Remember when I talked about episodes of Arrow? It’s understandable if you thought I had forgotten, since the last time was three weeks ago. But now that Loki is over I’ll have to post something on Saturdays, so getting back into the groove and finishing off Arrow season 1 sounds like a pretty good idea. This batch of episodes introduces John Diggle’s future wife as well as having two different love triangles involving Oliver, so let’s warm up with a recap of the season so far!
Oliver Queen was stranded on the island of Lian Yu for 5 years after the boat he was on sank, killing his father Robert Queen as well as Sara Lance. While there he met allies like former Chinese general Yao Fei Gulong and ASIS agent Slade Wilson (AKA Deathstroke), but also ran afoul of mercenary Edward Fyers, whose sinister plans have yet to be revealed. Once back home in Starling City, Oliver became a vigilante referred to mostly as “the Hood” to follow his father’s dying wish and attack the corrupt elite that have been preying on his city. Oliver’s mother Moira Queen and sister Thea Queen don’t know how Ollie spends his nights, but several other people do! Working with the Hood are bodyguard John Diggle and computer whiz Felicity Smoak; but Oliver’s best friend, Tommy Merlyn, also knows Ollie’s secret and is super angsty about it. Doesn’t help that Tommy is dating Oliver’s ex and Sara’s sister, lawyer Laurel Lance. Her father, detective Quentin Lance, hates Oliver because of the whole “you got my daughter killed” thing. Also worth mentioning, Thea is dating petty criminal Roy Harper, who is more important later. But the corrupt elite are working together on something called the Undertaking, with key members including Moira and Tommy’s father, Malcolm Merlyn (AKA the Dark Archer), the first season’s big bad. What Oliver doesn’t know can and will hurt him!
Up first in this batch is episode 18, “Salvation.” Local slumlord John Nickel is not charged in relation to one of his shitty apartments burning down. Before the Hood can scare the crap out of him, he’s abducted by some new vigilante who streams his execution. Realizing that this is going to be a problem, Oliver tries to stop the death of the next target–a district attorney–but Felicity can’t get a solid read on where the executions happen. Turns out the vigilante–a man named Joseph Falk who goes by the Savior–is using Starling City’s abandoned subway lines to avoid detection. Discovering this is a very good thing, because Falk’s latest target is Roy. The Hood saves the young man by killing Falk, but we see that Roy is developing some sort of hero worship for Starling City’s local vigilante. Meanwhile, Laurel’s mom, Dinah Lance, is still in town searching for Sara (she came back to her family in episode 16), but Laurel reveals that the woman in the photo Dinah swears is Sara is actually some rando named Jen who had visited Zhengjiu, which translates to the title, “Salvation.” But why was Dinah so sure that was Sara in the picture? How did she know that Sara brought that particular hat with her on The Queen’s Gambit? Turns out she saw Sara right before she boarded the ship that led to her death, which is why Dinah’s been trying to convince herself that Sara’s still alive. But nope, her other daughter is definitely dead, and absolutely not currently an assassin traveling through time and space. Over with Moira, worried that Malcolm will find out that she hired the Triad to kill him (this happened in episode 15), she turns on her co-conspirator, Frank Chen, who is promptly killed by the Dark Archer (who Moira doesn’t know is actually Malcolm).
Next up is “Unfinished Business,” a reference to one of the last lines said in the episode. A girl who was at Verdant–Oliver’s nightclub–dies because of the street drug vertigo, returning from episode 12. The Count is still insane from the overdose the Hood gave him, but suspiciously goes missing right when questions start getting asked. Meanwhile, a different kind of suspicion is placed on Tommy when Detective Lance finds out the young adult bribed an inspector to avoid the basement/the Hood’s secret bunker. Another death clues Oliver in that maybe the Count never actually left the asylum he was thrown into. Sure enough, it turns out a doctor at the asylum figured out the basic formula for Vertigo by doing a biopsy on the Count’s liver, then added his own special touches. Despite a hefty overdose, the Hood manages to give himself an antidote and kill the doctor. Tommy is fed up with Oliver being a vigilante, so he quits working at Verdant and gets a job from his dad, Malcolm. I don’t think they’ve said yet what he’s actually doing. Meanwhile, Diggle is hunting for info on Deadshot, the assassin who killed his brother. He turns to ARGUS (Advanced Research Group United Support) agent Lyla Michaels (Ms. Audrey Marie Anderson), someone who will be very important to John as the series progresses.
