Arrow: The Star City Slayer

“You need to understand that in life, you have to accept responsibility for your actions.”

While it’s a good thing to use snippets of information to foreshadow a villain in serial shows like The Flash or Arrow, it doesn’t mean much when the execution is lacking. Unfortunately for this week’s Arrow—“The Star City Slayer”—the latter circumstance mars what could have been a more interesting narrative.

Props for the Team Arrow writers for going for that creepy slasher vibe. It just doesn’t stick the landing.

Last week, both Dinah and Laurel received threatening notes from this mystery person. This week, both Rene and Diggle were delivered the same anonymous threats. Coupled with several other victims over the past few months who’d gotten similar notes, and the danger level that some new murderer stalking the streets of Star City (coupled with family problems in the Queen household) had all the makings for Arrow to have, at least for one episode, a different type of tone. It’s not that the story doesn’t go for it—it alternates between mystery/thriller and horror—but the execution of those particular tones borrows so much from the “dark and stormy night” and empty house tropes that the episode almost becomes a caricature of itself. Still, even with poor, overdone effects, “The Star City Slayer” had the chance to be intriguing if the villain himself was done with any semblance of care or subtlety. Stanley Dover misses in both regards.

It’s been a few months since Oliver’s biggest fan in Slabside escaped and it was obvious good old Stanley would find his way back in the fold. While there was nothing exceptional about Brendan Fletcher’s performance, he was adequate enough. This week, particularly his big confession to Oliver, was completely over the top in a way one would expect from a Batman villain. Sure, the character’s instability is represented quite well, though the performance overshadows Stanley’s obvious damage from a terrible childhood. The most potent aspect of his appearance is his maiming of Dinah, slashing her throat in a way that will impact her character for years to come. It’s one of the few positives in the episode that will pay future dividends.

The conflict between Oliver and William had a chance to be special.

Speaking of future, the flash forward timeline remains wholly uninteresting. The mystery of why Felicity planted bombs all over Star City and the schism with the Glades lacks any of the depth and care taken with all those wonderful flashbacks with Oliver as he was honed into the Green Arrow. Though the older Zoe does give us some interesting moments—as do the world weary Roy and Dinah—the elder William, as well as Connor Hawke and Mia Smoak, have yet to bring anything of interest to the table. That’s a good segue to the present where William’s at odds with Oliver in what is admittedly a captivating family dynamic that is sadly hamstrung by less than stellar acting. Jack Moores’ William couldn’t quite hit the notes necessary to feel his pain.

Instead of showcasing the understandable hurt and frustration at not only being sent off to boarding school with his father’s actions continually putting him in danger, William came off as nothing more than a petulant child throwing a tantrum. We needed to gain a clearer picture of empathy and, had they been able to provide that, watching him leave to be with his grandparents would have been a much more powerful and heartfelt decision. It’s difficult to say if the actor’s range, the writing, or directing is to blame but, considering both the William and Stanly characters have been more captivating (though not stellar) in previous episodes, the latter two may be more of the culprit.

Unlike last week’s unique direction, “The Star City Slayer”, while trying something new, misses out with poor execution, bland acting, and a bit too much of a future timeline that has yet to offer even a modicum of excitement.


Nota Bene

  • I have not been a fan of the inconsistencies of the Curtis character for some time. So I’m actually excited to see him leaving A.R.G.U.S. for a job in DC. It is disappointing in that he had so much potential but while Echo Kellum was serviceable in most circumstances, he fell flat as comic relief; though not as much as the writers’ decision to use him so much in that regard.
  • In the most obvious of reveals, the future time Blackstar is none other than Mia Smoak, daughter of Oliver and Felicity. To top it off, Felicity gets the news of her pregnancy at the end of the episode just as Oliver says his final goodbyes to William. Combine that with Curtis signing over sole ownership of Helix to her and there’s plenty of material for Felicity’s own subplots and not just as Oliver’s wife. I miss her allure as Overwatch.
  • Mistakes aside, it was pretty horrible watching Dinah clutch at her slashed throat. It was by far the most impressive aspect of the episode and the repercussions for her, ironically so soon after the city discovering her Black Canary alter ego, are life-changing. Sure, it’s not 100% that she will lose her Canary powers but, considering what we’ve seen of future Dinah, it’s a logical conclusion.

Arrow – “The Star City Slayer”