Uprising is the culmination of the three-episode trilogy that signalled Arrow’s return to screens after a winter break in a very, Dark Knight Rises-esque fashion. We have Oliver heading back to Starling City at the time the city needs him the most, with Brick having occupied the Glades and team Arrow are slowly being forced into a turning point. Without Oliver Queen, they’re forced to entertain the possibility of fighting with the devil that they are familiar with, Malcolm Merlyn, to stop the one that they aren’t. Malcolm wants Brick dead because he discovered that Brick is in fact, the one who killed his wife all those years ago.
So the stage was set for an epic battle that could have easily been a season finale on any other show. However, Arrow isn’t afraid to pull out all the stops with Oliver’s return, even if it’s not quite as satisfactory as I would have perhaps have hoped. I think in part, that’s due to The Flash being as great as it is, and Arrow’s Season 3, aside from a few notable episodes, has been mostly mediocre which is a real shame given the awesomeness that came with the second half of season 2.
There was a lot of stuff going on in this episode, however until the riot scene, it felt slow and underwhelming. There wasn’t really enough excitement to keep me entertained as it was all focused on setting the scene for the ensuing fight to come. The focus on Malcolm Merlyn was pretty cool though as it showed us how he began his transformation into the killer that we know him today and there’s plenty of potential now to switch the focus of the flashbacks to show his training, rather than Oliver’s, because let’s be honest, the Hong Kong storyline isn’t as entertaining as it could have been. Malcolm’s story in the present was also good, as it built up to him facing off Brick in the riot, but then it presents us with a problem that Oliver’s return was not quite handled as well as I would have liked. By the point that he showed up, Team Arrow and Malcolm already had it under control anyway, for the most part, and Oliver was never going to take on Brick with Malcolm being the one destined to fight him, which meant that his return almost ended up feeling underwhelming and could have been best saved for another episode.
If you hated the riot scene in The Dark Knight Rises, then you’ll hate it in Uprising, because it’s not a lot different. Whilst I found it to be entertaining and had a pretty cool build-up, with Wildcat and Sin (yay!) being enlisted to help round up the resistance, the ensuing fight did require certain elements of scepticism because Brick, despite controlling a Police Prescient, didn’t feel the need to use guns against the mob and the only pistol that he had wasn’t used to its maximum potential. But then again, I still felt mostly satisfied with the way that the whole riot scene played out, with Wildcat’s debut being great to see as we saw him taking on Brick. However, it’s also worth noting that Brick should have recognised Wildcat, given that he was active as a vigilante in the Glades long before the Arrow was.
Speaking of people recognizing others, it was cool that Detective Lance sussed out Roy Harper being Arsenal pretty much immediately, which was one of my favourite moments of the episode in the way that it was handled. However, if he figured out Roy as Arsenal that quickly, then he should have easily been able to deduce that Ollie is the Arrow, no matter how much he doesn’t want to know who it is under the mask.
It’s also worth noting the direct aftermath of Oliver’s return and how that wasn’t handled as well as it could have been as well. It felt that Felicity’s immediate return to the team and then for her to leave when Oliver announced that he was training with Merlyn was kind of pointless, because if that was all that she was coming back for then she should have stayed with Ray. (Where was he this episode, as well? The previous episode seemed to be setting up a showdown with him and Brick. Also, if they go ahead with an ATOM series, Felicity now could have the justification jump ship). Her character also came across as particularly annoying in this episode as well, which wasn’t really helping things that much.
Whilst Uprising may have been underwhelming in places, there were still some cool moments here and it was by no means a poor episode. The focus on Malcolm Merlyn was one of the episode’s strongest moments, and it was great to see his origin being told effectively with room for it to continue.