You may have noticed – or not, it’s hard to tell – that last week’s episode of Arrow wasn’t reviewed due to my being out of town (at Gallifrey One! Look for my convention recap this weekend.). And what a shame, too, since last week’s “The Odyssey” was Arrow‘s best episode in weeks. It benefited, like I predicted it would, from more screen time for Manu Bennet‘s Slade Wilson, the inclusion of Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) properly into Team Arrow, and some real answers about what happened on the island between Oliver (Stephen Amell), Slade, and Yao Fei (Bryon Mann). For one, Yao Fei has completely switched allegiance to Fyers and his mercenaries because they’re holding his daughter hostage.
But no, that’s not the episode I’m covering today. This week’s episode was “Dodger,” and it’s a return to the tired villain of the week formula sandwiched between both Ollie and Diggle’s (David Ramsey) sorry attempts at romantic entanglements. And no, unfortunately not with each other. A shame because at least that would have been interesting!
Clearly, Arrow is confused about what to do with their weekly villains, usually rendering them pointless, and it’s a waste because they’ve managed to cast some great guest stars in the roles. This week’s no exception with Battlestar Galatica‘s James Callis appearing as a jewel thief called “The Dodger” who utilizes bomb collars on hostages forcing them to commit the crime and keeping his hands clean. Callis is good, but again, terribly underused. I can sort of see what they’re trying to do, slowly building up Arrow‘s own rogues gallery, but to make these villains even the slightest bit interesting they need to spend more time developing them. Not smoosh their introductory story in with an episode already packed with island flashback drama, romantic drama, and more Moira (Susanna Thompson) and “the undertaking” drama. It’s too much.
Plus, this episode’s romantic subplots, of which there were many, were tiresome and bland. McKenna Hall (Janina Gavankar) returned to work on “The Dodger” case, but all she really did was serve as a romantic interest for Ollie, only to have their burgeoning relationship unnecessarily complicated when Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) assigns her to the vigilante case. Ugh. I guess this is the kind of plot development expected from a CW show, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Dig finally makes a move on his deceased brother’s ex-wife and it’s rather sweet, for about a minute, then the ghost of the dead brother looms large and things again become unnecessarily complicated. Of course, I mean “ghost of dead brother” figuratively. Had they actually dealt with Dig’s brother returning from the dead or haunting them the storyline would have been vastly improved.
Only two things of note happened this week: during his time on the island we saw Oliver grapple with the moral ambiguity of leaving a man for dead and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) was introduced. One of these served the show’s overall plot well and helped in developing Ollie’s code as a vigilante. Can you guess which? Let’s put it this way, Roy’s introduction was bland and uneventful. All I can see coming from it at the moment is another foolish relationship, this time between him and Thea (Willa Holland), and if and when he becomes Ollie’s sidekick – he’s already a proven student of parkour, like all purse snatching teens from the wrong side of the tracks – he’ll be Speedy, not Thea, which has me a little pissed. Because of reasons. Mia Dearden reasons that I can lament about another time.
Back to Oliver and his ambiguous moral code about killing, we were shown the first inklings of him coming to terms with taking a life. With Slade suffering from an infection brought on a gunshot wound during last week’s episode, Oliver goes back to the cave where he first met Yao Fei is search of some “super herbs” Fei used to heal him when he first arrived on the island. I shit you not, “super herbs.” It’s the MacGuffin-est of all MacGuffins since Avatar‘s unobtainioum. At the cave he discovers a prisoner of Fyers and must make the decision to either free the man, possibly jeopardizing his and Wilson’s mission and whereabouts, or leaving the man to be killed. He leaves him, showing the first signs of his willingness to let someone die in order to keep himself and those important to him safe. And besides, just about everyone he’s trusted on this island has ended up betraying him so trusting a complete stranger at this point would be a tough call either way. It’s made evident this ambiguity Oliver has about taking a life will continue to be a point of division between him and Diggle, and now, Felicity, as well.
– Felicity Smoak as a full-fledged team member is fun. She brings her technological know-how to the team, legitimately, and her ability to see past bullshit and speak honestly is welcomed. Especially between those two besotted idiots.
– Moira is rethinking her involvement in “the undertaking” and seeks out China White (Kelly Hu) to take down Macolm Merlyn (John Barrowman). I already cannot wait for this confrontation. Plus, someone introduced China to some styling tips. Just check out those soft waves!
– Not enough Manu Bennet. Needz moar.
– There were already way too many Windows product placements, but now with Felicity as a full time member of the team, we’re being inundated with them.
Next week not only promises showdowns between China and Macolm, and Tommy and The Hood, but we see the return of a villain I had thought grossly misused and wasted. Happy to see him back in action and not gone in a one and done episode.
Arrow airs on the CW, Wednesday nights at 8pm.