by J.D. Balthazar
Everything was about duality this week, dual personalities, dual personae, and dual methods for being a hero. Oliver is finding out the hard way that being non-lethal has some disadvantages. Of course, his old way of doing things is causing him grief, too.
He's also learning what it is to be human again. Oliver is smiling more, asking about Diggle and Thea, and taking an interest in Roy. He's taking baby-steps towards being a good man, which is probably the whole point. How can he be a hero, a true hero, if he isn't a good person first? It's clear now that the destruction of the Glades is a metaphor for Oliver's path, how his list of targets and narrow focus was more destructive than restorative, that ultimately the cost was the lives of 500 people that had their homes literally fall down on their heads.
That's what Alderman Blood thinks -- that Moira's actions, and by extension Oliver's, created the horrible situation in the Glades. To a degree he's right. Moira was complicit, but she did the right thing when it mattered most and saved hundreds if not thousands of lives. Oliver nearly gave his life to stop the destruction, and still lost a lifelong friend. At least we got some interesting depth with the fact that Oliver can't help the Glades as Moira's son because anything he does will be seen as an act of contrition, and he can't be there as a face for the victims because his other role as the Hood takes up too much of his time.
Unfortunately, I don't think Oliver is able to see the big picture, not like Diggle and Felicity can. Their support, their friendship should be the compass that Oliver uses to judge his actions. They know what he's done, and their opinion should be all that matters. Unfortunately, Laurel's opinion matters too, and she's gone crazyballs with grief. She's so torn up about her affair with Oliver and about Tommy that she's taking things to an extreme.
Laurel blames the Hood for everything that happened in the Glades. She blames him specifically for Tommy's death. Which is ironic, because she actually saw how he died, and saw the Hood leave the scene. Did she think he ran him through with that rebar? How could she possibly believe anything except that he had to watch Tommy die, and there was nothing he could do about it? This isn't making Laurel more likable.
Still, every scene with Oliver and Diggle and Felicity was great, the scenes with Laurel were at least dramatic and well written, and I'm liking Roy and Thea more with every episode. I just wish I could say the same for the B plot involving the Triad stealing supplies off FEMA trucks. Really, stealing much needed supplies from disaster victims? Wouldn't there be troops involved after the first shipment was hijacked?
The bad guys weren't all that impressive, either. I did like the Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), but he didn't really have much of a part beyond being a badass, much like the earlier China White appearances. As for China White, I think she's better off without much dialogue. She came off as wooden and not nearly as cool as she could've been, despite her awesome moment stopping a truck with two knives.
Thankfully, Roy and Thea are finally getting a chance to shine. Roy in the red Mustang waiting for a police call was a lot of fun. (Although wouldn't he have been hurt badly from that car flip?) We also got the first significant scenes between Oliver and Roy, and Roy has officially joined team Arrow as a Glades informant. At least that's some progress. I also really liked that Roy got in Oliver's face twice. Thea is also acting like an adult and I really like what she's doing, but I think she's teetering a little close to being the bitchy girlfriend. I get it, what Roy is doing is dangerous, but from an audience standpoint, we have to root for Roy, and that's not fair to Thea. I also don't like that Roy is lying to her now.
Again not too much on the Island flashback front. We got the aftermath of Oliver killing that guy with a rock; he spent half of those scenes literally with blood on his hands. The love triangle got played up a bit, but I'm starting to wonder if Slade's jealousy is more about Oliver than Shado. Is it a romantic thing? Or is it that he feels Shado makes Oliver weak? It's clear he didn't approve of the love scene by the lake. I really like Shado, though. She's smart, compassionate and wise. Her saying to Oliver that the place doesn't make the person felt very true, and her washing his hands felt restorative
Comic Book Bits:
Bronze Tiger has been a DC character since the mid 70's. His real name in the Comics is Ben Turner, and he has worked with the League of Shadows and the Suicide Squad. He's been a bad guy and an anti-hero, and has even bested Batman in a fight.
The red arrow that Oliver gave Roy is a nice little nod to the Roy of the comics. He started off as the sidekick Speedy, and eventually became a hero of his own called Red Arrow.
I just re-watched the first episode of the series, and Oliver has a dragon tattoo in the exact same place that Shado has her rabbit tattoo. Coincidence?
The final fight between Arrow and Bronze Tiger had some interesting photography, with the crates and the plastic.
Sebastian Blood. What a name.
China White's real name is Chien Na Wei.
Diggle broke up with Carly because his need for revenge was too great and he couldn't love her like she deserved. That's sad
I loved the Felicity plot thread about not wanting to be an executive secretary, even though she needs to stay in close proximity to Oliver so they can maintain their cover. That final moment where she brought him coffee was wonderful, especially when she mouthed; "One."
Oliver: "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you because I should have been. I got wrapped up in my own suffering and I forgot that some other people might be suffering, too."
Diggle: "You know, we're getting dangerously close to hug territory, so I'm going to fall back."
Oliver: "Oh, I'm just lucky Oliver Queen has a reputation for not showing up on time."
Diggle: "You know, I've been meaning to tell you it really weirds me out to no end the way you refer to yourself in the third person like that."
Oliver: "Miss Smoak, would you get my guest and I some coffee?"
Felicity: "You know, I would, Mister Queen but it seems that someone's broken our coffee maker. Violently."
Felicity: "I worked very hard to get where I am. and it wasn't so I could fetch you coffee."
Diggle: "Well, it could be worse. My secret identity is his black driver."
Oliver: "I need a girl Wednesday."
Felicity: "It's Friday! And the answer is no!"
Roy: "Just so you know, the real bad guys are getting away."
Thea: "I didn't see you come in."
Oliver: "I had a secret entrance installed when I ran the club. Kidding."
This was a good one, and continues the quality I've come to expect in this series. The writing is better, the plots are dense and well thought out. I just wish there wasn't a need to throw Laurel under the bus. I hope that this direction with her character will resolve, and soon. Oh, and damn that was a super duper cliffhanger.
3 out of 4 Red Arrows.