This should have been a really great episode! And in some ways the show’s definitely coming into its own. Tr0uble is, now they’re bringing all the plot threads together it’s becoming obvious which are really thin indeed. So much for Oliver’s character development from a random murderer to someone who feels bad about murder. So much, also, for Quentin being an actual interesting character?
OTOH, the show’s starting to build up towards some things, the Island plot is becoming something approaching mildly interesting, and the grown ups’ plot if becoming the plot of the show.
Sadly, a ridiculously small amount of Thea, and no Mckenna, or Carly, who I always like to see more of.
Theme of the episode: family and friends going behind each other’s backs. Hence: BETRAYAL.
We are introduced to the Villain of the Week in short order and with no mystery: Cyrus Vanch. On being paroled from Iron Heights, he and his girlfriend Vivian head straight over to his lawyer’s house, where he kills said lawyer and moves straight in. Because he’s eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. And played by David Anders. And dressed by the same people who dressed Count Punchable last episode. And even though it’s obvious that he is just going to be VotW, I wonder right from the very beginning why they didn’t name this character Werner Vertigo.
When your uninteresting David Anders VotW is more interesting than your Count Vertigo character, you might be doing Green Arrow wrong. Yes, I’m still mad about that.
Meanwhile, Ollie has told Diggle about The List situation from last episode. That is: Felicity had a book that matched Robert’s Book Of Names. She said Walter had it before he went missing, and he told her that he got it from Moira. So it’s a case of who to believe: Walter or Moira?
(Or secret option #3: Felicity is a criminal genius who is playing everyone off against each other.)
Ollie, obviously, doesn’t want to believe anything bad of his mother, but Diggle falls on the side of the person who is missing.
ISLAND FLASHBACK Ollie follows Yao Fei’s map, and it leads him to the wreckage of a crashed aeroplane. Which presumably, Fyers doesn’t know about? In the plane, he is ambushed by a man with an Australian accent and a really big knife, but by using the magic words “Yao Fei sent me,” Ollie manages to not be killed. END FLASHBACK
Quentin is being re-assigned off the Hoodguy case because apparently public opinion is turning towards this multiple-murderer, on account of how the people he’s murdering are also bad guys. Quentin’s beginning to com off as a single-minded obsessive, which is even more annoying given that the guy he’s obsessing over catching has, in the last four months, killed more people than half the individuals on this list.
Ollie decides to do what so few people do on telly nowadays: he goes direct to his mother with The Book, hands it to her and asks her what’s up. He spins a story about Walter giving it to Ollie before he disappeared, and it’s worth noting that between Walter disappearing and Felicity going to Ollie, the names have become permanently visible in white light, without needed ridiculous glasses (because they were ridiculous). Moira acts confused: telling Ollie it’s a notebook in which Robert was keeping a list of people who owed him favors.
So both the Books were written in the same handwriting: They were both Robert’s? Why two notebooks, Robert?
Following up on the previous stories about Robert’s affairs, Moira assures Ollie that Robert was keeping secrets, she has no idea what it means and if looking into this got Walter in trouble, they should stay out of it. She throws the book into the fire.
No one seems particularly interested in using the book to locate Walter. I understand Moira’s reluctance, but Ollie must really hate his stepfather.
Single Thea appearance of the episode: Laurel is going her around CNRI and introduces her to “Anatasia,” the new ‘woman in Laurel’s office’ now that Joanna is On a Bus. Anatasia relates the news of Cyrus Vanch’s release due to lack of evidence: CNRI are representing a victims’ advocacy group trying to keep him interred The DA Kate Spencer has pre-emptively told Laurel not to bother her because they still need evidence.
Laurel’s resulting rant about how evil Vanch is, is interrupted when Tommy calls, asking her to come along to a tasting audition for chefs in the club. She agrees, but cuts the call short; Anatasia mentioned a ‘private police force’ needed to keep Vanch from resuming criminal activities, and guess what Laurel has in her pocket?
