Midnight City Plot Summary:
With Oliver (Stephen Amell) still presumed dead and Team Arrow disbanded; Brick (Vinnie Jones) continues to terrorize Starling City. Laurel (Katie Cassidy) takes up the Canary mantle, but quickly learns that becoming a vigilante isn’t as easy as she expected. Meanwhile, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) rethinks quitting the vigilante business as Ray (Brandon Routh) continues to pursue his A.T.O.M. project.
In terms of plot, this week’s episode was Arrow running in place. The major conflicts are in the same state as at the end of last week, but “Midnight City” gave us a lot of necessary character development for everyone not named Oliver.
Let’s start with the smallest but most shocking: Thea’s (Willa Holland) little DJ friend, Chase (Austin Butler), is in the League of Assassins. I was literally screaming, “Who cares about this f-ing DJ?!” until the show revealed his ulterior motive, and made me care. No wonder they never bothered to make us or Thea invest emotionally in that potential romance.
Speaking of Queen the Younger, Thea is finally thinking for herself instead of just doing whatever Malcolm (John Barrowman) tells her. After originally left Starling because she didn’t want to be afraid anymore; it was nice to see her start actively working toward that goal by deciding to stay and fight. She’s being horribly naïve about the team’s abilities to challenge Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). Hopefully by regaining some agency means she’ll be part of the battle when Oliver inevitably challenges him again. (Though she should prepare by killing Malcolm first.)
Until then, we got to watch Roy harass Malcolm on Thea’s behalf. Colton Haynes hasn’t gotten much to do this season, but his scene with Barrowman was his strongest in ages. He may not have been as convincingly threatening as Felicity last week, but he was at least as formidable as Oliver usually is. In fact, Roy was channeling his brooding mentor throughout. Listening to him mansplain to Laurel why she doesn’t have what it takes to be a vigilante was just as condescending as when Oliver does it—not that he doesn’t have a point.
I’ve been harsh on the show’s sloppy handling of Laurel’s storyline, but this episode went a long way toward getting us to finally invest in it by forcing Laurel to understand the stakes. By having her watch someone die because she was ill-prepared to don the blonde Canary wig helps Laurel realize she can’t become a hero just by wanting it. Poor Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) made that even clearer. He still doesn’t know what happened to Sara (Caity Lotz). His assumption that she had returned when the “Canary” showed up on TV reminded Laurel that what she’s doing has the potential to hurt more than just her. It totally made sense that she was ready to hang up the mask after that — especially considering precisely nobody encouraged her to take it up in the first place. But then Felicity showed up.
The women on this show rarely interact. Seeing shades of the friend/partnership come between Laurel and Felicity was new and exciting. Putting a troubled character with a fan favorite always helps the former. Whether it was Laurel asking, “where’s Felicity?” while Roy patched up her wounds, or Felicity encouraging her to fight for a larger cause than avenging Sara’s death — seeing both characters embrace their heroism outside of their lost loved ones was a strong development.
It was especially so considering Felicity swore off the vigilante business at the end of the last episode. She started this installment subdued, bitter and completely unlike the fiery girl we know. As I said last week, she has always made sure Oliver’s fight had greater meaning, but in the face of her grief, she briefly forgot that. Her optimism never could have disappeared for long, but it was surprising to see Ray remind her that the goal is to help people. I’ve also been very harsh on the Ray/Felicity romance all season, but this episode showed the first genuine signs of chemistry between them. Sure we haven’t seen anything thus far justifying his confession that he cares about her, but–if nothing else–it’s exciting in the way the relationship will complicate Oliver and Felicity’s.
Felicity was brought low by Oliver’s apparent death, so much so that she fundamentally forgot who she was for a minute. She’s not going to bounce back from that very easily and jump into a relationship. Instead, she’s probably going to spend the rest of the season deciding which rich boy superhero archetype best suits her: Batman (Oliver) or Iron Man (Ray). And you know what? God bless. After three season of a frankly unbelievable dry spell, everything is finally coming up Smoak. The girl deserves to live out every woman’s superhero fantasies for a bit. Larger city-saving duties notwithstanding, of course.
Arrow airs every Wednesday night on The CW.
By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over every detail of America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture and celebrity obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to. You can find her risking her life by reading comic books while walking down the crowded streets of New York City, having inappropriate emotional reactions at her iPad screen while riding the subway or occasionally letting her love of a band convince her to stand for hours on end in one of the city’s many purgatorial concert spaces. You can follow her on Twitter to read her insightful social commentary or more likely complain about how cold it is at @MarisaCarpico.