OLIVER SEARCHES FOR THEA IN CORTO MALTESE WHILE DIGGLE TRACKS A.R.G.U.S. AGENT MARK SHAW – Oliver decides it’s time for Thea to come back to Starling City, so he packs for Corto Maltese, where Felicity has traced Thea’s whereabouts. Lyla asks Diggle to go with Oliver because one of her field operatives, Mark Shaw, has gone dark in Corto Maltese and she’d like him to look into it. Feeling responsible for Thea’s departure, Roy joins Oliver and Diggle on their journey. Shaw double-crosses Diggle, putting numerous A.R.G.U.S. agents, including Lyla, at risk. Meanwhile, Laurel meets Ted Grant, and Felicity adjusts to her new job.
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Lance calls the Arrow when another archer appears in town and starts skewering businessmen. Diggle uses A.R.G.U.S. to find the archer’s identity; he is a man named Simon Lacroix, who goes by the codename Komodo. However, the team hits a rough patch with the mission and gets help from a surprising source ? Laurel. Meanwhile, Oliver begins to worry that he hasn’t heard from Thea, which forces Roy to tell him the truth about why she left town. Ray Palmer pursues Felicity. In the flashback, Maseo tells Oliver that Amanda Waller has ordered his first kill. As Oliver looks down the scope of the rifle, he sees the target is his best friend, Tommy. Despite her promise to her sister, Laurel debates sharing a secret about Sara with Lance.
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OLIVER SEARCHES FOR AN IDENTITY BEYOND THE ARROW – With crime in Starling City at an all-time low thanks to the Arrow and his team, Oliver thinks he can finally balance being both the Arrow and Oliver Queen and asks Felicity out on a date. However, when a new villain emerges, who has claimed the name Vertigo from the recently deceased Count, Oliver is caught off-guard and someone close to him is hurt. Oliver and a newly suited up Roy take on the Count. Meanwhile, Diggle becomes a father, Lance is promoted to Captain, Laurel joins Arrow’s inner circle and Felicity gets a part-time job at a tech store to make ends meet. Also, Oliver fights to regain his company, Queen Consolidated, but comes up against a very worthy opponent ? the charming Ray Palmer.
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This week’s episode of Arrow, “Unfinished Business” was written by Bryan Q Miller and Lindsey Allen and directed by Michael Offer. All three are new to Arrow. Miller is not new to the genre, having written for the CW’s Smallville as well as comics for DC, including Teen Titans. Allen worked with Mark Guggenheim on Green Lantern. Offer has a number of action credits on his resume, including Last Resort and The Unit. All this experience may help explain why even a brand new team to Arrow was able to deliver a satisfying episode that once again wove a single theme through multiple story arcs. This week’s theme was summed up by the Count (Seth Gable): “Nothing is what it once was.”
The Count is not who he once was and neither is his drug, Vertigo. However, another theme that runs through the episode is misconceptions built on preconceptions, so Oliver (Stephen Amell) believes that the Count is still a threat and not really crazy and therefore buys into the Count escaping. This results in Oliver being captured by the doctor who is actually behind the new version of the drug and Diggle (David Ramsey) having to kill to save both of them. On the other hand, Oliver is not able to kill the Count in the end because he realizes that it would be a cold blooded killing. The Count is no longer a threat to anyone, and Oliver is not simply a cold blooded killer.
Another facet of the theme this week is that people can and do change, but sometimes they get stuck in the past. Diggle is obsessed with finding Deadshot. He keeps this a secret from Oliver even though he’s enlisted Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) help. He is so consumed with finding him that he fails to come when Oliver needs him at the Aquarium. Just as a side note, the scenes in the actual aquarium were filmed in the Vancouver Aquarium, which I’ve visited. Diggle tells Oliver that he can’t get on with his life until he avenges his brother’s death. He doesn’t tell Oliver about his meeting with Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson), however, and this may be a problem in the future if both the military and Oliver and Diggle are both hunting Deadshot.
Anderson, who is a very good actor, worked with director Offer on The Unit. She provides another layer to Diggle’s backstory, so I hope we’ll see more of her. It’s a great scene between Amell and Ramsey when Oliver tells Diggle that he’s making Deadshot a priority because it’s a priority to Diggle. I really like the way their partnership is growing. It’s also a nice way that Oliver is changing, letting people back into his life.
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It’s completely ordinary for television shows, or any serialized form of storytelling, really, to take a little breather after a big episode. Breather episodes typically involve some sort of emotional fallout, or perhaps a reevaluation of goals and relationships. They give the show time to reflect on recent events, and they normally afford an opportunity for some measure of character growth. Essentially, they’re narrative way stations between major plot developments.
