Today with special guest! Because apparently “so you don’t have to!” really means “so you can come watch it with her!” And I have promised that any of L’s comments will be attributed to her, unless I think they’re witty enough to be worth stealing the credit for.
Anyway, this is the episode in which it turns out that being stranded on an island for five years is a traumatic experience! And the whole cast goes “… oh” as if they never expected it to be. Slow golf claps all around. Nevertheless, it is a powerful episode, and brings together a lot of plot strands that have been flapping around. One of the best of the series so far.
As per usual, we start with a DRAMATIC VOICEOVER, and L and I have a discussion of how that represents the little yellow narrative boxes that are a staple in comic book story telling. She also points out that, while I was careful to give the meaning behind every name tattooed on Deadshot’s body, I’ve never extended the same courtesy to THE LIST.
So here we go:
Note to Non-Comics Readers: The names visible in this shot of THE LIST are:
Danny Brickwell: “Brick” – a criminal overlord of Star City, who hired Deathstroke to blow up Ollie’s house. John Delion, the financier responsible for framing Ollie the first time he lost his fortune, in the first issue of Justice League of America that Ollie and Dinah shared as joint protagonists; Hanniball Bates: “Everyman” (Hannibal Bates) A shapeshifter, who once posed as Ollie, married Dinah and tried to kill her on their wedding night. Don’t worry, she killed him instead. Albert Davis: a multimillionaire who once summoned demons to protect Star City, because that always goes so well. Adam Hunt: who has already appeared on this show. David Drayson: “Slingshot” and Isabel Rochev: a woman who once had an affair with Robert Queen and showed up later to take over Queen Industries.
So anyway. last time we left Ollie, he had been arrested for being the Maninnahood, following the Quentin Lance uncovering security footage of him taking a hood out of a trashcan the night Maninnahood took down Deadshot. We’re not going to get into that yet, though, but jump straight to an Island Flashback, which are actually much more important this episode than they’ve been so far.
FLASHBACK TIME Mentor shoots a delicious rabbit. Ollie asks for shooting lessons. Mentor concedes, and lets Ollie shoot an arrow at a tree. Ollie’s arrow goes wide, Mentor says (I think) “Nǐ huì sǐ de cǎn.” “You will die badly.” (I picked that translation up from Google translate, and it sounds like he’s saying that.) He sends Oliie off to fetch the rabbit, and instead Ollie is jumped by a bad of black clad ninja dudes, handcuffed and bundled into a cage. END FLASHBACK
Quentin Lance is taking Ollie’s details post arrest, and uses the opportunity to be really angry at Ollie for being instrumental in his daughter’s death and for generally being a total dick. Ollie explains the reason fro the footage: he ran into the stairwell when Deadshot started shooting and just happened to run into the duffelbag, which he grabbed because it might belong to the shooter. Quentin believes that for not one second.
Moira and Walter arrive, the former understandably annoyed that Ollie had been arrested by a detective with a clear conflict of interests. Walter is smooth and calm and informs Quentin that Ollie will be lawyering up so get out of here, OK? When the room is cleared of cops, Ollie informs his parents who he wants representing him.
If you picked anyone but Laurel, you’ve probably been watching a different show from me. Also you credit Ollie with too much common sense.
CONFLICT OF INTERESTS, dude.
Moira and Walter agree with me on this, but off Moira goes anyway to ask Laurel for her help. Laurel ALSO agrees that this is a mad stupid idea, and the ladies agree never to talk of it again. Although Moira doesn’t leave before saying that Laurel’s determination to do the Right Thing is why Ollie is so smitten with her.
So of they go to the p’lice station courthouse, in front of the magistrate chap Lady Judge from previous episodes, and Ollie announces he’s representing himself on account of being innocent, and also an idiot. It’s obvious to everyone this is going to end badly, but fortunately, Laurel changed her mind between this scene and the last, and chooses to make a dramatic entry mid bail hearing.
She is here to get Ollie out on bail, by announcing his willingness to submit to home confinement and electronic monitoring by ankle tagging. Ollie is not happy with this, but then, neither is anyone else. Laurel uses the opportunity to explain to Ollie that she knows he cannot be the vigilante, because Maninnahood is actually tryng to do something, and Ollie is a self centred lazy jerk. Ah, more Loising of the character. I’d complain, but I sort of have a fondness for the trope.
