Arrow: The Undertaking

Alonzo: "The thing about card counters is that sometimes the work, with a partner."
Felicity: "You're gonna be really upset when you meet my partner."

Well, this one was jam-packed full of plot movement. The biggest of course is... hmmm, I'm really not sure which one was the biggest.

Where should I start? I mean there were at least three huge character and plot developments. Let me start with Malcolm, and his mustache-twirling super villain plan for the Hollows, ahem, Glades. I'm not disappointed, but I kind of just rolled my eyes. It does confirm, to me at least, that he's been influenced by the League of Shadows, because damn, that plot smacks of their involvement. I could almost hear Ras Al Ghul whispering in Malcolm's ear, giving him half-baked motivations for destroying thousands of lives.

That being said, I really liked the flashbacks. I was really glad to see Frank and Walter again, and it was a nice way to bring Walter back without bringing him back, or so I thought. I never thought they would have Oliver not only find out that his mother was a bad guy working with Malcolm to destroy the Glades, but was complicit in Walter's kidnapping. Then they actually had Arrow go and rescue him. That scene in Bludhaven (saving Walter) had some of the best action beats in the entire season, even if it was a bit over the top. Also the reunion scene with the Queen family was really affecting, and I loved Felicity showing up with flowers and Oliver introducing her as a friend.

It was also nice to get a solid glimpse of both Robert Queen and a young Oliver. Actually, the stuff with Oliver was the most fun. Seeing the younger, more selfish version of Oliver interact with Laurel, seeing their chemistry, getting to see her really in love with him was very important to the overall arc. It was a great detail that Laurel was the one that gave him that picture of her that he's been holding onto (on the island) since the beginning of the season (good continuity). Of course, the biggest moment was Oliver finally admitting to her that he still loved her. Her reaction reminded me that Katie Cassidy can actually act.

All of those flashbacks culminated in the send off of the Queen's Gambit. Watching the boat leave for China was sad, knowing what was about to happen to them. It was interesting that Robert was never a bad guy, that the list was the original plan to save the Glades before Malcolm's more radical approach. Malcolm's story about his wife was touching, and John Barrowman did a great job with it. He managed to create sympathy for his reasoning. But at the same time, I felt creeped out by the way he told that heartbreaking story.

I haven't even gotten to the primary mystery, Oliver finally getting a lead on Walter. The whole interaction between Oliver and Felicity, who took charge for the first time, was nearly perfect. I'm not one to praise without reason, but I loved Felicity's foray into the illegal casino. Her purposely getting caught counting cards so that she could get into Alonso's office was very much in character, and how she taunted Alonso about how he wouldn't like her partner made me smile from ear to ear.

I think the resolution for the Dig relationship might have been a bit fast, but it fit. This series really is about growth, and Oliver being able to apologize is a big one. Only it wasn't just an apology about their latest falling out; he gave credit and apologized for his anger about Dig accusing Moira of being involved in the Undertaking. That little bit of continuity was yet another reason this show is becoming so solid. Only two more left this season, I can't wait to see what happens in the finale.

Bits:

No Island stuff, so no resolution for the cliffy from the last episode.

So Frank was the one that betrayed Robert to Malcolm. And here I was sad that Moira got him killed.

Oliver without stubble is far too pretty boy, no wonder they keep him scruffy.

Laurel visited Tommy at Oliver's advice. I really like that they are all being honest except for the big thing that they can't be honest about Oliver's secret identity.

The music to the hallway beat down scene (where Arrow rescues Walter) worked really well with the scene. I don't notice the music much, but I've never felt that it was out of place for the series. That in and of itself is a compliment to how well it's scored.

I liked the moment between Moira and Thea, even though it left Thea pretty much stagnant plot-wise in this episode. I expect more in the next two.

Oliver calling Rebecca (Laurel's sister) as Laurel is walking towards him to say goodbye illustrated how much he's changed. I couldn't imagine him doing that now.

Robert's demon is a very human one. He was trying to get something done in the Glades and a dirty politician tried to shake him down for money. Things got bad and Robert accidentally killed him. It makes his story fit into the bigger picture, and I'm genuinely surprised that he was basically a good guy.

Laurel and Felicity meeting was cute, and I could see a touch of jealousy in Laurel. I guess they really are going for the Oliver/Laurel romance finally.

Malcolm and Oliver talking at the hospital was full of half said things and insinuation. It was as if they were sizing each other up.

