Boy oh boy did The CW’s Arrow do an awful lot of comicbook fan servicing tonight! Some DC characters mentioned tonight we’ve already seen on previous episodes of the show, and some are currently transforming into their villainous/heroic alter egos, and still others are likely relatively unknown to the general viewing audience. Staying true to its comicbook source is certainly a great way to keep the fans happy, but it helps when the show’s writing, acting, and stuntwork is so much better than network TV has any right to be.
Arrow continues to introduce compelling plot twists and dramatic character conflicts that really ratchet up the tension in each hour, but wisely never become so attached to these arcs that they linger on them for endless episodes. This taut writing keeps Arrow freshly paced and exciting to watch week after week. Plus, what other show has boxing glove arrows?
Hit the jump for our Arrow recap.
Let’s get Ollie’s flashback sequences out of the way first because, other than introducing a meditative memory technique and name-dropping a DC character, there wasn’t a whole lot going on here. In Hong Kong, Oliver and Maseo are out to capture Chien Na Wei, aka China White, in order to repay Maseo’s debt. Oliver runs down their target and gets a kick to the face for his trouble. Maseo says the man dropped something during the flight, so Oliver has to remember where it is. Maseo and his wife Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) argue about helping Oliver, but she relents. Tatsu teaches him to access his subconscious to remember what he saw, which he does, witnessing the target’s drop in a plastic bin. They find the message at the drop: a hidden message that name-drops another contact.
Back in contemporary times, Green Arrow, Red Arrow, and Diggle are gearing up to take down a drug ring, though Roy’s having a tough time focusing now that he thinks he killed Sara. It certainly doesn’t help matters when Oliver gives him overwatch duty on the roof. The hideout is quiet … too quiet. They figure out why when they find all the gang members strung up from the rafters, (mostly) dead. A message in blood reads “Guilty,” and Felicity narrows down a lead (the name of Paco) to 86,000 potential suspects.
Oliver’s telling Roy to take the night off and get some rest while he and Diggle scare up some gang trouble. They clean house on a gang haunt and get a lead on the real alias of this Paco. Ollie’s too late and finds the man strung up and bled out, with the word “Guilty” on the ground. Someone interrupts his investigation, so he spins to face him and finds Ted Grant staring at him. Laurel, who had been boxing and getting Korean tacos with Grant, shows up a second later and gives him an alibi. (Fans will note the “Wildcats” banner in the boxing club/crime scene.)
While they’re out, Roy asks Felicity to test his blood for any traces of the mirakuru. The test comes back negative, which puts Roy’s mind at ease, but should it? If it were the super-serum making him go nutty, it would at least explain his dreams. Instead, he now has no explanation for his dreams/memories, though it doesn’t stop him from confessing them to Felicity. (Could she not just dust the arrow shafts for fingerprints? Did I miss this in an earlier episode?)
Arrow inquires about Grant to the rest of his team, noting that Grant is known as Wildcat, the killers were beaten to death with brass knuckles (by a left hander), and were strung up like punching bags. Arrow tracks Grant despite Laurel’s assurances that he wasn’t involved. Arrow finds another man strung up in a hideout chock full of brass knuckles, masks, and news clippings about a vigilante. Grant catches him snooping and engages him in a pretty sweet hand-to-hand combat scene (complete with trick boxing glove arrow). Arrow gets the upper hand, but Grant sticks to his story that, although he used to be a vigilante in the Glades six years ago, but that he’s never killed anyone.
They both set up a meet with Laurel, who finds out that the latest victim is a magician’s assistant who worked at the same club as the dealer that Grant killed. Oliver is worried that Laurel won’t be able to handle the life of a vigilante, and Grant appears happy to leave her behind as well. Diggle goes to help Oliver as backup, but Felicity keeps Roy behind to talk to him about Sara’s death. She reveals that the trajectory of the arrow strikes didn’t match up with that of an archer or a person of normal height, but that Roy may have thrown them in one last bout of the Mirakuru Crazies. (I’m still gonna say that’s a red herring.) Diggle wants Oliver to abandon Roy if it means finding justice for Sara.
