Same Geek Channel Review: ‘Arrow’ Episode 312 “Uprising”

Reviews Same Geek Channel Television
Now Brick is vulnerable to arrows but not bullets? Image via CW
Now Brick is vulnerable to arrows but not bullets? Image via CW

Good afternoon and welcome to Same Geek Channel. I’m without my sparring partner as I’ve worn him out snarking on The Flash. (Okay, I’m pretty sure that’s not true. I suspect Mordechai’s day job played a part in his absence.)

But in the spirit of point/counterpoint, I’ll try to pick up both sides of the conversation by pointing out the good and the bad in this week’s Arrow episode, “Uprising.”

The Good:
–The whole team pulling together with the help of Starling citizens to stop Brick. Wonderful and just the kind of scene I love in superhero stories. I admit, I cheered.
–Diggle and Felicity being adamant about turning down Malcolm Merlyn’s offer of help. I worried they were going to go there and it was so stupid, I was about to turn off the episode, and then Diggle gave his speech and withdrew my objections. More on this later.
–Ted Grant and Sin being included.
–Captain Lance knowing who’s wearing the red leather. One assumes he also knows who’s wearing the green leather.
–Felicity. Just all of Felicity, the voice of reason.
–The lcall out to The Warriors.
–Diggle getting some action.
–I do love to see Roy and Laurel fight together.

Team Arrow gathers for the showdown with Brick. image via CW.
Team Arrow gathers for the showdown with Brick. image via CW.

The Not So Good:
–Brick’s changing power set. First, he can bounce bullets off his head, then he survives an attack by Wildcat, a premier boxer, but somehow Malcolm brings him down with an arrow and Brick seems scared of a gun again?
–I’d have liked it better if Team Arrow saved the city without Oliver’s dramatic re-appearance. But, I admit, it was dramatic and a nice play on “you have failed this city.”
–The whole reminder of the ridiculous “let’s pull the police out of the Glades because a criminal threatened us” plot.

The Bad:
–Though the episode clearly tried, I’m not buying Malcolm’s willingness to change. And even if I am, he still needs to pay for hundreds of murders, including Sara Lance’s death. At least Moira Queen went on trial for her role in the bombing of the Glades. Malcolm is allowed to run free and train Oliver? Isn’t anyone worried that he’s going to brainwash Oliver like he did with Thea?
–Keeping the secret from Thea. She was brainwashed to kill a friend. How the hell can you keep that from her, especially since you don’t even know how the brainwashing worked? How can you let her continue to trust a man who did this to her? Not telling her is the worst kind of paternalism. She’s an adult. It’s awful but she needs to know.

Yes, Thea, I know. Enough with the secrets! Image via CW
Yes, Thea, I know. Enough with the secrets! Image via CW

The Awful:
–John Barrowman’s flashback haircut.

–Oliver deciding that Malcolm and only Malcolm can train him to defeat Ra’s Al Ghul. Oliver has Barry on literal speed-dial. Even if he’s reluctant to send Barry into grab Ra’s and show how easily his fortress can be broken into, Oliver also has the Star Labs team in Central City and he has Ray Palmer. Why play Ra’s game? Why not throw out the rule book and take out a more powerful opponent in an unusual way. Science team to the rescue! Oliver has prep time, he has people with knowledge, and he has allies. He doesn’t need Malcolm to defeat Ra’s Al Ghul.

Conclusion:

This episode showed why I originally loved Arrow and why I’ll probably give up on this show after the season. It mixes the awesome moments with staggeringly stupid character decisions that I assume are driven by the need for the plot to go in that direction. No amount of cool action can make up for characters being twisted into pretzels for plot.

And Malcolm should have stayed dead after the first season. I love John Barrowman but every time a show tries to get a hero and villain to work together because said villain is popular with viewers, it kills the show. It didn’t work when Sylar came back from the dead in Heroes, it didn’t work with Sloan somehow being in charge of Jack and Sydney Bristow in Alias, and it’s not going to work here.

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2 thoughts on “Same Geek Channel Review: ‘Arrow’ Episode 312 “Uprising”

  1. I think you’re missing the point of Ollie asking Malcolm to train him to defeat Ra’s…

    This episode was all about Malcolm’s humanity. The flashbacks show Malcolm before he lost it (with Tommy, the night Rebecca was murdered), losing it (at the graveside, when Ollie and Tommy were there), struggling to hold onto it (when he tried to get inside the head of the presumed murderer instead of just flat-out killing the thug), letting go of it (killing the guy), and completely losing it (running out on his son who needed him in order to find a way to channel his anger into vengeance).

