IN BEFORE THE FOURTH EPISODE. Delayed by illness as I mentioned, also that big old Hurricane Sandy getting all in my business.
The third episode into Arrow, and I find myself mostly waiting for the show to get good, rather than actually enjoying it. They keep throwing hints of some interesting developments at me, then pull it away and give me something sub par, and frankly, kind of boring. Step it up, show. Step it up.
Lone Gunmen features as the main antagonist one of my favorite villains from DC Comics, but one who never serves well in screen adaptations because – well, he’s great in the comics where he’s part of a villainous and dysfunctional team, but as an anatagonist for a hero, he’s less than exciting, as we shall see.
So we start with my favorite things that are already feeling old: DRAMATIC VOICEOVER and GRATUITOUS SHIRTLESSNESS.
So there’s two things I want to say about these voiceovers: the first is that I am disappointed the show isn’t starting with the same dramatic voiceover each time, because I suspect the screenwriters are going to run out of ridiculous cheesy cliches pretty quickly.
The second thing is that Stephen Amell, who is a terrific actor in the rest of his scenes, cannot make them sound good. It makes me feel like I owe Ben Affleck an apology for making fun of his appalling voiceovers in Daredevil. Maybe it’s just impossible to deliver well a badly written dramatic voiceover narration.
Anyway, so Ollie is pained and secretive blah blah bad guys are a cancer on the city blah blah no really that’s the metaphor they chose to use Ollie is a cancer surgeon blah blah now he’s going after a guy called James Holder for – you know what? I don’t care, I’m sure you don’t care and I’m pretty sure the writers don’t care either. Oh, except that he’s apparently responsible for a series of fires in the Glades, which gives me an opportunity for my first:
Note to Non-Comics Readers: The Glades is an area of low income, slum areas in the Star City of DC comics and now apparently of Starling City of TV’s Arrow. It’s not quite the City Narrows (warning: TV Tropes), but more an area that can be used to show off Ollie’s special variety of political Leftishness.
You can tell James Holder is a bad guy because he talks on the cell phone at night by his rooftop pool. I’m pretty sure if I had a rooftop pool I would talk on my cell phone by it occasionally, but only evil people have rooftop pools on TV. LOOK I DON’T KNOW, OK?
The rooftop pool is where Green Arr… sorry, Man-inna-Hood shows up and shows Holder his security team’s guns. Does Ollie kill bodyguards? I guess he does, it’s just – that’s one hell of a lot of collateral damage, Olls. So then he yells at him about the fires, and presumably is about to threaten him, when he is interrupted by a sniper, who shoots Holder dead.
That’s what you get for having a rooftop pool and enemies, Holder.
Before the shot, we get a closeup view of the sniper’s gun, and a big red lens of an eye piece, through which he’s taking aim on his victim. Ollie doesn’t get this – he just gets a muzzle flash as the sniper shoots at him, helping him to determine which building the bad guy is using. But it’s enough for anyone whose familiar with comics to know who we’re dealing with.
NNCR: This is Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot, a mercernary/Assassin who is visually recognizable by his single red eyepiece and his wrist mounted automatic firearms. And for having facial hair as ridiculous as Ollie’s own. He was a run-of-the-mill Batman villain and appears in Arkham City, the Nolanverse Gotham Knights and the Justice League cartoon. In my opinion, he comes into his own as part of a team in Suicide Squad and later Secret Six. He is currently appearing in the New 52′s Suicide Squad. It is never explained why having a sight on your face rather than on your weapon is supposed to be a good thing.
Back in the Arrow Cave, Ollie gets his shirt off to sew up his own gunshot wound, and is in the middle of DRAMATIC VOICEOVER when he notices the wound isn’t healing and he’s feeling faint. His conclusion: The bullet is poisoned! Running to the case he brought back from the Island, he retrieves some herbs and a bottle of water, takes them both and passes out. Lucky he has magic cures-all-poisons herbs from the island. He should really get this to the local hospitals.
NNCR: No, Deadshot in comics never poisoned his bullets.
Passing out means ISLAND FLASHBACK TIME! After being shot in the shoulder by an arrow, Ollie wakes up to find himself in a cave with the man who shot him. The stranger speaks a language I don’t recognize – it may be Chinese as I think the island is off the Chinese coast but other than that I got nothing. He gets subtitles, though, and tells Ollie that he shot him to “protect him,” and gives the poor confuses playboy some herbs and a drink. before pulling out the arrow. END FLASHBACK.
