Arrow Season 3, Episode 3 – “Corto Maltese”

By Matthew Cafaro
PSDC Writer

Aside from possibly interesting foreshadowing with Ray Palmer and why he really wanted to buy Queen Consolidated (which we’ll touch on in a minute), or as he’s calling it, “QC,” this was yet another episode that dealt with a lot of set-up for the season. Over the first three episodes, the Arrow writers have been maneuvering our characters into place, to what end? We don’t yet know. But there are some hints.


The first hint is that John Barrowman is a fully-fledged cast member, so the odds are he’s going to be a very big part of this season outside of his training Thea to be a secret ninja (more on that in a minute).

The second hint came in the form of Sara’s death and what it’s done to transform Laurel’s character from reactionary to proactive. I have to say, this is a nice change though Katie Cassidy is still stuck in that Chloe Bennett-like place of having a character who is being written better than before, but she still needs to up her own game as an actress to pull it off.

The third and fourth hints came from this episode. Oliver went to the titular and fictional island nation in which Thea and her very bad biological daddy have been hiding and training to bring her home. To do so, he actually told her some of the truth he’s been hiding from her. Unfortunately, not the big secret, which I’m sure the writers are saving for Thea to find out at the most inopportune time. Ollie tells his sister how their father died to save his son’s life. He also explains how during the five years away he did unspeakable things and became a horrible person. Now, aside from choosing not to cure Slade, everything Ollie did in those first two years on the island were to survive, so the third hint involves the kind of wet work he must have done under Amanda Waller’s tutelage.

The fourth and last hint comes from the advanced weapons blueprints Ray Palmer was so interested in obtaining he had to use the genius of Felicity Smoak to recover them from hard drives from which “no one else could.” If you pause your DVR or HuluPlus stream at the right moment while Palmer is perusing the blueprints, you’ll see a word which would send a thrill up your back (if you’re a big nerd): OMAC.

So, OMAC could and probably is just an Easter Egg, or perhaps it’s part of a larger arc this season to pair with Ted Grant (Wildcat in DC Comics) training Laurel to become Black Canary after she got her butt kicked trying to do some butt-kicking of her own to channel the rage she feels about Sara’s death, John Barrowman’s emergence as a threat to Team Arrow and Thea’s dark sensei, and the killer Oliver became while working for Waller against his will.

Either way, I hope to God we’re done with the set-up on this season of Arrow and can get on with the season, because the last three episodes, while good, have spent so much time with moving pieces into place that the character work has suffered. It’s been positively SHIELD-like in the use of character to service plot, instead of having the plot make the characters grounded and three-dimensional.

As for this particular episode, once again the technical aspects were top-notch. A particular refrain from Marvel Fanboys who love SHIELD (no matter how thinly the characters there are drawn, or how overall “cheap” that show looks and feels) and dismiss Arrow as “Oliver’s Creek” is: “Anyone can hide stunt work & fight choreography problems at night,” which in their mind also excuses SHIELD’s generally poor work in that area because most all of it is shot during the day.

Well Fanboys, “Oliver’s Creek” just showed everyone how it’s done. Again. This time during the day, as most of the action in “Corto Maltese” is set during a bright, tropical, sun-shiny day. And the stunt crew knocked it out of the park.

Although I’m annoyed by some aspects of the first three episodes, such as why Ollie just won’t come out and tell Thea who he is and the constant set-up with little pay-off getting ready for the big arc(s) of the season, the first three episodes have been good. They’ve not been “Arrow-good,” but good for most other non-Arrow TV. Solid B, maybe a B-, episodes. Nothing yet worthy of the B+’s and A’s they usually give us.

Final Thoughts

  • If Nyssa looked that pissed at the end of the episode wondering where Sara was, imagine how she’ll be when Oliver tells her.
  • Right before Nyssa showed-up, that was a fantastic moment between Roy and Oliver down in the “Arrow Basement-Cave-Lair.” We missed the majority of their training together and learning to be crime-fighting partners during the five months between seasons, which the show treats as a real time, so it’s nice to see them have a good moment of humor and reflection between them as mentor and student.
  • If Ollie’s secret will be revealed to Thea at the most inopportune time, you can be sure that “Thea’s a secret ninja now,” will be revealed to Team Arrow in a similar fashion.
  • John Barrowman is awesome-squared.
  • In a tidy bit of plot-service, Arrow has now dispatched Felicity off to The Flash just in time to complicate Barry’s life in some humorous and semi-amorous kind of way, I’m sure.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @HistoryofMatt

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