The CW's new superhero series Arrow
re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance's Matt Wilson will be following along all season to see how he fares
On this week's episode, Ollie seeks some legal relief following last week's shocking charges, someone else dons the hood and Deathstroke makes his first full-body appearance!
Following the now-standard recap clips and previously-ons, which I'm glad to see have permanently replaced the let's-check-the-thesaurus-again-to-make-this-different-every-week voiceover speeches from Ollie, things open up on Flashback Island, where Proto-Arrow is shooting a rabbit, that looks like it was animated by Terry Gilliam, with his bow.
Proto-Arrow tells young Ollie to go grab that dinner up. Ollie doesn't want to touch it, and asks if he can instead try his hand with the bow. Proto-Arrow tells Ollie to give it a try and shoot at a tree, saying the main thing to keep in mind is to breathe, a shocking reversal of our Western archery teachers, who all say the secret of accuracy is not breathing.
Ollie takes a shot and misses wide right. He actually does a decent job for someone who has, by all indications, never even seen a bow before, let alone use one, but Proto-Arrow dickishly tells him he will die badly, because he is a dick.
Ollie goes to grab up the rabbit, which is apparently hundreds of yards further away than it first looked to be. Just as he's leaning down to pick it up, those paramilitary guys from a few episodes ago swoop in, handcuff Ollie and and put him in one of those makeshift hole-in-the-ground holding cells with bamboo bars at the top, like they had on Lost. I'd think you'd maybe want to make your action show with regular flashbacks to a mysterious island as dissimilar to that other very popular show about flashbacks and a mysterious island as possible, but maybe that's just me.
As Flashback Ollie pleads for help, Current Ollie is being booked, fingerprinted and photographed for a mug shot while his voice-over dramatically tells us that the police think he's the hooded vigilante terrorizing the city's criminals. "They also think they have me trapped," he says. "That I have no way out. They're only half right." That's a fair attempt at a Frank Miller monologue, but Ollie really should have insulted the police more and repeated the word "trapped" about six more times.
Ollie's mugshot does have a great Easter egg:
Green Arrow debuted in More Fun Comics #73 in 1941. I have to give you that one, Arrow.
In an interrogation room, Ollie tells Detective Lance this is all a mistake, which gives Lance the opportunity to tear into Ollie for killing his daughter with a yacht (it was an accident) in addition to a bunch of other people with arrows (less accidental). Ollie insists he's not a vigilante, but Lance counters with a two-second flashback to the video footage of Ollie grabbing the hood and other gear out of a trash can back when Deadshot was killing people at that auction.
Ollie's reason for taking that stuff? He ran into the stairwell to avoid the shooting, saw a bag thinking it was the shooter's, and found the hood in there. Lance, quite rightly, asks why he took the hood with him or the police haven't found it, but doesn't give Ollie a chance to answer. That really seems rather important!
After some talk about that time Ollie's welcome-home party was right next door to where Arrow killed a bunch of guys, Moira and Steele burst in to berate Lance and demand the interrogation stop until the family attorney arrives. Allowing an in-custody suspect's mom and step dad into an ongoing interrogation seems a little unorthodox, but there's always the "they are very rich" excuse, so I'll assume that's how they got in there.
Detective Lance leaves because he's had enough of this s**t. Ollie tells Moira and Steele he wants Laurel to be his attorney, even though the family had a perfectly good lawyer who was not the arresting officer's daughter or Ollie's ex back in episode two. Even so, Moira heads off to Laurel's office to ask for her help.
Moira starts to explain what's up, but Laurel says she knows, nodding toward the TV nearby. From what I can tell, Starling City has exactly one news channel with really ugly green graphics, and there's some law that mandates all TVs must be tuned to it at all times. Moira says Ollie wants Laurel to represent him, but Laurel makes the salient point that it would break somewhere around 1,000 ethical standards and says no.
Ollie enters a courtroom that's much nicer looking than the ones we saw back in the second episode for his bond hearing. The judge asks where his attorney is, and he answers he'll represent himself. Really? The family couldn't find anyone? Shouldn't the Queens, a family of billionaires that lives in a castle, have an army of attorneys on retainer? Are they all on vacation? I get that Ollie may have insisted that he represent himself if Laurel wouldn't, but it seems like Moira would just have one of the family attorneys show up anyway.
But none of that matters, because here's Laurel!
Yeah! F**k professional ethics!
