe that’s around the corner somewhere.
In terms of pleasing namedrops, it was also nice to see Laurel casually drop the “Dinah” name in at one moment, which is especially convenient given her ascension to Black Canary. What wasn’t so nice was the treatment of Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) in this episode. Still in the dark on the death of daughter Sara (Caity Lotz), Captain Lance sees the arrival of Canary in Starling City and obviously presumes Sara has returned. What follows are a couple of slightly awkward scenes where Laurel, assisted by some voice-changing tech, pretends to be her deceased sister when speaking to Quentin. In fairness, Katie Cassidy, somebody who has often been one of the weaker elements of Arrow, did a brilliant job as she fought to hold back the tears whilst speaking to her father in the voice of her dead sibling. As such, it just about makes this element of the episode palatable, but it does feel just a little too un-hero-like the way that Captain Lance is treated throughout this episode. We get it, Starling City needs Black Canary and so Quentin needs to believe that Sara is alive. That still doesn’t make things sit any better.
Midnight City is also the first time that we get to see any real physical altercation for Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer, although it’s clear that his transition to becoming The Atom is well underway. And Felicity is seemingly back on board with the idea, choosing to use her skills to help him rather than refuse to assist in his apparent suicide wish.
The flashback moments of this episode lend themselves to a fun nightclub battle for Ollie and Maseo as they seek to rescue Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) from China White (Kelly Hu). The present day moments then reveal how Maseo and Tatsu are now separated, although that doesn’t stop them from slicing and dicing when the League of Assassins comes knocking. Along with the flashback moments, Midnight City makes Maseo look like a thorough badass who is great at thinking on his feet.
All in all, Midnight City makes great use of Oliver Queen’s Starling City absence to give some much-needed development for the characters of Roy Harper and Laurel Lance. Roy truly feels like he belongs to be butting heads with Starling’s rogues, and it felt like a milestone episode for the character and also for Colton Haynes. As for Laurel, she’s now firmly got a tough, no bullshit approach in and out of the Canary garb, although she’s still taking baby steps when it comes to the whole hero thing. Seeing her freeze like a rabbit in headlights upon somebody getting shot, that was a nice tough that made you realise the harsh reality of what is going on in Starling City and what Team Arrow face on a nightly basis. There were also some nice bonding moments between Laurel and Felicity, which is a dynamic that we don’t usually see sharing that much screen time together. Still, Black Canary’s dialogue needs some serious work. And then there was that daring dive out of a window on to a hanging rope ladder. Really? A near-rookie pulling off that move? Hmmm… we’ll let that one slide.
Finally, the dickhead DJ (Austin Butler) seen ever so briefly in the first half of Season 3 is back. Urgh. Seriously, we can’t think of any character that’s been so annoying during Arrow’s run, which is even more impressive given how little screen time he has had so far. But something didn’t seem right as soon as he mentioned to Thea (Willa Holland) how he’d heard that she was leaving town. How on earth would he know this information when it was something that only Thea and Malcolm had talked about? Well then we get the big reveal that DJ Bellend is in cahoots with the League of Assassins.
Midnight City is another impressive outing for Arrow, faring better than last week’s Left Behind, and it gave much needed expansion to Maseo, Roy, and Laurel, with Oliver Queen’s Starling City return surely not far away.
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