Arrow: Darkness on the Edge of Town

Oliver: "Roy, we haven't met. I'm Thea's disapproving older brother."

Dark Arrow killing everyone at Unidac Industries was pretty horrible. Papa Merlyn is just a total over the top, mustache twirling super-villain. He's been built up as the big bad all season, and I really have no idea if he's going to survive the next episode, but I love the commitment to creating a season long villain. That's the kind of planning that my favorite shows use frequently, and this show is quickly becoming one of them.

So a manmade earth quake, huh. Why do I have the feeling that'll cause more damage than Malcolm is intending? I'm kind of torn. On one hand I don't want the villain to kill thousands of people. On the other, wouldn't it be bold if they went there? At least the reveal of Malcolm's true identity to Oliver was kind of amazing. The arrow catch was totally impossible, but also absolutely awesome. That fight was also really well done, and wow, Malcolm knows the truth about Oliver. Again, I wonder if Malcolm is not long for the world... I hope not, because I don't want to say goodbye to John Barrowman so soon.


On the hero front, we had several big developments. Team Arrow set up Moira and used Dig as a stand-in for Arrow to interrogate her. It put Moira and Oliver's relationship on thin ice, and gave him a solid reason to be angry at her publicly. Which is good, because I doubt he would've been able to hold that in for very long. I also thought the lighting in that scene was very well done, using a single greenish hued bulb made Dig's Arrow very imposing. The use of green is very prevalent on the show, but it is kind of subtle. I never feel overwhelmed by the color, unlike in Smallville where the red and blue was omnipresent.

After that, the team went on a simply delightful break-in at Merlyn HQ. I loved every minute of it, from the banter to the roles they all took. They worked like a group of savvy spies, and it was just so much fun to watch. I'll ignore the lack of fallout from Dig's very brief departure from the group, because I imagine that will come up again in the future. Of course it had to be Felicity in peril, not that she was in danger for long. I loved the Star Wars rope swing, Dig coming to the rescue, the Belly Buster with knockout drugs, and pretty much every dialogue exchange throughout the entire sequence. There's a reason Felicity got bumped to series regular. I've said it before, but she's my favorite character, bar none.

I did feel like they shoved Tommy into the episode a little, although he had a couple of significant moments. In yet another reference to The Dark Knight, Tommy said "Why so serious?" to Oliver when he came in. A subtle nod to the Joker, who is Batman's greatest villain. Was that another hint that Tommy is going in that direction? I know I ask this question every week, but they keep dropping hints. I'm not sure if I want him to go that way, or buck the obvious and choose a different path. I like Tommy now, so I really don't want to see him break bad. Still, that moment where he saw Oliver and Laurel together had 'tipping point' written all over it. Is that the singular moment that pushes him into darkness?

Speaking of Laurel and Oliver, I'm really surprised the writers went there already. I honestly didn't expect them to hook up this season. Of course it makes total sense, Oliver thinks he's done with his alter-ego after The Undertaking. Of course that would be the end of the series, so I bet something is going to change his mind. Maybe it'll be Roy, who has developed a bit of an obsession with Arrow. It wasn't just inspiration that rubbed off on him when Arrow rescued him from the Saint, it was a desire to emulate him.

Of course Roy Harper is Green Arrow's sidekick in the comics. It feels a bit early for that kind of character dynamic, but at the same time it could be a way of humanizing Oliver next season. Either way, Roy's behavior is not exactly healthy. He stole a car to track the cop's investigation on Arrow, then asked Thea to use her job influence to get information on the Dark Archer. Finally, his single minded obsession forced Thea to a point where she couldn't take it, and she broke up with him. It's an interesting route the writers are taking with the character, and I think I like what they're doing with him.

So after two weeks without much Island stuff, we got a lot in this one, yay! So Fyres's plan is to destabilize the Chinese government by bringing down commercial airlines until no one will fly into the country anymore, thus crippling its economy. Sounds League of Shadows-esqe to me. The whole episode was leading up the final moment where Fyres used Yao Fei as a scapegoat (posing as an active member of the Chinese military) so that planes going down would look like an internal rebellion instead of an external terrorist, then he promptly shot him in the head. Damn, that was shocking, I mean I really didn't expect it at all. I should've seen it coming when Fyres shot Slade and Shado, though.

Why did Fyres only hit Oliver? Was it because he doesn't perceive him as a threat? That's probably how Yao Fei managed to put a knife in Oliver's hand, which I bet will come into play in the next episode. Lastly, who was the woman in the red heels? My DC comics knowledge is stretched to the limit on this one. There are literally dozens of DC Comic-inspired female villains to choose from, if I had to make a guess... maybe Talia Al Ghul? Probably not, although wouldn't that be fun?

Bits:

Windows 8 product placement again. This time it was very obvious.

Okay, I'll admit it finally, Moira is an interesting character.

Walter filed for divorce, which was totally expected, but very cool.