Ollie is beaming, at least until Laurel offers to ensure he's not a flight risk by having him wear a house-arrest ankle bracelet. That he's less happy about. But the judge goes for it and sets bail at a rather steep $15 million. The hearing ends and Laurel tells Ollie she knows he can't be Arrow because the vigilante is making a difference, and Ollie is a self-involved douche. Ollie's expression is now the opposite of beaming.
Back at Queen House, a cop fits Ollie with the ankle bracelet while Ollie asks if it's OK for him to be around the pool for a "sizable get-together." Moira and even Merlyn (remember him?) question that decision, but Ollie says he wants it to happen, and he wants it to be prison-themed, so people know he's not worried. Nobody tell him he won't get to wear that guard uniform/ski mask combo from last week if he's a prisoner, though.
After a reasonably well-acted scene between Laurel and her dad that also provides no new information, Dig arrives at Casa Queen to tell Ollie it looks like the police have nailed him with the video footage. Ah, but Ollie's a master planner. He wanted to get caught! You didn't hear it, Dig, but he had this great story about taking the duffel bag with the hood out of the trash can and then running off with it for no good reason. It was flawless.
Ollie theorizes that someone would have connected Arrow to him eventually, so this is his way of dealing with that. When Dig asks for some details, Ollie helpfully offers, "There's more to it." Well, that's that then!
Dig, like seemingly every other character on this show has at one point or another, tells Ollie his family is worried sick and asks if he cares. "Of course I care," Ollie says. "The mission comes first." He has officially gone from being Nolan Batman for TV to Miller Batman for TV.
Ollie spins his laptop around to show Dig some info about German arms dealer Leo Mueller, who is in the city to unload some stolen guns onto some gang members. He tells Dig to shadow the guy and find out where the buy is happening. Dig asks exactly how he's supposed to do that, and Ollie points him toward some shiny gadgets in the Arrowcave.
"Oh, that's sweet," Dig says in regard to a black, plastic disc with some blinking green lights on it. I guess I'll take his word for it.
At Queen Consolidated, Steele is having a top-secret meeting with his head of security. Steele wants the security guy to transfer the wreckage from the Queen yacht he found last episode to a "secure location." Sick burn on Moira's password skills there.
Ollie and Laurel arrive at police HQ to meet with Detective Lance and the DA, who notes that the feisty cop arrested Ollie without consulting her office (and, I would add, with some pretty flimsy evidence). The DA offers to let Ollie cop an insanity plea, but Ollie says he wants to take a polygraph test in front of Detective Lance. After some convincing, Laurel agrees to set it up, but not without becoming the second character of the episode to wag a finger at Ollie about his family who cares about him. Someone just tape an upside-down note to his shirt that says, "Your family cares!" already.
In another flashback, the paramilitary guys lead Ollie into a tent where he encounters their cherub-faced leader, Eddie Fyers, another comic character whose mustache has sadly been removed. I don't recall him having a weird affinity for Sprite-like soda in the comics, but he does here. Or maybe he's just teasing luxury-deprived Ollie with his sugary drinks and ice.
Ollie offers Fyers a boatload of money (or maybe some other receptacle, since the Queens' boat sank) for rescue, but Fyers has other things on his mind. He holds up a picture of a young Proto-Arrow and asks Ollie if he knows him. Ollie badly fakes his way through saying he doesn't a couple times (Amell is actually great as young, terrible-liar Ollie) and then the threats of torture and death begin. That ramped up quick. Fyers leaves and says, "He's yours now" as Deathstroke ominously enters.
While old Stroky looks a lot better than Deadshot did a couple weeks ago, there are a few curious things about his mask. For one, it is considerably more brightly orange than the one we saw in the pilot or know from the comics. It looks like someone melted a traffic cone onto his head. Second, that sure is a lot of brow built in. Just miles of brow up there.
There is a good chance TV Deathstroke is secretly a neanderthal.
In the present, the party crew is setting up for the prison shindig while Thea sits on a lawn chair outside. She and Ollie have a Tender Scene Set to Piano MusicTM in which she talks about how weird he's been, and he lies to her face about not being "some Robin Hood" wannabe. It is slightly odd how a major point of this episode is how much better the hero has gotten at lying.
Once a quick scene with Moira and Boe that establishes his suspicions that Ollie really is Arrow is disposed of, we get to see just how good Ollie is at lying now as he tries his hand at that polygraph test he promised to take. He answers a couple basic questions to get the thing calibrated (though you know he's already lying because we're supposed to believe Stephen Amell is 27). He says he's never been to Iron Heights Prison and is not the guy in that con sketch of Arrow. He says he didn't steal that money from Adam Hunt, but he was on Purgatory.
