• Categories

  • Archives

  • Top 10 Most Read

Arrow S01E13 – Review

ARROW S01E13

By: Lana Cho & Beth Schwartz (story)

The Story: The awkward moment when a father and daughter realize they’re after the same man.

The Review: In all my television-viewing years, I don’t remember a time when the WB (now CW) had a real, big hit on its hands.  It never had a beloved sitcom like Friends or an anchor drama like Law and Order.  If the network ever won an Emmy, it was rare and far in-between.  Seeing as how I’m in the business of guessing at things I have no direct experience in, my theory is that WB/CW shows never really manage to take risks that break them free of old formulas.

Arrow provides an interesting case in point.  A mix of different genres, it doesn’t really excel in any one, nor does it manage to balance its various stories well.  The characters generally feel like second-grade, cookie-cutter carbons of other, more famous figures.  The show often seems to take plotlines from a recycle pile of stories, gives them a good buffing, then integrates them into an episode.  It all comes across as vaguely knockoff, like clothes from Gorgio Armooni.

At bottom, Arrow is a superhero show trying to disguise itself as a semi-serious thriller.  It reveals its true colors, however, by the cartoonish way it portrays its villains.  Cyrus Vanch, recently freed from detention despite his connection to “human trafficking, drug running, racketeering, and at least 52 different homicides,”* goes to his lawyer’s house and offers him a hug, stabbing him to death as he does so.  It makes you more inclined to laugh than anything else, which is a problem because it doesn’t feel like the scene is meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

All this tends to make Starling City’s finest look hopelessly inept.  I have a problem with the fact that neither Dinah, an experienced attorney, nor her dad, a skilled detective, can get anywhere in without Ollie’s illicit help.  This episode actually attempts to explain away some of that by revealing to Det. Lance the corruption within his own department, but that still doesn’t change the fact that both Lances end up resorting to a call to the Hood to get their work done.

If the show has a strength, it’s the same one shared by a lot of its CW peers: warm, casual moments between its twenty-something-year-old characters.  As Tommy escorts Dinah to a food and wine tasting, she informs him she’s even wearing her “fat pants” for the event.

“I don’t want to know what those are, do I?”

“Nope.”

Granted, the humor is simple and mostly silly, but it’s also about the only time the show achieves something resembling normalcy, or a tone that feels credible and convincing.

Sometimes the line between bad acting and bad writing gets very blurred, but my sense is that Arrow’s actors are fine, but struggling to sell the heck out of some very unconvincing scenes.  The moment Moira threw the notebook Ollie confronts her with into a fire should have set off all sorts of alarms for him, but instead, he stubbornly insists to Diggle that he “knows her,” repeating “She’s my mother,” in a defensive way that only makes Ollie sound like—and there’s really no nice way of putting this—an idiot.  I suppose that’s the only way Cho-Schwartz could rationalize Diggle investigating Moira on his own, although it’s troubling that the show can never allow one character to have a big moment unless it’s at another’s expense.

Conclusion: Although the show’s increasing integration of its cast and various genres provides some potentially interesting moments, “potential” is very different from “actual.”

Grade: C+

- Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * While I appreciate the use of the number 52 as a DC reference, that is a preposterously high number of kills for anyone to escape without evidence in the modern world.

- I do like Ollie’s reaction when Tommy reveals that Dinah’s been working with the Hood: “What?  You’re letting her work with that crazy person—she can get hurt, Tommy!”  He might as well have added, “I can’t believe you, you selfish jackass—my God, don’t you even care?”  As they say, the best defense is a good offense.

About these ads

6 Responses

  1. 6) Oh yeah, I forgot the ending of this episode! When Oliver said to Diggle that he’d have a talk with his mother, I had NO idea that he’d come – as the Hood – crashing through her office window during her meeting. I’m very curious where this will go.

    7) You mentioned it, but the presence of police corruption is pretty big here. Detective Lance has no one he can really trust. (Reminded me a bit of the Dark Knight where Gordon’s fellow gotham police had rampant corruption.

    Generally, I like your reviews, but I really want you to reconsider your mark for this episode because you focused on only a couple of aspects while ignoring or forgetting about others.