Ollie and Diggle are arguing about how to deal with the Moira situation (Hooding up and threatening her vs believing everything she says on face value) when the Arrow Phone rings. Laurel asks him for help finding evidence to fight Vanch, and Ollie would rather do that then face up to his other problem, so off he goes.
Remember how Laurel got that phone? The bug Quentin planted on it lights up and he gets right to his feet, ready to organize a task force to catch Hoodguy.
Cyrus and Vivian are having dinner in their well-guarded Lawyer’s House, chatting about the power vacuum left by Hoodguy and Huntress taking out the leaders of the Triad and the Bertinelli Organization, and how Vanch would like in on that. He plans to do “something spectacular” to get the attention and respect of these organizations that apparently have been headless chickens since the last time they appeared on the show.
Vanch’s inspiration comes in the form of the deaths-by-arrows by a lot of his guards, and the appearance of a bugged arrow in the pillar by his dinner table. He just needs to find and kill the Big Guy in town! Flawless plan!
Laurel and Tommy are cute-ing it up to go taste foods when the Arrow Phone rings; Laurel excuses herself with “it’s work” and arranges a meeting with Hoodguy on the rooftop of the Winick Building in 30 minutes. I guess no building in Starling City has secured roof access? Anyway, Quentin is of course listening in, and mobilizes his task force, using rubber bullets as a concession to the fact that his daughter’s going to be there in the crossfire.
Note to Non-Comics Readers: Judd Winick was a writer on Green Arrow and Green Arrow/Black Canary in the early 21st century. I… don’t recommend his work.
Nameless Black Cop is back! Acting as the voice of ‘are you sure you’re not taking this a bit far?’ for Quentin.
Meanwhile, Diggle has upgraded to the Grown-Ups Plot. He is filling in for Moira’s driver Ricky, who has conveniently failed to show up for work for the first time in six years. (Disappeared in mysterious and as yet unexplained circumstances?) The work involves driving her places then sneakily following her in, getting caught and making an excuse about needing the bathroom.
It is so freaking good to see Diggle doing something actually proactive rather than offering Ollie suggestions to be ignored
Anyway, Hoodguy and Laurel meet on the rooftop in magical doesn’t-get-you-wet rain. Ollie hands her a recording of the conversation he recorded with his Listening Arrow, and then Quentin and task force run out, guns ready. Ollie quickly takes Laurel as a hostage, backs towards the edge of the rooftop, apologizes to her, then makes his escape. Quentin follows him, down onto a fire escape and into a stairwell. A great deal is made about how FOCUSED and ANGRY Quentin is, but Ollie gets the drop on him, knocks him out, and escapes.
Laurel, obviously, isn’t happy about the whole lying-to-her using-her-as-a-sting deliberately-putting-her-in-the-crossfire situation, and gives it to her dad in both ears, yelling about how his hate for Hoodguy has blinded him to his own family. She also suggests that Quentin blames Hoodguy for the death of Sara, his wife leaving and his alcoholism? I’m not sure, but I think all of that was Ollie’s fault. Does Laurel know something?
She slams the ArrowPhone down on Quentin’s desk and storms out.
In a great show of bucking the trend when it comes to lying to your friends and family, Diggle tells Ollie straight up that he’s driving Moira around, keeping an eye on her. Ollie is angry – but he’s already angry at Quentin for using Laurel, so there’s some projection.
Laurel rails to Tommy about being uses by her father, and it comes out that she’s been in possession and using the Arrow Phone. Tommy fairly sees this as lying to him, and also as hanging out with a murderer.
“You sound like my father,” Laurel says, as if this doesn’t stop Hoodguy from, y’know, being a murderer.
Oh hey, guess what? Vanche’s girlfriend/moll/minion (I’m actually not sure which. Competent female employee!) Vivian has a ‘contact’ in the police force! And now she knows that they used Laurel to flush out Hoodguy which means Vanche now knows that Laurel is an effective way of getting to Hoodguy.
NNCR: “Use of girlfriend to flush out hero” is the oldest trope in the book. I’m pretty sure even people who have never read a comic in their lives know that if you want to get Superman, you kidnap Lois. Yes, it even works when the girlfriend in question is the superhero Black Canary. Yes, it’s sexist and boring. No, it’s never going away, ever.
