February 27th, 2013: the day the Arrow fandom collectively had a fangirl stroke and briefly died only to come back to life sputtering nonsense such as “River Song! Mom! Oh no! The bird! Hot Australian shirtless man!” and “he did that! His hood! Why? What does it all mean?!?!” and the ever popular “John Barrowman’s American accent is so good!” Minus that last one, I pretty much agree with everything there. This episode was insane. After last week’s somewhat ho-hum performance, I had a feeling this week would be killer, but I was unaware how good it would really be.
First off, I need to apologize to Geoff Johns because when it came to episode 7, I said that his writing style did not translate well to television. I wasn’t entirely wrong because Muse of Fire still wasn’t all that great, but Dead to Rights was exponentially better so perhaps he can write well for TV given that the story lends itself to his style. This week certainly did as it was fast paced but it didn’t feel like we were being torn in several different places just for the hell of it, rather it worked well with the frantic actions of the characters and situations.
We started off just like most other weeks with a bad guy coming to town. This time it was Guillermo Barrera, a high price hitman. At first the name didn’t set anything off in my memory but the moment those throwing knives hit the air, I remembered who he was and probably only because I’d just done some catching up on Nightwing thanks to Scott’s Bats and Birds piece over at GEEK. Guillermo Barrera is the name of Bludhaven resident and villain, Brutale. Of course we won’t be seeing any of Brutale as he was dead after the first scene, but it was a nice little shout-out to other DC Universe entities.
The whole “McKenna could have met you at the heliport” thing reminded me of something the show does that I find to be really irritating. They don’t go back and address small things. Perfect example: the bug on McKenna’s phone. Is it still there? Did Oliver take it off? Are we going to find out who the mole is? Granted there have been a few things they’ve gone back to and I appreciate that, but I wish they would address these things as it’s driving me nuts.
The island is pretty good usually at answer some of those little questions and this week it was “was Oliver always in such great shape?” Well the answer is no. Actually that’s not entirely true as apparently he was “more of a runner.” I do love little lines like that, makes the melodramatic ones much easier to take. Outside of that, the island didn’t do a whole hell of a lot this week. Oliver did show off his knowledge of The Odyssey again and fixed a radio while Slade did pullups and discussed Gilligan’s Island escape methods.
This makes two weeks in a row that there has been very little island happenings, and after the big Shado reveal I’m anxious to get back there and see how all that plays out. Of course he was on the island for five years and I suppose they can’t tell that entire story in sixteen episodes.
I’ll give the island a little leeway on not moving things along, the five years thing, but seriously there needs to be a Black Canary post-haste. I feel like I’ve been saying this for months now, just go ahead and slap some fishnets on Laurel and make it happen! All this pussyfooting around with the sushi and the martial arts, and then the picture of her sister and the black canary. Enough already. (While we are on the subject of things that need to stop, Laurel needs to go ahead and never wear that jumpsuit thing again. Might as well just go ahead and burn it.)
The only other part of the episode that wasn’t part of the main story was the beautiful friendship that is blossoming between Diggle and Felicity. I don’t think they could get much cuter. Working out together, cracking the arrow shot cell phones of high dollar hitmen together, dreaming of chinese food together… just adorable.
After the last scene of episode 16, it was obvious that this week would more than likely be about the plan to kill Malcolm Merlyn. I guess China White didn’t feel like she could handle the job on her own, so after Barrera was disposed of, she went and found the person I’ve been saying had to be still alive – Deadshot! Not only that but she ends up giving him his signature red-eye. It’s about time he came back and having China White in the last few episodes has given it more of an ongoing feeling than just the one bad guy per episode thing they had going for a while there.
I’ll go ahead and say it – I want to smack Tommy Merlyn and tell him to shut up. Yea yea yea Malcolm was a shit dad and he probably is still a shit dad but man up son! Either tell your dad to hit the road or take whatever likely half-assed apology he’s offering this week and move on. Man this constant whining is getting old. Of course it did lead to a nice moment between Oliver and him discussing their daddy issues.
However I think we can all agree that Oliver blinding some dude with sriracha is the highlight of that scene. Very heads up play on Ollie’s part.
The two big OMG moments were in the second part of the episode. Oliver runs into McKenna as the “Hood Guy” again but is able to avoid her recognizing him with a well placed fire extinguisher. So he makes his way upstairs to where Tommy and Malcolm are trying to escape both the Triad hitmen and Deadshot’s bullets. In a move I certainly did not expect, and that goes very much against his trying to keep the vigilante identity A SECRET, he shows Tommy who he is.
WHAT IS HE DOING?!?!?! That’s pretty much my entire reaction. Seriously Oliver, what on earth are you thinking? Not only that but hello, Malcolm was getting ready to show Tommy that he’s the Dark Archer until the grenade hits and then he’s shot and Oliver somehow knows that Tommy and Malcolm have the same blood type so let’s do an impromptu blood transfusion and I felt like throwing things at my TV for a good ten minutes. What is going on here? There’s just too much to process.
So now Tommy and Malcolm are all buddy buddy again and Tommy is pissed at Oliver for not telling him about being the vigilante. When Tommy was first introduced I thought he was basically useless. Now I’m looking forward to seeing how they turn this. Is John Barrowman on board with a long run on Arrow or was this the set up for Tommy to ultimately take on his father’s Dark Archer mantle and battle Oliver, the best friend who betrayed him? Intrigue. I like it.
The second WTF moment was the last scene. Laurel had gotten a phone call from her mother earlier, but of course ignored it. Of course like all good mothers, ignore the phone call and she’ll be at your doorstep. Even though I knew that Alex Kingston was going to play her mom and I knew that it was going to be this episode, I still had that immediate reaction of “OMG Laurel your mom, Dinah Lance, is standing right there! She’s the Black Canary and now you can too!!!”
Of course we’ll have to wait and see what all this talk of Sarah still being alive results in. I can’t imagine she really is alive. I mean come on, I saw her disappear off that yacht, we all did. It would be difficult to limp away from that.
Throughout all of this, the biggest thing I took from this episode is Moira has quite the set of steel balls. Even Frank Chan agrees. Even though there were a few moments of slight nervousness, her hand shaking and her obvious ill feelings towards Tommy being at the awards ceremony, she is cold as ice. Standing there as Malcolm declares there to be a traitor in their ranks? I’d probably have pissed myself and started crying.
Even though it lacked substantial island time, this was probably my favorite episode so far. It had pretty much everything else you could hope for. Going to have to give it a solid 4 out of 5. Add in Yao Fei and Walter (I miss you Walter) and it would have easily been a 4.5
Unfortunately we’ll have to wait awhile before we get any answers as Arrow is on break until March 20th, but I think we’ve got plenty to stew over in the meantime.
Until next time!