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 S01E15: Dodger
With Ollie, I was a little flabbergasted that the writers painted him as the bad guy in his botched date, all because he didn’t feel like discussing his traumatic struggles on the island. That didn’t exactly endear me to McKenna, a character who already has an aura of suspicion about her given recent events.
“Dodger” introduced another, much more significant Green Arrow supporting player in the form of Roy Harper (Teen Wolf’s Colton Haynes). Though his few scenes weren’t really the primary focus of the episode, this material was still the highlight. Haynes did a great job in the role, with more than enough swagger and charm to portray a purse thief/con man who may or may not have a heart of gold. The decision to pair him with Thea rather than Ollie was a nice touch, and I’m interested to see how their relationship evolves. One quibble – Thea’s choice of “Abercrombie-looking” to describe Roy’s appearance was a little too apt. I’ve said it before, but the casting agents, makeup artists, and set designers really don’t seem to have the faintest idea of how to depict Starling City as the grungy, struggling city it supposedly is. Roy is far too clean-cut and well-groomed to be a downtrodden Glades resident, and even the most dilapidated parts of the city seem pretty normal, all things considered. What exactly is Malcolm Merlyn trying to get rid of here?
The flashbacks were sadly the weakest part of the episode this week. Slade sat out most of the episode due to his injury, leaving Ollie to fend for himself and deal with a new crisis of conscience. I wasn’t really a fan of the way Bennett portrayed Slade this week, as I never pictured the tough-as-nails mercenary being so whiny and fearful about a gunshot wound. In the comics, Deathstroke would probably just grab a knife, scoop out the bullet, and be done with it. Ultimately, it was interesting to see Ollie make his hard choice and how that obviously impacts him in the present, but for the most part the flashbacks felt more divorced from the rest of the material than usual.
Finally, the subplot involving Moira’ efforts to remove herself from Merlyn’s plans took a nicely dramatic turn in the closing sequence. The involvement of China White and the Triads helps bring some of the earlier conflicts full circle. And I can’t wait to see how Merlyn reacts to being on the defensive for once. Next week is the final episode before a brief hiatus, and I’m hoping Moira’s declaration of war against Merlyn will make for an epic showdown that washes away the taste of the largely forgettable “Dodger.”
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