Quotes:

Oliver: "Stay focused, please. I'll be with you the entire time."
Felicity: "Thanks, it feels really good having you inside me. And by you I mean your voice, and by me I mean my ear, I'm gonna stop talking right now."
Oliver: "That would be my preference."

Yet another very good episode. I'm a little afraid to say it before the finale, but I think this show is finally getting close to reaching the potential I saw at the beginning. It still isn't quite where it could be, but it's closing the gap to get there fast.

4 out of 4 Hallways of knocked out henchmen.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.

7 comments:

Nadim said...

I have no idea why but this was my favorite episode of the season! (or it at least ties The Odyssey).

Everything came together beautifully and it's wonderful to see Olivie before the crash. His transformation has been marvelous to watch!

In addition, am I the only one who is invested in Laurel and Ollie? I know many people hate them online, but I'm really rooting for them as a couple which explains why I loved this episode so much and his final declaration. Stephen KILLED that scene on the verge of a breakdown!

J.D. Balthazar said...

I actually do like the idea of Oliver and Laurel together, but with one massive conceit, she needs to know the truth. Without that one huge detail, it'll never work. I simply can't imagine the writers revealing his secret to Laurel this early on, although I would be thrilled if they do.

Stephen Amell has been impressing me lately, I'm not sure when Oliver became one of my favorite characters, but I think that has a lot to do with his performance.

I totally agree, Oliver's final declaration was one of the best moment's in the episode, but I think I liked her reaction more. She displayed like a dozen conflicting emotions in a second, and that was just really impressive to me.

Austin said...

Speaking of continuity, there was a HUGE continuity error in this episode. Oliver shows up at the hospital clean-shaven for some reason and then shows up at Diggle's with his usual stubble/beard. What a magical beard lol. I know Stephen Amell probably filmed the hospital scenes right after the flashbacks, but couldn't they either kept him shaved for the Diggle scene or waited to film the hospital scene until he grew the stubble? I know TV filming schedules are what are they are, but the difference was jarring.

Freeman said...

Really cool episode. I enjoyed seeing truly wimpy Ollie. That was a lot of fun.

I liked that hallway beatdown, though it always mystifies me when he just kinda slaps the baddies in the face with his bow and they utterly pass out. Probably my biggest beef was in the beginning when the henchman unloaded like 8 rounds into the center of the briefcase Ollie had. I wasn't aware Ollie had become Wonderwoman.

I'm with you on that one J.D. on the confession. I was actually impressed with Laurel's performance during that confession. Even though her "Why?" right before that felt super forced. I totally rolled my eyes when she said it. No wonder she hasn't noticed that Ollie is the Hood yet.

Also wasn't the Blue Beetle shoutout cool with the mention of the Ted Kord fundraiser? I wonder...

J.D. Balthazar said...

Austin, nice catch I totally missed that one. Although I remember thinking that his stubble was a lot shorter than normal in that scene.

Freeman, the hallway beatdown really was over the top no denying that, but the intensity and just sheer style makes up for it in my opinion. Unfortunately my DC knowledge doesn't extend to the Blue Beetle so I missed that one. Although at this point, I have no idea who they're going to add in season 2.

I think Laurel has a really bad case of Lois Lane-itis. She can't see anything she doesn't want to see when it comes to her hero. I forgive it, because of the genre (but I hope they don't stretch it out too much longer at this rate).

Thank you both for your great comments.

Freeman said...

Agreed on the hallway beatdown. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially when Ollie gave the dude a nice skull massage on the wall at the end. I actually rewound that scene cuz of the utter bamf-ness of it all. Reminded me of Oldboy.

Yeah I'm not a big Blue Beetle guy myself, but he's always cropping up nowadays so I'm aware of him in the most minimal of ways. He's definitely one of the more superheroey superheroes, so I doubt they'd actually put him in this series. That is...unless they tie this series into Man of Steel.

ChrisB said...

Your pull quote was my favorite line of this episode, maybe the entire show to date. The look on Felicity's face as she said it was priceless.

And, may I just comment on how glorious she looked in that red dress? As the tech nerd, they keep her pretty dowdy, so the transformation was astonishing.

The fight scene when Oliver was rescuing Walter was one of the best choreographed I have ever seen. I'm not sure who much of it was achieved by actual stunts and how much by film cutting, but it was an astounding piece of film.