Quotes:

Felicity: "The last time the vigilante paid your mom a visit, you got shot, and I got to play doctor with you. Ah, brain thinks of the worst way to say things."

Oliver: "Mr. Andrews get his lunch?"
Felicity: "One Belly Buster with benzodiazepine, hold the mayo."

Oliver: "Don't look down."
Felicity: "Too late. I should mention I'm afraid of heights. Which I just learned."

Oliver: "Felicity, hold onto me tight."
Felicity: "I imagined you saying that under different circumstances... very platonic circumstances."

Felicity: "Yes!" (raises fist into the air) "Wow, I really do do that."

Dig: "Lets go, Barbie. Your new last name ain't gonna be Merlyn."
Felicity: "But I love him! He's my man!"

Yet another really solid episode, which progressed numerous plots successfully, set up events for the final episode, and still managed to be coherent and fun. That's a good episode in my book.

3 1/2 out of 4 Belly Buster burgers laced with benzodiazepine.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely loved this ep ! Conpletely agree with your review in that arrow has also become one of my fav shows. My guess on the villan wud be the red queen which would b a good link with deadshot and the suicide squad. But it prob wont be the direction they take. Love your reviews i eagerly await them after every ep of arrow. Keep up the good work !

-Nathan

Austin said...

Solid episode, though a couple of instances of bad writing irritated me (Supernatural suffered from this this week, too). How cliche was that moment when Tommy saw Laurel and Oliver in the window? All that was missing was him holding some flowers. Very bad writing there. Why the heck were the curtains open where everybody on the street could see? Also, the ease in which they infiltrated the Merlyn building was kind of absurd. Parts of the episode felt like lazy writing. But overall, I enjoyed it, especially the fight scene.

TJ said...

Love love love this show. It has become one of those shows that I am really looking forward to seeing each week. I love it when that happens. And I truly didn't expect this show to deliver so much when I started watching it last autumn.

Great episode, still, I do feel the demise of John Barrowman is coming next week. I don't want that. But it makes sense. Then Tommy can hate Oliver even more and become season 2's villain...

MischievousNinja said...

I'm guessing the woman is Amanda Waller.

Hopefully, a better version than the one in Smallville. I have faith in this show to do most characters right :)

Freeman said...

Oho! the stakes have been raised once again!

Unfortunately it's become painfully obvious that they're using a stunt double for all of Merlyn's action scenes since in the Dark Archer sequences that showed his face, the outfit looked like a saggy grocery bag on him. And during the fight scenes, in all of the heavy action moments, his face was conveniently obscured. Seriously, in the scenes that had the Dark Archer just wearing the mask he was practically a mound of muscles.

Whatever, that's just a nitpick. I particularly enjoyed our team's caper and the flashback. Fyres is delightfully diabolical, though I'm not sure just how effective his plan would be in real life.

The Red Arrow's always been a bit of a bad boy, even as a superhero, which is basically why he eventually became Arsenal. So an interesting dynamic between Roy and Ollie would be Ollie always trying to curb Roy's more aggressive tendencies. Even have an eventual sub-plot where Roy does become Arsenal if they felt so inclined.

Also, another cross-over reference in the form of the Ferris plane that Fyres is planning to shoot down. Ferris Aircraft is the group that The Green Lantern, Hal Jordan works/worked for. I heard they're even using the symbol from the recent movie. Take that for what you may.

tricksterson said...

The mention of a man-made earthquake and youhan Merlyn thinks, has me wondering if they're going to go "No Mans Land" next season, which would be cool. In that arc Gotham city is hit with a massive earthquake which destabiilizes the city government, and, combined with some kind of disease outbreak, results in the entire city being quarantined by the federal government and left to it's own devices which in turn results in it becoming very Escape From New Yorkish with of course the addition of the Joker, the Penguin, Poison Ivy, etc.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Tricksterson, that is an amazing idea that I truly wish they would do. That would open up SO many dramatic possibilities. Think of the villains that could come out of it, people losing their minds, Arrow and Quentin working together to save the city. It could be an amazing second season.

Freeman said...

Not sure if the higher ups would have the guts to allow something like that though. There wouldn't be enough space for Roy and Thea to make googly eyes at each other. It'd be friggin' awesome though. I feel like Arrow's rogues gallery isn't nearly impressive enough yet to keep such a concept going.

I'm just spitballing here, but maybe in a later season when there's more villains and vigilantes floating around, Tommy will keep his father's dream alive. Mr. Merlyn will die in the Glades and Tommy will blame Ollie and the Glades for his suffering. Re-enact the Undertaking. Bam! Drama! Maybe instead of having Tommy be a villain that's Ollie's physical equal, he can be his intellectual superior a la Lex Luthor.

ChrisB said...

One thing this show does very well is the shocking reveal. I gasped at the end. That is a twist I never saw coming.

Like you, I loved the whole spy caper. The three of them together are so much fun to watch. Felicity is a dream addition to the team.