Ollie is confined to Queen Manor, and announces his intention to throw a party. Moira, Walter and even Tommy think this is a terrible idea and in really poor taste. I concede on the taste, but personally consider it a fantastic idea and resolve to throw a massive house party the next time I’m under house arrest. Ollie explains to his family (And Tommy) that the whole thing is to send a “I don’t care you can do what you want!” message to the world.
The Steele-Queens aren’t the only family having issues about this. Quentin is understandably annoyed that Laurel is defending the “man who killed [her] sister.” Laurel is annoyed that her father is demonstrating obvious subjectivity that’s getting in the way of doing his job. Everyone in the living room is crying “conflict of interests!” at them both. Quentin voices the opinion that Ollie only wanted Laurel to be his attorney to get at him, Quentin. Which means that he’s clearly not being paying attention to the direction of Ollie’s pants, but he’s preoccupied so we’ll allow it. Anyway, the conversation is really about Sarah’s death. And also, apparently, about Laurel’s mother, who has left them.
NNCR: Dinah Laurel Lance’s mother, Dinah Drake-Lance (nee Dinah Drake) was the Black Canary before her daughter. She was married to the PI Larry Lance and they never got divorced. Instead, she outlived him and died a widow, of cancer.
You know who hasn’t been on screen for the whole 10 minutes so far? Let’s fix this!
This is the face Diggle pulls when Ollie informs him that being caught on a security camera and being arrested was ALL PART OF HIS PLAN. After all, if a vigilante turned up in Starling City as soon as Ollie was rescued, there was going to be suspicion anyway, so why not get the whole arrest and trial thing over with, right? Diggle is skeptical of this being anything but the plan of an idiot, and reminds Ollie that his family are kind of freaking out right now.
“Of course I care,” says Ollie. “The mission comes first.
Diggle, who is a better man than I, doesn’t punch him in the face. Instead he accepts the segue and allows Ollie to tell him about Leo Mueller, a German arms dealer who has arrived in Starling City to sell a shitload of militrary grade guns. So there’s your Dickhead of the Week, because there’s still gots to be vigilanting going on.
Despite Diggle’s attempts to point out Ollie should have other things to think about, but Ollie is of the opinion that stopping the arms deal is vital to the welfare of the city. This may also be a first: no evidence that Leo Mueller is on THE LIST, so this is just as much Protecting The City as it is Vengeance for Daddy.
Of course, Ollie cannot go after Mueller while he’s under house arrest, so it’s lucky that Diggle agreed to be his Alfred right in the middle of his complicated get-myself-arrested scheme. It is to be Digs’ job to trakc Mueller and find out where the buy is happening.
I CANNOT SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING.
“And how am I supposed to track him?”
“Well, you know us billionaire vigilantes. We do love our toys.”
Gosh, could this be a reference to another billionaire vigilantes with toys? I think it might be.
OPTION ONE: There is a Gotham City in the Arrowverse, and Batman is running around it yelling SWEAR TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! And playing with toys. Also everyone knows he’s a billionaire.
OPTION TWO: The Tim Burton Batman movies are a Thing in the Arrowverse, and Ollie is quoting it. Personally, as much as I love crossover continuity, I’m hoping for the second.
Diggle heads into the Arrowcaves and has a full on geekout at the equipment. It is quite adorable.
In the grown ups’ subplot, Walter has a secret meeting with Josiah Hudson, the Head of Security at Queen Consolidated, whom he tells about finding the Queen’s Gambit at the warehouse nest week, and asks him to look into it in secret.
L: “Well, he’s going to die.”
Time for a meeting with the DA! Because the arrest happened without consultation with the DA’s office, she is willing to offer a plea bargain: an offer Ollie turns down flatly, which in turn prompts Laurel to give the best frustrated-with-Ollie face she’s pulled so far. I am instructed in the firmest of tones, that I have to make this into an animated gif so you can all share the glory.
NNCR: The DA is Kate Spencer, who in the DCU is also the vigilante Manhunter: a prosecutor who got sick of guilty men going free, so she decided to kill them herself. Like Daredevil, but with single parenting, gay best friends, and a much lower dickhead factor.
