Arrow: Dead to Rights (Season 1 Episode 16)

arrow-tvBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Feb. 27th, 2013

I have to give credit where credit is due: the writers for Arrow should take a bow. Somehow they have been able to balance intricate plot details, believable and flawed characters and their development, flashbacks, multiple story lines, and tons of action, while keeping the show from bogging down and clearly separating it from fluff like Beauty and the Beast. In many ways it resembles one of my other favorite shows, Revenge. It’s no wonder that Arrow is the only new show this year that I’m still following. In this episode, once again there’s so many intricate plot details, so much character inner conflict, that the writers show a deft hand.

Of all the interactions between Oliver and other characters after his return from the island, only his relationship with Tommy survived unscathed, as the two slipped back into best buddy mode, even though Tommy is dating Laurel. If anything, Oliver (and Malcolm Merlin) transformed Tommy from a irresponsible playboy to a serious, responsible adult. But now that relationship is battered as well when Oliver is forced to reveal his hooded identity to save Malcolm Merlin. Not only could this form a wedge between Oliver and Tommy and drive Tommy closer to being an adversary – it also speaks to the complexity of the characters. Malcolm Merlin is on The List, an adversary that Oliver has battled, yet Oliver now tries to save Malcolm’s life, unknowingly protecting his enemy from Oliver’s own mother! And when Malcolm learns that the hood saves him, you can see the disbelief on his face. Does this change Malcolm’s view of Arrow? And now that Moira has failed, she’s in more danger than ever from the man Oliver saved. These intricate, interweaving threads are what makes the show outstanding.

There are other moments of the show that are not quite as interesting but are leading up to something. The flashback on the island reveals that Fyers has a rocket launcher, but what’s he going to use it for. And Laurel’s mother shows up insisting that Sarah, Laurel’s sister, is still alive. How the heck can that be true? Overall, another outstanding episode. Writers, pat yourselves on the back…

Arrow: “Dodger” (Season 1 Episode 15)

arrow-tvBroadcast date:  Feb. 20th, 2013

Another solid episode of Arrow, with a new villain (Dodger), Felicity joining the team and letting her hair down (wow!) and the introduction of Roy Harper, who was green Arrow’s sidekick in the comics. Wonder if he’ll be added as a regular at some point? Felicity and Diggle convince Oliver that he should help other people, not just those on the list, so they target the Dodger, a thief that uses hostages to commit his robberies by strapping bombs to them. When Felicity enters the picture and helps set a trap, she becomes his latest recipient. Meanwhile Thea falls for Roy Harper after he steals her purse, and Moira enlists the help of China White and the Triad to take out Malcolm Merlyn. There’s also a disastrous set of dates between Diggle and Carly, not to mention Oliver and McKenna, and there’s still time to squeeze in an island flashback where Oliver must go back to the cave for medicine and finds a “captive”. Not knowing if the man is lying or telling the truth, you can see how he was starting to be shaped into Arrow by this experience. It’s a busy episode that doesn’t disappoint…

Arrow: “The Odyssey” (Season 1 Episode 14)

arrow-tvBroadcast date: Wednesday, Feb. 13th, 2013

The Odyssey is one of my favorite episodes of the season so far. As Oliver staggers off after being shot by his mother, he enlists the help of Felicity. Felicity takes him to the hideout, where Diggle works on saving his life. During this time we flash back to the island, and the flashback dominates the episode in a big way. We see Oliver get trained by Slade, we hear Fyers’ benefactor on a telephone, and we are introduced to Shado, Yao Fei’s daughter, who appears to have a much different role here than she does in the comics, although we are shown both Shado’s and Oliver’s shoulder dragon tattoos for a reason. The name of the episode comes from the code phrase used for the airplane landing on the island, which is out of the pages of the Odyssey, a book Oliver is familiar with, and makes him finally of some use. We know Oliver won’t escape the island yet, since he hasn’t done his bow training with Yao Fei yet or interacted with Shado.

There were also several humorous quotes in this episode:

Slade: “I’m impressed. You didn’t puke.”

Oliver: “I just swallowed it!”

And this:

Oliver: “I’m trapped on an island and my only friend is named Wilson.”

So in other words, we get more Felicity and she joins the team in a self-limiting capacity, we get some humor, and we also get lots of kick-butt action on the island flashbacks. Awesome episode!

Arrow: “Betrayal” (Season 1 Episode 13)

arrow-tvBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Feb. 6th, 2013

We’re halfway through the first season of Arrow, and we’ve reached a sort of crossroads. Will Oliver bring Felicity into the fold? How will Oliver handle his mother’s betrayal? Will Deathstroke become Oliver’s nemesis? Will Tommy still be at odds with his father and friends with Oliver by season’s end? Will Laurel change that? Will Thea turn her life around? Will Diggle eventually walk away? What’s going to happen to Walter? Will The Count return as a deranged maniac? Can Quentin and Laurel mend their fences? Will Quentin ever come see the value of The Arrow? There are so many questions, and thus so many directions, that this show can take, it’s scary. They can drive it into the ground, or they can raise it to new heights. It’s going to be fun following the second half.