    He’s the Black Archer… the guy Ollie could have become.

    The present-day action shows the reverse for Malcolm. He finds out that it was Brick who actually killed his wife. His daughter, who he has reconnected with in his own, twisted way, begs him not to kill. When Malcolm has his wife’s killer at his mercy in a dark alley, he doesn’t kill him this time. Because instead of distancing himself from the people he cares about, he regains a little bit of his humanity by doing what is best for the child who still needs him. For Thea, as Ollie is there to remind him. Give her a reason to trust him. Don’t give in to vengeance this time and abandon the person your child needs you to be.

    Now, in this episode, we got the lesson that only the student has any hope of defeating the master. We got it from Tatsu and we got it from Malcolm. We also heard from Tatsu that to defeat Ra’s, one must sacrifice everything one holds dear in order to do it. We also know that Ollie doesn’t think he can beat Ra’s when that inevitable “next time” comes. Neither does Malcolm. That’s why Ollie asks for Malcolm’s help.

    Or is it?

    You see, that doesn’t make Ollie the “hope” for defeating Ra’s. Getting trained by Malcolm isn’t the same thing as experiencing being trained by Ra’s. It’s like that game we played when we were kids… whisper something to the person next to you. Then they whisper it to the person next to them, and so on around the room, until you ask the last person what the message was and compare it to the original message. The hope of defeating Ra’s isn’t the student of the student of the master. It’s in Ra’s student.

    That’s a long way of saying this… Ollie asks Malcolm to train him because Malcolm is the only one who can hope to defeat Ra’s. More specifically, Malcolm and his student, Ollie. Or, his students (plural), Ollie and Thea. Or, Malcolm and Ollie and Thea and Team Arrow and The Atom and all of Star(ling) City, maybe. Either way, Ollie asks Malcolm to train him so that Ollie can help Malcolm reconnect to the people he cares about. Ollie will constantly be telling Malcolm that this is for Thea. He’ll be reminding Malcolm of Tommy and the father that Ollie knew Malcolm to be before Rebecca was murdered. All of this so that when the time is right, Malcolm can sacrifice himself and all he loves in order to defeat Ra’s.

    That’s Ollie’s hope. But, he’s also a practical guy. If Malcolm can’t reconnect to his own humanity, if Malcolm has to be put down for real this time, who better equipped to do it than the “student of the master”? Malcolm’s student. Ollie.

    So, this isn’t about Ollie asking Malcolm for help, though that’s the way he wants it to appear to Malcolm. It’s not about making nice with Thea’s dad, though that’s what it will surely look like. It’s about keeping your friends (or your dead friend’s dad who is also your sister’s dad) close, and your enemies (who you thought you already put down at the end of season one but obviously didn’t so you better learn what he truly can do) closer.

  2. “It mixes the awesome moments with staggeringly stupid character decisions that I assume are driven by the need for the plot to go in that direction.” – YES this. At moments the show works, then in other areas it’s baffling.

    The character’s reactions seem to be on point to Malcom’s proposal, meaning they are understandable (Felicity, Diggle and Oliver). Roy’s not so much. To me he seemed to rash to accept help just because Malcom showed some caring towards Thea but maybe you can chalk that up to age?

    But other things for plot or sake of “cool action” do not. Why is Dig not going out in the field but instead he runs coms? He is the most experienced out of them all in combat. Felicity can, and has done quite well on her own that from the beginning. It seems as if the writers just want us to see both of Laurel and Roy to fight together because they look great in costumes together. It wouldn’t be so tough to have dig in there too. Baffling. And Ted Grant, a world class boxer, being so easily pummeled by Brick? This in part means, Laurel should not be good at fighting at all. At all.

    My hope is that the redemption arc of Malcom is a misdirect, that he actually hasn’t changed, that he still fundamentally selfish. This would be interesting than for him to turn good, because as of now I do not believe eithert. He has not earned (can he even earn?) a pardon for his actions. On this so-called path of “redemption,” I hope the audience is reminded of the extreme and downright horrific actions of Malcom.

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