‘Arrow’ Recap: “Missing” – No Man Is an Island

In “Missing,” Oliver is forced to deal with the reality that his loved ones aren’t safe because of the life he chooses to lead. We’ve seen this plot line explored on Arrow before. Let’s say it comes around every May. (Or, as we now know: every Oliver’s birthday.)

Though the plot of “Missing” was all-too-familiar to fans who have been watching this show since Season 1, this episode had something special: scope. “Missing” may have hit familiar plot beats, but it brought back some of the best characters of Arrow’s entire run. This isn’t just a season finale. This is the end of an era: the flashback era. (Please let it be the end of the flashback era.)

Chase kidnaps everyone Oliver loves

Like, literally everyone. It actually takes Oliver an embarrassing amount of time to notice. (We’ll blame it on the birthday festivities.) This repetitive plot structure made for a slow first act, but it was helped along by just how refreshing it was to see this show get back to the Chase storyline.

Image via The CW

No, I don’t understand why Chase is doing any of this (past a vague motivation to teach Oliver a lesson in retaliation for his dad’s death). His motives don’t exactly line up with his methods or results. He allowed himself to be arrested just so he could force Oliver to break him free. Why? Why not make Oliver do something worse — something more in line with the “monster” persona Chase thinks Oliver truly encapsulates? I don’t know. I stopped trying to figure out Arrow’s Big Bads a long time ago. (That’s a lie.)

At this point, however, I don’t care as much if the villainous plot is a little convoluted. If it leads to Oliver joining forces with Malcolm Merlyn, Nyssa al Ghul, and Slade Wilson, then I can ignore the part of my brain yelling for some better-articulated character motivation.

Team Arrow: Monster Edition

The reason this team-up works so well is because, for once, it is drawing on the power of the flashbacks, as well as the early seasons — at this point, the distinction is almost indistinguishable. The past hasn’t truly mattered on Arrow for a long time, but this is the first time that I have ever felt like Oliver stood a chance against Adrian Chase. Yes, because it is almost the season finale, but also because, as much research as Chase (and Talia) has done on Oliver’s past, there’s no way he can know just how traumatizing, painful, and batshit crazy those five (plus) years were for our hero. No, only we know that truth. Because we sat through it. Oliver’s past deserves this victory. We deserve this victory — for all of those hours of flashbacks and terrible episodes we’re never getting back.

Chase has kidnapped all of Oliver’s loved ones and, yes, that’s sweet and everything, but Oliver has recruited the man who killed his mother, the man whose hand he once chopped off, and the woman who he was forced to marry in a bid to save Star City from the killer virus he once saw unleashed in Hong Kong. Chase thought it might be cute to bring Oliver to Lian Yu, but Lian Yu was where Oliver learned to fight. It’s the place he lost his father, Yao Fei, Sara (kind of), Slade (kind of), Taiana (whatever), and himself. Chase thinks he’s reminding Oliver that he’s a monster, but, really, he’s reminding him of why he never wants to go back to being the monster Lian Yu forced him to be.

What didn’t work

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Not everything worked in this episode. As much fun as it always is to see Malcolm, it’s an awkward, abrupt reintroduction from a character who has really played out his functions on Arrow. And, as for William, the show has never even tried to make us care about his character, so I really don’t. On a theoretical level, of course I don’t want Oliver’s innocent child to be murdered. On an emotional level, I could not pick this kid out of a CW child actor line-up. (Sorry.)

Though this episode was a bit all over the place in the message it was trying to teach Oliver, ultimately, I liked the one Malcolm Merlyn spelled out for Oliver best: “You can’t live on an island. You’ve tried.” In other words: People need people. People affect people. That’s just how the world works. To attempt to avoid that reality is not only ill-fated, it’s a little arrogant.

Cue flashback! On the surface, the Kovar island subplot was pretty unnecessary… like most Arrow flashbacks we know. There was something brilliantly meta, however, about the fact that Kovar literally used the show’s flashbacks to torture Oliver. The Arrow writers room has finally publicly recognized the torture they put us through in watching some (OK… most) of those flashback arcs. That’s all we wanted, friends.

Rating: ★★★★ Very good

Additional thoughts

— I can’t get over how perfectly tragic it is that Oliver’s birthday falls during season finale season, which means he is always dealing with The Worst Crisis Of His Life during his birthday week. This is the most Oliver Queen thing ever. This is how committed he is to his angst.

— There were so many great references to seasons long past, starting with the mention of Thea’s Season 1 birthday party when she got high off of Vertigo, crashed her car, and was arrested. (Oh, good times.)

