By Rich Epstein
Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) is the Arrow. Or at least that's what everyone in Starling City thinks after he turned himself in at the end of the last episode. Of course, nobody has probably realized yet that he is about eight inches too short to be the Vigilante.
We open with a power-surge that isn't at a bank. As the security guard checks it out, alone, he finds a man standing in his way. Suddenly, laser beams pour from the man's eyes and the guard is fried. I have to say, the effects were much better in Superman II. The other security guard tries to run, but ends up being barbecued as well.
It's a mob scene as Colton is taken into the precinct, where Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is waiting. Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) asks if Oliver is going to let him take the fall, to which Oliver says no. Oliver offers to sign a confession, at which point Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) steps in and stops Oliver from saying any more. The district attorney's office has already decided not to prosecute Oliver. Quentin is, understandably, pissed. So is Oliver. I wonder if Oliver noticed all of the people protesting. It seems like the citizens of Starling City feel very differently about the Arrow than Quentin does at the moment.
Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) are back from their adventures in Central City and hard at work at Palmer Technologies. Things are a little awkward coming off of his saying "I Love You" and her saying nothing. Ray tries to walk it back, very awkwardly. This scene would probably play a lot better if that Flash episode didn't air right between this episode and the last where the two looked like everything was fine between them.
Somehow, Oliver is able to make it in to talk to Roy. I guess they don't bother with security over the most wanted man in the city. Oliver doesn't want to let Roy go through with this, but Roy sees it as his way to make amends for killing the police officer.
Flashback to Oliver, Tatsu Yamashiro (Rila Fukashima) and Maseo Yamashiro (Kary Yune) hiding out in Hong Kong from Waller's men. They know it is only a matter of time until they are caught, so Oliver comes up with the brilliant plan of breaking into ARGUS and finding Waller. Sounds like a great idea, what could possibly go wrong.
Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), suddenly up and about, meets with Oliver to applaud his using Roy as a patsy. He tries to focus Oliver on the real problem, Ra's al Ghul. He points out that if Oliver agrees to become Ra's' heir, maybe nobody else has to die. Oliver, instead, decides to focus on breaking Roy out of prison. Oliver really has made a lot of bad decisions this year.
He goes to see Thea Queen (Willa Holland), John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity and Verdant. I guess getting a new hideout isn't very high on the list of priorities at the moment. They see a news report about Starling National Bank, including video footage. They are making plans to deal with the threats, when Quentin comes in with a warrant for the basement. Of course it hasn't been cleaned out, so Quentin is pretty happy thinking he has Oliver. They get prints off the equipment in about five seconds, with only one match…Roy Harper. Seems someone was busy.
Oliver is pissed, and wants to go after the meta-human. Diggle points out the obvious…he can't go out as the Arrow right now. Barry Allen is too busy to help, so they turn to Ray Palmer. He is all gung-ho for a superhero team-up. He really works better as a character on Flash. His goofiness and enthusiasm just works better on a show that isn't as dark in tone.
Flashback Oliver is about to get caught by a soldier, when an obviously injured Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) kills the soldier. A very confused Oliver asks what is going on. They've been holding Waller prisoner and marked Waller, Olvier, and the Yamashiro's for death. General Shrieve plans to release the virus in Hong Kong. Waller tells Oliver to run, as far away as he can, and hopes they meet again some day.
Roy is in prison, when he gets a visit from Thea. Maybe he should have talked to her first, before turning himself in? Anyway, he told the guards he didn't want to see her. She asks why he did what he did, and he only tells her that he won't lie to her, before ending the visit.
Meanwhile, Ray has been busy, and managed to get a picture of the bad guy. Oliver wants to go after the guy, telling Ray that he isn't ready to handle a meta-human. Ray talks his way into going instead. Palmer starts rambling, at which point Oliver tells Felicity "there's a pretty good chance you and Palmer are related." Stephen Amell has really good comedic timing with his deadpan delivery. The lights go out, at which point the bad guy appears. After some quick banter, he blasts Ray. Palmer fires back, which Deadbolt absorbs, then starts beating the crap out of Ray, who flies away as Felicity listens on in a panic. Oliver asks her id she worries that much when he is on a mission, to which she replies that there is no good answer for her.
Ray makes it back, much to the relief of Felicity. Oliver points out that Ray needs to rely on himself, not just the suit.
It turns out a lot of people in prison don't like the vigilante that put them there. Three of them attack Roy, stabbing him in the process before he fights them off.
Quentin is searching Oliver and Thea's apartment, when a friendly detective points out that Quentin is throwing his career away by continuing to go after Oliver. Quentin ignores him, and is talking to Thea when he gets a call about the attack on Roy.
