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.
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.
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.
While last week’s villain, Firefly the somewhat singed, vengeful fireman, wasn’t all that antagonizing, this week things get personal when Diggle’s (David Ramsey) commanding officer from Afghanistan – a guest stint by Ben Browder – becomes Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) next target from THE LIST. Yes, the list is back and we need to trust the list because Ollie’s father told him so. Even though as Dig points out he only retrieved the list from his father after he was dead. To which Ollie tells him he later received a message from his father confirming the list’s importance and reliability. When he got this message is left unknown, but it wasn’t while Ollie was on the island, at least not that we’ve seen. And we won’t see, not in this episode.
But that doesn’t mean “Trust But Verify” reveals nothing, in fact there’s quite a few revelations dropped this week. The first being Ollie’s father, Robert, wasn’t all that faithful to Moira (Susanna Thompson) while they were married. Apparently, fidelity is hard for the Queen men. Shocking, I know. Thea (Willa Holland) though, always the spiteful daughter, believes it was Moira who was unfaithful and misconstrues Moira’s secret meetings with Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) as the beginnings of another affair.
Last week’s Arrow ended on a couple of cliffhangers, the most shocking being Ollie’s (Stephen Amell) arrest on the suspicion of being the vigilante, The Hood. In the real world we know it would be next to impossible for a prolific billionaire’s son to keep his nighttime activities a secret, and especially if those activities meant shooting arrows at thugs and mobsters. Often in the world of comic book super heroes being able to keep a wrap on their duel identities is a given, at they very least it’s a storyline not played out for some time. But that’s exactly what “Damaged” seeks to explore, how is Oliver going to prove he’s not The Hood when all the evidence is mounted against him.
The opening scene draws a parallel between Ollie being arrested in the present and flashbacks to his capture by mercenaries on the island. In Starling City Ollie is being drilled by Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) about his activities as The Hood, while on the island he’s interrogated by mercenary Edward Fyres (Sebastian Dunn) – a guy you’ll swear stepped straight out of a Bond movie – about his green-hooded companion. As you watch the two scenes it becomes clear what other skill Oliver learned during his time on the island: deception. Ollie have become extremely good at lying, and not only lying, but using these lies to manipulate those around him. Sure, he’s using this new set of skills for good but it doesn’t make his behavior any less questionable. After all, intent is pointless when in the end you’re lying to those you love.