Ms Spencer points out that it’s possible, just possible, that Ollie came back from 5 years stranded on an island with “some form” of PTSD, and that therefore she’d accept a plea of insanity. Really, Kate? You have an opinion on the color of the sky, too? Ollie provides support for the ‘crazy’ hypothesis by requesting a polygraph test to prove he didn’t do it – not in front of the jury, because that’s inadmissible on account of being complete bollocks – but in front of Quentin, because really this is all about Ollie vs Quentin in the Case of the Fridged Daughter.
Laurel, for the record, is of the opinion that she’s surrounded by idiots. She also wants to reiterate Diggle’s line about Ollie having an family that don’t want to see him locked up. Just in case we missed it the first time.
FLASHBACK TIME Ollie is marched off by the black clad guys who are looking less like ninjas now to be honest, and taken in a military looking camp. There he is taken into a tent and sat down in front of a guy who is drinking soda out of cut glass whisky tumbler, and apologizes – in a British accent! – for Ollie’s rough treatment. So it’s obvious right away this man is evil. He introduces himself as Edward Fyers .
NNCR: Eddie Fyers was a staple of the 80s/90s Green Arrow. At first a mercenary whose jobs tended to bring him into conflict or uneasy alliances with Ollie, he became a sort of friend to him and then a friend/mentor to Ollie’s son Connor. Like everyone else, he has been inadequately bearded and indeed bespectacled in his on screen adaptation.
Fyers shows Ollie a picture of a man in uniform – of Ollie’s Captor/Mentor, in fact – and asks if he knows him. Ollie says no. Fyers informs Ollie he’s a poor liar, and proceeds forward to the “I can make this island feel like hell!” threats. Then, like the good British Bad Guy he is, he leaves the tent with an “he’s all yours!” to a mask in the same bicolored mask we saw on a stick in the pilot episode.
NNCR: This is Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson. Mercenary Assassin and generally considered the biggest badass in the Mercenary/Assassins pool of the DCU. In comics, he has a healing factor, and low levels of speed and strength enhancements. He’s also the very worst dad in the history of bad fictional fathers. Not relevant to the show, but I thought I’d mention it, as fathers are a theme.
Time for a sibling scene, because Thea’s been agonizingly background in this episode and it makes me sad. She’s sad about the whole Ollie-being-arrested thing, and Ollie tries to assure her it’s going to be fine, and fails. Thea’s still hurting for that whole ‘thought my brother was dead’ thing, you see, and empty assurances don’t work.
She has her suspicions, based on the fact that Ollie has been acting weird, is covered in scars and keeps slipping his body guard. And the present he gave her in the first episode: an arrowhead engraved in Chinese characters. Ollie tells her he bought it in a gift shop in Beijing, and it means nothing. Mind you, in the pilot he told her it was supposed to symbolize how he wanted to reconnect with his sister. These things, in my experience, are not incompatible. Thea accepts the explanation, but reiterates how scared she is of losing her brother again.
The publicity surrounding the arrest has other complications: Moira is brought in front of John Barrowman’s character (who AFAIK does not yet have a name) because it seems her son might be the guy targeting THE LIST. Moira thinks this is ridiculous, it’s obvious Quentin Lance has a vendetta towards her family. So John makes this just a straight up threat against that family instead.
Ollie is undergoing the polygraph test, including the basic callibrating questions that give his birthday at May 16th, 1985 (I care about these things). The first “real” question is about ever being to Iron Heights, the answer to which Ollie gives as “No,” prompting a reaction from Laurel.
The scene is expertly intercut with Flashback scenes in the best use of Island Flashbacks the show had yet to use. In those, Ollie is tortured by Deathstroke while Fyers continues to question him about his Mentor. Deathstroke’s knife begins to mark out some of the scars we have seen on Ollie’s torso every time he got shirtless.
Quentin’s line of questioning turns towards the island, with the excuse that if Ollie is the Hood, it’s because of what happened there. Quentin points out that a physical examination of Ollie showed 20% scar tissue after he claimed to be alone on the island. It is this line of questioning that leads Ollie to finally admit to other people some of what happened to him there.
He admits to having been tortured.
