Colin Donnell

TV REVIEW: ‘Arrow’ S3E14 – “The Return”

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It was easy to be cautious when approaching this week’s episode of Arrow called “The Return.” It was a double, if not triple, return with Oliver returning to Lian Yu accompanied by Thea, with Slade Wilson returning to haunt the Queens some more, and, with the flashback, Oliver returning to Starling for the first time since he was shipwrecked. It’s was a minefield of potential letdowns and Easter eggs, a potential contortion of narrative so it would become contrived, and that’s just the flashback. In the present we have to deal with the potential letdown of Slade’s return, since Manu Bennett owned in the role last year and this season’s big bad in the form of Matt Noble‘s Ra’s al Ghul has yet to match up. So how did it all shake out? (more…)

TV REVIEW: ‘Arrow’ S3E2 – “Sara”

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Before we dive into this week’s Arrow let’s agree about one thing: Laurel kinda sucks. No disrespect to Katie Cassidy, she’s done fine work with what she’s been given, but to be honest, what she’s been given hasn’t been very much. The Arrow team is clearly trying to create a more compelling path for Laurel, one that was hinted at in last season’s finale when Sara gave her big sister her Black Canary jacket. Said jacket made a reappearance in tonight’s episode, a moment of epiphany for Ms. Lance, and the audience, that says “Oh yeah, I have a destiny.” With all subtlety of a bat crash through the library window at Wayne Manor, Laurel now realizes that she must become someone else; she must become something else. And that thing is a hot, blonde, leather-clad crime-fighter with the initials B.C. (more…)

Darkness on the Edge of Town

This is it, the final stretch. Only two more episodes to go, and wow!, did “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” really set things in motion for next week’s finale. It’s almost as if this is the episode we’ve all be waiting for because, finally, all of Arrow‘s tangent plot lines are coming together. Things kicked off at breakneck speed with the Dark Archer, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) attacking Unidac Industries and killing every scientist who had anything to do with the seismic device “the undertaking” is using to destroy The Glades. And I was immediately struck by how distraught I’ll be when Barrowman’s villain meets his inevitable sticky end.

I’m guessing we’ll see his undoing this season, with Tommy (Colin Donnell) taking his place as head of Merlyn Global and The Hood’s arch-nemesis. I do hope I’m wrong, because bad guy Barrowman is too much fun to give up, but the police drawing a connection between the Dark Archer and Merlyn Global so quickly can’t be good sign. At least there’s plenty of promise Malcolm’s not going down without a fight.

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The Undertaking

Finally, at 21 episodes in, Arrow is beginning to move towards its finale. And with its dragging pace, to only be getting us to this point now further proves 23 episode orders for a TV series are tiresome. As I look back over this season there are so many episodes, so many villains of the week, that served no purpose other than fattening the story so the overall plot could fill 23 episodes. Can you imagine what a heart-pounding, thrilling season we could have had were they to stick with only 10 to 12 episodes? No Firefly, no overly done and unnecessary romantic subplots, and even as it pains me to say this, no Dinah Lance. I was thrilled to learn Alex Kingston was joining Arrow as Laurel’s mother, but then, that plot line only served to prove Sarah dead, like we thought, and mend some wounds within the Lance family.

Was any of that necessary for this season? Does it tie into Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) transition to vigilante? Does it set up “the undertaking”? No, and therefor wasn’t all that necessary beyond providing filler. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. There’s still two more episodes to go, and last night’s “The Undertaking” was the first step towards wrapping up this long endeavor of Malcom Merlyn’s (John Barrowman).

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Home Invasion

Back from another hiatus and with the promise of an epic Deadshot showdown, my hopes for this episode of Arrow were high, so my slight disappointment is really all my own fault. Well, possibly mine and those behind the marketing of “Home Invasion.” And this isn’t me saying this was a bad episode, it’s not, but when you promote the hell out of Deadshot and he basically is filling in this episode’s B plot, I’m going to be a little let down.

