Aw, Arrow, you started so well. Was is really necessary to use your second episode to uncritically showcase one of the worse flaws in the superhero genre? You’ll have non-superhero fans thinking that this is how we do things over here.
Note to Non-Comics Readers: It is usually acknowledged in the better superhero books that vigilantes work outside the law and while this gives them an advantage in some ways, it does mean that they get in the way of actual legal proceedings as often as not. If you’re interested in stories about how vigilante justice and the criminal justice system are incompatible, may I suggest Gotham Central and maybe Bendis’ run on Daredevil.
If you like your superheroes ridiculous and have a great resistance against the urge to slap yourself on the forehead, then you’re in luck, because Arrow starts with a DRAMATIC INTRODUCTION VOICEOVER.
Gawd, I love dramatic introduction voiceovers. Remember that time when in every generation there was a Chosen One, and then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked?
The day I went missing was the day I died. Five years in Hell forged me into a weapon, which I use to honor a vow I made to father who sacrificed his life for mine. In his final moments he told me the truth: That our family’s wealth had been built on the suffering of others. That he failed our city, and that it was up to me to save it, and right his wrongs. But to do that without endangering the people closest to me, I have be someone else. I have to be something else.
All of this over a montage of him suiting up. You have no idea how much I want this to be a regular thing. Can we start every episode with this, please? Stephen Arnell delivers it SO DRAMATICALLY. Feel his pain, guys. FEEL IT. (Also remember that Robert Queen shot himself and another man in front of his son after telling him that it was up to him to undo the bullshit that Robert laid down. Worst father ever.)
So after the suiting up and voiceover of exposition, we cut straight to Arrow on a rooftop beating the crap out of some bad guys with hand to hand tactics and archery. And as in the pilot, the action scene is pretty neat, and Arrow is shown to be definitely good at what he does. Even his shooting of someone behind him is done with precision and you believe that the man crying out and falling over is related to the guy pulling bowstrings. Competence kink, I have one. And Arrow hits it when he fights.
When all the goons are down and only one guy in a suit is left, Arrow proceeds to kick him down, and threaten him by holding his face over an electrical generator.
“Marcus Redman,” he says. “You failed this city. Cellphone, inside pocket. Tell your partner to give those pensioners back their money! Do it. Now.” DRAMATIC EXIT. Presumably trusting that Redman will do it.
So basically, Arrow is going after the kind of con artist that Nate Ford needs a whole crew of super talented criminals to bring down. Only They do it with much more style.
Back at the Queen residence, Ollie joins his mother, sister and step-father in a living room where Moira is watching the news about Redman’s refund of the pension plan and the alleged involvement of the Man In The Hood (please, show, give him a name.) Ollie makes a blase remark about him getting more airtime than the Cardassians Kardashians (I ALWAYS do that) and Thea says what I’m thinking – that with five years on an island he’s got no right knowing who they are. Her tone implies what I’m also thinking – that it was better when he didn’t know stuff, thanks.
Turns out Ollie and the grown ups are off to court today! To prove that he’s alive and get his legal declaration of death reversed. Ollie passes up an excellent opportunity to claim that he’s not dead, he feels happy and that he thinks he’ll go for a walk, but he does tell us that he’s been in a courtroom before.
Enter Tommy! Because no conversation about Ollie’s playboy douchebaggery can be complete without Tommy Merlyn being a cocky dick about it. If Tommy is in fact the bad guy of the season, and not as I suspect, the Harry Osborn son of the bad guy, then he’s way better at the playboy douchebag act than Ollie is, and Ollie shoudl really be taking notes.
Ollie’s previous courtroom adventures number four times, Tommy tells us. DUI, assault on a paparazzi, stealing a taxi “And who could forget peeing on that cop?”
“I wish everyone would,” Moira tells us. I have to disagree, and would suggest that if anyone wanted to create a roleplaying account for this version of Ollie Queen, that peedonacop would be a great username.
Tommy’s here to go to court with Ollie, and so is Diggle. Thea declines, because Thea’s a teenager with Issues and she’s only in this scene to snark beautifully. On the way out of the door, Tommy offers his arm to Moira and she walks straight past, something I only mention because Walter follows, and I was hoping against hope that he’d take the offered arm.