This episode was awesome in a couple ways. First, Quentin is realizing his obsession with The Archer is costing him his relationship with Lauren. Second, Felicity approaches Oliver with the book and the connection to Walter’s disappearance. It’s cool to think that Felicity might join Diggle as part of Oliver’s team. Third, Oliver finally learns of his mother’s activities, and all the denials in the world can’t make it go away. It is an exciting episode, including a flashback to the island that reveals Oliver is going to be trained by Deathstroke. The cliffhanger ending leaves me excited for the next episode!

Arrow: “Vertigo” (Season 1 Episode 12)

arrow-tvBroadcast date: Wednesday, Jan. 30th

I was really looking forward to this week, since last week’s episode set up this episode to be a confrontation between Oliver and the drug dealer who is creating the drug that nearly killed Thea. And I wasn’t disappointed. Seth Gabel puts just enough scene-stealing ham into his character, channeling a mix of Joker and Scarecrow to create a hip young villain. Thea’s character has now gone from annoying to outright stupid, saying she’s willing to go to jail so her mom will suffer…come on, writers! Please do something with this character!

The showdown at the end was a good, although it never really felt like “The Count” stood a chance against Oliver; however, it looks like he will resurface at some point in the future, since this show has no problem killing off it’s villains. I was a really good episode, other than Thea’s actions (which at least offer a glimmer of hope)…

Arrow: “Trust but Verify” (Season 1 Episode 11)


Broadcast date:  Wednesday, Jan. 23rd, 2013

This episode is all about trust. Who trusts unconditionally; who doesn’t trust anyone; who trusts only what they can see. With a common element running through all the stories, it is a very tight, solid episode. A series of armored car hits leads to an old military buddy of Diggs named Gaynor. While Gaynor’s name shows up on “the list”, Diggs doesn’t believe it. This leads to trust issues between Diggs and Oliver. At the same time, Thea distrusts her mother, and Oliver confronts Moira about her perceived infidelity. Moira distrusts Malcolm and asks for proof that Robert is alive. Malcolm and Tommy have dinner and a showdown in which Tommy expresses his distrust of his father. And finally there’s the shocker – a flashback to Oliver on the island, betrayed by his ally.

Gaynor’s innocence or guilt is in question all the way to the conclusion. And Thea flips out, taking a drug, wrecking her car, and getting arrested. Her character so far is really annoying, but this has set up a big confrontation for the next show. It should be a good one! This episode is well done, with a common thematic element and good entertainment value, setting up intrigue for next week…

Arrow: “Burned” (Season 1 Episode 10)

arrow-tvBroadcast date: Wednesday, Jan. 16th

I’ve only followed two new shows in 2012 – Arrow and Revolution, catching occasional shows of Elementary, and I am very close to walking away from Revolution. It’s been a bad year for new TV.  But so far I’ve really enjoyed Arrow. Fans of the comic book may or may not enjoy the show, depending on how fanatic they are about the story matching the series. I kind of like the low-end Dark Knight vibe the show gives off despite its flaws. Oliver Queen was a spoiled rich kid who went on a cruise with his dad and his girlfriend’s sister. When the ship went down, Oliver was the lone survivor, who washed up on a remote island. Presumed dead, Oliver survived for 5 years, after which he returned to society and his family, which included his sister and mother. Oliver promised his father, a member of a secret crime society, to take down the criminals on a list his dad possessed, so Oliver turns crime fighter with a hooded cloak and bow & arrow. Through the season we see Oliver take down some of the names on the list, while drawing the ire of the criminal organization he threatens. He gains an assistant, Diggs, and tries to reconnect with his family and his old girlfriend, Lauren, but this proves harder than surviving on the island (those scenes are presented as flashbacks). Lauren’s father is police sergeant Quinton Lance (Paul Blackthorne of The Dresdin Files and The River), who wants to take out this new vigilante. In the previous episode a mysterious “Black Arrow” figure beat the crap out of Oliver – turns out he’s the head of this crime syndicate and the father of another character. The main flaw I see so far is Oliver comes back as a skilled hacker after being on an isolated island for 5 years. But maybe that will be explained in a flashback…

In “Burned”, firefighters are dying in what seems like accidents, but Lauren does some digging on behalf of a friend and discovers facts that suggest murder. Her father is of no help, so she steals a phone from evidence that belonged to the vigilante and gives him a call. Oliver vows to help, but struggles to regain his edge following his fight with Black Arrow. It turns out fighting on an island to survive is easy when you have nothing to lose, but now that family and friends are in the picture, Oliver has a lot to lose and it’s in his head. We also get a flashback to the island that shows Oliver taking his first life. In the end, the guy killing firefighters gets his, but Detective Lance now has a bead on Oliver. It’s not the best episode, but it’s not horrible. The family drama can be a bit much at times, but it is the CW network, so that’s expected. So I’m still watching…