Cue a quick flashback to Fyers and Deathstroke asking a tied-up Ollie about Proto-Arrow again, and Ollie getting a bowie knife to the stomach when he doesn't answer. He sure does want to protect that dickish guy! As Detective Lance asks about Ollie's scar tissue, another flash shows Deathstroke cutting him on the shoulder. Ollie fesses up that he wasn't alone on the island, and people there tortured him. Detective Lance finally asks if Ollie's ever killed anyone, and Ollie says he has: When he asked Sarah Lance to come on that yacht.
Amell and Paul Blackthorne play the tension of the whole polygraph test scene really well, that is, until Ollie just gets up and leaves without permission. It's pretty unbelievable the police would let him do that, and it sort of kills any suspense they've built. The flat delivery of the technician, who says Ollie was telling "the truth," doesn't help much either. Laurel tells her dad to ask the DA to drop the charges, but he refuses.
Ollie had to get out of there, though, because it's party time at the Queen House! He is really milking this prison theme.
Detective Lance is there so he can stand around and look sour instead of, you know, stopping crimes. So Dig and Ollie pick up the slack. They slink off to a private room to discuss how they've tracked Mueller to the warehouse district, and that's probably where the deal is happening. Ollie says the guy with the hood should take Mueller down. (By the way, can't someone just start calling him Arrow already? This "the vigilane" and "the hood" business is old news. Get him a snappy name for the papers!) Dig begins to protest that Ollie can't leave the house before catching on to the idea that Ollie wants him to put on the getup and go out there.
So that's Ollie's plan. Essentially it's the end of the Batman: The Animated Series episode where Hugo Strange discovered Batman's identity
. Just like Dick Grayson posed as Batman while Bruce Wayne stood by, Dig will be Arrow while Ollie's at home partying, under house arrest. Dig doesn't exactly like this being sprung on him like this, but he doesn't want the gang members getting those guns or Ollie going to jail, so he agrees to Robin it up.
At the office, Steele gets a phone call telling him that the security chief he sent to move the yacht wreckage has died in a car crash. Nothing suspicious there!
Laurel arrives at the party and asks Ollie if they can meet somewhere private. They go to his bedroom, which she hasn't been in since a Halloween party in 2005 where she wore "those horrible fishnets." I'm not sure if that's fan service or fan abuse. Anyway, she apologizes for her dad's behavior during the lie detector test and explains that after Sarah's death, she and he both buried themselves in work, to the point their mom left. You know, most people just show up to a party with beer.
Ollie wonders why Laurel doesn't hate him; she says she did, but she wasn't aware of the torture he endured on Purgatory. She asks to see the scars, and Stephen Amell has his most dramatic moment of bare-chestedness in the series so far. Ollie and Laurel make out for a bit, until she remembers that 1) he's a client, but we already threw ethics out the window anyway so what's the big deal and 2) she's (I think) still dating Merlyn. So she leaves.
Another flashback. Ollie's still tied up and bleeding pretty heavily from those cuts. Fyers decides that maybe he doesn't know anything after all and gives Deathstroke the kill order. As if on cue, Proto-Arrow bursts in and starts tussling with Deathstroke. Proto-Arrow manages to stagger Deathstroke long enough to hustle Ollie out of there. That was a pretty nice thing to do, Proto-Arrow. Maybe I've misjudged you.
In The Glades' warehouse district, Mueller, who looks a little bit like a Eurotrash Vince Vaughn, is selling military-grade machine guns to what looks like a Starling City chapter of the Bloods, who seem to be pretty out of their depth. How these guys can possibly afford these weapons is not discussed before Dig-Arrow knocks out the lights. Mueller escapes, but Dig manages to incapacitate the gang members with a few punches. Smartly, he doesn't attempt to fire any arrows, since he almost certainly lacks Ollie's archery training. Sadly, he realizes, just a second too late, he forgot his eye makeup.
Steele has summoned Moira to the office to confront her. He tells her he found the wreckage she was hiding and was planning to move it when the security chief mysteriously died in a car crash. That makes it a just little hard to trust her, he says. She tells him he doesn't know what he's messing with. Apparently not, because they couldn't even wait until their son/stepson was exonerated on multiple charges including murder to talk it out. It's as if they just needed a c-plot or something.