Walter Steele, you disappoint, my man. You disappoint.
There’s paparazzi waiting for them at the courthouse, and Ollie does a very good job of not assaulting them, which is well done on his part, because the crushing of the crowd precipitates a flashback to the boat crash and Sarah’s death, which he has to relate in court.
For all the show’s over the top ridiculous, by the way, I have to say I think the show and Stephen Arnell are doing a bang up job on Ollie’s PTSD. It’s not the main plot: the main plot is JUSTICE and RIGHTING HIS FATHERS WRONGS and DRESSING IN GREEN LEATHER AND SHOOTING PEOPLE, but when they strip that away and remind us that Ollie watched the girl he was sleeping with and his father die in front of him, that he survived in harsh conditions (though obviously different conditions from what everyone think they were) for five years, it’s touching and well played. Oliver Queen is a survivor, and he’s messed up, and even the part of his mess that everyone knows about, he can’t really express because after five years away he doesn’t have the capacity. To be honest, I would probably watch a show about Ollie dealing with this crap if he didn’t suit up for five episodes, because this is where Stephen Arnell shines.
(Well this, and being shirtless.)
And there has yet to be a single emo tear. Suck it, Dean Winchester.
He relates the story of crashing and survival in court. In the last scene, Walter said he’d have to read a prepared statement, but he’s not reading anything, just relating a personal story that seems a little too dramatic for this kind of thing. It would have been easier to read the statement, Ollie. You don’t need to win over hearts and minds in a Proof of Life hearing.
“I knew that I was going to have to live for both of us. (Robert and Ollie). In those five years, it was that one though that kept me going.”
To recap from last episode, then:
The one thing that kept Oliver Queen going for five years:
1. To survive
1. To get home
1. To live for both Robert and Oliver (but not Sarah or the guy Robert shot or the rest of the crew on the boat)
The Queen family lawyer then delivers a just-as-dramatic and even less at place in a courtroom statement about moving to reverse the death in absentia for Ollie, with bonus footnote about Robert Queen still being dead. Because “the Queen family is only entitled to one miracle.”
Really, scriptwriters? Really?
Moira wants to move on to the office, but Ollie begs a deferral, because recounting traumatic experiences in courtrooms is hard, and really the only thing anyone can be expected to do on any given day. I feel you, Ollie. I feel you.
In the foyer, Ollie runs into Laurel, Joanna, and a client.
“What are you doing here?” Laurel demands, shortly because the last time she saw Ollie he was a douche to her and pushed her away.
“They’re bringing me back from the dead. What are you doing here?”
“The DA’s job,” Joanna editorializes, brightly.
I love Joanna, guys. Love her. And it saddens me that she never gets any actual characterization. Because Annie Ilonzeh brightens the screen every time she’s on, and clearly has much more potential as an actress, but no, she’s stuck being a foil to showcase Laurel. I hope she gets some storylines of her own, I really do.
At least she isn’t “sassy,” right?
The client is Emily Nocenti, and we’ll hear more about her later. Right now, she’s just here to stand awkwardly while Laurel exposes her private life and bitterness towards her ex boyfriend in front of a client. Real professional there, Laurel.
NNCR: Ann Nocenti is the current writer on Green Arrow. Note, that these shoutouts are also a grand comics tradition. Many of the cases on the board in Brubaker and Rucka’s Gotham Central were acclaimed Batman creators. Streets in Gotham, Metropolis and comics!GA’s Star City, are often names for creators.
On the steps of the courthouse, the press are accepting a statement from Dickhead of the Week, aka Martin Somers, who is saying he will fight this unwarranted court case from “Ms Lance” “until his last dying breath.” TV land is a strange place, where lawyers are more likely to be mentioned on TV than their clients. I can’t name one real life lawyer, myself.
(Actually, I can name a few, but “Veronica” and “Jeff” are people I know In Real Life, and don’t actually count.)
The press leave DotW behind and run to hound Ollie instead, despite Diggle’s request that they “step back everybody.” Diggle’s been waiting by the car, I guess. Presumably this is his first job, and he confused PSA with ‘chauffeur.’ He ushers Ollie into the back seat of the car, stops to get unprofessionally angry with a photographer, and then watches helplessly as Ollie drives off with the aforementioned car.
