Two weeks ago, Arrow dropped some serious bombshells. Not only did Slade (Manu Bennet) continue to wage war on Oliver (Stephen Amell), but he revealed to Thea (Willa Holland) her true parentage and told Laurel (Katie Cassidy) The Arrow’s secret identity. Last night’s episode mostly dealt with the repercussions of those bombshells, but the progression of events plodded along in such a way it was difficult to ever really appreciate any developments. There was simply too much going on in “The Man Under The Hood” to give any of its interesting threads the time and energy required.
In a way, it felt as if there were a list of things needing covered and this episode simply served to check off the boxes. Slade needs a prototype bio-transfer to create his Mirakuru-infused army–check. Thea needs to have an existential/identity crisis–check. Laurel needs to very slowly make the realization what Slade told her is true, and also put two and two together that The Arrow’s mysterious, blonde partner is her recently returned from the dead sister, Sara (Caity Lotz)–check. Turn Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) into even more of a Jim Gordon clone by having him refuse to learn The Arrow’s secret identity–check. We need a new reason to give a damn about Roy (Colton Haynes)–check. Introduce the audience to a pair of obnoxious scientists from S.T.A.R. Labs who will be recurring characters on The Flash series in the most awkward and forced manner–check. And finally, give Slade a reason to dose his number two, Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) with Mirakuru, because there clearly aren’t enough super-powered villains for this “grounded” superhero show–check.
It’s just too much! And the episode was a jumbled mess because of it.
All of that being said, it wasn’t entirely unenjoyable. There were a pair a cool action sequences, that while brief, could arguably be some of the most intense this season. The first, when Deathstroke surprises Team Arrow in the Arrow Cave was particularly harrowing because of how easy Slade made breaking into their secret hideout and proceeding to kick their butts look. More so than a physical beating, it was another instance of Slade continuing to fuck with Oliver’s confidence (and his team’s confidence in him). And later, when Oliver confronts Slade during the transfusion process, how badass was it of Slade to efficiently dispose of those fired arrows with a katana? This dude is going to continue to be a serious obstacle, and the series is only helped by such a formidable villain.
Speaking of a formidable villain, did anyone find themselves wanting Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) to reappear with some devious plot where he’d pretend to comfort Thea, only to actually begin turning her to the dark side? Now that we know the guy is alive he’s been absent from the series for far too long. I predict it’s only a matter of time before he does pop up again in Starling City, and when he does, he’ll definitely have his sights set on Thea. A man needs a legacy, right?
This episode’s far too jam-packed plot aside, there were still some admirable performances. Holland and Blackthorne in particular nailed their very short, emotional confessions. Glau’s Rochev has become even more fun to watch now that she no longer has to hide her true motivation. And with a healthy dose of Mirakuru, she’s on track to hand out even more beat downs.
Honestly, “The Man Under The Hood”‘s biggest fault is how much time it spends with Laurel while she pieces together the all too obvious. The fact it came down to a rather dubious instance of a doctor so clearly breaking with patient/doctor confidentiality to alert Laurel her sister may be the vigilante’s accomplice is pathetic. Plus! After all the trouble she goes through to convince herself Oliver is The Arrow, she doesn’t confront him about it! Rather, she decides to keep the secret after being moved by her father’s passionate speech about how he’s really into masked crime fighters or whatever. This episode spends a lot of time setting up Laurel revealing she knows their secret identities, only to choose not to provide the payoff. Did this thread really need to be a bulk of the episode?
Unfortunately, next week’s episode doesn’t look like it’s much of an improvement as it appears to be very Roy-centric. I will say that the switcharoo of it being Roy and not Slade hooked up to the bio-transfer genuinely surprised me. But you know why? Because he’s such a forgettable character! I was also genuinely confused how cutting the power didn’t kill him, but simply removing him from the machine would. But again, I’m not losing any sleep over it. All I can hope for is Arrow maybe plays with gender roles, has Roy fridged, and this is what sends Thea on some dark spiral where she teams up with her father. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?
And man, isn’t Olives a real jerk for only revealing they could possibly create a cure for Mirakuru after Roy’s already been through the worst of it!? What an asshole.
Arrow airs Wednesday nights on the CW at 8pm. Catch up with our previous recap/reviews!