At home, Ollie gets a call from Dig-Arrow (D'Arrow?) that the buy was stopped. A waiter who looks awfully suspicious with that gun he's carrying knocks at the door and asks Ollie if he's alone. Ollie answers the door and fights with the gunman for a bit before Detective Lance arrives to shoot the guy in the back. Maybe Ollie was a really bad tipper, man. Maybe he deserved what that waiter was giving, detective. You consider that?
Downstairs, Detective Lance wryly observes that the fight with the waiter broke the ankle monitor, which is what alerted him to come upstairs. I chuckled. The cops haven't identified the assailant, but Moira, who just arrived, is quick to blame Lance and the undue attention he's brought to Ollie for the attack. But it looks like that attention is over: Someone saw the (taller) hooded vigilante (of a different race) across town, so Ollie's off the hook. That's right. No one could possibly copycat a now-infamous vigilante. Never happened before! Case closed!
Moira heads back to visit Boe again, this time markedly displeased with his attempt to kill Ollie and that thing with the security guy. She says she's been a "good soldier" in this episode's clearest nod to Frank Miller, but threatens, "If any member of my family so much as gets a paper cut, I will burn your entire world to ashes." A magic pair of sunglasses lowers on to Barrowman's face as the words "Deal with it" surround his head.
Ollie's cleaning up at home when he flashes back to Proto-Arrow saying Ollie is stronger than he thought. Proto-Arrow hands Ollie a little bag and leaves with some quick advice about breathing. Then there's a cave-in. That could be trouble.
Back at the Queen House, Laurel pops in to say one of Ollie's polygraph answers struck her as odd. Iron Heights Prison was where Arrow saved her last week (and she says "last week," just like a TV recapper would), but it was also the site of their eighth-grade field trip. But he said he'd never been, and the test reported he wasn't fibbing. More importantly: They took eighth graders to a prison for a field trip? Just what kind of school system does Starling City have, anyway? Was it a Scared Straight kind of thing, or were they just really into terrifying 14-year-olds?
Laurel says this, plus those scars, is proof Ollie could have lied on the questions about being Arrow. Ollie counters by saying he doesn't talk about the torture because people would view him differently -- not as a vigilante, but as damaged. And here I thought the episode title might come from Black Flag reuniting to do a song at the end. "TV Party
Regardless, Ollie argues he's way too weak to be Arrow, which may be his biggest whopper of the episode considering, you know, his abs and stuff. Speaking of those abs, Laurel says they're clearly still attracted to each other, but nothing can happen between them, and leaves.
At the Arrowcave, Dig gives Ollie a stirring speech about the consequences of lies while Steele leaves the house for an indefinite trip to Melbourne. Laurel arrives at a bar to scrape a pickled Detective Lance off a stool. Dig tells Ollie he doesn't realize he has hurt people. But Ollie says he does. Lying hurts him most of all. (It also is how he beat a murder rap, though, so it's got its benefits, too.)
Ollie remembers that there's that arms dealer guy to go deal with, so he does that. It's not clear whether he kills any of the henchmen, but it's strongly implied he murders Mueller. Whew! Everything's back to normal!
This episode broke from the formula in a lot of ways, which made it better in a few regards. It proved that the show doesn't have to be beholden to Ollie's list-o'-names each week to put together an episode, and I even think it's commendable to include just one little snippet of Ollie in Arrow mode at the end (though we did get plenty of Proto-Arrow and D'Arrow). When it worked, the drama surrounding Ollie slipping the noose was pretty effective, too. The storytelling device of the polygraph ended up yielding some interesting moments.
The break in formula also showed some of this show's cracks, though. I'm glad it was Dig who fought those gang members (the first time around, anyway), because if it had been billionaire Oliver Queen fighting those young black men from a bad neighborhood, it would have been...unseemly. Better to keep Ollie's bad guys in the rich jerk and supervillain categories (like Deathstroke, who I'm excited to see more of). The Moira/Steele/Boe subplot was a snooze, and that's too bad, because the metaplot stuff has been some of the most compelling in previous episodes. Plus, the whole thematic push about the consequences of lying just rang hollow. Ollie knows his lying hurts people, but that doesn't mean he's going to change it. The whole Arrow persona is predicated on a lie. You can't really moralize about it, show.
And really: An eighth grade field trip to a prison. Really.
1.2: Honor Thy Father
1.3: Lone Gunmen
1.4: An Innocent Man