    • You’re right that I do tend to leave out my points about the flashbacks in my reviews (and I’ll do better to talk about them and give them greater weight from now on), but I don’t think they would’ve changed my grade, or at least, not by much. I think what bugs me about them is how disjointed they feel from the main narrative, like the middle flashback coming right on the heels of Ollie giving Tommy relationship advice.

      To me, Arrow is a show that tries hard, but still mostly plays it safe with the material, to the point where much of it feels a bit predictable or familiar. Dinah getting emotional with her dad, for example, feels not only like the scene had no choice but to be in there, but it also feels like a slightly punchier rehash of stuff she’s confronted him about before. Even within the show, it feels a bit old and tired and expected, which characterizes a lot of the other parts of the episode. I certainly hope for better things from future episodes, though, especially given the little cliffhanger we get here.

      • OK, fair enough. You’re right: there’s a lack to smooth segues to flashbacks. They just abruptly come up, and that takes away from effective story-telling.

        You’re also right that Arrow plays it safe and has WAY too many crappy villains. I think some of that falls on Green Arrow’s lack of a good rogues gallery. I also think the acting by the most one-off villains has been forgettable. Maybe that’s the point: they’re on the show once and meant to be forgotten about afterwards.

        The recurring villains, though, have been interesting. The Dark Archer, Yao Fei’s commander, and now Slade Wilson make me hope for this show. Throw in the fact that Deadshot is coming back and we have some real potential moving forward.

  2. I liked this episode a lot more than the previous two mediocre ones. The villain in this episode was secondary to me. What stood out was:

    1) Diggle’s work to investigate Mrs. Queen on his own (following his instincts). This week, it was Diggle’s turn to say, “I told you so.”

    2) Katie Cassidy’s acting. I haven’t been a fan of her acting thus far. However, when she laid into her dad after the botched Hood apprehension, I realized that I was WAY too quick to judge. Given the right material, she can be pretty darn convincing.

    3) Dinah as a possible future Black Canary. She kicked the crap out of those two guys who came into her apartment. I don’t know if Katie Cassidy was doing her own stunts here, but the moves and action looked good. I get that Dinah is a lawyer, but the fighting/attacking skills seen here make me wonder about her potential as Black Canary.

    4) The flashbacks showing us none other than Slade Wilson (aka Deathstroke). How was this NOT mentioned at all in the review?! Serious oversight, especially considering that the flashbacks have contained the better parts of the episodes over the past 3.

    5) Vance’s girl. I mention this only because physically she actually LOOKS like Black Canary.

    Overall, please give some love to the flashbacks, even in your notes/observations. And this episode was MUCH better than C+. Sorry.

  3. I thought it was a good episode by the show’s standards. There have been better episodes but overall Arrow is really still just an ‘okay’ series for me. The acting is good for the most part and the scripts do a good job of mixing the drama and the action… but the rest… And sometimes it’s really bad when even good opportunities are wasted by how bad this show can sometimes be. Like for example when Oliver storms the evil guy’s base and the evil guy tells to Laura what kind of protection he got himself. And while listing all the things he put between him and the Hood Oliver puts those obstacles down one by one. That was a great idea, I think. But then the final reveal is that (*Spoiler*) Oliver always only has a certain number of arrows and the bad guy counted exactly how many so mathematically speaking he knew that when he got inside and was confronted by his last goon he had no arrows anymore (as Oliver confirms by somehow not being aware of it himself and grabbing for a new arrow that wasn’t there…). And then Laura’s Daddy magically appears out of nowhere which could’ve somehow saved the scene except that it was so sudden that it kinda made the scene bad again.

    • I think that captures my general feelings towards Arrow. By its own standards, it’s a decent show, but against all the other shows out there, it is truly, truly mediocre. I also agree that the show can be frustrating by the way it creates opportunities to be different and go in new directions that other shows can’t, but then returns to safer ground. The show feels like it would rather mimic, however poorly, other, better TV series, rather than confidently establish its own identity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 770 other followers

%d bloggers like this: