Tonight, Arrow was amazing. Every single part of the show was firing on all cylinders—especially the characters who were all ass kickingly awesome. “Uprising” was the perfect conclusion to Arrow‘s The Dark Knight Rises-esque midseason trilogy, which sidelined Oliver Queen in order to allow the rest of the supporting cast to shine and get on the same level. The Malcolm Merlyn-centric flashbacks did a great job of humanizing the character; watching Laurel out in the field is more thrilling than I could have ever expected; and Quentin continues to make us smile and laugh even though we know there’s a ton of pain heading straight toward him.
FLASHBACKS: 21 YEARS AGO
When we first see the Malcolm Merlyn of 21 years ago, he’s a loving, lighthearted father who promises his young son, Tommy, that he’ll never let anything happen to him and that he’ll never leave. Unfortunately, this all change once his wife, Rebecca, dies and he becomes consumed with avenging her death. He attacks the guy the police suspect killed her, but the thug beats him up. It’s actually a striking moment because it’s the first time we’ve ever seen Malcolm not in control and bloodied.
Eventually, Malcolm does find the will to shoot his wife’s supposed killer. Unfortunately, getting his revenge does nothing to quell the anger he feels inside. So he decides to travel to a part of the world where he hopes to learn how to forge this anger into something else. Tommy comes down right when his leather-jacket-wearing father is about to leave and begs him to stay. Lil Tommy reminds Malcolm of his promise, but Malcolm has convinced himself that traveling to Nanda Parbat will ensure that nothing like this ever happens to Tommy again. When he arrives in Nanda Parbat, he finds a young Nyssa al’ Ghul dueling and defeating one of her father’s assassins. He says he’s not there to fight and shows her the magic coin trick he used earlier because all kids, even badass assassins in training, love magic. Nyssa gives him his League of Assassins name, which translates to “The Magician.”
PRESENT — STARLING CITY
It’s been a week since the Mayor acquiesced to Brick’s demands and removed all SCPD presence from the Glades. No surprise here, things aren’t going well—Brick’s goons are terrorizing the people who live and work in the Glades. Laurel and Roy, who is now officially going by the name Arsenal, have thus taken it upon themselves for be the Glades’ police force, while Diggle and Felicity provide support from the Foundry. Quentin, who is not a fan of the mayor’s decision, feels useless and decides to help out Team Arrow by giving them every piece of evidence on Brick they were able to recover from the evidence storage facility.
Felicity starts poring through the evidence for anything that can help them find Brick’s hiding place. She decides to cross reference Brick’s M.O. with other unsolved murders in the city and finds out that Brick’s gun was used in the murder of Rebecca Merlyn, which shocks not only everyone in the cave, but also Malcolm, who is listening in via a hidden camera he placed the last time he visited. And he doesn’t take this news well. For the past 21 years, he’s lived under the assumption that he had avenged his wife’s murder and to find out now, after everything he has done that he hasn’t, is hard to swallow. In any case, Brick must die. Thea, who sees the good in her father, tries to convince him that he isn’t just a killer and to find another way, but Malcolm won’t hear of it.
By tracing the walkie-talkies used by Brick’s goons, Felicity is eventually able to find Brick’s location; he’s ironically holed up in the SCPD’s precinct in the Glades. Black Canary and Arsenal bust in there Splinter Cell-style and take out Brick’s men one by one, but are no match for Brick when he eventually joins in the fight. Merlyn arrives just in time to (a) prove he can’t wear his mask for longer than five seconds, and (b) to save them from being killed by Brick. Unfortunately, Brick manages to make his escape.
Meanwhile, against the doctor’s (read: Tatsu’s wishes), Oliver starts to make his journey back to Starling City. Along the way, he asks her to come back with him and to train him for his next fight with Ra’s, but she declines because she doesn’t want to watch him die or return to the world she forsook.
NEXT: Arrow‘s version of the fourth act of The Dark Knight Rises