By: Wendy Mericle & Ben Sokolowski (story)
The Story: No one tries to put Green Arrow’s little sister in the slammer—nobody!
The Review: Although it’s taken some creative fudging and narrative necessity, the show has finally established a somewhat enduring familial relationship between Ollie, Thea, and Moira. Time will tell if the Queen family dynamics can carry the show over the long term. For now, it’s enough that you get a sense of sincere affection among the trio, though tested by frequent, sudden switches in their personality or temperament.
Ollie’s vacillations between caring and coldness have become second-nature by now, but Thea’s unpredictable attitudes seem patented for the sake of injecting conflict and drama as needed. She begins the episode pale and nervous about her court hearing, is visibly shaken when the judge rejects her plea agreement,* but all of sudden displays a rather condescending, jerky side to Dinah when the older gal offers her an alternative to prison time. All this to get back at her mom, which only makes Thea seem a bit petty and lame.
On the other hand, her willingness to go to this extreme does show that she has guts, and perhaps as rigid a code of honor as her big brother. But she undermines this boldness by immediately melting into an apologetic puddle when Ollie reveals to her the truth about Moira’s relationship with her late husband. Heartfelt as the tears and hugs are, they feel poorly earned. After all, even if the senior Queen was a philanderer, Thea did see Malcolm Merlyn sidling up to her mom in a suggestively familiar way. Did she suddenly forget about that bit of strangeness?
The show does have this habit of ending conflicts early, of refusing to allow certain tensions to linger for too long. In a way, I respect that; I often hate how some shows generate a lot of unnecessary drama then maintain it way past its due date. But resolving these rather important points of contention so quickly diminishes their value and often discredits the characters. It makes you feel like they never should’ve even had the fight/misunderstanding in the first place.
As of late, Arrow has extended this habit to the show’s villains, which I think is just unwise. Unlike the generic vendetta of Firefly, Count Vertigo’s slightly over-the-top madness at least gives him some memorable flair. Granted, it’d feel a little weird for us to reach the end of an episode and not have the bad guy taken down. Still, it’d help their credibility a lot if they could last longer than just the one episode.
All in all, the episode follows the pattern of introducing the villain, letting Ollie take a good hit, having Diggle run in to save him at the last second, then ending on a Round Two climax. We do get a few interesting deviations from the formula. Ollie convincing Dinah to convince her dad to work on the judge to stand down on Thea’s trial feels genuinely dicey and uncomfortable, particularly where Dinah uses her own sister to make her case. The introduction of McKenna Hall produces the first truly viable love interest for Ollie, since as played by Janina Gavankar, McKenna radiates smarts and humor all at once. And Felicity calling Ollie out on his increasingly terrible cover-ups for his investigations seem right on the precipice of sparking one major twist, only to throw us another, equally important one. Now we really have cause for friction within the Queen family.
Conclusion: As always, the show continues to frustrate by trying interesting things with each episode, but falling short of truly capitalizing on the potential they generate.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * I was rather appalled by the way the judge rejection Thea’s plea agreement and set the case for trial, just because he didn’t like her. That he wanted to make an example out of her seems like a poor basis for the rejection to me.
– Even when it’s just physics working against you, running into a wall always makes you feel like a complete doof, doesn’t it?
– Dinah and Ollie’s chuckles after simultaneously telling Thea it was too late to change her mind about her probation was just about the least convincing thing I’ve ever heard.
– The Microsoft product placement is getting a little out of hand, now—although that Surface is one beautiful looking piece of gadgetry.