“The Huntress Returns” was such an episode. And it was ridiculously dull.
If you’ve been watching (and reading) along with me for the past 16 episodes, you know I’m generally more interested in the melodrama portion of Arrow’s action + melodrama set-up, and as a result, I was rather eagerly looking forward to seeing the aftershocks of “Dead to Rights” playing out a bit. And those aftershocks did happen, but to nowhere near the extent that maybe they should have. I say this knowing full well that they’re something that will continue to weigh heavily over the rest of the season, but I just wanted more.
Instead, “The Huntress Returns” brought Helena back to Starling City. It turns out that Daddy Bertinelli cut a deal with the feds and was going to get himself a little witness protection in exchange for blabbing about some of the regional crime families, and Helena was none too pleased that he was going to get a second chance at a life. She wanted Oliver’s help bringing Bertinelli down, permanently, and was willing to hurt anyone Oliver cared about to get him to cooperate.
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Tonight’s episode of Arrow, “Dead to Rights”, was written by Geoff Johns and directed by Glen Winter. Johns also co-wrote the teleplay to “Muse of Fire” with Mark Guggenheim, an episode that also featured both Tommy (Colin Donnell) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Moira (Susanna Thompson). Johns’ script and Winter’s direction resulted in an episode that delivered a number of terrific performances from Donnell, Barrowman, Thompson, and Stephen Amell. This was Winter’s first time directing, and I felt his strongest scenes were the more emotional, character-driven ones. The initial fight sequence was good, though it felt like the helicopter got in the way, but I felt the fight sequence with China White (Kelly Hu) was too choppy and cut up to really enjoy or appreciate.
This episode was very much about trust and the bonds of family, and that played into every character’s decisions. The loss of a family member and the subsequently strained relationship with a parent was a theme that touched on Tommy’s relationship with his father, Oliver’s relationship with his father, and Laurel’s relationship with her mother. In addition, Diggle (David Ramsey) is also confronted with his brother’s death again when Lawton/Deadshot (Michael Rowe) turns up alive. Ramsey is terrific in the scene when Oliver breaks the news to Diggle. I’m also very much enjoying the chemistry between Diggle and Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). It feels very much like the team is becoming a family themselves, especially as Diggle begins training Smoak to be able to defend herself in the event she has to fight to protect herself.
One of the things about the show that has impressed me from the beginning is the complexity of the characters. This is a tribute to both the writing and the acting on the show. The characters are anything but black and white, stereotypical comic book good and bad guys. Instead, they are very real characters with complex motivations, and one of the ways that this manifests itself is in how difficult it is to label a character either good or bad. This in itself holds a mirror to the Vigilante. Is he bad, for committing violence, or good, for defending the city?
Up to this episode, Malcolm Merlyn seemed to be the straightforward bad guy as the head of the “Undertaking” and as the Dark Archer. He seemed to have no fatherly feelings towards Tommy and even tried to get Tommy to disband the charity that his mother had set up. This episode shows Malcolm as the head of the “Undertaking”, telling his fellow conspirators that “There is hope on the horizon. We won’t fail this city.” Yet, while making his speech for Humanitarian of the Year award he says “I haven’t done enough for this city. I’ve failed it. I’m going to do more.” This echoes Oliver’s tagline to the villains that “You have failed this city.”
Last week’s installment of Arrow was easily the best of the series so far, thanks mainly to the strength of the flashback scenes and the prominent role played by Manu Bennett’s Slade Wilson. With the focus shifting back in favor of the present day material again this week, it was a safe bet that there would be a certain decline in quality. “Dodger” was a strictly average episode that had the misfortune of following such a strong one.
Perhaps recognizing the fact that none of the various plot threads were particularly compelling on their own, the writers crammed this episode with numerous concurrent storylines. Chief among these was the emergence of a new villain on the Starling City scene, the Dodger. Like just about every baddie the show has to offer, the Dodger is inspired by a comic book character.
In this case, he was a minor foe from the pages of Green Arrow & Black Canary a few years ago. He didn’t really amount to anything more in this episode than he did in the comics. Even so, Dodger was a fun rogue for Ollie to clash with, one who had enough wits to lead our hero on a brief but merry chase. James Callis (best known as Battlestar Galactica’s Dr. Baltar) brought a nice touch of roguish charm to the character. We didn’t learn much about the villain besides the fact that he prefers a very specific type of artifact. But the fact that he didn’t die in the climax at least leaves the door open for more Dodger capers.