Diggle, man, I love you, but you’re terrible at your job.
Time for Exposition of the Week, delivered by Laurel in the courtroom. Victor Nocenti, Emily’s father, learned that Martin Somers was taking bribes from the Triad, and as a result was murdered by Somers. Laurel explains that Somers has friends in the DA’s office, and therefore justice has to happen in the civil court.
“If Emily Nocenti is to get justice for her father’s death, if Martin Somers is to get justice for his crimes, then someone is going to have to do it for them.”
And guess what, Laurel? You’re not going to have the chance to be that someone, because guess where Ollie went in that car? That’s right, to the Arrowcave, for Very Important shirtless training montage in low light WHICH IS HARD TO SCREENCAP OKAY I’M NOT HOLDING OUT ON YOU.
Turns out Martin Somers’ name is on THE LIST, and “Laurel thinks she’s the only one willing to being him to justice. She’s wrong.”
Apparently, Ollie saw that Laurel was going after Somers and decided that he has to be the next name on THE LIST for him to target. Because Heaven forbid Laurel have the chance to actually prove her worth in the courtroom.
He’s got a whole list, and Somers is just one name, that’s all I’m saying.
In his Bad Guy Lair – which I guess might be a warehouse, but no one’s specified what Somers is actually supposed to do, Somers really wants the trial to be shut down, because it means bad publicity and a chance for the press to eat him alive. What he’s not worried about, which he perhaps should be, is that a mysterious hooded man will jump him in his warehouse, knock out his bodyguards, and string him up by his ankles on the Starling City docks, in order to fire arrows at him.
Stay classy, Ollie.
Arrow demands that Somers testify at the trial and confess to having Nocenti killed.
Please note that at this point, and in fact throughout the entire episode Laurel hasn’t presented any proof, Ollie hasn’t seen any proof, and the audience isn’t shown any proof outside of flashbacks that this actually happened. I have no idea even where Laurel got the story she presented in court. Presumably Victor told Emily, but this isn’t exactly clear.
Please also note that torturing someone and threatening their life probably counts as ‘under duress,’ but I’m not exactly a lawyer, here.
Moira, it seems, is not happy with Diggle’s inability to keep his Principal from running off on his own. Diggle’s excuse is that he’s never had a client try to shake his bodyguards before. I suspect this is Diggle’s first job as a PSA.
(I have never worked as or know a PSA. I just read books with them in, sometimes.)
This brief tete a tete suggests to me that Moira did indeed hire Diggle as a PSA, and not as a spy to watch her son for sinister reasons, but this isn’t confirmed yet. Enter Ollie, who says that he’s been running off to enjoy lady company.
“I promise to introduce her if it ever gets to the exchanging first names stage.”
“No, I’d rather you promised to take Mr. Diggle with you on your nextrendezvous.” KINKY.
Anyway, Moira presents a convincing case. She’s worried about her son’s safety; very worried indeed, having lost him once. And she’s also involved in shady characters, so there’s that, but here she seems genuine. She really does fear for Ollie’s safety.
He promises not to do it again, because Ollie’s a lying jerkwad like that. Diggle promises that if he’s ditched one more time, he won’t have to be fired.
Diggle is at his best when he’s not taking any of Ollie’s shit. I’m hoping he’ll catch on to the crap in the next couple of episodes and Alfred it up for him, because I’m getting sick of him being handed the idiot ball every other scene, and it’s only the second episode.
Thea passes Ollie on her way out “somewhere loud and smokey,” Ollie tries to guilt her out of it, she tells him to cut the crap, and not to wait up.
The next day, and Det. Lance is at the docks investigating a 911 call placed… last night? I don’t know. Best guess, there was a 911 call that they did follow up at the time (because I refuse to believe Starling City emergency services are that shitty at their jobs), couldn’t find the Man in the Green Hood, and now they’re following up as part of their investigation into the Arrow guy?
Anyway, Somers doesn’t want them there. He says he doesn’t want the cops there. Despite the cut on his face from an arrow flight, and the hole on his desk that exactly matches the arrow the police recovered elsewhere. And that Quentin doesn’t like him because he’s an arsehole, and Quentin is a great judge of character.