Ollie is woken by his alarm telling him it’s seven in the morning and he heads home, where he finds Thea in the company of Starling City’s Finest. Diggle explains that the cops brought her home drunk after she broke into a store the night before.
Moira is most definitely not impressed with Thea’s blossoming criminal career.
BECHDEL TEST PASS. It only took two and a bit episodes.
Thea snarks at Moira, informs her she’s taking a sick day from school, and flounces off, leaving Ollie to tell Moira that she’s being a terrible mother and that she’s letting Thea get away with the same crap that he got away with, and look how he turned out. Important note: Ollie didn’t have nearly the same shit when he was adolescent that Thea grew up with. I’m just saying.
On the rooftop pool crime scene, Quentin Lance suspects something is up. He’s talking to regular detective whose name I don’t know (I need to find this out, if only because “African American sidekick” might get him confused with Diggle or Joanna. Show’s got issues. Show has to sort these issues out please?
Anyway, Det. Sidekick points out that they recovered arrows, and that James Holder was exactly Arrow’s type, to whit: wealthy dirtbag. Only he uses the phrase “The Hood,” now, so I guess that’s where we’re going? Quentin points out that Holder was shot, and the Hood doesn’t use firearms.
Thanks for raising the point, detectives. Why doesn’t The Hood use firearms? It’s not because he’s using non-lethal force, and it’s not because he’s using projectile gimmicks like trick arrows, so why a bow and arrow, exactly? Other than being based on Green Arrow, of course.
Based on Green Arrow and Batman, obviously, because in the Arrow Cave, Ollie is performing chemical forensics on his bloody bandages, and discovering that the bullets were laced with curare – a “rare and deadly” poison, and therefore probably unconnected to the Real World curare - which is a paralysing agent that causes asphyxiation. Using this information and a computer, he links this murder to a series or murders worldwide: Chicago, Markovia, Corto Martese are named.
NNCR: Markovia is a fictional East European country in the DCU, and the country of origin for Geo-Force and Terra. It is also where the original Losers team died in the 1940s. Corto Maltese is a fictional island nation that is probably off the coast of South America, somewhere. in the 1989 Batman film, Vicki Vale had been taking pictures of the violent revolution they’d recently had.
It’s from these computers that Ollie pulls up the codename Interpol uses for him – Deadshot. And in DRAMATIC VOICEOVER, he explains that while he, Ollie, was only planning on killing James Holder after shouting at him and robbing him to reimburse his victims, Deadshot has “no morality! No honor! No code!” and therefore Ollie’s going to put him right at the top of his ‘murders to do for daddy’ list.
Oliver Queen bears far too close a resemblance to season one Prince Zuko for my taste. Only much much douchier.
This all fades to a silent scene of Deadshot, in which…
…in which we discover…
I’m sorry, this is where I dissolved into helpless squeaks of what the fuck?, because Deadshot tattoos the names of every one of his victims onto his body. With his own hand. With decorative swirls.
I can’t stop giggling.
NNCR: It’s true, comics!Deadshot had no morality, code or honor. It’s not true that he tattoos names of his victims onto his body because 1) that’s sort of a code or honor-related thing, right? b) that would imply he gave a shit about the people he killed, and THREE, it’s freaking ridiculous, that’s why.
NNCR: Among the names on Deadshot’s body are: Andrew Diggle, the writer of Green Arrow: Year One; Danny and Wes Anslem, the the kidnappers responsible for the name of Floyd Lawton’s son Eddie (Wes, who actually raped and murdered Eddie, is a bigger name); Andy Haskell, who was also involved in the kidnapping; Yasemin Soze, a sharpshooter who showed up in the Birds of Prey and reappeared in Suicide Squad, having replaced Lawton on Task force X. He killed her, and she was ressurected as a zombie. Other names include John O’Neil, which I expect is a nod to Green Arrow writer Denny O’Neil; Gordon Verheul and Glen Winter, cinematographers on Smallville;and a bunch of other names that when Googled produce IMDB pages so I guess they’re known to the show runners.
Yet another NNCR (edited): I just had a look at a better screencap and I missed an awesome one! Also on Deadshot’s shoulder is Joe Cray, a senator who once manipulated the Suicide Squad to his own political ends. Rick Flagg, the most Good aligned of the squad, and Lawton’s bropal of the time, found out and went on an angry mission to kill the Senator. This would have had grave consequences, so the Squad were dispatched with orders “do not let Flagg kill Cray, even if you have to use lethal force!” – so Deadshot killed Cray.
Ollie has a REALLY CLEVER IDEA. He’s going to turn the Queen Industrial Inc. warehouse – the one above the Arrow Cave – into a NIGHTCLUB! Tommy Merlyn thinks this is a great idea because partying, and that he and Ollie should go and check out this other nightclub run by Max Fuller. Ollie’s a little wary because he slept with Max Fuller’s fiancee, but yolo, right?
Tommy leaves, and Ollie asks Diggle what he thinks. Diggle thinks Ollie is a self important rich white dude opening a high end nightclub in the middle of a poor (and implied predominately Black) neighbourhood, [the Glades] where the locals won’t see a penny of the proceeds. So screw you, Oliver Queen. Only more classy than that because Diggle is the classiest of the lot of them.
Talking of nightclubs – Joanna is unhealthily invested in her best friend’s love life. Specifically Laurel’s apparent inability to get over Ollie and sleep with anyone who isn’t his best friend. Joanna’s solution to this is for them both to go to a nightclub. I’m sure this is a perfect plan and will not end up with them meeting the men who also coincidentally decided to go clubbing that same night at all.
Moira’s decided to try her hand at this mothering business, and informs an annoyed Thea that she’s grounded, thank you very much. Thea’s shocked by this turn of events and blames Ollie’s appearance. Moira says that she doesn’t need Oliver to teach her how to be a mother, which is obviously a blatent lie, because she’s only here because he told her to. While this started out as a Bechdel pass, it was really a segue to talk about Ollie, but it doesn’t last long.
Having ditched Diggle, Ollie is now spending the day Detecting. He returns to Holder’s neighbourhood and uses his own memories of the shooting to track the path one of the bullets must have taken, and some impressive parkour skillz to climb up the side of a building and pull the bullet out of a wall. Back in the Arrow cave, he identifies the bullet as a 7.62mm, and tracks Deadshot’s money trail back to the Bratva. Finally, he monologues, some good luck. It’s never mentioned how he got hold of the money trail without knowing the assassin or the people who hired him. Money trail of who bought the bullet? IDEK.
The roommates are home while I recap this, and at this point, Ana asks if he inner-monologues a lot. I crack up.
The poor police, however, have to rely on actual forensics, and Det. Partner is telling Det. Lance that they found two 7.62mm bullets in Holder, and that ballistics estimate the sniper was 100m away. So The Hood, who turned up at the building, took out Security and left some arrows, might not have been involved in shooting from another building. They’ve also found curare in Holder’s blood stream. Quentin leaves, apparently bored with all this lab-based scientific forensics, and goes to stand by the rooftop pool until something comes to him.
Ollie heads to a Russian owned car-shop, and gets to show off the Russian he was able to speak in the pilot to Raisa.
I miss Raisa, she was awesome. I’m sad she doesn’t appear to have survived from the pilot.
Ollie tells them he’s looking for Alexei Leonov. They say they’re no one here by that name and when he gets pushy, pull a gun on him. Ollie breaks the gun hand (and Eliot Spencer is vindicated. Limited range of efficacy) and displays one of his many shiny new tattoos from his life as a castaway. This evidently identifies him as a captain of the Bratva and comes with entry to the shop’s basement and free vodka.
Ollie explains that he wants to use a hired gun that the organization has used before; the one who uses 7.62mm laced with curare. He is assured that they will look into it. And also confirm Ollie is a Bratva captain, otherwise they will kill him and his family.
Meanwhile, Deadshot has been busy! He’s now tattooing the name “Carl Rasmussen” onto his body while watching a news article on this worthy’s death. We also finally get to see his face. Like the protagonist of the show, he is insufficiently bearded.
I fixed it.
Now two people are dead, the police can make connections. Such as that both victims were looking to make bids on a buy out of a company called UNIDAC Industries. In their investigation, they start questioning other people known to be involved in that auction, such as Walter Steele. There may be others, but Quentin Lance hates the Steele-Queen company so off he goes. To question and to “warn” other prospective bidders to be careful.
