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And it’s here, about half way through its second season, that Arrow begins to show the wear of a 22 episode order. A full season order of over 20 episodes has been the norm on television for years, but recently cable TV has garnered plenty of success with fast-paced, tightly scripted, 10-12 episode seasons. Should we see more programs adapt to these shorter seasons? I’d sure like to, as it would cut out so much of what’s been plaguing Arrow from the very beginning–extraneous drama.

I get it, I really do. Arrow isn’t only a show for comic book fans, or even the ever growing community of superhero fans, but a show that’s doing its best to appeal to a wide audience – fanboys/girls, tweens, anyone who likes a great set of abs. But there are plot threads I’d like to cut out with a rusty blade if I could.

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The first of which is the completely unnecessary and pointless Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) the pill popper. An addiction to prescription drugs has basically become Laurel’s defining characteristic this season, and one with consequences that were finally touched on last night. Her suspicions of Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro) confirmed, Laurel seeks out the help of the D.A.’s office but no one’s interested in investigating Starling City’s mayoral candidate. She’s left only one option–The Arrow (Stephen Amell). Well, not exactly. There was the option of continuing to investigate Blood on her own until she had indisputable evidence he was secretly a cult leader and criminal mastermind. But sure, run to The Arrow with your conjecture, what could go wrong?

Everything, apparently. Still in need of a final bit of evidence that would essentially out Blood as a big ‘ole liar, Laurel and The Arrow stage a nighttime burglary. It’s a senseless move and one that needlessly endangers both of them. First of all, as an assistant D.A. Laurel could have a very easily sought out the file on Blood’s father’s murder herself during business hours. Then there was the genius rent-a-cop who thwarted Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) hacking – that’s two episodes in a row she’s been foiled – and the police response of sending in a S.W.A.T. team armed to teeth to deal with a late night robbery at a records library. How would things have looked were Laurel shot dead searching for a file she’s legally allowed to access? Can you imagine the P.R. required to sweep that under the rug?

Anyway, their escapade is all for nothing because the file’s already been taken. Which in retrospect is kind of obvious. Blood has tried very hard to cover up the fact he murdered his father, so far as to forcibly institutionalize his mother, disguise her as his aunt, only to murder her and blame it on a heart attack. After all that, stealing the only record of his father’s murder isn’t much of a stretch. In reality, all Laurel and Oliver achieved was letting Blood know they’re on his trail, which only allowed Blood to make a preemptive strike and out Laurel as a drug addict. Something that wouldn’t have even been possible if it weren’t true.

See kids, don’t do drugs. Otherwise, no one will believe you when you claim the favorite son of Starling City is a crazed maniac and cult leader because you’ve got the shakes from jonesing for your next fix.

Blind Spot

Laurel’s drug-addled suspicions are brought in to question, but just before doubt sets in Blood orders his brothers to abduct Laurel. Taken to the Starling City Cannery (I totally read it as Canary initially, anyone else?) the “man in the skull mask” harasses Laurel and plays with her perception until The Arrow arrives, in typical fashion, to save her. This is actually a very well done scene with great fight choreography as Blood appears and disappears with ease causing Laurel and Oliver to doubt what they’re seeing. But was Blood even there at all?

In order to achieve the allusion he’s everywhere, Blood must have had multiple men in multiple skull masks throughout the cannery, but this isn’t something Laurel or Oliver suspect. Especially once Laurel unloads her firearm into the back of the “man with the skull mask”, killing him, and once unmasked reveals him to be Officer Daly, one of Blood’s brothers. It’s a frame-up! And pretty excellent one, too. With the “man in the skull mask” dead a false hope sets in. Oliver believes the ordeal to be over and Miracle no longer a threat to the city. Laurel, a proven drug addict who attempted to falsely accuse Blood, is fired from the D.A.’s office.

So… if Blood had a plan all along to discredit any suspicion he wasn’t the “man in the skull mask”, why was it necessary Laurel became addicted to prescription drugs? I don’t know, lazy character development, perhaps?

Speaking of unnecessary material and lazy development, I wanted to scratch my eyes out during every minute of the Roy (Colton Haynes) becoming a super-powered vigilante B-plot. He may no longer be useless, but he’s no less inept. Unfortunately, looks like I’ll have to finally get over my dislike of Roy because guess what? He’s about to become Speedy, or whatever the Arrow-verse spin on that character will be. Only took roughly an entire seasons worth of episodes for him to put that red hoodie to good use.

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But here’s the bright side, Roy becoming a fully fledged crime fighter ups the chances he’ll have his ass handed to him by Deathstroke! That’s right, Slade Wilson (Manu Bennet) finally appeared in the armored, kick ass Deathstroke costume and it was glorious. Sure, it only came at the very end when he reprimanded Blood for almost fucking up all of his hard work to slowly destroy Oliver, but it was magnificent and magical and just enough to rescue what could have been a real turd of an episode.

Also, Manu looks great in a suit. He should wear more suits.

Lastly, the island storyline this episode did very, very little progress events at all. The highlight was a short scene between Oliver and Sara (Caity Lotz) where the two had a heart to heart about their past and Sara revealed Laurel’s been a manipulator from day one. Oh! And Sara may have been banging Ivo (Dylan Neal) while she was his captive, at least that’s what I inferred.

Next week’s episode doesn’t look too promising as The Arrow begins training Roy as his protege. But hey, if this means we’ll see Roy get his butt kicked repeatedly, I’m in.

Arrow airs Wednesday nights at 8pm on the CW.

Category: Comics, Featured, reviews, TV

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