Well, we might have seen ‘Arrow’ trip itself up for the first time this season, as there were some glaring plot holes, some convenient and easy writing, and some character decisions that did not make a whole lot of sense in this episode, but I will say, a lot of the action and having so much of Tobias Church in the episode might have made up for the writing problems.
The episode did not actually revolve around the team trying to save Rene from Church, as that plot line was tied up fairly quickly as Felicity was able to track down the van they used to take Rene to the woods to dig his own grave, thanks to the detective work of Artemis and Ragman. Non-sensical character decision #1, when Artemis and Ragman ask where to go next, Felicity claims Oliver wanted to be the ONLY one to know where Rene was, so he can go save Rene himself. ALONE. And everyone is cool with that? Even Felicity? DUMB. Which is why Church escapes when Oliver rescues Rene, because Oliver decided not to bring along back-up, but the show needed Church to escape, because they needed their plot to move forward, as Church (thanks to Rene breaking under interrogation) now knows the secret identity of the Green Arrow. Which brings us to Non Sensical Character decisions #2 and #3, while having Rene dig his own grave, Church decides to monologue like a Saturday morning cartoon villain about what his grand plan is in Star City, revealing everything to a known vigilante who is still alive, and with clearly enough strength left to dig his own grave. It made NO SENSE. And #3, once Church finds out who the Green Arrow is, instead of ruining Oliver Queen, destroying the mayorship, he decides to just send a hit-man after the mayor. Church so far has been set up as a fairly intelligent villain, clearly he would see the sense in revealing to the SCPD who the Green Arrow is and letting them arrest the mayor for being a vigilante, thus throwing the city into the same chaos that he wanted and getting rid of the Green Arrow and the mayor at the same time. But no, Church made the dumb decision to simply kill Oliver, and keep the secret identity to himself. DUMB.
Still, I really enjoyed having Diggle back in the fray, and his moments with Rene I think worked pretty well, as Diggle was able to keep Rene’s crazy energy in check, and get the man to calm down long enough to give the team a clue about where Church’s big deal with all of his gang leaders was going down, which of course led to the climax of the episode, which I’ll discuss in a minute. I also enjoyed the introduction of Diggle’s pal Christopher Chance as the “Human Target” of the title, whose role in the episode was to act as Oliver’s body double, so Oliver could pretend to be dead to draw out Church. The guy had minimal screen time and plot to do, but he really delivered a lot in those few scenes, and I enjoy the aspect of his really studying his clients so he can “become” them while impersonating them, and the fact that was able to do things as Mayor that Oliver was having trouble with. In non- Quiver Crew related stories, Thea and Oliver are also working a Council Member to get some boring zoning law passed, which almost does not happen until they blackmail him (actually it was Thea and Chance disguised as Oliver) with information about his own past transgressions…. its not overly interesting stuff, but I’m hoping it is setting up something down the line, and not just there to give Thea something to do. Nonsensical character decisions #4 and #5 occur during these political escapades when Oliver also runs afoul of the annoying TV reporter Susan Williams, who agrees to an off-camera interview with Oliver (wait, she’s a TV reporter, how does she do “off-camera” interviews? That’s #4) and then makes a deal with him to give him one month to prove himself before she can jump back to bashing him on TV (that’s #5, why the hell would she care if he is able to “prove” himself as mayor? She’s a TV reporter, her bread an butter is ratings). And let’s just say #6 is Oliver’s dumb belief that he should be “winning “over reporters in the first place, just seems like a way to give this character more screen time and give Oliver more “mayor-y” stuff to do. DUMB. Also, Non-Sensical character decision #7 has to be the whole plan of Oliver pretending to be dead to draw out Church, especially the part where Thea and Lance hold a press conference to announce the Mayor is dead. Seems very irresponsible for Oliver, and not something the city would easily forgive, and I cannot believe there was no flak from that incident. I know I’m saying it a lot in this recap, but still…. DUMB.
The good stuff of the episode? The flashback was decent, quick as always this season, basically just showed Oliver’s initially ceremony to the Bratva, and the bar where they went to celebrate afterward, where Oliver learns that not every Bratva member is happy to have him as a member. And when he follows a woman to a back alley to “save” her from some Russian thugs, he is attacked by two men hired by one of his new “brothers” and is saved by none other than Christoper Chance in disguise, though Oliver does not know it. Anatoli informs him of who sent the men after him, and Oliver asks just what Anatoli has gotten him into.
In the present, my other favorite part of the episode was the climax, where the new Quiver Crew including Spartan (in a new, non-Magneto-esque mask that I like way better) and Christopher Chance disguised as a gang member take down Church and his crew, and the gang leaders he had flown in from other cities. It was a nice balance of everyone getting to do battle, culminating with Oliver taking on Church, in what was a well-choreographed fight, my favorite moment being a cool shot of Oliver literally knocking one of the brass knuckles right off of Church’s fist. Of course, Oliver and company get their men, and Church goes down, but sadly, that is it for Church’s character. He had been warned to stay away from the Green Arrow, and given another warning during tonight’s episode by Prometheus, so it was no surprise that in the closing moments of tonight’s episode Church’s police escort is shot down with arrows, and the man himself is killed with what looked like a ninja star to the neck, right after he tells Prometheus that Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow.
- Anyone else get the impression that Prometheus was already aware that Oliver Queen was the Green Arrow? I thought that was why he was so pissed at Church at the end, cause he literally hired someone to shoot down Oliver. But I could always be wrong.
- Who is taking pictures in Russia in a tiny bar populated by dangerous Bratva members? Seems very strange that after 5 years, with Oliver’s re-appearance being very big news in Season 1, that picture only came to light now. Seems mighty convenient plot-wise, and yet another easy plot device designed to give this reporter woman more screen time. How I loathe her.
- I am tired of the Olicity plot line this season already. So she’ll give it a try with Billy, and maybe they’ll even get engaged, but we all know inevitably she’ll break it off at the last minute because she’ll realize it was “always” Oliver, blah blah blah. Most likely the show is just waiting for end-game to get Oliver and Felicity back together.
- Where is Malcolm Merlin!?
- Nonsensical character decision #8 – who the hell was that guy that Church hired to be his assassin? I did not recognize him from DC comics, and he died pretty pathetically at the end of the episode being shot real quick by Chance. Why introduce a henchmen with a somewhat cool helmet if you’re going to kill him off so quickly (and pathetically) and tell us nothing about him? You’re not George Lucas, he is not Boba Fett, and this is certainly not ‘ Star Wars.’ DUMB.
- Sure is Lucky that Oliver and Diggle have all these friends in the world. Oliver just happened to be friends with Constantine which he only remembered exactly when they needed magical help. Diggle is friends with the Human Target which he remembered exactly when they needed a body double. I wonder what other convenient friendships they have.
So ‘Arrow’ might be slipping a little this season, or else they were so excited about the big events happening in this episode that they got a little ahead of themselves and wrote some stupid things into the episode in order to force certain plot points along, which hopefully they will not continue to do as the season progresses. Especially as they were showing so much promise this season up until this point. Here’s hoping they come back next episode with a stronger episode and a good villain, as Church was a great character for the start of the season, and with the Quiver Crew becoming stronger every week, they do need a genuine threat to face, otherwise it’s just overkill.
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.