Ray and Felicity tell Oliver that they may be able to track where Deadbolt is getting his power from, while Thea decides to pay a visit. She tells him about the attack on Roy. Oliver decides to go break him out, only to be stopped by Diggle. John points out that it won't do Roy any good for Oliver to end up in a cell next to him. They nearly come to blows, but Diggle won't stand down. Oliver ignores him anyway. As he goes, Felicity runs after him. Oliver can't just do nothing, but she tells him he needs to let people help. She realizes he is fighting to hold onto the Arrow, but that the Arrow is done no matter what. Ra's took that away from him. He says that he doesn't know who he is, when Felicity tells him that he is the man she…believes in. She was going to say love, but….Anyway, Felicity leaves to go hack into the grid so they can track Deadbolt. By herself. Is there anyone who actually thinks this will go smoothly?
Flashback Oliver and the Yamashiro's break into an army facility to try and get the antidote. They make it to the antidote with pretty much no issues, then hide when backup comes.
Cut to Felicity, who somehow broke into a power om without meeting any guards or anything. Until she runs into Deadbolt in sunglasses. Of course she doesn't recognize him until he takes off the sunglasses. Did I mention that it is night and that they are inside?
Oliver and Ray realize that Felicity is in trouble, but Oliver can't make it on time and Ray is just not good at being a hero. So, Oliver will handle the suit remotely. This doesn't make any sense to me, but hey, let's go with it. He starts to fight Deadbolt but loses the link to Oliver. He is getting his ass kicked again, when Oliver tells him it's about heart, not strength. Ray wins the fight. That was just terrible. It was cliche, the fight was poorly choreographed, and it was just generally boring.
Roy is attacked and stabbed again, this time by a guard, and it doesn't look like he will make it out. Oliver comes home to the news that Roy is dead.
Oliver heads back to the hideout where he picks up an arrowhead and looks pensive. Diggle and Felicity show up. He tells them he shouldn't have listened to them. Maybe he couldn't have saved Roy, but he would have felt better if he tried. They ask him for forgiveness, not for telling him not to go after Roy, but from what they have been hiding. Turns out that Roy isn't dead. It was a plan all along. Lyla had a friend that could do the whole thing. Of course, Roy Harper will have to leave town now. Someone probably should be phoning Thea before she does something stupid.
I am still trying to figure out exactly why they couldn't tell Oliver. I understand they couldn't talk to him beforehand, but why not after? They were risking him doing something stupid, and there doesn't seem to be any reason for it.
Ray looks on, and sees how Felicity looks at Oliver, and knows what the deal really is.
Last flashback for the episode. Oliver is going to go after Shrieve and try to stop him from releasing the virus. Maseo and Tatsu insist on going with him, telling Oliver that he needs to learn to rely on people sometimes. You know, the same thing he heard from Felicity in this very episode.
Ray goes to see Cisco, and omes up with the name Deadbolt. Cisco realizes that Deadbolt wasn't in the city on the night of the particle accelorator explosion. Ray does bring up feeding them.
Ra's pays a visit to Thea. She tries to fight him, but of course she can't. He stabs her, and says a prayer in Arabic.
This was kind of a weird episode to me. A lot happened, but none of it was particularly compelling. We were dealing with Quentin's obsession with Oliver, Roy's situation in prison, flashbacks and a new villain of the week while also referring to the main plot every now and then and showing glimpses of the growing divide between Ray and Felicity. Deadbolt was just kind of thrown in with little screen time, but to me he seems like a big deal, not just for Arrow but for the whole Arrow/Flash/New Show universe. This was a meta that was not a result of the Star Labs explosion. The first we have seen, and it was kind of a secondary matter. I am hoping that metas on Arrow is the exception and not the rule. It just isn't that kind of show, and I think it works better when it is more grounded and more personal.
The big story of the week was obviously the departure of Arsenal. Again, I just found myself not caring as much as the show obviously wanted me to. I think there are just too many characters right now. We have Oliver, Diggle, Canary, Felicity as part of the team, with Thea and Ray getting a ton of time too. Not to mention that about 1/4 or so of each episode is spent on flashbacks. I just found myself not caring so much about Roy, especially since he didn't seem to care a lot about himself. It isn't like the team is losing anything.
Speaking of the flashbacks, it seems like every week now Oliver is learning the same lesson that he supposedly learned five years earlier. It kind of ruins the point of the flashbacks. Right now, we are watching another story. In previous years, we were seeing how Oliver became the Arrow. He would learn things in the flashbacks that would be of use to him in Starling City, rather than just lessons that he needs to repeat. For instance, the flashback would have worked much better if he had learned about relying on himself rather than his equipment, the message that he imparted to Ray. It would tie into the episode, but also show how Oliver has grown and learned from his time in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, the main plot didn't really go anywhere. Ra's al Ghul was mentioned a few times, but that was about it. I am still trying to figure out if Merlyn will actually serve a purpose this year. As for Thea, we will pretty obviously see the Lazarus Pit in action next week. It seems as though Ra's may have finally won, and Oliver will agree to be his heir. Which brings up a whole host of interesting questions, the biggest being now what. How much longer is Ra's planning on being around? Are the next couple of episodes going to take place in Nanda Parbat with Oliver apprenticing with Ra's? It really does seem like there is nothing in Starling City for him.
Rich Epstein writes for Bleeding Cool. He can be found on twitter at @kaspe_r11.