WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS!
Are you ready for a different sort of Arrow episode? Because Corto Maltese certainly delivered in that regard, giving us quite possibly the longest amount of time without the Arrow yet. As a result, we got attention to several other areas, with as well as the writers spending plenty of time dealing with Thea and Malcolm in their new hideout on Corto Maltese, Arrow focused on Laurel as she tried to cope with losing her sister by not turning to alcohol or drugs, like she did with Tommy. And then, to make matters even more interesting, we had Ollie, John and Roy heading to Corto Maltese not only to bring Thea home, but to look for an ARGUS friend of Lyla’s who has been off the grid for a while and it’s starting to worry her. So once again, there’s a lot of stuff going on here.
Corto Maltese, a fictional DC Island, is not only a reference that The Dark Knight Returns readers will recognize, but it will also appeal to fans of Tim Burton’s Batman. It’s nice to see that the series is continuing to expand the world rather than sticking in Star City, with Hong Kong also being an interesting development for the flashback sequences (whilst there were none this week from Oliver’s perspective). And to top it all off, Corto Maltese was not the only treat that fans of the comics got in this episode. We got Ted Grant (JR Ramirez) as a boxer back in Star City, who is going to be the one that will probably be training Laurel given Oliver’s refusal. I get the feeling that as much last season was about Roy’s transformation, This season is going to provide a big leap for not only Laurel, but also Thea. The characters are all in different places from where they were at the start of the show and it’s great to see that there’s still plenty of development to come.
With the team in Corto Maltese, we got some great action sequences that saw Ollie, Diggle and Roy battle against Maltesian military. This was handled very well and it was great to see some fighting that was handled in the day, as opposed to Ollie’s normal night-time exploits. Seeing Roy’s look when Ollie used a gun as opposed to a bow was one of the best moments of the episode, as well. However, this subplot didn’t work for me and I would have preferred it if they had focused on the Malcolm/Ollie conflict rather than introduce another random bad guy, which in true Arrow fashion, isn’t memorable enough and will probably be forgotten in a matter of weeks, if not a matter of days. Then again, this allowed us more time with Ollie and Thea, as Ollie told Thea the fact that his dad survived the sinking ship. Stephen Amell’s emotional delivery was handled very well, and once again, it’s great to see just how well he’s progressed as an actor since the early stages of the show.
Felicity also got some advancement this week in her storyline as it looks like she’ll be heading over to The Flash to spend some time with Barry in next week’s episode. Her scenes with Ray Palmer were interesting this week and when it was revealed what was on the files that she restored, it’s bound to have some interesting developments going forward, especially considering that they were missiles. What Ray plans to do with them remains to be seen, but it’s great to see that the mysteries keep on coming.
To make things more interesting for comic book fans was that not only did we get the Corto Maltese and Ted Grant references, but also Thea’s fake name “Mia” being dropped as a clear reference to Speedy’s character from the comics. Speedy has also been used as a nickname for Thea earlier in the season. And there was also a fun reference to creator Gerry Conway, who is not only responsible for introducing Killer Croc and Jason Todd to the Batman mythos, but is also part of the team responsible for creating Firestorm. (and it’s also worth mentioning that for Marvel, he also co-created a certain Frank Castle and handled the death of Gwen Stacy) So it was great to see him be credited, but rather than as a street name like so many others have been given, he got the name of an actual character, in the form of Felicity’s new assistant.
Corto Maltese, was another incredibly strong installment of Arrow. Even if the ARGUS plot wasn’t quite as good as it could have been, Thea’s training was cool and several other areas of the episode were handled well with some good action scenes. With the return of Nyssa serving as this week’s cliffhanger, expect the focus back on the hunt for Sara’s killer come next Wednesday.