“Have you killed anyone?” Quentin asks.
“Yes,” says Ollie, in front of Quentin and Laurel. “When I asked your daughter Sarah to come on my father’s yacht with me.”
It is now time for the weekly Ollie-at-a-party scene, so Ollie can be a party mad dick, Quentin can be disapproving and Diggle can be the only sane person in the show again. Also so Diggle and Ollie can discuss exposition for the arms deal – remember that?
I’m glad that Diggle’s in on it now; it means no more DRAMATIC MONOLOGUES in the middle of an episode, and Ollie has someone to listen to his speeches. I’m going to miss those crazy suckers, but they made for bad TV.
Muellers car has spent the last 45 minutes hanging out in the warehouse district of the Glades, which makes Ollie and Digs sure that the deal is going down tonight. What’s do be done? Ollie has a plan! A plan that starts with “It doesn’t have to be me in the Hood.”
Basically, the whole getting arrested, house arrest giant party thing was apparently all a plot to construct the world’s greatest alibi while good ol’ Digs (who wasn’t on board with the thing when Ollie laid the evidence to get arrested) parades around in a Hood elsewhere.
Diggle is not impressed with Ollie’s bullshit. You cold have told him, Olls, really. Ollie apologizes for the circumstances that are leading Diggle to have to put himself at risk. Diggle points out that it’s not the risk, it’s the lying and manipulating that pisses him off.
I am now yelling PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE! at the screen, just FYI.
Meanwhile – Walter is still at work late into the night, and he gets a phonecall telling him that Josiah Hudson was killed in a car accident. L told us all so!
L: Walter’s going to die, too.
I tell her to shut up.
A late arrival to Ollie’s party is Laurel, who just wants to have a word with Ollie, so he leads her up to the bedroom. They discuss briefly that the last time she was in this room was hallowe’en 2005, when Laurel wore “those horrible fishnets.”
I’m not ashamed to admit it, on the couch chez Debi there were screams and fist pumps.
NNCR; Dinah Laurel Lance, aka Black Canary, is famous for having fishnets as part of her costume.
Laurel is here to apologize for Quentin’s behavior, and to explain that he’s also upset that his wife left him. I’m not sure this is a necessary thing to explain -the loss of a daughter is pretty big, but it sounds like the writers are aiming for a plot point, so we’ll let it go.
Ollie asks Laurel why she doesn’t hate him. I tell the screen it’s because she’s a Lawful Good idiot. She explains that she did, but she stopped when she realized that he went through some stuff too.
“I was so focused on what happened to my family that I didn’t even stop and wonder what could have happened to you.”
Yeah, you and the rest of Starling City, Laurel. No one even thought five years on an island might be traumatizing, no matter what happens there.
She apologizes for not asking about his experiences before, but now asks to see his scars. So we have a slow unbuttoning and a hands on a bare chest scene with rising music. Overcome with pity for him, and presumably also the music, she looks at him with tears in her eyes, and they lean forward and…
NO LAUREL NO.
I mean, yes, because OTP, but ALL THE WRONG REASONS STOP IT.
It’s very emotional for me right now.
Laurel is appropriately horrified at this turn of events and flees the room.
FLASHBACK TIME. Ollie successfully managed not to tell Deathstroke anything about his Mentor, and Fyers is impressed at his resolve; or at his actual ignorance. He leaves, telling Deathstroke to kill him, but is knocked down by the sudden arrival of Mentor, in a green hood and carrying a bow and arrow. He shoots Ollie down, and fires an arrow at Deathstroke, who catches it in midair. Awesome Arrow style fighting ensues and Ollie is rescued. END FLASHBACK
NNCR: This whole scene is uncomfortably reminiscent of a time when Dinah was captured and tortured by drug dealers, only to be rescued by Ollie. Slashers will presumably make of that what they will.
While this is going on, German arms dealers are meeting with some men in the Glades. The Germans, it’s worth pointing out, are all white, chisel jawed and have severely short hair cuts. The Americans are all black, wearing hoodies, some baseball caps and one piece of bling each.
L: “That’s some stereotypical costuming going on.”
(L, by the way, has a lot more to say about costuming than I do. She would probably have liked me to point out that Laurel has had some pretty classy blouses going on, one in particular with a very hardworking button on her sternum.)