Then Somers reminds Quentin that the latter’s daughter is suing the former, accuses the detective of having ulterior motives, and outright threatens them both. Because there’s no point being a DotW unless everyone knows it.
Meanwhile, the grown ups in Ollie’s life have taken him on a field trip to Queen Consolidated’s offices, to show him around but also to inform him of this new Applied Sciences building they’re intending to dedicate to Robert’s memory. At the dedication, says Moira, they’d like to announce that Oliver would be taking a leadership position in his company.
Ollie, in the only sane move he’s made since returning, says no, much to Moira’s displeasure. Walter tries to be supportive, only to have the fact that he’s married to Ollie’s mom thrown back in his face. Poor Walter, I am rapidly losing every conviction I had that he was a bad guy or even a morally grey one, and hope that he just turns out to be a man trying to do the best by the woman he loves and his best friend’s children.
Ollie makes a great point, though, about everyone fantasizing that he not his MBA on the island. College drop out, remember? He has no credentials to be running a business and I have no idea where Moira’s coming from. She makes a comment about Ollie’s irresponsibility and storms out.
In the car, in which Diggle has remembered his good idea of riding in the back with Ollie, that worthy takes the opportunity to have a heart to heart, from a man who has been in Afghanistan for five years to a man who was stranded on an island for five years, and in doing so, becomes the only person in the whole show to actually acknowledge Ollie might have been through some stuff.
“I could be wrong,” he says. “Maybe after five years alone you’re not as messed up in the head as you have every right to be.”
Which is why Diggle is the best character on this show, idiot ball aside. He’s wrong, Ollie is that messed up in the head, but he’s right in the important part: he has a right to be.
After a flashback to the island, in which we discover that Ollie kept Robert’s body (but not the guy Robert murdered) and on the life raft for the days it took to get to the island, where he buried him, we catch up with Laurel and Joanna on Emily Nocenti’s case. Three ladies, all of them named, two of them lawyers on screen, and they only ever talk about Nocenti and Somers. There’s no reason to expect a Bechdel pass, but it’d be nice one of these days.
The real point of the scene, though, is for Quentin to arrive with a contingent of cops and announce that all three of them are getting round-the-clock police protection, no arguments. So of course, Laurel argues. And argues, and compares protective custody while suing a dangerous businessman with triad connections, to an angry father when she’d started dating.
I get that this is the Daddy Issues episode, show, but really?
I’m beginning to suspect that Martin Somers needs to get himself an actual office, because all his business seems to take place at a run down desk in the middle of a storage facility at the docks. Probably cheaper for show budget, but still. He’s meeting with a Chinese lady with white hair, in order to complain about Hood man.
She disagrees, and says that it’s Emily Nocenti who is the real threat. Mostly because she’s a known who can actually be targeted. Somers argues that killing Nocenti will just bring down the wrath of Laurel Lance.
I like to think that Laurel must be the World’s Greatest lawyer, and already established as the scourge of the underworld due to her excellent lawyer fu. We’ve not had the opportunity to see it on screen, after all, and Somers is apparently terrified that she could single handedly bring down the entire Triad.
Triad lady’s answer? Kill Ms. Lance.
NNCR: This character, played by Kelly Hu, is undoubtably China White, a character from Green Arrow: Year One. Her real name is Chein Na-Wei, but Ollie mishears and mispronounces it as China White. She was the leader of a drug cartel running the island on which Ollie was stranded, and it was against her that he had his first foray into crime fighting.
You know what we haven’t had in nearly ten minutes? Shirtless Ollie Queen. This time in full light, Stephen Arnell does us the favor of turning a complete, very slow two seventy for the camera.
It’s adorable, you guys. It’s the most deliberate turning and showing off of musc… I mean, ridiculously shaped scars I’ve ever seen. And as he turns 270 degrees to end up facing to his original left, all I can think of is how Derek Zoolander has found his soulmate.
SOULMATE, I tell you.
The slow catwalk turn is wasted, however, on his sister, who comes in and demands to know where Ollie got ‘those.’ I eventually figured out she meant the ridiculous scars, but you know, not what I was first thinking of.
