Since its return from a mid-season break Arrow has been mediocre at best. It’s not that their episodes have been bad, but lackluster. So much time was spent in the first half of the season building the conspiracy around the death of Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) father, his mother, Moira’s (Susanna Thompson) involvement, and the motivations of the “Well-Dressed Man”; later revealed to be Tommy’s (Colin Donnell) father, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), even later revealed to be the Dark Archer. What’s happened to all that? It’s been relegated to the B-plot as we’ve watched Ollie take on a sunburned fireman seeking vengeance and a two-bit drug dealer with fantasies criminal grandeur.
This week’s villain is Dr. Whale– I mean, Cyrus Vanch played by Once Upon a Time‘s David Anders and I had hopes he’d step up and become the villainous element Arrow‘s been lacking. I was wrong, he’s gone by episode’s end. It was a strong start, though, Ander’s clearly relishing the part of the homicidal and recently released on a technicality Vanch. He even has a moment where it seems he’s outsmarted The Hood through something a simple as counting arrows.
What Vanch didn’t count on was the timely arrival of Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne), who’s basically J. Jonah Jameson the cop at this point as he’s completely obsessed – on the verge of deranged, really – with catching The Hood. Lance and The Hood form an uneasy alliance to rescue Laurel (Katie Cassidy) from Vanch, and it saddens me to see Laurel used as the damsel in distress. Especially after they’ve done a very good job proving the girl can handle herself. Please see exhibit A:
Funnily enough, this scene of Laurel dishing out quite the ass-kicking to her kidnappers – though it doesn’t stop her from being kidnapped – comes right after Crixus– I mean, Slade Wilson played by Spartacus‘ Manu Bennet admonishes pathetic, island Ollie with, “To say you fight like a girl would be a compliment.” Ha, clever editing is clever. And yes, he is Slade Wilson, but no, he’s not Deathstroke. At least not yet, or maybe not always. Honestly, it’s a little confusing. Wilson reveals he’s an Australian Intelligence operative and that he and his partner, the other dude running around in a Deathstroke mask, came to the island to rescue Yao Fei (Byron Mann). Whether he’s telling the truth or not is hard to tell, but what’s obvious is Bennet is a welcomed addition to the island flashback storyline. It’s simply a joy to watch him abuse Ollie, both physically and verbally.
And finally, bringing everything full circle with Arrow‘s over-arching conspiracy, Oliver confronts his mother about THE LIST. That fails beautifully because she denies everything and tosses the book in the fire. But after Diggle (David Ramsey) – Oliver’s personal Jiminy Cricket and the only one of show actually accomplishing anything – discovers evidence linking Moira with whatever the eerily sounding “the undertaking” is, Ollie confronts her again. This time crashing through her office window as The Hood. Hmm, I wonder if Moira will be the one to realize her son is Starling City’s vigilante or will the gimmicky voice changer work on her, too?
- Crixus– dammit, I mean Manu Bennet is a treat. His scenes are short, but they leave you craving more. And the twist they’ve done on this whole “is he/isn’t he Deathstroke” thing is intriguing and inventive.
- Diggle is quickly becoming a stand out character, and sometimes makes you wonder if he’d make a better Hood. For one, he can tell a far more convincing lie than Ollie ever could.
- I’ll never tire of seeing Laurel kick the crap out of someone. I can only wish they’ll give her more reason to in the future. Maybe in some fishnets?
- This weekly villain thing is becoming old. If you’re bringing in actors like Anders who can actually make something out of the paper thin character you’ve given them, let them hang around a little longer.
- The soap opera-ness of the Oliver/Laurel/Tommy is getting old, please, nix it. That being said, I’d be okay with you nixing Tommy all together.
- Sitting through ads for The Vampire Diaries, The Cult, The Carrie Diaries and every other awful CW show. Seriously, this is why people are pirating.
Next week Arrow returns with “The Odyssey,” and judging from the promo, I don’t think Moira guesses The Hood’s true identity,
Or, I don’t know, maybe she does. Arrow airs Wednesday nights at 8pm on the CW.