Dig: "Nope. Not even a Myspace account. It was a very dark time."
The Royal Flush Gang is a long-running DC Villain group originally created in 1966. Based on the poker hand of the same name, they are usually a group of five with the King as the leader, although there are numerous versions of the group in comic books, the DC animated universe, and now, for the first time, in live action. My personal favorite version was in Batman Beyond where it was a family of four and the Ace was a giant android.
But I digress. The point is that this is the first villain that I actually was familiar with, and I wasn't disappointed.
Much like the rest of the villains introduced so far (save for Deathstroke), they all seem like humanized versions of their comic-book counterparts. This was by far the most sympathetic I've seen the Royal Flush Gang depicted (from personal experience at least, I am by no means an expert in DC canon). It again served as almost an introduction, save for the fact the King was killed and the group was apparently disbanded. But they didn't mention what happened to Queen and Jack, so perhaps they'll break Ace out of jail later on in the series. I wonder why they didn't include Ten. Maybe the producers didn't feel it was necessary to have five members of the group. As it is, they barely showed Queen and Jack.
I've gone on about the villain, but this wasn't really an episode about the villain, as per usual. They're starting to address what I wanted them to address, which is Oliver's erratic and brutal behavior. With his wonderful interactions with Dig, several baby-steps have been made to bring Arrow out from being a simple vigilante. It's interesting that Oliver doesn't see himself as a hero, and it explains a lot of his actions up until this point. Arrow was never meant to be anything but a persona to exact retribution, and a tool to set the things right that his father set wrong. Perhaps Oliver is beginning to understand that he can fight within the spirit of his father's legacy without dishonoring his memory.
Which brings me to the parallel stories of fathers and sons. Oliver got some new back-story on the island, while King tried to fulfill his son's need to set himself up for life. What was sad was that King wasn't a bad person. He was pushed to become a criminal, although it's true he didn't have to choose that life for himself and his family. I thought the plot wasn't driven home quite well enough to conjure an emotional response, but it was still rather effective.
The rest of our main characters all seemed to be struggling with different versions of a similar problem, how to fix or create the relationships that they want to have. Moira was upset that her connection with Oliver had waned. Thea seems to have a bit of a thing for Tommy, and Tommy has convinced himself that Laurel is the only person that can make him happy. What strikes me, though, is that none of them can see that their perspective on those relationships is flawed. Moira and Oliver are secretly at odds with each other in their ultimate goals. Thea doesn't see how wrong Tommy is for her, and Tommy doesn't see how far out of his league Laurel is. Ya know, I'm starting to really like the way the writers are creating these complicated interpersonal dynamics.
Fringe, Grimm, and Castle alum Currie Graham played King.
I loved Oliver and Diggle doing some Highlander-esqe training at the beginning of the episode.
They mentioned Scott Morgan as the next target, although they quickly switched to the Royal Flush Gang. Maybe we'll see him in the next episode.
Daddy appearing in the cave to tell Oliver that he was failing was sooo Lost.
For the first time, there was some real family interaction between Moira, Thea, and Oliver. I really liked that scene of the three of them laughing and joking. It was another good step in the right direction for the show.
The interactions between Diggle and Oliver are making a difference in how I'm seeing Oliver as a character.
We finally had a cool arrow gadget.
They got that gala planned and set up awfully fast.
Okay, so maybe Tommy's not so bad.
Daddy Queen's notebook was written in invisible ink activated by heat, so I was right! I feel so vindicated!
Felicity: "I should add personal internet researcher for Oliver Queen to my job title. (pause) Happily, I mean."
Dig: "There's more than one way to save this city."
Oliver: "Not for me. Crime happens in this city every day. What do you want me to do? Stop all of it?"
Dig: "Sounds like you have a narrow definition of being a hero."
Oliver: "I'm not a hero."
Laurel: "He's not interested in throwing us a fund raiser. What he wants to have is the first annual attempt to get back into my pants gala."
Carter: "... and the next, there's an agent trying to make me the next Doctor Oz."
Oliver: "Why would he want you to be a wizard?"
Thea: "For all our sakes, start reading US Weekly."
Thea, Dig, and Felicity have most of the best lines, but Laurel and Oliver have a few good ones too.
I'm finally confident that the show is headed in the right direction. I liked this one more than the last few. I feel that the characters are finally coalescing, and the relationships are beginning to gel.
3 and 1/2 out of 4 Playing card hockey masks.