— “Being happy doesn’t mean you don’t have issues; it just means you’re working on them.” Sometimes Oliver’s aphorisms don’t make a lot of sense once you look away from his abs, but I kind of like this one. Especially because it is delivered to Thea.

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— “With who? Please say not Susan Williams.” — Thea’s reaction to news of Oliver’s birthday date. This is even more awesome when you realize that Thea knew that this was a decoy date to cover the surprise party, so she knew it wasn’t even a real date. She just wanted to give Oliver a hard time about Susan Williams. It really is great to have Thea back.

– Oliver’s birthday cake was from Lord Mesa Bakery. Lord Mesa is a really excellent artist who does a lot of fan art (including for Arrow). I love that the Arrow writers chose to give them an in-universe shout-out.

— Thea: “You didn’t miss much… just Oliver flipping Curtis over his shoulder.”

Lance: “I told you a surprise party wasn’t a good idea.”

— All I could think about during the birthday scene was: Arrow needs normal person stuff. Like birthday parties.

— “I need to buy some socks… Everybody has their thing. I need socks.” — Oliver “Socks” Queen

— “We all need socks.” — Felicity, being understanding.

— Oliver: “I killed you.”

Kovar: “Almost, but nothing ever really dies. There’s always echoes. You’ll learn that soon enough.”

— Things Kovar said in this episode: “Murder creates intimacy between men.” “Pain is fascinating, isn’t it?” OK, Hannibal Lecter.

— Curtis: “And the way you guys dressed up for each other? Sizzle, sizzle.”

Felicity: “You’re worse than a shipper on a soap opera.”

— Felicity: “Do you need backup?”

Curtis: “Yeah, probably, but I’m here now so I gotta make sure she’s OK.”

Me from the future: Curtis did, indeed, need backup.

— “When it comes to the League of Assassins, locks are more like suggestions.” — Felicity

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— Why did no one tell Quentin about the Black Siren? You know he has a heart condition. He can’t handle these kinds of surprises!

— But, in all honesty, it was nice to see this story beat. It gives me hope that Black Siren’s role as a main character in Season 6 might include some heartwrenching nuances. And Quention Lance deserves nice things.

— “I don’t know about you. But I’m sure as hell not staying here, waiting.” — Thea, to Quentin. When do I get my Thea/Quention superhero comedy web series spinoff in which these two characters put out political fires by day and literal fires by night?

— “Let me help you understand: I am not going to kill you. I am never going to give you the satisfaction of being the man you think I am.” Oh my god, just kill him, Oliver.

— “I know how crazy it sounds, but it’s real. Just as real as metahumans and aliens.” — Thea

— “Felicity always has major anxiety. You going silent is not helping.” — Diggle. This brief #Delicity scene could have gone on much longer, in my opinion. I would watch an entire episode of them roadtripping.

— “I let my emotions get out of hand.” — Malcolm Merlyn

— “That worked better with Rochev.” — Felicity

— “I admire you, Oliver. It takes a special kind of idiot to get dumber with time.” I do miss the way Malcolm Merlyn does not care about Oliver’s feelings at all, but also knows him incredibly well because he watched him grow up. It makes for cruel, yet hilarious insights.

— Hi, Yao Fei!

— “You’re not pulling my strings anymore, Adrian.” — Oliver. But what if he just didn’t pick up the phone?

— “I’ll see you on the boat.” — Adrian. I’m going to start using this when I say goodbye to people just to sound more enigmatic.

— “Mr. Merlyn, I assume you still have my title.” Nyssa is so much cooler than Malcolm and Oliver.

— Malcolm: “I’d sooner slice her throat.”

Nyssa: “Try to, you mean.”

— “When I was a little girl, my father told me to visit this place. It’s where I found Sara.” — Nyssa. Now, that’s a flashback I would have liked to see.

— “Rene, Dinah, where are they?” Arrow didn’t have a big enough budget to hire them for this episode, Thea. I thought we made a silent agreement not to mention it?

— I love that Adrian is surprised that Team Arrow recognizes Lian Yu. Felicity’s all: Oh yeah, we summer vacation here.

— Oliver: “I need your help.”

Slade: “Hey, kid. I’m glad you came back.”

— I want to gush about Slade’s return, but I am going to save it all for next week, which will hopefully include Slade saying “mirakuru” with his New Zealand accent at least five times. Besides, you guys don’t need me to explain how wonderful it was to see this character back on-screen, and on Oliver’s side (probably) again. You were there. You felt it.

Image via The CW

Image via The CW

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