Then it’s “Home Invasion.” Laurel is representing victims of a corrupt financier named Edward Rasmus who hires an assassin named Mr. Blank (J August Richards, AKA Charles Gunn from Angel or Deathlok from Agents of SHIELD) to kill her clients. Their son escapes, and Laurel takes him in to protect him. While that’s going on, ARGUS schedules a meeting with Deadshot hoping to capture and/or kill the other assassin in this episode. Oliver has to make a choice about which killer to go after, and picks helping Laurel by stopping Rasmus from fleeing the country. Dig takes this personally, especially when the sting fails and Deadshot escapes. While Laurel, Tommy, and the boy stay at the Queen mansion, Mr. Blank finds them but Oliver kills him and gives the credit to a dead cop–no more questions asked! Tommy hates that Laurel would go with Oliver if she knew he was the vigilante, but Ollie tells him that Laurel will never, ever find out his secret. Sure. Anyway, the boy is reunited with his grandparents, Tommy breaks up with Laurel because he doesn’t like the love triangle he’s in, and Dig quits Team Arrow. Meanwhile, Roy almost gets arrested trying to find the Hood, feeling that he owes the vigilante everything. Unlike Tommy, Thea is a good partner and agrees to help her boyfriend in his quest.
5 years ago on Lian Yu, Oliver and Slade negotiated with Fyers to get a boat in exchange for the circuit board to a missile launcher. Things didn’t go as planned when Fyers attempted to “renegotiate” by threatening to kill Shado, Yao Fei’s daughter. A scuffle broke out, and Oliver, Slade, and Shado escaped while Yao Fei was shot and left behind. A super awkward love triangle has begun! It turned out the circuit board was found by Fyers’ men, so that sucked. Shado forced Oliver to slap water until he was strong enough to draw back a bow, all part of training him since the assault rifle they had was busted. Training didn’t go well, and wasn’t helped when Yao Fei showed up, having apparently betrayed our trio to Fyers.
References! I got ’em, you haven’t overtly told me that you don’t want ’em. Savior is the name of a couple characters in DC Comics, none of whom are Joseph Falk. One was a guy with the power to manifest anything he could imagine who thought that Superman was an imposter, and another was a future version of Robin (Tim Drake) who was a violent killer. Detective Lance refers to Roy and Thea as the Wonder Twins, characters created for The All-New Super Friends Hour and later inserted into the comics a couple times with little success. And Mr. Blank was also the name of an obscure Batman villain from the 50’s who had no relation to the one in the show. Word is that the showrunners originally wanted the very odd assassin Onamonapia, but his gimmick is hard to translate outside of comic books–does he actually say “drip” or does he convincingly mimic the sound of water dripping?–so they made someone new.
Lyla Michaels is a big reference to a big event. First appearing in The New Teen Titans Annual #2 (1983)–while researching these bits of trivia, I’m more and more surprised at how many characters come from the 80’s run of Teen Titans–she was the assistant to a guy called Monitor. See, once upon a time, DC Comics had a sprawling multiverse, but that all ended during Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986). As realities were being destroyed by the Anti-Monitor, his polar opposite, the Monitor, sent his messenger, a woman named Harbinger, to warn realities of their impending doom. Well, Harbinger’s real name was Lyla Michaels! But where the comic version was a harbinger of multiversal doom, the show decided to make her a government agent instead. Sure, her call sign during the Deadshot sting was “Harbinger,” but that’s just a wink and a nod. Then again, Crisis on Infinite Earths does happen during Arrow‘s final season, and I hear that Lyla has an important role in it…
Man, Tommy is such a whiny bitch. I get that this is a CW drama so there has to be hookups and breakups galore, but the chip on his shoulder is just tiring. He ruined his relationship with Laurel because he couldn’t handle knowing that Oliver fights crime at night. Wimp. Spoiler for the series, but he doesn’t even stick around much longer! All this time is being put into a character whose biggest role in the series as a whole is as a memory haunting the people who outlive him. Meanwhile, Thea thinks that Roy’s mission to find the Hood is stupid and dangerous, but she loves that idiot so she decides to help him. This is so much better! Less Tommy making awful decisions, more Speedy and Red Arrow! I mean, I will get my wish, but the sooner, the better.
Only three more episodes to go, so everything’s going to escalate dramatically from here on out. But that also means I’m one post away–possibly two depending on how much I have to say about the season finale–from finishing the first season of Arrow. It’s still too early to jump into stuff like The Flash or Supergirl since I’m going chronologically–I have an entire spreadsheet detailing this stuff–but progress is being made!
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