Arrow: Blind Spot

Felicity: "You certainly know how to talk yourself out of a victory."
Oliver: "It's a gift."

There's something wrong with Laurel. And it isn't her drug problem.

I spent most of this episode wondering why Laurel doesn't work as a character. I don't think it's the actress, because I've seen Katie Cassidy in other things and I've liked her. It may be the writing, but even marginal characters like Thea and Sin are likeable. So what's the issue? Okay, to be fair I don't dislike Laurel, I just don't care about her at all. So watching her spiral towards rock bottom just doesn't seem to matter much. Still, despite my gripes about her character, this was a better Laurel episode than we've had in a long time.

Sarah confessed to Oliver that Laurel once sent the police to break up a party just so that she didn't have a chance to interact with him before Oliver and Laurel started going out. Was that to protect Sarah? Or was Laurel acting selfishly? Are we seeing Laurel from Oliver's point of view? Is she not really a good person? It's kind of hard to tell at this point. Is Laurel really a central character, is she important? Or is she a long drawn out red herring, designed to throw us off until she's ultimately killed later down the line? I almost hope so, because at least then she'll have a purpose.

Masks played a big part in this episode. Perhaps it is because when you wear a mask, you have a blind spot. Slade's mask finally appeared as he donned the mantle of Deathstroke for the first time and basically completed his transfer from flashback to current timeline. Like Sarah did earlier in the season (although in reverse). It's an interesting storytelling device. Having only Oliver exist in both timeframes at the same time means we don't have to track which character is doing what, and when.

Oliver's mask is a bit more effective at hiding his face, but more symbolically the mask represents his transformation into a hero. He's slowly inching towards the paragon of virtue (not that he needs to be perfect by any means) that all superheroes represent. As I've mentioned before, it's nice that the character arc isn't just forced, that it's being developed in stages. That kind of careful attention to character makes the whole Laurel issue stand out as odd.

Sebastian's mask is clearly much more black and white. Whereas Slade and Oliver use their masks to allow a part of their true nature to come out, with Blood it feels like the mask is his true face and the flesh and blood one is the mask. Case in point, he had to put on his mask to kill his mother. It screams of a psychological divide, that the Politician and the criminal aren't really the same person. Of course it also has a practical purpose, because it was used effectively to fake his death by using officer Daily as a patsy.

Roy of course doesn't wear a mask, but that's sort of the point. He's exposed right now, he's fracturing both in mind and in body, and his secret is causing a wedge between himself and Thea. He went to Sin as a confidant, which was a good choice. Only she can't really help, and it was perfect that Oliver finally stepped up and took responsibility for him. Roy needs training, he needs help. Otherwise he's going to turn into a super-powered monster.

Island Flashback:

With just three players on the island right now, it feels a little empty there. Which is odd considering most of the last season only had Oliver and Slade. Maybe I just miss Shado. Even though I do really like Sarah, we know her time there is limited. So I wonder what will happen after Sarah and Slade are gone? Will we get new characters? Or will it be Oliver alone from that point forward?

When Sarah snuck out of the plane to call Ivo, I at first honestly thought she was buying into his lies, but when she turned on him, he dropped his facade on a dime. I may not be as invested in the flashback scenes now, but at least they are interesting insights into both Oliver and the people that influenced him during his time on the island.

Bits:

Not sure how I feel about the Deathstroke outfit, but at least he's in one now.

Polygraph via Bluetooth. That's novel.

The opening scenes had some terrific photography with the silhouette beneath Blood's mother's bed.

Roy beating that guy into a bloody pulp was upsetting. Sure the guy was a serial monster, and he didn't know his own strength and flew off the handle because of the Mirakuru, but the darkness that it hinted at was an interesting choice. Is Roy going to be a good guy in the long run?

So Laurel was stealing her father's prescription, and finally her pill popping came back and bit her in the butt.

I've said this before, but it strikes me even more now that Thea needs to be in on everything. I can't see a valid reason any more for keeping her in the dark.

Blood showing mercy on Oliver was a groan level chuckle, "Leave him. he's not important." Ha ha ha, right. Still it's curious that Slade isn't telling Sebastian the whole truth. I guess supervillains tend to hug knowledge to their vests, and of course he wants to be the one to hurt Oliver.

Quotes:

Felicity: "Has Roy mentioned anything about the man in the skull mask who injected him?"
Oliver: "Roy's not the kind of guy who is comfortable discussing his feelings."
Diggle: "Not like you and me."

Felicity: "His last name's Blood. That can't be a good sign."
Diggle: "Felicity, he's dedicated his life, risked his life, to help the people of the Glades, and in his spare time he is a murderer trying to create an army of human weapons?"
Felicity: "You're a personal bodyguard who fights crime at night with his billionaire boss. Not a lot of people show their real face in public."

Oliver: "Let me help you."
Roy: "When do we start?"

Really good episode, even with the focus on Laurel.

3 1/2 out of 4 Bluetooth Polygraph Results.
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J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow, The Originals and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.

2 comments:

Freeman said...

C'mon son, Deathstroke looks off the hook. When he went all Crixus on Blood and his lackeys I was smiling like a moron. His outfit reminds me of his look in Arkham Origins. I can't wait to see the showdown with him and Ollie (Roy will probably be there too).

That's an interesting point you brought up with Laurel. Maybe they're just giving her one great swan song before she leaves. This really was the most I've cared about Laurel since pretty much ever. Though Sarah's story about her little two-faced tactics still stuck in my head. I mean sure Ollie from the past doesn't exactly win boyfriend of the year but that was pretty ice-cold on her part. The thing that keeps me invested in Laurel is that whatever horrible thing she may end up in will have dire consequences for Quentin and Ollie.

I dunno if it was the lighting or something in this episode, but Ollie's mask, combined with the hood really give him a cool look. Works much better than the warpaint.

And man, Ivo's one creepy puppy. Makes me wonder if instead of making super robots like in the comics he'll turn some of the successful Mirakuru dudes into Frankenstein-like creations.

I love that Felicity is savvy enough to realize that Blood has a rather too sinister name.

ChrisB said...

This was one of my favorite episodes of the series. I feel as though some of the stories are beginning to come together in really satisfying ways.

I'm pleased that Roy and Oliver seem to be going to work together now and, as you said, the Laurel story worked for me. Interesting idea of her long term arc. I wonder how much of it was the writers dealing with the reality that her chemistry with Oliver and Felicity's are in two different ballparks. Writing to the strengths?