Flash(back) Dance: “The Return” is chock-full of the past, to the point where it dictated the flow of the episode. I especially enjoy that the episode explores a time that has been often talked about, but not really ever shown – how things in Starling City went while Oliver was gone. Returning from the dead are: Tommy Merlyn, Robert Queen, Quentin Lance’s hair, and John Diggle’s brother, Andy. I want them to explore more of this time.
Sibling love: Thea and Oliver actually make one badass team when they’re not fighting each other. By Oliver learning from Thea, it makes the partnership that much stronger. It’s also pretty alarming what Oliver is willing to do to protect Thea from drug dealers. As a big brother myself, I can’t say I would have approached the situation differently, but you don’t escape the scene by throwing the body off the balcony. C’mon, Ollie!
Sir Lance a lot: One of my favorite characters who has been handed a diminutive role recently is Quentin Lance. Good for us that this episode features him quite a lot, specifically when showing us how he dealt with Sara’s death – both before Oliver’s return and currently. Paul Blackthorne (you’re right, it does sound like a pirate name), who plays Lance, pours a lot of emotion into this role and we all benefit from it.
Maybe a little too much flashback: Arrow has really excelled at keeping a good balance between their flashbacks and their current happenings, but “The Return” was a slip in the wrong direction, with over half the episode occurring in the past. While it wasn’t an uncalled for amount of time, it really slowed the momentum of the show as Team Arrow inches closer to a showdown with the League of Assassins.
Too convenient: I’m sorry, but Slade Wilson almost destroyed the city. He kicked Moira Queen and took over Queen Consolidated from the inside. He’s a bad man, and for Oliver (who had just been impaled by one of his own booby-traps) and Thea (who just had her shoulder dislocated) to whoop his ass in a few minutes seemed really convenient, and a major disservice to Manu Bennett’s return. Also, why did Oliver feel like they had to break Thea’s arm? I know she’s a trooper and all, but couldn’t they have used a boot or something to hit the button? What a crappily-designed prison by A.R.G.U.S.
Merlyn works his magic: We all know at this point that Malcolm Merlyn is a giant dick finger, but he really takes it to a whole new level with this week’s episode. Thea finds out the truth behind Sara’s death, and it stings, but what really killed the moment for me was Merlyn’s incessant pleas that he loves Thea and did it to protect her. It’s laughable, and really, really annoying. I love having John Barrowman on the show, but it’d be so much nicer to see him on Team Arrow than the awful excuse for a father figure he’s been so far.
Star City Rockets: Here we have a really interesting reference. The Star City Rockets’ logo can be found on Oliver’s baseball cap as he tries to go around the city incognito. In the comic books, the Rockets are a baseball team owner by Robert Queen. They play at Papp Stadium, named for Green Arrow co-creator George Papp.
White roses: This may be a stretch, but the white roses that Thea leaves at Oliver & Robert’s gravesite may have some subtle significance. White roses are often associated with innocence and purity. By leaving them at the graves, it could be symbolism for Thea losing her innocence – a theory backed up by the drugs she buys while visiting the memorial to her dad family.
Matthew Shrieve: Turns out Amanda Waller actually has a bossman, and it’s General Shrieve, played by the Beastmaster himself, Marc Singer. In comic books, he is leader of the Creature Commandos, a group of monsters/soldiers, but look for him to stick around on Arrow as Waller’s superior.
The Blacker the Canary: In a grieving rage, Quentin Lance spits out that he knows the masked vigilante out there is Laurel, and calls her the Black Canary, perhaps a jab that she is a darker and more evil perversion of what her sister did.
The other guy: When Oliver checks on the “other prisoner” in the Lian Yu prison, he’s looking for Captain Boomerang, who he and the Flash took down together.
Hush Comics gives “The Return” a C- for its poor management of time and overall lack of progression. There were still some decent parts in the episode, but it relied too much on flashbacks to carry the story and sacrificed quality in the battle with Slade to make a point with Thea. It’s still better than Gotham, though.
All images belong to The CW and DC Entertainment. They are credited to Dean Buscher and Diyah Pera.