Walter Steele informs the cops that Diggle’s got it covered.
Diggle, who’s very good at his job but has been shown many times to be not enough people to handle Oliver Queen’s personal security on his own, is now in charge of security for a family of four. YAY. Of course, he’s still got to do this job on his own.
Talking of which – the bouncers at Fuller’s nightclub won’t let Diggle in because his name’s not on the list, so Ollie cheerfully dumps him and goes into the party. But guess who is at the club? Well, Laurel, for one, though that’s no surprise, and a drunken giggly Thea.
Interesting aside: Joanna is at rhe club, but she has no lines and is just seen beckoning Laurel on to the dance floor. I’m beginning to wonder if Joanna actually exists or is just a figment of Laurel’s imagination, as she has no storyline or friends of her own. This theory is held up by the fact that I’m pretty sure I’ve written some of Joanna’s actual dialog while RPing Dinah Lance.
Ollie chides Thea for being out drunk when she’s grounded, Thea yells at Ollie for being a dickish controlling big brother. She tells him at Laurel and Tommy have been having sex, and Tommy tries to apologize. Ollie tells him not to worry about it, because he’s got more important things to worry about, like his drunk teenage sister. Thea storms off, so that Max Fuller can turn up and take his turn in the mad-at-Ollie parade.
He and his bodyguards (of which he has several, being not as much as a tightwad as the Steele-Queens) escort Ollie off to a curtained-off back room, where one of the goons can punch him inna face as a prelude to beating that smug look right off Ollie’s face. Tommy runs in to try and protect him, before realizes that this just means both him and his BFF will have the smug looks beaten off their faces. The beating commences, and while Ollie apparently fights back, it doesn’t go well for either of them.
Until Laurel bursts through the curtain, grabs Max from behind, hits him hard several times in the back and throws him to the floor. It’s pretty awesome.
Ollie, Tommy and Laurel are all banned for life from Max’s club, which I don’t think they’re sorry about. Ollie, of course, is staring at Dinah like he’s mentally undressing her, and then re-dressing her in a teddy and fishnets.
“Where did you learn to do that?”
“Cop dad, remember?”
NNCR: “Police officer father made me take self defence classes” is pretty much the origin story for Dinah Laurel Lance’s mother, the golden age Black Canary.
Ollie tries to talk about the Laurel/Tommy thing, but she walks out. “Tommy and I don’t need your blessing and I don’t’ need your forgiveness.”
ISLAND FLASHBACK TIME: Ollie wakes up in the cave, sees his captor is asleep, and runs for it, hurtling through the island forest until his shoulder wounds hurts too much. then he steps into a trap and is sprung into a suspended net. END FLASHBACK.
Diggle was presumably waiting outside for the lads, because he escorts them both to Big Belly Burger.
NNCR: Big Belly Burger is a fast food joint seen throughout the DCU. In the comics, it’s MacDonaldsish. In Arrow, it looks more like a Wimpy’s.
This branch is being staffed by Diggle’s sister in law. Tommy announces she’s cute, but Ollie is the creepy one, because within three seconds of entering, he has noticed that she isn’t wearing a wedding ring.
Her name is Carly, and she’s a tad protective of Diggle, given that his brother – her husband – was killed doing the same job. This is more interesting than just more backstory for Diggle if you bear in mind that Deadshot had “Andrew Diggle” tattooed on his chest. They might just be shoutouts to the same writer, but.
Tommy tries to apologize some more about shagging Laurel, like that had anything to do with the guy who was dead at the time, but they are interrupted when Oliver gets a call on his cell phone, and explains to Tommy that it’s a Russian model -could he have a little privacy?
For no reason, Ollie then immediately switches to English. He checked out in the Bratva’s background checks, and they have information for him about Floyd Lawton, and an address for the last time he stayed in Starling City; a hotel at 1700 Broadway, room 52.
NNCR: One of DC’s most surprisingly good titles was a story that took place in “real time,” over 52 weekly issues, in which apparently disconnected storylines moving at different paces each connected and intertwined. It is ALSO the canonical number of universes in the DCU multiverse (DCM?) and currently the number of ongoing comic titles published in the same continuity: the “New 52″ launched in September 2011. Although the titles making up that stable have changed a couple of times, last time I checked, there were still 52 titles.
