By: Gabrielle Stanton (story)
The Story: Diggle attempts to get someone off of Ollie’s naughty list.
The Review: For the last couple episodes, the show has started drifting away from its usual pattern of crossing off names in Ollie’s list in favor of some more spontaneous heroics, drawing us a little closer to the Green Arrow we know and love each time. I heartily approve of this transition, because the list has long become an extremely gimmicky plot device, fitfully generating a passable conflict for Ollie to tackle when all else fails.
Basically, stories drawn from the list have resulted in safe but bland episodes for the show. Even last episode starring Firefly, which I largely panned, at least had some risk you could enjoy. Here, ex-military and present military nut Ted Gaynor breaks somewhat out of the corporate mold of previous list names, but even he proves to be fairly pedestrian as an opponent. He’s just mercenary, which makes no villain stand out unless he’s Deathstroke.
Beyond the underwhelming quality of the antagonist, the episode promises a real outing for Diggle, only to disappoint you (and him) utterly. Plenty of us have noticed that the show has relegated Diggle to the role of “black mentor,” something that sounds important at first, but then mostly involves the character acting subservient, only with a lot more resentment and sensible advice that goes completely ignored. Diggle’s connection to Gaynor was an opportunity for him to really confront Ollie on more equal footing—to lead instead of follow—and the show blows it, giving Ollie a quiet but obvious moment of triumph where he all but says, “I told you so.”
The show often engages in this habit of setting you up to believe that it’s going to do something ambitious, only for it to turn out superficial in the end. When Thea catches her mom consulting with Malcolm Merlyn and rears back in shock, your immediately think the first step to exposing Moira’s connection with this Illuminati-type group has begun. You see Thea getting Ollie alone and the excitement builds; she’s about to tell him what Moira’s up to, he won’t believe her, and thus Thea begins her own path to seeking justice. And then Thea blurts out that their mom is having an affair with Mr. Merlyn. You hang your head, sigh, and move on.
There is one point, however, that has the potential to shake up the show later if the writers so choose: the revelation that Ollie’s dad was something of a philanderer before he died, something that clearly rattles Ollie and would undoubtedly blow Thea’s mind, given her prejudice against their mom. The fact that Mr. Queen was not quite the martyr Ollie believed in means that the list his father left for him might not be as infallible as he believes either.
For the C-story we get Tommy’s increasingly tense relationship with his own father. You wouldn’t think it could get any more contentious after the whole “cutting his own son off” deal, but just to highlight the evil that is Mr. Merlyn a bit more, the show has him inviting Tommy and Dinah out to dinner under a pretense of making nice, only for him to use it as a chance to get Tommy to sign a contract that would shut down a free clinic that was the life’s work of his own late wife. Although Dinah engages in some stupendous rationalizing at the end of the episode, eventually falling back on the ol’ “He’s still your father” yarn, even she can’t paper over how ridiculously over-the-top this bit of callous villainy is. I’m surprised he didn’t bark a maniacal laugh in his son’s appalled face as he handed over the contract.
Conclusion: It is never good when a show goes for the pedestrian rather than the dangerous, and this episode has Arrow moving farther away from its earlier risk-taking moves.
- Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - Ooph. I don’t know how I feel about Diggle’s attachment to his sister-in-law. It calls for a serious “Bros before ho’s” quandary, no?
- Anytime Felicity shows up, even as a pure cipher and info-dump, makes me happy. I do like that she’s basically the unappreciated peon who seemingly inspires no romantic feeling from anyone whatsoever, despite her blondness.
Filed under: DC Comics, Reviews Tagged: | Arrow, Arrow S01E11, Arrow S01E11 review, DC, DC Comics, Dinah Lance, Felicity Smoak, Gabrielle Stanton, Green Arrow, John Diggle, Malcolm Merlyn, Moira Queen, Oliver Queen, Thea Queen, Tommy Merlyn