The end of this week’s Arrow gutted me (and Oliver) more than the literally torso-piercing mid-season finale did. As I write this I am still in shock and can’t really move. We’ll get to that later though.
More here: NOC Recaps Arrow: The Magician and the Monster | thenerdsofcolor, but here are my thoughts on Malcolm, as the main character of the episode:
With regard to the title and the Malcolm-ness of the episode: I mostly just liked the alliteration of the recap subtitle, but both epithets were used for Malcolm in the episode and I think it represents the two parts of him. The Magician is the man he was before the League. He was flawed and scared but he cared about his family and still chose to show Nyssa his trick even when he saw that she was a tweenage bad-ass. The Monster is who he became. The League didn’t erase his anger or despair, it suppressed it until it drove him insane. Insane enough to think that destroying the Glades was helping the city (I am still thrown by all of the logic-adjacent support he got from Thea and Roy in this episode).
Malcolm has to rectify both sides of himself, as does Team Arrow. I agree with Felicity that he is a monster, but in contrast, he listened to Oliver and didn’t kill Brick. Hedoesseem to care about Thea (well, to a certain extent; he did still put her inthe crosshairs of Ra’s al Ghul). And if redemption and changing your ways is a theme of the series (which is what Oliver’s character development has been about so far), then Oliver is the person who can best help Malcolm redeem himself. Just like Canary was the name for Sara that she felt was beautiful but didn’t really represent who the League turned her into, Malcolm struggles with the same with his own name. Maseo also became someone else when he joined the League. This season is about identity and all of these characters must reconcile the different parts of themselves, including the different names they go by. Malcolm must stop being the Monster and return to being the Magician.
Check out the rest for my Olicity thoughts, because of course I have some.