Arrow, S3 Ep03 – Corto Maltese

The last time we saw Ollie’s sister, Thea Queen, and her father, Malcolm Merlyn, was in last season’s finale as they fled Starling City so Merlyn could train his daughter to be something more than what she was. After Roy revealed to Ollie that Thea didn’t want to be found or contacted in last week’s episode, “Sara”, Team Arrow (minus Felicity) make their way to Corto Maltese (a familiar name for DC readers) to bring her back. Although, Diggle’s reasons for tagging along with Ollie and Roy are a bit disjointed.

Arrow, S3 Ep03 - Corto Maltese (02)

Finding Thea isn’t Team Arrow’s only priority

The main plot of “Corto Maltese” revolves around Thea Queen’s current state. We learn that Merlyn has been training her: teaching her how to fight and tolerate physical pain. I appreciated the flashback scenes in this episode, as they focused on Thea’s training rather than an unrelated plot involving Ollie’s kidnapping in Hong Kong, like we saw last week. In fact, this was one of the few times watching Arrow where I would have liked a few more flashback scenes.

It was nice seeing Thea quickly develop into a more interesting character than she was last season. While I often sympathized with her plight in previous episodes, her whiny attitude began to border on annoying. I’m glad to see that side of her is gone and her new role as a strong, potential warrior comes as very compelling. All that being said, I find it surprising that the show would bring Thea back to Starling City so quickly. I would have liked to see the show milk Thea’s story in Corto Maltese for another episode or two. Now, I’m left wondering how many more secrets Ollie will reveal to Thea in order to sway her to his side. Will she ever find out he’s the Arrow? Will he ever find out about Merlyn?

While I enjoyed the scenes with Thea, the subplot involving Diggle felt out of place. I found it a bit silly that Thea just so happens to be on the same island as an A.R.G.U.S. operative who Diggle is required to check up on. This just felt like the writers wanting to kill two birds with one stone – progressing Diggle’s A.R.G.U.S. related arc along with bringing Thea back into the fold. The subplot at least offered up some decent, fun action sequences as we see Ollie, Diggle, and Roy take down soldiers with bows and arrows Ollie made from random hotel room objects. This story was probably thrown into this episode for its action, since Thea’s plot didn’t have or require much. While Diggle’s story felt disjointed, it did add a little more to the mystery behind Amanda Waller and A.R.G.U.S., and makes us wonder if we should worry for Diggle, his wife, and his newborn daughter.

Arrow, S3 Ep03 - Corto Maltese (03)

Laurel needs training

“Corto Maltese” also shed some light on Laurel as she tries to take justice into her own hands in Starling City. Laurel attempts to follow in her sister’s footsteps, treating her desire to do good and help people as a substitute for her alcohol and drug addiction. While it’s nice seeing Laurel come into her own and take her first steps into becoming the hero DC readers have expected her to be, she goes about her first vigilante mission rather stupidly. Luckily for Laurel she meets Ted Grant (J.R. Ramirez), owner of the Wildcat Gym, who’s willing to train her to fight since Ollie won’t. As Arrow begins to fall more in line with the comic books that inspired it, the addition of Ted Grant (or Wildcat) could mean drastic, positive changes are coming for Laurel. I look forward to it.

Overall, despite having a few solid action scenes in Corto Maltese and adding some new and positive character aspects to both Laurel and Thea, this episode was the weakest of the season so far. Diggle’s A.R.G.U.S. related plot seemed sandwiched into the main plot and I would’ve liked to see more of Thea’s back-story. I did enjoy the scenes involving Felicity, though. They served as some much needed comic relief in the episode. It was funny seeing her juggle the tasks appointed to her simultaneously from both Diggle and Laurel while she was in front of her new boss, Ray Palmer. I didn’t appreciate Ollie’s attitude towards Felicity during the first act, though. There’s no reason for that, Ollie. Calm down. Also, Felicity suddenly leaving work to go to her Flash crossover in Central City seemed a little forced and misplaced.

The final scene involving Nyssa al Ghul returning to Starling City (is it officially Star City, yet?) in search of Sara was a good cliffhanger to end the episode on, and leaves a lot to look forward to in next week’s episode. Check out the promo for “The Magician” below and feel free to let us know your thoughts on “Corto Maltese” in the comments.

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