Of course, the whole showdown is stopped by a man in a hood in another great fight scene.
I couldn’t help myself, I’m sorry!
In his more interesting plotline, Walter has called Moira to his office to tell her he found the Queen’s Gambit, and about Josiah Hudson’s death. And also that it’s kind of disconcerting to find out one’s wife has been lying to one. Moira begs Walter to stop his investigation for his own safety.
L: He’s going to die!
Ollie gets a phone call from Diggle: Maninnahood: 1, Gangbangers: 0. Just as Ollie’s hanging up, a man dressed as a waiter comes in with a handgun in order to kill him. Ollie fights back, and we’re 3 for 3 on awesome skilled fighting, hooray! There are moves – like a scissor flip, that are direct callbacks to the Mentor, and I love it. It doesn’t go terrifically for Ollie, but he is saved by Quentin, barging in and shooting the assassin in the chest. The fight broke the ankle monitor, it seems.
Quentin then proceeds to take off that ankle monitor, because the sighting of the Hood in the Glades has cleared Ollie of all suspicions. L would like to point out that this is illegal without a court order, but I ask her when this show has ever shown any care about actual legal proceedings, and she concedes.
There’s a brief moment of ‘thank you for saving my life,’ and Quentin leaves. So Moira, who had returned from the office just in time to hear about the assassination attempt, leaves immediately to go yell at John Barrowman for trying to kill her son. He apologizes in the light of the Diggle gambit, (Queen’s… oh you get the pun) and she pushes her luck slightly to say she knows that he found out about the yacht, and that he had Josiah Hudson killed.John implicitly threatens her and “people who are too curious.”
Moira says she’s been a ‘good soldier,’ and then gets all Mama Bear on his ass, threatening to “burn his world to ashes” if he harms any of her family.
It’s confirmed: screw Green Arrow. I want to just follow the Moira and Walter show!
In the post party wreckage, Ollie finds a small leather pouch, which invokes -
FLASHBACK TIME. Mentor takes Ollie back to the cave, thanks him for not telling them where to find him, and gives him the pouch. Reiterating his early archery advise to “breathe, everything breathe,” he runs off to distract the bad guys, leaving Ollie sealed by a cave in. END FLASHBACK.
Having been informed about the assassin by her father, Laurel comes over to check on Ollie and to bring over his polygraph results. And to point out that he has been to Iron Heights, on a field trip in 8th grade. This has made her suspect he may have lied on other questions as well.
Ollie looks Laurel in the eyes and tells her that he came back from the island “damaged.” The PTSD symptoms, he explains, make even living a challenge, he doesn’t have it in him to be a vigilante as well. It’s an annoyingly good excuse in its logic, really.
And as for that kiss?
“Oliver. Nothing can ever happen between us.”
L: “Well, now you know it’s going to.”
Now Diggle is in on the secret, our denouement scene can actually be a conversation. Or rather, an excuse for Digs to monologue about Ollie’s personality flaws, which is much better. He accuses Ollie of lying to Laurel (which he did) and remarks on the number of people who had questions – the camera shows us Thea and her arrowhead,
“You didn’t think about what happens when you lie. Especially what happens when you lie to the ones you love the most.”
In the hallway of Queen Manor, Walter is leaving with a suitcase. Moira comes down the stairs, tired and in her robe, to find out what’s happening. Walter tells her it’s a business trip to Melbourne. I see the scene as Walter leaving his wife for a break because she lied to him and he’s mad. L says he’s going to die on the trip.
I will be SO UNHAPPY if he dies, you don’t even know.
Note to – well, everyone really: Melbourne used to be called Batmania. This is irrelevant, but awesome.
Laurel finds her dad drunk in a bar, wraps her arms around him and escorts him home.
Diggle suggests that Ollie didn’t think enough about the effect this whole thing might have on his family, or how it might hurt them. Ollie says he’s wrong.
“And just to be clear: not being able to tell my family the truth. It doesn’t hurt anyone worse than it hurts me.”
WRONG, Oliver Queen. Completely and utterly WRONG.
And then he goes and shoots arrows at men with guns, because Stephen Amell signed a contract and he’s got to be in the hood at least once an episode, or something.