emily bett rickards

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Never one to be subtle, this week’s Arrow dealt with – surprise! – identity. True identities, false identities, secret identities, yearned for identities; it was all stuffed in there. Now that Oliver (Stephen Amell) has decided to again become the vigilante he must constantly be choosing which role to play: crime fighter or C.E.O? Laurel (Katie Cassidy) holds true to who she wants to be, the woman who captures the vigilante. And Roy (Colton Haynes) is finally given an identity and perhaps the potential to stop being so fucking annoying.  (more…)

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After last season’s shocking ending – seriously, I’m not being sarcastic, I really didn’t see that coming – Arrow returned for its second season last night with a solid premiere. The Hood has been absent since an earthquake left a good chunk of Starling City in ruins. Coincidentally, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) skipped town, too, though no one in town seems to find any correlation between these two events. Hey, they’re suffering, we can’t ask them to draw obvious conclusions right now. (more…)

Sacrifice

A Season 1 finale needs to deliver on a lot of levels. We need to see the season’s over-arching threat thwarted, we need to see how each character relates to the endgame, and we need to have enough left over to leave us chomping at the bit for Season 2. And after a season that was often more shaky than solid, Arrow‘s finale, “Sacrifice“, went out on a strong note. Possibly the strongest of the season.

Last week’s episode left Oliver (Stephen Amell) in the custody of Malcolm (John Barrowman), after learning The Hood and his son’s best friend are the same guy. With Ollie in chains, Malcolm moves forward with his plan to decimate The Glades with the seismic device from Unidac Industries. But not before belittling Oliver with how easily he’s been beaten, again. Having made a name for himself as the courageous and cheeky Captain Jack, watching Barrowman gleefully ooze with arrogance about his crusade to save the city from the corruption of The Glades is a treat. I’m already campaigning for him to get more villainous roles in the future. And while he’s the most charming of villains, he’s still incredibly cold and calculating, and no more so than when manipulating his son, Tommy (Colin Donnell).

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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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Salvation

This week Arrow returns to their villain of the week formula, with a twist, but it’s no less monotonous. Someone is trying to do Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) job for him, and they’re not doing it very well or with the same measure of restraint. Calling himself The Savior, this new “vigilante” kidnaps a slumlord and publicly executes him via webcam livestream. Why is it public? The sicko has linked the livestream into every device with an internet connection: smartphones, tablets, laptops; because, of course he can, he’s a criminal mastermind.

Except, no, he isn’t. When on his second victim, the District Attorney, he lets it slip his wife was murdered and the D.A. failed to get her killers sentenced. Now it’s a personal vendetta, not a crusade for justice. Using the new intel, Oliver has Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) track the livestream signal but they can’t lock on because it keeps moving. The D.A. is killed before Oliver can get to him. Though before that we’re shown a pretty sweet parkour montage of Oliver racing around town trying to find and stop The Savior. So, y’know, it’s not a complete waste of time.

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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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Dodger

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!

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Vertigo

Last week Arrow left off with Thea (Willa Holland) arrested for driving under the influence of Vertigo, Starling City’s newest party high, bringing the drug and its nefarious dealer, The Count (Seth Gabel), center stage. It’s another neat twist on DC lore turning the austere Count Vertigo into a drug dealer peddling a substance that when over imbibed leaves the user suffering from some dizzying effects. With Thea facing jail time because Judge Jerkface wants to see her made into an example for the drug-addled youth of Starling City, Ollie (Stephen Amell) sees his only option as bringing in The Count to take the heat off Thea.

Since it’s his sister on the line, Ollie uses every available means to hunt down The Count. As Oliver Queen he visits an old flame from his partying days, McKenna Hall (Janina Gavankar), now a vice cop, who provides him with a couple leads including “The Count” alias. And do you want to know how he earned such a moniker? You sure? Because I’m sorry, it’s pretty dumb. See, Vertigo is a very potent substance and required quite a bit of testing before it was street safe. Testing done on homeless bums and destitute prostitutes. When those poor souls were found overdosed there would be two puncture marks on their necks from the syringe. Vampire bites, get it? Vampire bites, The Count, isn’t that funny!? Yeah … umm, clever.

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