Fortunately, Lawton is still hanging out in exactly the hotel room! He’s playing on his laptop when The Hood arrives to shoot at him, and returns fire with a firearm mounted on his wrist.
NNCR: Deadshot has had these wrist magnums for as long as I’ve been reading him. And no, I don’t think it’s ever explained how he pulls the trigger.
After a bullets vs arrows fight, which Ollie wins by standing behind the wall to the hallway (which doesn’t look bulletproof), Deadshot scrams out of a window, leaving his no bullet riddled laptop. Ollie takes that and the next morning drops in on the IT department at Q Consolidated, where he finds Felicity Smoak.
NNCR: Felicity Smoak is the step mother of Ronnie Raymond, one half of the gestalt superhero Firestorm. In comics, she manages a computer software firm. In Arrow, apparently, she asks people if they’ve tried turning it off and on again.
Ollie says that he’d like some help salvaging his laptop after he spilled a latte on it. Felicity says that it looks like there are bulletholes in it. He remarks that his coffee shop is in a bad neighborhood It’d be excruciating, if I could stop giggling at the ridiculous.
NNCR: Oliver Queen is generally absolutely appalling with computers. In comics, this is usually put down to his being a good ten years older than a lot of his superheroic contemporaries.
Moira interrupts Thea’s quality sulking time to insist that she comes along to Walter’s stock option, which I always thought was something boring and financial but turns out to be accountant code for party. Who knew, right? As before, the scene rapidly veers away from Bechdel territory, and becomes a conversation about how Robert Queen was so much better at parenting Thea than Moira is. There’s a story about a cat, but really, it’s Moira saying, in her broken spoiled rich girl way, that she’d kind of like to try harder at this mothering thing, if Thea’s on board with that.
But first, Thea absolutely has to come to the party – I mean, stock option. I mean, that thing where all the participants are being picked off by an assassin from Interpol’s most wanted list.
Talking of which: it’s the building in which this auction is scheduled to take place, that Felicity finds the blueprints of on the laptop. Ollie asks what this ‘UNIDAC Industries Auction’ is, and she points out it’s supposed to be his laptop. She makes direct reference to Hamlet, with Walter as Claudius, in explaining that Walter is one of the bidders at this auction. And that this laptop actually belongs to one of the guys he’ll be competing against.
“Floyd Lawton,” Ollie concedes.
“No,” (you idiot) “Warren Patel. Who’s Floyd Lawton.”
“He is an employee of Mr. Patel, evidently.”
Sitting right in front of Felicity, Ollie pulls a JD and monologues to himself about how the Exchange Building is surrounded by three towers, ideal for a sniper. He can’t cover them all himself. He’ll need help.
I’d really like it if “call the damn police” is high on the solutions list for any superhero, really.
And by “call the police,” what Ollie means, is jump Quentin Lance in an alley, pin him against the hood of a car, and tell him all about Lawton, and Warren Patel, and to tell him, “I need your help.”
I kind of think there are better ways to have this conversation than throwing someone down onto the hood of a car, I’m just saying.
Meanwhile, at the auction, Thea has decides to turn up and Walter and Moira are both delighted. Walter is a fond step-father, it seems, and he’s glad she’s there. I’m really liking Walter Steele, by the way. He’s a stand up bloke, and seems to have nothing to do with any the the sinister plots. Which either means he’ll be revealed as a big bad later, or he really is a nice guy. I’m hoping for the latter.
The police arrest Warren Patel, and escort him away for questioning. Meanwhile, Quentin has people on the lookout for Lawton, and calls in with his units. They all report all clear, including one unit that dundunDUN has been replaced BY Floyd Lawton.
Presumably the original Unit Five is a fresh recruit, recently promoted in the vacancies following the deaths of the people providing protection for Laurel last episode. Anyway, he’s dead now.
Time out from drama for Laurel and Tommy. Tommy wants to talk about how Ollie didn’t seem to mind about their shagging. Laurel points out this is because he obviously already knew. So does this mean that they can maybe keep doing it? Tommy asks. He’d like to have a go at this boyfriend thing. Okay, but you have to be less of a dick, she says. Dinner? Fine.