So what was the A plot of “Home Invasion”? A family Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is representing plans to sue a greedy, corrupt business man who lost all their savings. Unfortunately – because nothing good ever happens in Starling City – that business man, Edward Rasmus (Al Sapienza) calls in a hit on the family and the mother and father end up dead. The only survivor is the little boy who Laurel takes into her custody until extended family can be found and she and the boy become the hunted targets of Rasmus’ hitman (J. August Richards). Which means protecting Laurel becomes Ollie (Stephen Amell), or rather The Hood’s, top priority.

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Unfinished Business

When Arrow returned from its hiatus the episodes were weaker than where we left off. “The Huntress Returns” was fun only due to another appearance of Jessica de Gouw, and “Salvation” was such a bloated episode with much going on that I cared so little about. Last night’s episode, “Unfinished Business” was a return to the more cohesive, solid storytelling of Geoff John’s “Dead to Rights.” And, huh?, what do you know, Bryan Q. Miller wrote this episode, along with Lindsey Allen, and I wonder if there’s any correlation between a strong episode and whether or not there’s a comic book writer behind it? I don’t know, maybe, but here’s our evidence.

There’s a new, stronger version of Vertigo on the streets of Starling City and Tommy (Colin Donnell) and Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) club, Verdant – which I’ll add just looks like a club you’d only be at if you were on high-end, expensive, party drugs – is connected to the case of young woman’s death at the hands of the drug. Of course, Vertigo’s involvement leads Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) and The Hood to suspect The Count’s (Seth Gabel) behind the drug’s reappearance. Only problem is, he’s completely mad and locked away in Starling City’s very own Arkham-lite. But The Count isn’t Lance’s only suspect; with little, but compelling evidence Lance suspects Tommy of dealing Vertigo out of the club and begins an investigation. And, if you thought having your dad accuse your boyfriend of being a drug dealer is bad, think how much it sucks for Laurel (Katie Cassidy) when your dad’s a cop and your boyfriend’s a nightclub owner.

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She’s baaaack. Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) old flame, or “psycho ex-girlfriend” as Diggle (David Ramsey) affectionately calls her, is back in Starling City. And she’s back for only one reason, REVENGE. Jessica de Gouw‘s Huntress has returned to finally take out daddy and she doesn’t care who gets in her way. It’s exciting she’s back, even if she’s more villainous than I was expecting.

The opening sequence for “The Huntress Returns” is so obviously wank fodder and usually I’d hate such an objectifying scene. I mean, how many time have we seen a female character disguise herself as a stripper in order to interrogate or kill a man at a club? Hundreds, maybe thousands! It’s an overused trope is what I’m getting at, but Arrow manages to turn the scene into a humorous nod to Huntress’ more common, and far more revealing, comic book costume. I laughed, but was also happy to see her quickly change into the crime-fighting trench coat she got from Oliver. I love that coat. I want that coat.

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Dead to Rights” was written by Geoff Johns, who also contributed “Muse of Fire” this season, and it proves to be another of Arrow‘s stronger episodes. No disposable villain of the week here, folks! Nothing but some pretty big and surprising revelations, and almost revelations, topped off with some great action. Really what makes this episode such a strong one is its willingness to move the plot forward. Often the over-arching storyline of Arrow gets pushed into the background while we watch The Hood tackle a lame, weekly villain, or things get overly soap opera-y with excessive family and relationship drama. Not the case this week.

The crux of the episode is the plot to assassinate Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) by the Triad as called on by Moira (Susanna Thompson). China White (Kelly Hu) seeks the help of Deadshot (Michael Rowe) who, obviously, didn’t die at the end of “Lone Gunmen” like we all thought. He’s hiding out at The Bludhaven Apts., the first of many little DC winks and nods Johns litters throughout the episode. It’s nice Deadshot’s not dead, having introduced such a fan favorite only to kill him off the same episode was a bit of a letdown. ‘Course, his role this episode is limited, but Deadshot does what Deadshot does well and that’s all I’d expect. China give him a fancy new eyepiece, and since he escapes capture I’m going to assume he’ll back to wreak havoc for Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Starling City in the future.

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Betrayal

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.

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