Arrow does a lot of good things in this episode, but at its center has a huge problem, and that is this week’s adversary.
1. Bug Eyed Bandit: 2nd Episode, Totally Wasted
We’ve seen her before, over on The Flash, but Emily Kinney returns to her role as the Bug-Eyed Bandit on Arrow, and all of the problems of her first appearance are present again. I don’t need her to be the deepest, most perfectly positioned character in the history of the show, but the motivation here comes late in the game, and doesn’t really speak to her actions.
The bee puns, the hokey way she’s presented, it is all so incongruous with the show we’re watching. If she was just a little better written, this wouldn’t be an issue at all. Kinney is a fine actress, and the character can be a fun Silver Age diversion for a show that can sometimes get muddled in New 52 creations – but nothing about her character makes you really empathize or even care about what happens. When, at episode’s end, we find out she’s in a coma, Curtis (the audience proxy) is shocked and disturbed. He should be; he’s a civilian in the middle of some insanity. But we aren’t; I know we’re supposed to react the way he does, but the character gives us so little reason to care about her, that this news just sort of passes by us.
2. Darhk Matters
Seeing Darhk try to operate from prison is interesting, and it gives Neal McDonough a new setting to chew scenery in, but it all feels so small in scale. This is the season’s big bad, and he’s executing prison hits like Walter White. The twists and turns of H.I.V.E. and Merlyn and Andy Diggle could all work into something of note in the future, but this is the first time this season that Darhk has felt like an afterthought versus a legitimate threat.
Side note: do you think we’ll ever get that trial?
The team was pretty down this week – Ollie and Felicity both are suffering the affects of their breakup, and it is affecting them in different ways. Ollie is doubling down on preparation and training; Felicity is trying to distance herself from her ‘former’ life as much as she can.
As I said last week, I understand why the show is doing this for dramatic reasons, but there’s nothing about this storyline that is as interesting, to me, as seeing the couple actually happy. There aren’t many stories like this one: husband and wife fight crime together without too much marital tension. I can think of Ralph and Sue Dibney and…maybe that’s it. Usually the couple’s relationship acts as a metaphor for life as a hero, blah blah.
People love Ollicity, and giving them that makes the show different than your standard fare – bring ’em back sooner than later, please!
4. A Terrific Curtis episode
Echo Kellum is doing an incredible job as Curtis Holt. He’s a great audience proxy, flipping out over the Arrowcave and their tech, being a bit of a wimp at times, and genuinely being excited to help people. Oliver’s scolding of him was an important scene for the show – it continues to demystify the hero’s life, showing what the real consequences are. And yet, at the end of the episode, we see Curtis going back home to his husband, starting a chain of lies and deceit that might, like Ollie and Felicity, rip them apart.
Another sidebar: Kudos to Arrow for featuring a number of LGBTQ characters (Sara, Curtis) for whom their sexuality is a small part of their character that isn’t used in an exploitative way. Curtis’s home life seems happy and boring, something that television is rarely wont to do for anything other than a hetero/cis relationship. Sara’s bisexuality is so important to her as a character, but is never the only thing about her. This show, more than most on television, puts the person before the preference.
5. Laying the groundwork for Arrow/Canary?
This week, you could see the producers making a sharp pivot towards reigniting the Laurel/Oliver spark. She was kind to him when he needed her, was far more tender than we’ve seen her and, perhaps most shocking, she was the most loyal member of the team, coming back to talk to him after everyone else had left.Continued below
Laurel has put up with Oliver and been his partner, but she hasn’t seemed particularly pleased with him in…oh, four seasons? So seeing this develop again is, clearly, an opportunity for the show to either align with the comics in the romance department, or use her as bait to eventually bring back Felicity (which seems more likely).
So, what did you guys think of the episode? Let me know in the comments!