As EW‘s Natalie Abrams reminded us in her handy-dandy round-up of the 33 spoilers for Arrow‘s new season, this season’s theme is identity—and everyone is in on it. Arrow has never been one for subtly when it comes to its thematic material—and there’s nothing wrong with that—so, we shouldn’t be surprised that the theme of identity is all over Arrow‘s cleverly titled third season opener “The Calm.” From Oliver trying to figure out if there’s room for him to be Oliver Queen to Detective Quentin Lance dealing with circumstances that challenge how he defines himself, all of our characters are using the calm after last season’s epic finale to decide who they want to be. (Even Starling City itself gets in on the thematic action.) Something happens at the end of the hour that has repercussions for everyone and will definitely redefine how one person conceives of his place in the world.
STARLING CITY — PRESENT DAY
Villain of the week: The New Count Vertigo
After HBO’s Game of Thrones, the CW’s Arrow is the master of action sequences, and the fast-paced one that opens tonight’s episode is a great reminder. It’s clear from the ease with which Team Arrow carries out its operation in the fast-paced cold open that, since last season ended, they’ve become a well-oiled machine; everyone has their tasks and executes them perfectly: Felicity is monitoring communications back at HQ, Diggle is in charge of securing a shipment of black market weapons, and Oliver and Roy—who flips onto the scene debuting his new Arsenal costume—handle the bad guys. An underlying sense of calm that wasn’t in the Team before could be detected in the opening mission, signaling that they’ve finally got this crime-fighting business down.
You know what else is new this season? Almost every character seems genuinely happy. Well, I’d say Oliver’s more cautiously content than full-on happy. But Diggle is definitely happy because his and Lyla’s baby girl will soon be born. After Oliver gives Diggle a present for her—an arrowhead on the chain because that’s the extent of Ollie’s artistic abilities—Diggle makes a point of telling him that he should take advantage of Starling City’s current calmness and try to find himself someone to be with, a.k.a. Felicity. Unfortunately, the moment Diggle tells Oliver that things are as good as they’re ever going to be signals that things will quickly take a turn for the worse. But, who cares because Starling City’s crime rate has decreased in the months since Slade’s terrorist attack, the city loves the Arrow, and as a result, Detective Lance—who’s still alive—has decided to formally recognize the Arrow and to disband the anti-vigilante task force. Everything’s coming up Ollie!
While Team Arrow and associates are enjoying the new status quo, a low-level vertigo drug dealer takes over a leaderless crime group to become Starling City’s new Count Vertigo. With his version of vertigo that forces a person to confront their worst fears, this Count Vertigo is less Heath Ledger’s Joker and more Scarecrow. His first act as the new Count Vertigo is to kill Oliver Queen.
After Detective Lance’s press conference, Oliver takes Diggle up on his advice and decides to ask Felicity out. She doesn’t believe he’s serious at first, thus requiring Oliver to ask a second time. Obviously, she says yes. The whole thing is almost too cute to handle, but the cuteness doesn’t stop there. While out on a mission, Oliver asks Felicity, who now works in an electronic retail store, if she’s into Italian, but quickly realizes that “everyone’s likes Italian.” However, the twee is interrupted when Oliver finally catches up to the guy he was chasing and meets up with Detective Lance, who is not looking too good because his heart is having a hard time being out in the field.
Back at Felicity’s store, a gentleman comes in to buy a satellite frequency communicator, and it’s none other than Brandon Routh making his low-key debut as Ray Palmer. Not knowing who he is, Felicity bonds with him over their shared hobby of hacking things, and she goes even further and recommends a better device. Spoiler alert: She’ll regret this later.
NEXT: A fiery date