Okay, now this is what I’m talkin about! Last night Arrow delivered one of its finest and most revealing episodes. We finally get a huge chunk of back-story thanks to spending most of the episode in flashbacks. We pick up from last week with Arrow dropping in on his mother at Queen Consolidated. Feeling threatened, Moira gets Arrow to drop his guard by flashing a picture of children before going for a gun and putting a bullet in Arrow. I loved the irony of her putting a bullet in the same man whose image she had just used to escape what she thought would be her death. Arrow escapes and seeks out Felicity’s help to escape back to the Arrow Cave. I’m glad that she is finally let in on Arrow’s true identity as the cover stories Oliver was giving to get her help were wearing thin and getting more unbelievable by the episode.
Felicity gets Oliver back to the hideout where her and Diggle get to work saving his life. Though they were seriously played up for drama, it was great to see how much Diggle cares about Oliver, and through his chats with Felicity, how much he cares for their mission. His line about it being the only thing that has made him feel good about himself was perfect and well played. However, the highlight of this episode was the journey back to the island courtesy of Oliver’s dream like comatose state. Him getting shot was a perfect device to spend more time in flashback, as we now get filled in on a much larger picture of Oliver’s time away. I had an awesome thought last night while watching. It would be genius if they planned the show for five seasons, filling us in little by little as they have been doing, with flashbacks. The flashbacks would trace his five years away and slowly lead us to his eventual escape in the series finale in its fifth year. Sort of like a play on Memento, but for five years, not two hours. (I know, I need to head to Hollywood to write. Thank you, you’re too kind.)
Arrow pulls a fast one on us here, as up until now we were lead to believe that Yao Fei was Oliver’s mentor, but it turns out to be Slade Wilson. Of course Yao will come back into the picture eventually given Oliver’s prowess with the bow and arrows, but it looks like his real first bit of training was the work of Slade Wilson. This angle is going to make for some great TV when Wilson does return in the present as Deathstroke. Their plan to get to home, though we already know it would fail given that Oliver is away for five years, was still filled with excellent moments of tension, such as the stepped on mine and the raid of the airstrip. I wanted to reach into my TV and strangle Oliver for calling Laurel, but no bad came from it so I can let that go, no need to create false drama here with all the goings-on already. I also loved the nod to Homer’s The Odyssey as I am huge on Greek mythology, I thought that was a nice touch and it finally let Oliver be useful in the scene. I also loved Slade’s line about giving Oliver one job to do after he failed to take out the man in the air control tower, it was a nice bit of humor to cut what was otherwise a very intense scene.
At first I didn’t understand Oliver’s insistence on saving Yao Fei, the dude did sell Oliver out to Fyers, but they did need a reason for their escape to fail, so it worked, and it also set up a great confrontation between Slade Wilson and his former partner, the man in the mask, Bill Wintergreen. There can be only one Deathstroke! Of course a whole other can of worms was opened up when we meet Yao Fei’s captive daughter, the reason for him to join Fyers. I didn’t believe her captivity was real from the moment I saw her and the tattoo on her back seemed to tell me my suspicions were correct, but I was thrown for a loop when we see Oliver bearing the same tattoo in the present. Is there a gang tattoo Oliver does not have! Next will be the reveal that Oliver spent time in Los Angeles as a Venice Sho’line Crip (nod to my hometown there.).
Felicity also officially joins the crew temporarily (or so she says, we’ll see temporary it is.) and I love the fact that Oliver’s crew is now growing. Felicity has the skills to pay the bills and will serve as a great addition to the team for now. I did have a problem with Oliver ordering Diggle to leave his mom alone, Digg is a grown man Oliver, I thought his tone was way too harsh and demanding towards someone who is a partner, not an employee, and I thought it ruined the mood between the two. Diggle just spent hours saving your life and that’s how you show your gratitude? Diggle didn’t even get a thank you. If Oliver had been able to see Diggle’s struggles to keep him alive than Oliver would’ve surely felt like a jerk.
Overall this was easily the best episode to date as it was filled with great story telling, great plot and character development and as a bonus was completely free of bland baddies of the week, free of Thea, Laurel and Tommy’s relationship and best of all, cheesy acoustic guitar driven ballads. I can easily say that I haven’t been more excited to see where the series is taking us next.
4.5 out 5 nerds
Follow Christopher on Twitter @AUDone44 and The Nerd @nerdfollowing