Back to the plot!
Ollie is swanning around the place like Ollie-the-dick not The Hood, and stops to trade barbs with Quentin. Ollie tries to thank him for keeping an eye out for his family and Quentin rolls his ‘just doing my job you dickhead’ eyes. To Diggle!
“Dig! Got your eyes open?”
“That’s what I’m here for, sir. That and answering patronizing questions.”
In his stress, Ollie accidentally betrays his competence and tells Diggle that he’s expecting something before the auction. Ollie backsteps with “I heard the story on the radio,” but Diggle’s on to you, my boy!
Ollie is then shocked to learn of Thea’s presence everywhere he doesn’t want her, like at an auction where there’s a probable chance someone might be assassinated, and he insists Diggle take both her and Moira home. While this is going on, Quentin notices a laser dot homing in on Walter and dives to get him out of shot.
The first shot therefore misses and takes down a waiter, and Deadshot, like the professional he isn’t, proceeds to fire more rounds into a room of screaming, panicking people. In the panic, Ollie repeats his insistence that Diggle look after the Queen women, and runs off to the service stairs, where he stashed his hood in a sack in a trashcan. Diggle, because it is his job to protect all the Queens, follows at a more cautious pace, his piece out and ready.
Trick Arrow time! Ollie uses a grapple arrow and a zip line to swing across into the tower Deadshot is using, surprising the assassin by arriving on the scene via window smashing. There follows another bullets vs bow match, in which we already know the world famous assassin is going to be horrendously outmatched.
NNCR: Although Ollie has made an appearance in a Deadshot comic, Deadshot isn’t really a Green Arrow rogue. There is a reason for this.
Ollie brings it quickly into a hand-to-hand fight, because range of efficacy, and beats the crap out of Lawton some before he gets away and they end up back to Lawton with a gun and Ollie having to hide behind a pillar.
At this point they have the following petulant boy conversation, which I swear I am only slightly paraphrasing for brevity.
“I admire your work!” Lawton whines. He’s obviously mad that this other murderer he’s a fan of is being such a dick.
“WE’RE NOT THE SAME! YOUR PROFESSION IS MURDER.”
“You’ve taken lives.”
Ollie makes EXACTLY THIS FACE:
“FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS. You’re out for yourself!”
Deadshot responds to that by shooting at him, which is pretty much what he deserves. Ollie appears behind the pillar long enough to fire one single arrow. Right through Lawton’s eyepiece and by extension, his eye.
Good. He was a boring antagonist.
A close up reveals he’s still breathing, but you wonder how long he’s got.
Obviously, because I like reading far too much into one expression, I like to hope that this is the start of some serious Ollie soul searching. How exactly is what he’s doing and what Lawton’s doing all that different? Will it be the start of a construction of a more complex superhero morality?
I doubt it, but I hope so.
Then Diggle arrives on the scene, having been shot in the shoulder and having had to run from the other building. He’s a tiny bit surprised to have the Hood scoop him up and craay him off, but he’s in shock and has been shot and poisoned, so what’re you going to do?
FLASHBACK TIME. Ollie’s captor shows up, cuts him free from the net and calls him a fool for running around on his own. they’ll find him, he says. Then he departs, leaving poor still wounded playboy Ollie to stagger after him. After they’ve gone, black clad ninja dudes show up and inspect the empty net.END FLASHBACK.
In the Arrow Cave, Ollie gives Diggle the herbs and water that cure all poisons but especially curare, and he splutters back to live. Given that Ollie knew that Deadshot would be at the auction tonight, shooting people, and he knew that he had herbs that antidote these poisons (or indeed all poisons, ’cause he didn’t know what he had when he used them on himself), I can only assume at this point that he also informed all the local hospitals how to treat curare poisoning in gunshot victims.
Anyway, Diggle splutters back to life, and there’s Oliver Queen! In the Hood costume! Shock and Awe!
“Hey,” says Ollie.
Tune in next week – or tonight, now I guess, when Diggle will hopefully be sporting red with a yellow hat and calling himself Arsenal.
Dialog of the Week:
Diggle: “So how was your evening, sir?”
Ollie: “You mean after I said I had to go to the bathroom at dinner and never came back?”
Diggle: (deadpan) “I guess from now on I’ll be watching you pee.”
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