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Recap / Arrow S 3 E 4 The Magician

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Nyssa arrives in Starling City looking for Sara's killer, believed to be Malcolm Merlyn, leading to a confrontation over Oliver's vow not to kill.


  • Absentee Actor: Felicity doesn't show up until the end, having been busy in Central City.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Raised In-Universe—is Oliver reluctant to kill Malcolm Merlyn because of his Thou Shalt Not Kill rule or because he doubts Malcolm's guilt, or is it just because he doesn't want to kill Thea's father?
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  • Antagonist Title: "The Magician" is Malcolm's League name, the way "the Canary" was Sara's.
  • Badass Boast: Malcolm delivers one to Oliver on behalf of anyone ever trained by the League.
    "We were trained by the League. No prison can hold us. Not even yours on Lian Yu."
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Invoked by Diggle and Roy, who understand Oliver's reasons for not wanting to kill Malcolm Merlyn, but point out there's nothing to stop him from leaving Nyssa to do it. Laurel too is entirely willing to have Nyssa get revenge on her behalf.
  • Blackmail: Oliver counter-blackmails Waller in the flashbacks with the flash drive containing information on the plane she had shot down, saying if she did anything to Maseo's family, he would expose her to everyone in the Eastern Hemisphere.
  • Bring It: Oliver implicitly says this to Nyssa when he tells her that she can tell the League of Assassins that Malcolm Merlyn is under his protection so long as he's in Starling City.
  • Call-Back:
  • The Corrupter: Invoked by Nyssa, who tries to play on the fear that Malcolm will corrupt Thea to get Oliver to kill him. Thea already has no problem lying to both Oliver and Roy about her father, despite such lies being the reason she broke away from them in the first place.
  • Death Notification: Oliver starts to be the Bearer of Bad News for Nyssa, only for her to realise before he tells her that Sara's dead. Katrina Law's acting is so good in this scene, you can literally see the moment that Nyssa realises the love of her life is dead.
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  • Distinction Without a Difference: Oliver thinks that Tatsu doesn't like him, but her husband assures Oliver that's not the case. She hates him.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Thea, who left Starling City because she was tired of her family's lies, has no problem looking Oliver in the eye and lying to him about her father.
    • Turns out Oliver saved the life of his future enemy China White when he stopped Fyers from shooting down that plane in Season One.
    • Waller watched the entire Fyers' affair via satellite and so knew Oliver was on Lian Yu, which means she could have arranged for his rescue at any time and avoided the entirety of Season Two. Instead watching Oliver defeat Fyers and destroy the Amazo convinced her Oliver would make a good operative.
  • Due to the Dead: Nyssa visits Sara's grave and gives a prayer for her soul. It won't be the last time we hear that prayer.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Nyssa visits Laurel while she's training at a gym and advises her to "use her hips" when punching, while giving a suspiciously subtle grin.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Turns out the League released Malcolm Merlyn from his allegiance as long as he promised to abide by their code. The Undertaking violated that code, which is why Malcolm is being hunted by them.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Roy does a fancy flip off a car hood to defend Thea...and goes down from a tranq dart from Nyssa. Though Thea admits to being impressed afterwards.
  • False Reassurance: Thea assures Oliver that if her father was going to try and contact her, he would have done it by now.
  • Foreshadowing: Malcolm knows about the A.R.G.U.S prison on Lian Yu.
  • Good Old Ways: Nyssa lets Malcolm know she has his sending up a smoke signal.
    Laurel: Sara, she never said much about the League. But she did say that their communication system was a little outdated.
  • High-School Hustler: In the Hong Kong flashback, Oliver gets Maseo's son to give him his laptop, by offering to swipe him two candies from the jar his parents keep over the fridge.
    Son: ...five pieces.
    Oliver: Two.
    Son: Five.
    Oliver: Three.
    Son: Five.
    Oliver: Fine, five, just give me the stupid laptop!
  • Hypocritical Humor: Malcolm can't help making a sardonic comment about Oliver's new alias "The Arrow" when he himself proposed a similar moniker in Season One ("Green Arrow") and goes by the title "The Magician".
  • Immediate Sequel: Carries on with Nyssa confronting Oliver and Roy at arrowpoint, demanding to know what happened to her Beloved.
  • I Have Your Wife: Nyssa kidnaps Thea in order to draw out Malcolm.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Nyssa knows that Sara was killed by arrows without being told, tipping off Oliver that she knows more than she is saying.
  • Internal Reveal: Team Arrow learns Malcolm Merlyn is still alive, and Laurel is also brought up to speed about him being Thea's father. Oliver learns his sister was trapped in Starling City during the Mirakuru crisis.
  • Invisible Writing: The team find a blank note in Sara's boot in her safehouse, that shows writing when exposed to heat. Nyssa calls it "Ghost Ink" and says it is one of the standard methods that the League of Assassins employ for concealing secrets. Presumably Malcolm taught the technique to Robert Queen for use with The List.
  • Just Friends: Roy turns up at Verdant to keep an eye on Thea in case Malcolm contacts her, claiming he just wants to give a helping hand. Thea is bemused he's not trying to get into her pants and eventually takes him on as her assistant manager, but she insists that things stay platonic between them.
