Arrow 3×01 ‘The Calm’: It’s good to be back… then it wasn’t

The Calm

5 months after Slade’s assault on Starling City, the Arrow is being hailed as a savior. Detective Lance is now off the street and making press conferences. Laurel and Team Arrow are teaming up to bag and tag the remainder of the city’s criminals and a familiar face returns. Playboy businessman Ray Palmer attempts to buy Queen Consolidated. 5 years prior, Amanda Waller shows Oliver Queen around Hong Kong.

Spoilers Below

Oh, how this show has grown up. Taking a moment to reflect on all we’ve been through: Season 1 was the definition of CW with pretty people doing pretty things and closeups of shirtless men. There were traditional romantic entanglements that nobody cared about. What kept me going was my love of superhero shows, the well shot action, and admittedly exciting musical compositions (less so on the modern pop music permeating every closing scene). But lo and behold! The season finale was able to scrape up something messy and turn it into a full blown thesis (The Hood was a vigilante. The Arrow can be a hero.) and Oliver would stop killing. Season 2 opened with a remorseful Oliver who failed his city and his cause to be a hero. The season actually held thematic importance which pertained to Oliver’s journey to becoming a full-fledged hero. The last 4 episodes of Season 2 act as a book-end and had some great comic book action that made my fanboy heart flutter endlessly. Oliver is now the shining beacon of hope for Starling City. Diggle is going to be a father by the end of the episode. Felicity and Oliver had their first date. Sarah is back in town. What could go wrong? Only 2 of those topics I just mentioned were unharmed by the end of the episode.

First of all, what a fun way to open the episode. Like a classic Bond opening, the action allowed us to see the inner workings of the team and comprehensively showcase how well they all function now. Roy might not be the heavy hitter he was with the Mirakuru but he’s a strong support. Felicity coordinates with the team from their HQ while Oliver leads in the field. Without Diggle, Oliver would be dead 10 times over by now. Oliver decides to finally ask out Felicity now that things in Starling have settled down. All is going well but then an appearance by a new Count Vertigo shakes things up.

God bless Peter Stormare. I wasn’t a fan of the original Count Vertigo. At all. The material was fine but the actor’s performance by far the least impressive aspect of the show. Thankfully the show improved and killed him off and now we get one of the best working character actors in the business! His enthusiasm for violence rung similar to the Joker, as did his introduction, but Stormare commands the screen here. He wasn’t uncharacteristically crazy for the sake of crazy like his original counterpart. He’s trying to make a power grab. What better way to make a point than by trying to blow up Oliver and Felicity on their first date? Villains, take note: That’s how you make an entrance.



Stormare’s Vertigo tampered with the original formula of the drug which makes it seem less lethal, only in this episode you see your greatest fears. Who would actually buy a drug like that? I don’t know. Maybe it goes good around Halloween with the college kids. Oliver manages to defeat him with the help of a returning Sarah Lance, aka the Canary, but begins questioning whether or not he can have a normal life. Stormare’s Vertigo tracked him down because he took his eye off the ball while thinking about Felicity. I understand why he’d turn to Diggle to get him off the streets since he’s about to be a father. Oliver might have been a bit hypocritical about the whole thing since Detective Lance had a heart failure helping on the job when he shouldn’t have been. He understood that Detective Lance came to help on his own terms. Diggle just wanted to be given the same respect. And while I disagree with Oliver, I gotta admit to understanding his reasoning. Diggle certainly did. From the moment he saw his baby girl, he knew he needed to be there.

So that’s the end of Oliver and Felicity (for now). Ray Palmer is obviously going to drive a wedge between the two while also buying the remains of Queen Consolidated. What I love about Routh’s performance is that he’s likable even when he’s being antagonistic. He’s not doing anything out of spite. He just takes what he wants.

The final moments of the episode involving the return of Sarah were all too brief. Mostly because she died. Who killed her? We have no leads to go off of. And that’s when it hit me. It’s a mystery season. A classic whodunit. I’m pretty bummed that Sarah is now dead because the character still had so much potential. Last season she discovered what it felt like to be a hero. Maybe we’ll see her continue to be a hero in flashbacks. We’ve got at least 2 more episodes with Caity Lotz as Sarah Lance and we can assume they will be flashbacks. Was it a member of the League of Assassins? I don’t think Ra’s Al Ghul is one to do his own dirty work. At least not if it involves traveling across the globe. The next episode is supposed to be an emotional sucker punch, bring your tissues.

Welcome back, Arrow.



Diego Crespo

Diego champions fallen TV shows that never had a chance to shine. LOST ruined his life for the better. Diego spends his days trying to convince strangers that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the best shows ever made.

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