Arrow Season 3 Countdown Pt. 2: The Top 10 Episodes Arrow Season 3 Countdown Pt. 2: The Top 10 Episodes
In part 2 of ranking all 23 episode, GATV reviewer Matt Tucker tackles the Top 10 of Season 3. Arrow Season 3 Countdown Pt. 2: The Top 10 Episodes

The annual tradition continues. As the hotly anticipated fourth season premiere, “Green Arrow,” quickly approaches, GATV reviewer Matt Tucker offers reflection on the shaggy, uneven Arrow Season 3. With ecstatic highs for some and aching lows for others, the series’ third year has proven to be its most divisive so far.

In this second of two parts, Matt presents a countdown of his ranking of each of the top ten episodes of Season 3 and awaits the heated debate.

Previous Countdowns

Season 1: Episodes 23-19Episodes 18-14Episodes 13-9Episodes 8-4Top 3 Episodes
Season 2: Episodes 23-14Episodes 13-4Top 3 Episodes
Season 3: Episodes 23-11Today – Top 10 Episodes

Agree or disagree? Have your own rankings? As always, we welcome your feedback and discussion. Tell us what you think in the comment section below or over on the GATV forum, presented by KSiteTV.

Countdown #10 - 314: 'The Return'

Series Episode: 60
Original Airdate: February 18, 2015
– [Original review at link]
Guests: Slade Wilson ( Manu Bennett )
Flashback Guests: Amanda Waller ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson ), Maseo Yamashiro ( Karl Yune ), Chien Na Wei/China White ( Kelly Hu ), Robert Queen ( Jamey Sheridan ), General Matthew Shrieve ( Marc Singer ), Andy Diggle ( Eugene Byrd ), Det. Lucas Hilton ( Roger Cross )
Special Guests: Tommy Merlin ( Colin Donnell )

“A well-told story with a welcome, if innocuous, return of an old favorite, nagged by some superficial retconning.”

We got an awful lot of Slade Wilson in Season 2, which is nothing to complain about, so it certainly makes sense to take a little time away from him. The idea was to be able to revisit him from time to time. Sadly, with that pesky WB film division that was a frequent thorn in the sides of the Smallville folks, we might potentially never see Wilson or Deathstroke on Arrow again. There’s still a lot to be gleaned from the character, particularly of his past that we never got much filled in about aside from mention of his son and his relationship with Billy Wintergreen. As a swan song, this is a bit bittersweet. The episode is entertaining, riding high on the beauty of the established relationship between Slade and Oliver, even if it’s kind of ho-hum way to make use of their meeting up again. The flashbacks are a bit worrisome, particularly the big retcon revelation that Oliver had already been back to Starling during the five years he was supposedly gone. But it’s fun to revisit everyone in that timeframe, and Slade vs. the Siblings Queen through the woods of Lian Yu was a fun diversion.

Countdown #9 - 310: 'Left Behind'

Series Episode: 56
Original Airdate: January 21, 2015
Guests: Maseo Yamashiro/Sarab, Tatsu Yamashiro ( Rila Fukushima )
Flashback Guests: Amanda Waller, Maseo Yamashiro, Tatsu Yamashiro
Special Guests: Ray Palmer ( Brandon Routh ), Danny Brickwell/Brick ( Vinnie Jones )

“The most focused episode of the season so far presents some interesting questions for each character.”

The first of the trilogy of episodes that present the arc of Oliver’s believed death is the best of them. Primarily, it allows each of the other members in Oliver’s closest circle to examine just what his mission means to them and if they see a role for themselves in it. This was a surprisingly necessary step to give the supporting cast some necessary life outside of Oliver’s shadow. It also allowed him to be separate in his recovery to define his own journey for the remainder of the season. Does Starling City need the Arrow? And if he’s not alive, can the others just walk away? It sets some compelling questions that will resonate throughout the season and even into Season 4.

