The aftermath of last week’s cliffhanger gives us the first extended flashback episode of the series as we witness more of Ollie’s (Stephen Amell) time on ‘Purgatory’ Island.
Let’s bitch it out…First off, big thanks to thedude for covering for me last week while I was on vacation. She definitely covered off everything I would have said – only more succinctly!
And now for ‘The Odyssey’:
I’m the first to admit that thus far, I’ve often been intrigued by the Purgatory Island flashbacks, but I’ve never been quite taken in by them. Usually they feel less than essential to me, especially when it became clear that they were settling into a sequential format instead of directly complimenting the revelations occurring in the present day.
I see now that a lot of this chronological work was done in order to facilitate this episode, which spends the majority of its time exploring the relationship between Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett aka Crixus of Spartacus fame) and Oliver (Stephen Amell). Previous to this, I think we all assumed that it was Yao Fei (Byron Mann) that taught Oliver to become the lethal REVENGE! machine that he is, but it seems that Slade had a pretty big influence.
The focus on the flashback – narratively speaking – makes sense. The cold open returns us to last week’s cliffhanger, and once again demonstrates that mama Queen, Moira (Susanna Thompson), is not to be trifled with. Sure she whips out her children’s pictures when she’s looking death in the eye, but that’s only as a distraction so that she can grab her office gun and put a slug into The Hood’s neck. This calamitous turn of events leads to two exciting developments: 1) flashbacks in response to Oliver’s near-death state and 2) the introduction of Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) into the Scooby Gang! Huzzah – such fun!
As always, Arrow delivers on the action. We get a few solid training sequences between Slade and Oliver (alas no shirtlessness), a covert attack on the radio tower in which Oliver tests his newfound abilities (and fails, amusingly enough) and then a siege on Fyers (Sebastian Dunn). Everything culminates in a few obvious reveals (that Slade’s partner is Deathstroke and Yao Fei is only working with Fyers because he has a family member – his daughter – held hostage). Thankfully there’s an impressive fight scene between Slade and his former partner to make up for the obviousness, which ends with Deathstroke suffering a wee bit of ocular damage (remember we saw the mask with the gouged eye waaaay back in the pilot?).
All in all, ‘The Odyssey’ is a stand-out episode that completely deviates from formula to give us some nice insight into our characters, continues to drive the conflict between Oliver and his mother and brings Felicity into the fold. Pretty solid.
- Among the other notable moments: a few quiet scenes that show us what Oliver and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) were like as lovers. One is a dream sequence featuring some good chemistry pillow-talk, while the other demonstrates that Oliver tried to contact Laurel via telephone during his island imprisonment. Tragically Slade cuts that effort short, but it proves, once again, that the two are meant to be
- Just in case we couldn’t guess that Fyers’ isn’t the mastermind behind the plan, Slade reveals that he’s working for someone else. Anyone want to bet it’s Malcolm Merlyn (an unseen John Barrowman) aka The Dark Archer
- Felicity updates the computers because they run like they’re from the 80s. Tee hee
- I can tolerate Diggle (David Ramsey) in small doses and it helps to play him off Felicity, but he’s still in danger of falling into Tommy/Detective Lance/Thea territory (aka “why are you taking up screentime”?). The principals are well-fleshed out, but the supporting characters need a little more to do. Diggle can’t simply get bossed around for the rest of the series, can he?
- Finally, in case you didn’t know, not only has Arrow been picked up for a second season, but Bett Rickards been promoted to series regular next year. Good news apparently comes in twos!
- Felicity (when Oliver reveals himself as the Hood): “Everything about you just became so unbelievably clear.”
- Oliver (sarcastically, when Slade tells him there are wolves on the island): “What would the worst place on earth be without wolves?”
- Slade (when Ollie asks why he had to be tied up to extract the bullet): “A man in pain is unreliable. I may have killed you.”
What did you think of this deviation in formula: best episode in a while or too much Purgatory island? Did you appreciate the reference to The Odyssey or did Oliver’s description of the ironic parallels between his situation and Odysseus’ strike you as too on-the-nose? Do you think Slade and Yao Fei will continue to play substantial roles in island flashbacks? And, finally, are you excited Felicity will stick around? I’m willing to bet you can guess my feelings!
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW