Review by Logan
If there’s anything to be gained from Midnight City, it’s this: viewers care about Felicity Smoak.
Not that they shouldn’t, mind you. Emily Bett Rickards is easily the most talented actor on the show, and as we saw from the show’s early days, she’s the glue that holds the team together. So when she leaves out of grief and horror, even taking it out on Ray, the team, well, kind of falls apart.
As a follow-up to the much-expected yet highly-anticipated reveal about Oliver’s fate, the show turns its attention to the team. Oliver is barely featured in the episode, which could be maddeningly frustrating, but somehow, someway, I found myself nearly as intrigued as I was to watch the Arrow-Ra’s fight. How is that possible? How could that work? Because the writers are finally getting their act together.
This works for a couple pretty simple reasons. The first is that the showmakers have figured out that Felicity is the show’s greatest strength. Rickards has taken a minor comic book character and turned her into a behind-the-scenes superstar, something like Arrow’s own Alfred and Rachel in one. So while Roy may not be acted as well as we would like and Laurel may not kick butt as well as her sister, we don’t really care. Because while they fill the action quota, Felicity’s development gives the emotional connection that audiences look for in a drama.
The second thing that makes this work is also pretty simple: Vinnie Jones. Brick is not exactly a well-known character in the DC mythology, but the same man who made us cringe in X-Men: The Last Stand has turned this villain into an intimidating beast of a man who is easily the show’s best villain since Deathstroke. It’s exactly what the show needs, too, since Ra’s al Ghul hasn’t managed to live up to the hype. That conflict, combined with Felicity’s character development and the struggle of the team without Oliver, makes for a truly intriguing episode.
That’s not to say that the episode is flawless. It was a bit disappointing after a hint at a Lazarus Pit adaptation that the show completely skips over explaining Oliver’s revival, and while the flashbacks in the previous episode were completely relevant, the storyline with Maseo and his wife seems to be taking a bit away from the show’s other conflicts. It would be better if they could zero in on one or two conflicts (Laurel’s crusade and Oliver’s need to return and face Brick), rather than stretching things out too much. But for it being present, the level of distraction was at least limited.
Then there’s the matter of Merlyn and Thea. The drop at the end of the episode made it clear that we still haven’t seen the last of Ra’s. I was overall disappointed in the reveal of Ra’s al Ghul. The fight was really cool, but I feel like the character himself really hasn’t lived up to the hype surrounding him. He seems like a typical assassin-type character instead of the larger-than-life titan of a villain that he’s supposed to be. But with the show clearly leading up to a face-off including him, there is a chance that can be changed. I remain hopeful.
Overall, the show is including several different themes, but it did do a good job at zeroing in on the primary conflict. Brick is a phenomenal villain, and one I hope the show fleshes out even more. After the first episode back being a bit of a slump (no, I didn’t like the episode as much as Gene. Sorry.), this one brought me back to full excitement for the show. The third season as a whole has so far had a trend of getting better as it has gone along, so I have hopes that the last leg of it will be nothing short of great.