Ollie and Tommy talk about the nightclub for the whole of two seconds before Tommy changes it to Laurel and how she’s hanging out with Hoodguy and how jealous he is.
“We both know she has a pretty strong track record of being attracted to guys who are dangerous, who break the rules.”
NNCR: Craig Windrow; Ra’s Al Ghul; Archer Braun; Yeeeeeeeeeeep.
Ollie’s advice? Talk to her, get everything all out in the open, and fix it.
ISLAND FLASHBACK Ollie tells the guy who is clearly about to be his new mentor about the map and “Shengcun,” and New Mentro explains that Yao Fei and he were working to get into a airfield about 10k from the crash site, before Yao Fei was compromised and they were separated. He hands Ollie a vicious looking blade and tells him that he thinks Yao Fei sent him to help take the airfield. “If you’re going to have my back, I need to know you can cover it.” The he attacks Ollie and an extremely brief sword class begins. It ends when Ollie admits to leaving Yao Fei to be captured, and New Mentor knocks him out END FLASHBACK
Laurel is at home, leaving a message on Tommy’s phone to try and make amends, when the doorbell rings. It’s Vanch and team! Laurel does an awesome job of self defence, beating the crap out of minions with elbows, feet, umbrellas, doors and glass fronted cabinets, until Vanch steps in and tazes her to the floor.
Diggle’s project of driving Moira around and spying on her leads them to a business called Faquet-Lemaitre Consulting to see her “accountant.” As I assume she’s been doing all along, Moira suggests Diggle wait out in the car. As I assume he’s been doing all along, Diggle ignores her and sneaks in after her. He ends up in a janitor’s closet next to the office she walked into, and he digs out a listening device and starts listening (and recording) through the wall.
(Faquet-Lemaitre isn’t from comics, but it is the name of a set decorator on the show)
Moira is meeting with John Barrowmerlyn! She reports on her success in dissuading Carl Ballard from messing with “The Undertaking.” Barrowmerlyn thanks her and adds another favor – can she please clear out the warehouse? You know, the one with the Queen’s Gambit in it? Because he doesn’t want anyone to find the evidence for the sabotage.
At this point, Diggle is interrupted by building security. They dance around each other, and then Diggle pulls out a lighter and a pack of cigarettes. He was just smoking in this closet!
Tommy goes to Laurel’s apartment to talk things out, and walks into an empty apartment showing signs of a struggle. Terrified, he finds the recording arrow left by Cyrus: Dear Hooded Vigilante: I think we should meet, Y/N? Love, the guy who’s about to cut bits off this girl. xx.
Tommy takes it to Quentin, who takes no time at all in figuring out that the only people who knew Laurel was connected to Hoodguy were his fellow police officers. With no one to turn to, he picks up the ArrowPhone and makes a call.
But Diggle gets there first, giving the recording device to Ollie, who gets to listen to his mother talk about “The Undertaking,” (this is the thing that would kill lots of people and would be ruined by gentrifying the Glades, just so we’re on the same page), but more importantly, confess that she knew the Queen’s Gambit was sabotaged: and Robert, Sarah, and everyone on that yacht was murdered. (Well, Ollie focuses on Robert, but you know.)
Fortunately, the phone rings before Ollie has to deal with it. Time to rescue Laurel!
ISLAND FLASHBACK TIME Ollie wakes up to find himself tied to a chair. New Mentor is there to explain that - now bear with me I don’t really follow the logic – NM needs to take an airstrip, but he can’t take it alone, so he has to kill Ollie because Ollie might get caught and tortured and give him up, but he knocked him out and tied him to a chair because – no, I lost it. It’s a test, anyway. Ollie dislocates a thumb while NM is talking, and gets out of his bonds. This passes the test, and NM introduces himself as Slade Wilson, and says he’s going to train him. END FLASHBACK
NNCR: Slade Wilson is the name of Deathstroke, superpowered one-eyed mercenary, worst father in the DCU, and wearer of the same mask as that guy whose been wearing a mask and hanging out with Fyers and the ganag all this time.