In between clashes with the Dodger, Ollie and Diggle had the chance to hit the town and go on dates. I suppose you could consider this a slightly delayed Valentine’s episode. It was fun to see a lighter side to their shared adventures, though both romantic struggles fell pretty flat in the end. With Diggle, the problem is that his former sister-in-law was and is a very poorly developed character with no real personality or defining traits other than that she’s pretty and has a “complicated” relationship with him. Nothing in this episode did much to change that.
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?Arrow‘ lets loose another episode with its fourteenth outing of the series “The Odyssey” as Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) finds himself grievously wounded and in need of Felicity Smoak (newly-minted series regular Emily Bett Rickards)’s help, while flashing back to his time on the island training with Slade Wilson (?Spartacus? Manu Bennett) for a deadly mission to overtake an airstrip.
Last week’s ?Arrow’ episode “Betrayal” saw Oliver’s vigilante association with Laurel (Katie Cassidy) putting her life at risk when Cyrus Vanch (David Anders) sought to make a name for himself in Starling City, while Diggle investigated Oliver’s mother to determine her involvement with the mysterious book of names. So, what does the fourteenth episode of ?Arrow’ bring? Does it hit the same bulls-eye as the first 13 episodes?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ?Arrow’s latest episode, “The Odyssey!”
Holding his mother at arrow-point, Oliver demands answers to questions of “the undertaking” and Walter’s location, but Moira only cowers and begs the vigilante not to hurt her for fear of her children. Reluctantly, Oliver lowers his bow, and Moira takes the first opportunity to retrieve a hidden gun and fire a bullet into the vigilante, and call for security. Before she can react, the vigilante is already gone.
Arrow picked up the slack in a big way with this week’s installment, which easily ranked as one of the best in the series’ short lifespan so far. “Trust But Verify” was a consistently executed episode that forced nearly all the main characters to deal with the disparity between how they wish to perceive those close to them and how those loved ones actually are. Only the presence of another underdeveloped villain kept this episode from fully realizing its potential.
This week, it was Ted Gaynor and the Blackhawks’ turn to make their Arrow debut. In the comics, Gaynor and the other Blackhawks are a group of elite, international fighter pilots. The most recent incarnation of the series cast them as essentially the G.I. Joe unit of the DC Universe. As per usual, the source material was toned down considerably in the process of being adapted for the show, and the Blackhawks became just your average private security firm that robs armored vehicles on the side. As mentioned, I had a real problem with the lack of motivation given to Gaynor and his men.
If you’re going to recast a normally heroic band of soldiers as villains, you should really have a good reason for doing so. This episode never revealed why exactly Gaynor and his men were knocking over armored trucks, other than vague references to Gaynor’s disillusionment and a love of money. Like Deadshot and the Royal Flush Gang, this particular DC element felt wasted.
But in terms of fostering drama between Ollie and Diggle, these villains more than did their part. I’v been looking forward to this episode ever since Gaynor’s role and connection to Diggle was announced. Our two heroes had a real wedge driven between them as Ollie’s pragmatism clashed with Diggle’s optimism And it was a rift that wasn’t completely healed by episode’s end. One of my favorite moments came when Diggle hesitated to pull the trigger on his former C.O. and Ollie finished the job for him. Ollie is clearly willing to take measures Diggle won’t, and that will almost certainly continue to color their relationship moving forward.
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When you’re doing a good job protecting your city and carrying out your father’s wishes, you start to feel invincible, like you there’s nothing you can’t handle. But then you get beaten, and you get beaten bad, and it rattles you to your emotional and mental core (thankfully, your physical core is still okay because you’re able to do your salmon ladder reps). It’s tough to bounce back from a defeat like that.
And that’s how we found Oliver, who took six weeks off as the hood to try and get himself back together, both physically and mentally. He couldn’t do the little tennis ball trick, and he hadn’t been crossing names off the list. On top of that, there’d been less than nothing about Walter’s disappearance. Nothing from Diggle’s contacts with various investigative agencies, and nothing from Oliver’s link to the Russian mob (thought the show had forgotten that, hadn’t you?). Things were seeming rather dire for Oliver’s career as a protector of Starling City.
Since his return, Oliver had been ignoring the trauma that he experienced on the island and funneling that denial into his crime-fighting. But then he suffered a blow that forced him to deal with his issues because it struck him at a place where he felt safest and the most in control. If he wants to continue working through the list and improving Starling City, he has to fight through barriers and not lose sight of his goals. That he was able to do so in “Burned” indicates that he may just be ready to start dealing with other issues as well.
It may also mean that he’s ready to move away from being a vigilante and become something more heroic. Oliver seemed to respond well to the crime stats that a news pundit rattled off on the TV, and to the fact that his actions at the gala were considered heroic (we’ll circle back to that). Coupled with his actions against the Reston bank-robbing family, he can see himself doing things that help Starling City beyond taking down people on the list.