  • Kick the Dog: Heedless of his grieving daughter who has sworn a blood oath to avenge Sara Lance, Ras Al Ghul dismisses her as being "never truly one of us" and makes it clear that Malcolm will die for his violations of the League's code, not for Sara's death.
  • Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand: Malcolm with Oliver, giving him a choice between breaking his No Killing rule or letting him walk away. When Oliver tries to Take a Third Option (handing him over to the police) Malcolm brags that with League training he can escape from any prison.
  • Male Gaze: Laurel sweating while wearing a tanktop while training. Ironically, this becomes an In-Universe Female Gaze from Nyssa.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The episode's climax features a three-way fight between Oliver, Nyssa, and Malcolm.
  • My Fist Forgives You: Averted; Nyssa slugs Oliver for letting Malcolm go, but clearly doesn't forgive him.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Knowing Oliver won't kill Malcolm, Laurel encourages Nyssa to do whatever it takes to avenge Sara, only to have her kidnap Thea.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Retroactively. It's revealed that Fyers' benefactor in Season One was Waller, who wanted the plane shot down to kill China White. Therefore, it's the fault of Oliver and his group on Lian-Yu at the time that she survived to assail Starling City thereafter. Still, as Oliver himself notes, Waller was willing to murder several hundred innocent people just to take out one guilty target.
  • Not Me This Time: Malcolm claims not to be the one responsible for Sara's death, despite all the evidence against him. As he himself says, why would he, a man who has a Contract on the Hitman from the League of Assassins, kill the lover of its leader's daughter if he wants to live?
  • Obligatory Earpiece Touch: Past!Oliver trailing his target through the streets of Hong Kong.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Laurel has to visit her father and pretend she's helping out Sara to find out what she asked him to look up for her. Quentin even apologizes for keeping the news that Sara was in town from her sister.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Malcolm shouts a lot more in this episode than he ever did before and shows a lot more emotion. This is pretty justified, as he's fighting the League of Assassins and has previously had an Oh, Crap! as a result of having to do so.
  • Overt Rendezvous: Malcolm agrees to meet Oliver in a crowded plaza, as long as he Comes Alone.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Malcolm gets in a jab at Nyssa's homosexuality, implying that her father feels the same and therefore had a greater motive than Malcolm for wanting Sara dead.
    Malcolm: You know your father. What he is capable of. He will kill without hesitation. Do you really need me to tell you what he would do to the degenerate who would steal his daughter's heart?
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Malcolm claims this as the reason why he couldn't possibly be the one who killed Sara: Why would he kill the lover of Ra's Al-Ghul's daughter if the League of Assassins has a blood bounty on him? In his own words, it's illogical.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: As Nyssa and Laurel grieve at Sara's grave, Laurel blames Nyssa for bringing out the darkness in Sara. Nyssa counters this by stating the darkness was already in Sara, who would have been starving all alone if Nyssa didn't save her. And on top of that, Laurel is wearing Sara's jacket, which turns out to be a gift from Nyssa.
    Nyssa: (to Laurel) You're not fit to wear it.
  • The Reveal: Waller was the one who ordered Fyers to shoot down that plane back in Season One, not to cripple China's economy as he thought but to kill China White, who was aboard.
  • Smoke Out: Malcolm throws down a smoke bomb to escape Nyssa at the Buddhist temple.
  • This Means War!: At the end of the episode, Ra's Al-Ghul declares that Oliver courts war by protecting Malcolm Merlyn from the League.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: Oliver's strict vow not to kill anymore, which causes friction with both Nyssa and his team, who point out that Malcolm is a killer and deserves to die.
  • Tracking Device: Oliver has a tracer arrow laced with "particulate nanotechnology", enabling it to be tracked by GPS thanks to a software program written by Felicity. Apparently it can be used to track the target anywhere in the world (explaining how Oliver was able to locate and call Sara in "Tremors"). Malcolm however works out what happened and spoofs the signal, sending Oliver to the wrong place.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Nyssa hangs Thea upside down from the rafters of a factory after kidnapping her, which doesn't stop Thea from delivering death threats.
  • Villains Never Lie: Oliver ultimately believes Malcolm when he claims to not be responsible for Sara's death. Nyssa does not.
  • Wham Shot: Our first view of Nanda Parbat, and then Ra's Al-Ghul himself.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Malcolm accuses Oliver of being too busy playing vigilante hero to protect Thea, revealing how she never actually got out of the city during the Mirakuru onslaught.
    • After Oliver lets Malcolm go, an enraged Nyssa slugs him. Oliver admits he probably deserved it.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Nyssa and Laurel are furious that Oliver just tagged Malcolm with a tracer arrow instead of shooting him In the Back while he had the chance. Malcolm even stops to grin at Oliver after he apparently misses the shot (plus he quickly discovers the true purpose of the Trick Arrow and spoofs the signal). It's not surprising that Oliver is then accused of being reluctant to kill Malcolm for Thea's sake.
  • You Know Too Much: Past!Oliver realises that man Waller had him assassinate was Fyers handler, removing the connection between her and what happened on Lian Yu.

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