Countdown #8 - 302: 'Sara'

Series Episode: 48
Original Airdate: October 15, 2014
Guests: Sara Lance/Canary ( Caity Lotz ), Simon Lacroix/Komodo ( Matt Ward )
Flashback Guests: Maseo Yamashiro
Special Guests: Tommy Merlyn, Ray Palmer

“The aftermath of last week’s shocker yields a thoughtful exploration of grief and death, what it means for the characters, and how it paves a new path for the future.”

Sara Lance was never a regular member of the main cast and yet she became such a vital element of the series. Season 2 was quite heavy with her story, which meant that her presence still hung over the series heading into Season 3. Killing her off provided the opportunity for the show to get out from under her shadow, as well as a catalyst to push Laurel down her own path as a hero. One can debate the questionable subtext in killing Sara — especially in light of her impending resurrection — but her loss is one that deeply affects every member of Team Arrow. Just as death often does for the living, it presents a chance for examination of the choices made by each character and this dangerous life they’ve opted into. Amid that darkness, it also offers a platform for each to begin thinking of a different, more hopeful future. They might not likely pursue that future, but positive goals give us all something worth fighting for.

Countdown #7 - 322: 'This is Your Sword'

Series Episode: 68
Original Airdate: May 6, 2015
Guests: Ra’s al Ghul ( Matt Nable ), Nyssa al Ghul ( Katrina Law ), Maseo Yamashiro/Sarab, Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana, The Priestess ( Françoise Yip )
Flashback Guests: Maseo Yamashiro, Tatsu Yamashiro, Akio Yamashiro ( Brandon Nomura ), General Matthew Shrieve
Special Guests: Ray Palmer/The Atom

“A taut hour of cruel gamesmanship that just keeps getting away from everyone.”

There is something decidedly cruel about Ra’s forcing his homosexual daughter to marry a man to carry on his bloodline, but this was a clear example of the brashness of his expectation of control in every situation. It’s also what blinds him to Oliver’s true intentions. Oliver holds the stronger hand here, finally revealing that he’s infiltrated the League to take down Ra’s from within and done so in convincing fashion. The hour becomes an intriguing game as Oliver positions himself perfectly with Malcolm’s help. It also lets the team in on the truth and sets up a fun action setpiece as they storm Nanda Parbat, capped by a poignant showdown between Tatsu and Maseo as the flashbacks reveal Maseo felt immense shame and blame for their son’s death and left her as a result. As is frequently the case with our hero, nothing quite goes to plan and the true joy this episode is seeing how Oliver has to roll with the punches and stay in character as events get away from him. Soon, he finds himself married to Nyssa and bound for Starling to cut the city off at the knees, and yet he’s never been closer to Ra’s. If only the finale were a third as fascinating as this penultimate episode.

Countdown #6 - 304: 'The Magician'

Series Episode: 50
Original Airdate: October 29, 2014
Guests: Nyssa al Ghul
Flashback Guests: Maseo Yamashiro, Akio Yamashiro, Amanda Waller

“A battle of archers brings together multiple threads from past seasons and uses them to explore Oliver’s no-kill rule, in an ambiguous, complex, and action-packed hour.”

The reveal of Ra’s al Ghul for the first time is a bit of a letdown given the hype, but it’s the one down moment of an otherwise engrossing hour. What makes the episode shine is its speed, a breathless pace that rarely lets up and offers perfect fertile ground for Oliver to discover Malcolm Merlyn is alive for the first time since their rooftop showdown during the Undertaking. One of the kitschiest but also coolest moments of the series is the point where Oliver, Malcolm, and Nyssa, all masked or hooded, face each other down with bows drawn. It was a moment that perfectly captured how fantastic the world of the series had grown from its humble “grounded” beginnings. The hour also resolutely puts Oliver Queen on the League’s radar, a key development for the rest of the season.

Next Page – The Top 5!

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Matt Tucker Editor/Senior Writer/Reviewer

Matt Tucker is a stage and film actor, writer, Seattleite, comics nerd, sports fan, and aspiring person. Someday, he’ll be a real boy. He's an editor and senior writer for KSiteTV network (GreenArrowTV, DaredevilTV) and the sports blogs Sonics Rising and Cascadia Sports Network. Follow him on Twitter at @MattBCTucker or @TuckerOnSports