Ollie doesn’t want to talk about it. Thea uses the opportunity to complain that he never wants to talk to her about anything anymore. Other than her social life, which I dunno, seems like a thing to talk about? He says he’s not ready to talk about what happened to him, so she pulls him out to the back garden, where tombstones have been erected for Robert and for Oliver.
She used to come out here and talk to “Oliver,” her dead brother, when she was going through the loss of her brother.
“The truth is, I felt closer to you, when you were dead.”
I’m gonna cut Thea slack I won’t cut Moira here, because while Moira did suffer the loss of husband and son, she’s still messing up the mother to a traumatized son thing, with her own weird demands of him. Thea – Thea’s seventeen, and her pain at seeing Ollie like this is obvious, and fantastically portrayed.
“You gotta let me in, Ollie,” she says. “You gotta let someone in.”
So guess what Ollie does?
NO, THAT’S NOT WHO SHE MEANT.
Ollie goes straight to Laurel’s apartment, because he’s a terrible, terrible brother and when his sister says ’me,’ he hears ‘your ex girlfriend.’ Sigh.
After mentioning the police cars outside, Ollie admits to having been a dick.
“I was a jerk before the island, and now I’m a damaged jerk.”
Then he brings out a giant tub of ice cream and hangs out on Laurel’s floor by the couch while they eat ice cream and talk about parental issues. Actually it’s a great little scene, and these two have amazing chemistry and I love them. A pity it has to be interrupted by violence.
I mean, YAY VIOLENCE.
Hearing someone on the fire escape, Ollie grabs a kitchen knife from the coffee table and pulls Laurel around the apartment while China White and some goons barge in. There are a lot of machine guns, and a lot of screaming on the part of Laurel. I remind myself that she’s an awesome and terrifying lawyer and not the greatest Judoka in the world.
They are rescued, not by a man in a hood, but by a man in a snazzy suit and a handgun. Diggle announces his arrival on the scene by shooting two of the nameless goons, before he is locked in hand to hand with China White, and both get to show off their awesome hitting people abilities. It becomes a wrestling match, and, Ollie quickly has to leave Laurel unprotected to get a good angle to duck and throw that knife at China White, knocking out her weapon and losing her the fight. She flees, and Diggle yells at him.
“This is why it’s a good idea to have a bodyguard.”
Quentin arrives on the scene, to find out what happened to Laurel’s police detail, and Diggle explains they were dead in the squad car when he went to get a light. Which means that cops are apparently as disposable in this show as bodyguards, and that Diggle must have excellent timing. Quentin thanks him, and then proceeds to tell Ollie to stay away from Laurel.
Which makes sense if you’re an irrational father of a daughter who died five years ago sleeping with a man, less sens if you’re a competent cop and protective father of a daughter who was being threatened in her own right by the triad-connected businessman she was trying to take down. Especially one who a few scenes earlier was telling that businessman that he has no problems separating personal from professional. When my daughter’s life is saved by the sheer coincidence of being near a man with a super competent bodyguard, my reaction might be to order her to never leave the side of the two men in question.
But that’s just me not being a fan of the idiot ball.
You know who doesn’t like being taken for an idiot? Diggle. Diggle, who has absolutely zero time for Oliver’s crap, thank you very much. He knows that Ollie saved his life. He knows it takes more than a little bit of skill to throw an unweighted kitchen knife with deadly accuracy across ten feet. And he has very nearly had it with all these secrets, Mr. Queen, and he’s obviously THIS CLOSE to punching that smug look right off Ollie’s inadequately bearded chin.
I may be projecting.
Ollie tells Diggle he’s going to bed, but instead he’s off to the Arrowcave for DRAMATIC VOICEOVER and suiting up, in order to go after Somers.
“He’s still going to face Justice. But of a different kind.”
NNCR: In 2009′s Cry for Justice, Green Arrow and his BFF ran around being angry at everyone and trying to be proactive FOR JUSTICE. It wasn’t a good series: a fan favorite character was killed, Speedy lost an arm, and there were far too many detailed crotch shots to make me comfortable. But it is notable for continuing the long standing habit of Oliver Queen grabbing his bow and arrow and announcing to the audience that what he does he does FOR JUSTICE.