Hoodguy and Quentin meet on a rooftop, and Quentin explains about the mole in his precinct and how Hoodguy is the only one he can trust. Hoodguy says that Cyrus is holed up in a fortified mansion he can’t take on his own. But hey. they can work together, right?
At the mansion, Cyrus has Laurel tied to a chair at a dinner table, where he can menace and evil at her. Laurel’s reaction? To list the crimes he’s just committed and promise that he’ll rot for life this time.
The following scene is actually a mastery of archery-vigilante TV making. Cryus monologues about the men he has guarding them – men with assault rifles of 600rpm, snipers, &c, intercut with scenes of Ollie actually taking them down. The best part of the entire episode, actually, is this superb display of Queenery. (Fans of DC’s Arkham games may be grinning as much as me.) I can’t decide if it’s great or silly when Cyrus explains he counted exactly how many arrows Hoodguy takes on a sting with him, and discovered it was consistently twenty-four, just as the final guard with a gun finds Ollie, and SURPRISE, that’s #25.
I’m falling on the side of silly, because really.
Guard walks Hoodguy into the dining room with Cyrus, Vivian and Laurel, and is just about to shoot him, when he himself is shot – by Quentin, whose part in this teamwork was to hang back until the absolute last minute then swoop in. Apparently.
Ollie knocks Vivian out while Quentin storms in, gun pointing at Vanch, yelling at him. Before he can pull the trigger, however, Ollie knocks the gun out of his hands. “I’m the vigilante. You’re the cop!”
See, Ollie (who has just killed 24 men) can’t let Quentin kill the man who actually masterminded the kidnap and potential torture of his daughter. That would be wrong!
NNCR: Ollie once killed some people who had imprisoned and tortured Dinah. It was a REALLY BIG DEAL.
Quentin punches Vanch out instead. Ollie flees the scene, and Quentin is left to rescue his daughter.
Back at the police station, Laurel obviously has trauma, and Quentin offers to take her home, but she refuses. The break of trust is too big, and she needs some time apart. Katie and Paul are on top form, here.
Hoodguy is waiting for her in the parking lot. He’s here to check up on her and suggest they take a break from each other. He hadn’t realized this would put her in danger, you see! (Laurel did know it, she says, and went into it with her eyes open, but Ollie doesn’t want Laurel to be making those decisions for herself!)
Tommy arrives and Hoodguy disappears. Laurel apologizes to Tommy for lying, but he’s not having it, just happy to see her alive. Ollie watches from a rooftop, but I don’t even care about this love triangle anymore. Tommy/Laurel has my heart.
ISLAND FLASHBACK TIME. Slade’s big plan for taking the airfield starts with training Ollie. told to pick a weapon, Ollie goes to a big chest and, among some guns, finds a mask. THE mask, in fact. The Deathstroke mask that Ollie immediately recognizes as belonging to the guy who tortured him. No wait, you don’t understand! Slade says. His partner and he are ASIS, and wore the masks to hide their identities. They came here to free Yao Fei. Fyers story about them being prisoners was a lie! Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on anymore. END FLASHBACK
NNCR: In comics continuity, Fyers is usually an ally and sometimes a friend of Ollie. Deathstroke is definitely definitely not. Also, AFAIK, Deathstroke doesn’t have a partner.
Back in the ArrowCave, Diggle and Ollie decide the moral of the episode is that blind trust can be dangerous, tying it into last week’s “Trust but Verify.”
And finally Ollie knows that the Squiggle Organization is doing an Undertaking! I hereby call them the Squiggle Undertakers. Ollie’s first step in undermining the undertaking?
“Mom… I mean, Moira Queen? YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CITY!”
Verdict? Fantastially plotted, thematically sound, and I really like where the Squiggle plot is going. This would be a great episode, if it wasn’t for Hoodguy being back to an indiscriminate goon-killer, with the only person who still thinks murder is wrong, being portrayed as an inconsistent, irrational lover.
Sorry, Quentin, you deserve better.
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