Arrow Episode 1.16 Review — Back From The Dead…Shot
Every gambler has been there. You’ve spent the better part of your day doubling down and all you’ve got to show for it is a nasty hangover and a dollar chip you hope’s going to see you through the night. So, you hit the roulette table, toss the chip down on red and cross your fingers. Wheel spins, ball bounces … where it lands determines your destiny. You’re going for broke.
Arrow did just that tonight. So much happened that I’m frankly having difficulty wrapping my head around it. “Dead to Rights” felt like a love letter to the show’s fans in many respects. Honestly, I feel bad that I’ve been so hard on the show since it delivered in spades tonight after a strong showing last week. The Merlyn family got the spotlight, the Lance family’s story took a gigantic step forward, and Moira Queen displayed a chilling ability to smile as she’s speaking to someone and stab them the second their back is turned.
That Old Merlyn Magic
In one of the earlier reviews, I voiced my shock that this show would be so bold as to off one of the more iconic villains from the comic universe. So, I was wrong (it happens more often than I care to admit). DeadShot is alive and well. After China’s first henchman gets offed by Oliver, she turns to DeadShot, who has no interest in suspending his retirement until she gives him a shiny, red eye gadget that really gets his psycho juices flowing. See? Last week I said shiny red things please me. They just make people happy, even crazed, presumed dead assassins.
But, DeadShot’s not the only phoenix rising from the ashes. The Merlyn Family is making a big comeback. Malcolm shows up at Tommy’s birthday party with a gift and a plea. The Starling City Municipal Group is honoring Malcolm with their annual Humanitarian Award. He wants his son there. I’ll admit, given his behavior in previous weeks, I figured this was just a manipulation on Malcolm’s part. But, when Oliver convinces Tommy to give his dad a chance, and Malcolm shifts into protective father mode the second he realizes that a hit on him is in progress, we see that there is love there, underneath all the shady.
Malcolm spirits Tommy away to the penthouse. He kills a couple of assassins on the way, which blows Tommy’s mind. How did he learn to do that? Malcolm is about to reveal everything, when his bulletproof windows prove they’re not all that bulletproof. Malcolm takes a round of DeadShot’s bullets to the chest…or, should I say vest.
If you’ll recall, DeadShot’s calling card is that he laces his bullets with a toxin. So, while Malcolm’s bullet-proof vest keeps him from succumbing to the bullets’ impact, it does nothing to help when the toxin hits his bloodstream. Here’s where we hit a reveal I didn’t expect so soon after Oliver outed himself to Felicity. He takes off his hood and tells Tommy he can trust him. Then, he helps Tommy save Malcolm’s life. The irony is absolutely delicious – Oliver saving the Dark Archer.
Tommy gives Malcolm a blood transfusion. I have to admit, I’m expecting something to come from this blood angle. There have just been too many anvils dropped. Was Rebecca Merlyn’s death really just a tragic case of wrong place, wrong time? Everyone in Starling City has secrets, and Tommy claims he saw Robert Queen as more of a father than Malcolm. I speculated in an earlier review that I think Robert could, perhaps, be Tommy’s biological father. Whether that pans our remains to be seen, but what initially felt like grasping at straws seems more possible with each passing episode.
I’m beyond pleased that Tommy is in on the secret now. No, it’s not because I am a shameless Tommy fangirl (though, I am). This opens up so many avenues for storytelling. There’s the strain on Tommy and Oliver’s friendship now that Oliver has admitted he never intended for Tommy to know. There’s the Tommy/Laurel relationship. Tommy is already jealous of the vigilante. How is he going to feel knowing it’s the man Laurel once loved (or, maybe still loves)? And, of course, there is the choice that will inevitably have to be made. Which Archer will Tommy side with?
An Open Cage
I’ve been very vocal in the past about my love for Katie Cassidy and my frustration that she has, so far, been relegated to a bit player. I freely admit I have little objectivity when it comes to Katie. I’ve been following her since her days as Original Flavor Ruby on Supernatural, though my favorite role of hers remains Trish Wellington on Harper’s Island. I know what she’s capable of, and the writing has so far kept her quite caged.
For the longest time, I’ve been thinking that that cage would someday burst open and a Black Canary would come flying out. Tonight, I’m questioning if Laurel is the canary in question. In my very first review, I speculated that, in true soap fashion, Sarah Lance would return from her watery grave. Tonight, we learn from Laurel’s suddenly-present mother that she believes Sarah is indeed alive and well. Given the scene earlier in the episode, where Laurel tells McKenna of the canary Det. Lance gifted Sarah with when they were little, I can’t help but wonder if maybe she, not Laurel, will be our Black Canary?
Again, I’m excited about the dynamic this could present. I don’t want to get too speculative with these reviews, but as someone who avoids spoilers so I can keep my views as centered to the present as possible, I’m excited about the possibility that Sarah will someday appear as the Black Canary. How will Tommy and Laurel feel as the average people while their BFF and sister, respectively, are superheroes? I would like to see how Katie could sink her teeth into Laurel’s reaction to losing Oliver to her sister on a whole new level.
Diggle and Felicity sure are sparkly together, huh? I know he’s all crush-y over his brother’s widow, but I think Figgle (Delicity?) is the way to go. There’s a certain spark there. Felicity’s awkwardness and light softens Diggle’s oft-rigid personality. I get the feeling he definitely likes her and I don’t think I would mind if the Carly angle got dropped in favor of Diggle/Felicity being explored.
But, the camaraderie could only last so long. Oliver’s revelation that DeadShot lives sends Diggle right back to that coldhearted soldier we met in the beginning. DeadShot killed Diggle’s brother. I’m willing to wager a bet Diggle won’t rest until either he or DeadShot is dead, this time for real.
Moira, meanwhile, continues to impress. I’m loving the turn her character is taking. I worried that, after the awesome move of ordering the hit, we’d be back to wishy-washy Moira this week. Nope! Moira smiles at Malcolm. She sits in on Undertaking meetings and pledges her loyalties to Malcolm. She watches on as Tommy beams at his father, knowing full and well at any minute the boom is going to be lowered. And, when Malcolm survives the hit and tells her there’s a snake in their midst, she doesn’t bat a lash. They’ll get him. Woman is ice cold and I love it.
If there were a Most Improved Character Award, Moira Queen would be the frontrunner!
I don’t know if this review was coherent at all. I know I sometimes ramble, but mostly it’s because I’m excited. Maybe it’s the fact this was a pre-hiatus episode, and those tend to have an epic quality about them, but I feel as if there is new life being breathed into the show. And, I feel bad that I didn’t give the writers time to get to this point. I won’t say I’ve been too unfair, because there have been many, many bumps in the road that could have easily been avoided. Maybe this is a lesson to be more patient in the future? Sometimes those bumps lead the way to great things.
I would also like to thank the writers for not killing Malcolm. Three season of The Walking Dead has taught me if a character shows growth, they’re about to get eaten by a zombie. Poor T-Dog gets more than one speaking line and he’s dead half an hour later. Axel tells an anecdote about a water gun robbery and gets a bullet in the head via one of the Governor’s goons. Growth = Death on genre television, it seems. But, Malcolm escaped!
Final Grade: A+