‘Arrow’ Review: A Busy ‘Corto Maltese’ Plot Falls Short


The ladies of Arrow took center stage this week in an episode that severely lacked excitement. A journey to “Corto Maltese” gave us a glimpse of what Thea’s been doing since she left town with her father, Laurel came up short when she tried to honor her sister and fight the good fight and Felicity started her new job with Ray only to constantly be distracted by her other jobs and the many secrets she keeps.

As much as I’ve wanted more focus directed at the women of this show, this episode wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. For one thing, I definitely did not need to see Thea and Laurel both getting punched in the face ever, let alone in the span of an hour. And while I’m thrilled Felicity has a story that does not directly involve Oliver, it seemed a little silly for her day to consist of fielding phone calls from the team right in front of Ray. Whatever happened to secrecy?

On the plus side, there were no flashbacks this week – at least not flashbacks to Oliver’s missing years. Instead, we got to see Thea and Malcolm’s decision to leave town. The reason she called him was because she didn’t want to hurt anymore and she figured he could teach her how to stop feeling pain. Malcolm’s solution was to scald her with hot wax and punch her in the face multiple times until she learned to control the pain. Can you feel me side eyeing the TV through your computer screens?

Look, I know the concept of facing pain to get stronger is nothing new and I also know that Malcolm is every shade of crazy. But I’ve seen Thea go through hell for the past two years (when she’s allowed screen time, that is) and watching her turn to Malcolm when she’s at rock bottom and basically fall into an abusive relationship is not okay with me, no matter how cute her haircut is (super cute). Maybe it’s no different than what Oliver and Sara went through on their journeys, but it still made me uncomfortable to watch.

On the positive side, I liked that Oliver wanted to tell her the truth (two weeks in a row, I’m siding with Oliver. No one is more shocked than I am). I didn’t like Dig discouraging him and honestly, I was a little confused as to why Roy was so okay with Thea staying behind. He barely tried to convince her. I’m sure he feels guilty or something, but he insisted on making the trip (I laughed when Oliver told him he couldn’t take his bow on the plane) so I figured he’d at least make more of an attempt to convince Thea to come home. That entire scene felt weird to me.

Anyway, back to Thea and Oliver. He confessed the truth about their father committing suicide to save his life and reiterated that Malcolm is the worst (truth) and Robert Queen loved them despite his faults. Thea still declined going home, but then she changed her mind and Malcolm wanted to sword fight her for it (like all fathers at some point, right?). Thea won, but she realized he let her and he promised to see her soon. She joined the group at the airport and someone spilled coffee on her and she didn’t even flinch. I’m not sure where this story is going from here, but I hope this won’t be the last of Thea’s screen time. Now that she’s got skills, I want to see her use them and not just in duels with her creepy dad. She needs to learn the truth about Team Arrow.

Let’s circle back to Laurel. She’s really trying to keep it together after Sara’s death and that includes going to AA meetings. Of course things get awkward when Quentin shows up at the same one (is that even allowed?). Laurel can’t talk about her sister being dead, but she’s touched by another woman’s story of abuse. She wants to bring the guy to justice, but Quentin points out that cops can’t start using information they get from AA meetings. So Laurel goes to find the guy herself, only for him to beat her up and put her in the hospital (side note: maybe it’s the grief slowing her down, but didn’t Laurel used to be a better fighter in season one?).

Again, the violence against women bothered me a lot. Laurel was not deterred and realized she needed to get stronger so she asked Oliver to train her. He refused and tried to play the Quentin card a reason why Laurel couldn’t put herself in danger. So she headed over to the Wildcat gym and asked Ted Grant to train her (she’d met him earlier in the episode when he’d lied to cover for a suspect). So far, I’m not overly impressed with his character and I very much wanted to be because I like the actor from his stint on my beloved, canceled too soon Emily Owens, M.D. and because I know he’s going to be a big part of Laurel’s story and I like Laurel. But maybe he’ll grow on me – not every new character is going to be my new love Ray Palmer.

x02Speaking of…Felicity started her new job and Ray surprised her with an executive assistant and Oliver’s old office as her very own. She helped him recover some files everyone else insisted were lost while she took phone calls from the team, including Laurel. I loved the ‘Are we favor friends? Are we friends?’ comment, mainly because I want them to be friends and the show doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to establish that. Instead, they keep giving us these scenes where Laurel is asking and/or ordering Felicity to do things and that just feels like fan base baiting to me. Trust me, show. These fan bases do not need further encouragement to dislike their favorite characters sharing screen time at this point. Let’s have them go out for drinks and get to know each other and please invite Thea too. Female friendships are important and seriously lacking on this show.

Anyway, Felicity asked for a few days off so she could go visit Barry and then Ray was left alone with the computer files and perused the weaponry. Again, picture me side eyeing the screen because if this is some hint that he’s up to no good, I do not want that and I refuse to believe it (I’m told he’s a good guy in the comics). Maybe he’s just nosy or maybe he’s putting the pieces together already since he’s a smart guy and people aren’t exactly careful around him. If he’s going to turn into a creeper or someone we’re not supposed to trust, can we at least have a few more episodes where I can enjoy him?

We need to circle back to Corto Maltese one more time. In addition to tracking down Thea, Lyla tasked Dig with finding an ARGUS agent who went off the grid. It gave Oliver, Dig and Roy a chance to fight the bad guys without their usual technological gadgets and weapons so that was something that people probably enjoyed. But this story felt like filler and something to keep the guys busy to me. On the bright side, it included Dig being super adorable with his daughter so it wasn’t all bad.

Or maybe it was since it hinted that Lyla might not be telling the truth about everything since she blindly follows Amanda Waller’s instructions and the guy Dig was sent to track down had bad things to say about ARGUS. Honestly, I’m still confused as to whether or not ARGUS is the good guys or the bad guys in general…? This is where my lack of comic knowledge holds me back. Can we talk about how cute Dig and baby Sara were again? That was my favorite part of this entire subplot.

And of course the big ending: Nyssa walking into the Arrow Cave, weapon drawn, and demanding to know where Sara is…good luck explaining this one, Oliver.

Hit the comments below and tell us what you thought about the episode and share your theories and feelings with us!



Mandy Treccia
Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that.

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