Quentin and Laurel are having a fight about putting herself in danger by going after dangerous people, and it becomes a shouting match about Doing the Right Thing and Trying to Protect My Only Daughter and Laurel again gets to show her stubborn idealism and how much those two love each other, when Quentin is called away by a report of activity down at the docks.
That activity, of course, is the Idiot In The Green Hood, who is cutting through bodyguards like paper, including one gratuitous shot to the eye. I start to wonder if the only reason he picked bows rather than guns is because Rule of Cool, then I realize that Rule of Cool is a good reason for anything.
He corners Somers in a cool looking warehouse and starts to fire arrows at him while invoking the spirit of capslock Harry.
“WHO KILLED VICTOR NOCENTI!”
“Acting on whose instructions? WHOSE?!”
Thank you, Stephen Arnell, by the way, for not using the ridiculous voice of Smallville’s Green Arrow or Nolan’s Batman. I don’t think I don’t cope without dying of laughter if this was also in a stupid voice. I’m laughing pretty hard as it is.
After giving a full confession, Somers is ‘rescued’ by China White, and after Ollie demonstrates his ability to speak Mandarin, fighting follows. It turns out Ollie’s bow is reinforced in a way that allows for its use in some sort of stick fighting technique. What this does to its effectiveness as a bow, I can’t imagine, but he seems to be doing okay. They fight until the police arrive, and China White makes her exit, leaving Ollie to face the arriving cops, including Det. Lance.
“You twitch,” says Quentin, “and you’re dead.”
And Ollie twitches, throwing a dart through the trigger on Quentin’s gun, pinning it the storage container behind him. When the detective looks up, Arrow is gone, but the dart he threw is blinking. It’s a audio recorder, and when he presses play, it’s a tape of Somers’ confession.
You know, that one he gave under duress.
While some idiot was firing arrows at him.
HOW IS THAT EVEN ADMISSIBLE?
Ollie’s voiceover tells us that “Laurel was right. I can’t be the person my mother wants me to be and still keep my promise to my father. I have to be the person I need them to see me as.” Which I don’t actually remember Laurel saying, but whatever. Ollie shows up at the dedication, drunk and disorderly and ready to take over the podium from Walter in order to drunk at people and to announce that he’s not his father and can’t run the company thank you very much I’m angry and drunk.
I guess this is adding to Ollie’s drunk and disorderly public persona, but I hardly see why it’s necessary. Not having graduated from college is a good enough reason not to run a college.
Still, at least the confession TAKEN AND RECORDED UNDER DURESS by a man FIRING ARROWS AT A GUY has led to the DA’s office prosecuting Somers, right? Even though Quentin gets to tell Laurel how “you don’t need to go outside the law to find justice,” a line directly repeated from the pilot despite all evidence to the contrary. And Ollie gets to cross another name off his LIST. So that’s all right.
In the island flashback, just-crashed Ollie is carrying his father’s body to wherever he’s going to bury it. Going through Robert’s pockets, Ollie finds a notebook, with empty pages and a design drawn on the inside cover. In the present, Moira is meeting a mysterious man in a mysterious car, where she explains that her son knows nothing, and doesn’t know that the yacht was sabotaged. She sounds convincing now, like a mother who really wants to protect her son, despite the terrible things she’s done to him to protect a terrible secret.
Ollie meanwhile is visiting the tombstone in the garden, where they’re abou tto take down the Oliver tombstonem but first he explains to his Dad that he’s sad he can’t reconnect with Moira, Thea and Laurel and it sucks. And that “to honor your wishes, I need to dishonor your memory.”
Please talk to Thea, Ollie.
OK, one final denouement scene, because we can’t end without a DRAMATIC TEASER.
Back on the island, after burying Robert under some rocks, Ollie stands up and is shot in the shoulder! By an arrow! Shot by a mysterious archer!
WHO COULD IT BE?
No really, I have no idea.
In conclusion: Apart from suffering terribly from second episode-osis, in which the bad guy was forgettable and boring and the plot was only there to establish status quo, the episode also suffered from poor plotting, and the dialog’s kind of getting ridiculous. On the other hand, the cast remain superlative, with Thea, Diggle and Laurel easily stealing every scene they’re in.
Greatest Line: ”Maybe after five years alone you’re not as messed up in the head as you have every right to be.”