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    Five Thoughts on Arrow’s “Al-Sah-Him” [Review]

    By | April 30th, 2015
    Posted in Reviews | 5 Comments

    This week, Arrow was an hour long game of chicken between the audience and the producers. Both sides kept waiting for the other to blink, but the question still, more or less, remains the same: is Oliver really brainwashed? Keep reading to find out, and note that minor spoilers will be discussed.

    1. The transitions have to go

    Before we get into the meat of this week’s episode, can we all agree the the transitions from modern times to the flashbacks need to get the fuck out of here? The weird CGI fade from a light bulb to a paper lantern, or a doorway to a five year old Asian doorway adds nothing to the show whatsoever. It is distracting, and is an item on the line budget that can be used for something far more interesting, like anything at all. Literally anything. Use it to get Oliver a ridiculous hat. Buy Felicity an Apple watch. Double your lozenge budget so Thea doesn’t always sound like she just smoked a carton of unfiltered Camels. Anything. Please.

    2. Speedy Begins

    For all the talk about Thea “changing forever” in the Lazarus Pit, she seems to be totally fine. In fact, she seems to be a more focused, compassionate, driven version of her past self. Can I get tossed in a Lazarus Pit? I have a bunch of projects I’d love to get a jump on.

    But really, her story is the most interesting one this week. She feels like if Oliver let her die, he would never be under the control of the League of Assassins, which is a misguided idea. But her guilt, paired with her helplessness, makes her don Ollie’s hood and bow, and Speedy is born.

    Of course, she is also going to ditch Starling (again) to follow a man (again), only to eventually return (again). However, the reveal of her being the one to shoot the arrow into Ollie’s arm was a nice one, and the unified vision of Team Arrow was a nice difference from the usual moping that happens whenever Ollie goes missing.

    3. How good of an actor is Oliver?

    There are two possible outcomes from the “Oliver gets brainwashed” storyline: 1) he really is brainwashed, and Diggle and co. need to break him of it, like the third act of The Muppets Take Manhattan or 2) he is only pretending to be brainwashed to take control of the League to dissolve it/change it into the League of Friendship or whatever.

    If the former is what is going to happen, that needs to happen in the next week or two, so that the season finale can feature a full strength Ollie taking down the League. If it is the latter, then this ruse can continue a little bit longer, so that the impact is maximized.

    There are equal signs leading to both possible outcomes. In Nanda Parbat, he totally kills a dude he believes to be Diggle, and he seemed awfully close to killing real Diggle and real Nyssa until stopped by others. On the other hand, he walked away from a fight with Canary and Diggle, and didn’t even go after Thea when she put an arrow through his arm.

    Either one could be plausible, and I’m glad there was at least one week where Ollie’s future was in question. If you recall, when Ollie was “dead” earlier this season, the first episode after his “death” it was revealed that he was fine. At least now, there was a full hour when it seemed like the Oliver we know and love was really gone.

    4. Does Ray being out of town mean anything significant?

    Ray is the only member of Team Arrow (and, to be fair, calling him a member is a bit of a stretch) that wasn’t around this week, and his absence was particularly stated as being “out of town.” Would Ollie trust Ray enough to say to him, “Look, bro – I have to go ‘join’ the League of Assassins – I’m going to have to be deep undercover for a spell, so don’t interfere, I have this under control.” Because, honestly, no one else can stop him. Sure, Thea can fire a bow nicely, and Diggle is special ops, but c’mon, we all know that they’d fall to Ollie in no time.

    Continued below

    But Ray, aka Phony Stark™, could blast him with some serious firepower, taking him out. To ensure that his plan goes well, Ollie might’ve been behind Ray not being around this week.

    Or, he’s a billionaire, and could be taking out his “Felicity doesn’t love me” energy on a beach vacation in Mali. Whichever.

    5. So, let’s just call this Batman, huh?

    If Ollie and Nyssa have a baby, we officially have to stop calling it Arrow and start calling it Green Batman With No Secret Identity. Look, I know that this makes sense as an Ollie story, but this is so completely the story of Damian Wayne – and on a show that already teased Ollie being the father of Connor Hawke – that it feels really, really derivative. Can the show overcome this? Absolutely, but I would like to see the show getting more inspiration from Green Arrow stories, rather than Batman ones.

    Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!

    //TAGS | Arrow

    Brian Salvatore

    Brian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).


    • PinkPeril

      Two things really stood out for me in this episode. One was that Laurel of all people was being the sane and rational one. What if Oliver had gone to the dark side, can we take him down if it comes to that? The others dismiss her immediately because Oliver wouldn’t go evil. He’d never hurt the people he cares about. Let’s ask Roy and Thea about doing bad things under the influence. Pretty sure it can happen to anyone.

      Which brings me to the second thing, poor Thea. If Felicity says she’s been moping for weeks over Ollie just how long has it been since they faked Roy’s death? Why wouldn’t they tell Thea right away? It’s two words, “Roy’s alive.” Instead Felicity was too busy. Thea should’ve decked her when she finally remembered Thea didn’t know. Heck they could have told her on the 15 hour plane ride back from China. “Thea it’s not all bad, Roy’s alive. Maybe you should go see him to cheer you up.”

      Secondary characters seem to fall through the cracks of minds of the writers. Has anyone told Sin that Sara is dead or are they just going to let her figure it out on her own?

      Agreed on the flashbacks, time to end them.

    • Masked Man Issue 1

      Damn. You had me at Phony Stark(TM). I’ll be using that for a while, I had only gotten to “poor man’s Iron man”, but Phony is pure genius.

      Yes, aside from the similarities to Batman we’ve talked about before (count me as shocked for Thea not wearing a Red Hood as part of her cape) we’ve added marrying not-Thalia to the list of not-so-subtle atrocities (mirrored maybe not by accident by Lois La- sorry! Iris West-Allen reporting on the death of Superm-sorry on the Flash’s disappearance in some other show this week). I can only hope there is no Damian Queen, because I’m far more interested in Connor being part of this universe than pursuing that story.

      I… am conflicted. I think Amell has done a great job throughout the three season’s and has gotten better as an actor. But the fact that we are all confused about how (or if) brainwashed he might be, says something about the monotone look he has. I feel there are hints of Ollie being there, particularly with the reveal of the wedding and the reveal of the Alpha/Omega. It’s a momentary blink, but it’s something. But I feel like I have to be paying too much attention to understand what the endgame Ollie might have in mind is… I’m sticking to the notion that he’s playing along as far as he can to take the League down, but it’s very hard to tell!

      And yes, I’m done with the flashbacks… except, that I think we have no way around them until Season 5 if they’re going year by year while he was away.

      On happier news, I think we have a (SPOILER ALERT) a fully outfitted Katana next week!

    • Masked Man Issue 1

      PS: I like your theory about Ray a lot. Here’s an addendum… what if Ollie (Like Barry) realized by the end of both seasons that there are some problems (Reverse Flash, League) that are too big for them to tackle alone or even as a Brave and the Bold team-up? Problems that require a larger assembly of heroes… a “League” of sorts (already referenced in the future of The Flash as well as multiple team-ups throughout both shows this season). Enter the return of Firestorm and Atom (plus Roy, Katana, Canary, etc)!

    • Jacen Chris Baker

      Are there even a lot of good Green Arrow books that the show could take inspiration from, tonally? The only ones I can think of are Lemire’s (Outsider’s War would be dope) and Grell’s early stuff, but IDK if you can touch Smith/Winick’s runs for heavy inspiration.

      Also, has Arrow been good the past few weeks? Or has this season been so bleh compared to season 2 that these episodes just FEEL good?

    • Ian A.

      The transitions have been glaring in the worst possible way, but cutting from Oliver and Nyssa to two bodybags was kind of clever.

      If the derivative union of Oliver and Nyssa results in a child, the showrunners should go all in and have Cheshire show up with Roy’s bastard daughter, too. Give everybody a kid. Then, the show can pull a LOST and start doing flash-forwards to Team Arrow 2.0, featuring Sara Diggle, Connor Hawke, Damian Wayne Queen al Ghul, and Lian Harper.

      Will Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. be next season’s major villains? I doubt they’ll be dealt with this season, and Ra’s clearly has an axe to grind.