Arrow, Diggle, and Grant show up at the Zanzibar Club, and the man who set him up is waiting for them both with a gun drawn. The cops are also waiting to take Grant away in cuffs, with plenty of planted evidence to keep him locked up for a bit. Back at HQ, Roy confesses to Laurel and the others that he killed Sara, and while they don’t quite understand what he’s saying, they don’t exactly welcome him with open arms. Felicity tested the DNA of the arrows she pulled, but only had inconclusive results, of course.
While dealing with this new revelation, Laurel is tasked with talking to Grant to find out what he knows about the frame-up. It looks like his former apprentice Isaac Stanzler (Nathan Mitchell) went overboard, killed a drug dealer six years ago, and left Grant holding the heavy bag. Grant split ways with Stanzler, which led to the gang kidnapping him and torturing him for months. This clearly left some bad blood between the two, which Stanzler aims to put to rest by killing Grant, putting Laurel in danger along the way.
Diggle and Arrow engage in a pretty gnarly high-speed chase, which features Laurel accidentally taking out Oliver on his bike, tossing Stanzler out of a moving car, narrowly avoiding killing Roy, and Ollie carrying Laurel to safety after the crash and just before the car explodes. Meanwhile, Roy engages Stanzler in a melee fight of his own, during which the fallen apprentice attempts to turn Roy against his allies, playing up on his doubts. It doesn’t turn out so well for the bad guy.
Grant gives Arrow – a relative newbie on the block – some much needed advice about how to handle Roy, but Oliver seems to have it under control. He then checks on Laurel at the hospital and apologizes for not offering to train her, in the hopes of keeping her safe. While Laurel inquires about Roy, the young man appears ready to give up his crimefighting ways and turn himself in. Oliver wants him to try meditation to clear his thoughts first. As Roy drifts back into his memories, it’s revealed that his dreams of killing Sara were masking the terrible truth of killing a cop while fueled up on mirakuru. He doesn’t take it well and needs some space.
Rather than giving Grant space, Laurel clears his name of all vigilantism charges and then shows back up at his now-closed gym. She wants to learn the vigilante trade in order to seek justice outside the courtroom.
While a pair of cops are transporting Stanzler, a new archer shows up on the scene, who should interest fans of the DC comics.
Honestly, the boxing glove arrow sold me on tonight’s episode, but it was another strong installment in the series even without it. I’m glad they didn’t string out the “Did Roy kill Sara?” plot dodge any longer, and I’m pleased with how they wrapped it up. The brother feels between Oliver and Roy came across in earnest in large part thanks to the sheer amount of time we’ve spent with the two, not just in this season but in years past. Unlike Roy’s new Arsenal moniker (maybe), Laurel’s transformation is painfully slow; if new images are any indication, she should be taking on the darker mantle of her fallen sister’s vigilante persona very soon. And for the first time, I’m not super familiar with a new character the show’s final moments revealed, so I’m looking forward to learning more about her in next week’s installment, “Draw Back Your Bow.”
Quips & Quivers:
- So that boxing-glove arrow might have been the best comedic/comicbook moment on this show so far.
- Arrow: “Masks are also used by serial killers.” Grant: “Says the man currently wearing one.”
- Grant: “How do you two know each other?” Laurel: “We used to date.”
- Oliver: “If Roy killed Sara, then … we will deal with it.” Again, glad this one got more or less wrapped up. So who’s your next best guess for Sara’s killer? (Could it be the new archer in town?)
- It was a little strange that the last victim was a magician’s assistant. Will we be seeing Zatara/Zatanna any time soon?
- Quentin to Laurel: “You sure know how to pick ‘em.”
- Stanzler to Roy: “You’re just another weapon in his arsenal.” Didja catch that?
- Roy: “Don’t abandon me.” Oliver: “Never.”
- Man, owning a boxing gym seems tough. Finding gang members strung up all over the place, fighting other vigilantes, and mopping up blood at all hours…
- Roy: “That guy said I was nothing but a weapon in your arsenal.” Oliver: “Maybe that’s what we should call you then.”
- Maseo: “Have you ever heard of steganography?” Oliver: “Isn’t that the dinosaur with plates on its back?”
- Cupid: “I’m Cupid, stupid.” Introducing Carrie Cutter, aka Cupid (Amy Gumenick)