Arrow returns from its Olympics hiatus with an episode that’s all about reunions and reconciliations, including a ballsy villainous entrance by Slade (Manu Bennett).
Let’s bitch it out…
‘Time Of Death’ has a sympathetic villain in the Clock King (Robert Knepper), but in this episode he’s almost obsolete; several characters are already their own worst enemy. As a stock baddie, Knepper unfortunately isn’t really given much to do (Arrow has an unfortunate tendency to cast name-brand genre vets and then underutilize them). The Clock King feels more like the introduction of someone we’ll see again, but given his fatal disease, that possibility seems unlikely.
Of course the Clock King is more than a simple villain: his crusade to rob banks is symbolic! If I have one real gripe with this series, it is the writers’ inability to resist hammering home the theme of the week with the subtlety of a jackhammer. The Clock King doesn’t want to be a bad guy; he’s committing crime for his family. And this whole episode is all about the lengths our characters will go to to protect and support family.
This is most obviously demonstrated in the two big character-driven plots: Thea’s (Willa Holland) manipulation of Oliver (Stephen Amell) in order to get him to reconnect with mom Moira (Susanna Thompson), and all of the business with the Lance family. The former, still featuring chilly interactions between Ollie and Moira, feels a bit forced, if only because we haven’t really spent time on this conflict (even here it’s briefly acknowledged, but is still very much on the periphery).
The stuff with the Lances, on the other hand, is the real pay-off: these scenes finally get to the heart of the family’s dysfunction. It doesn’t hurt that people actually speak their truth (often in extremely painful ways). Laurel (Katie Cassidy) rips a strip off her father (Paul Blackthorne) for stupidly thinking that Dinah (Alex Kingston) would wait for him and she rightfully gets angry at Sara (Caity Lotz) and Oliver for hooking back-up five seconds after Sara’s return. It’s a moment that almost makes Laurel cheer-worthy (almost – she still needs a fair amount of character rehab) because this is all stuff that we’ve been thinking. Laurel may be a delusional addict, but in this case, she’s not entirely wrong.
The real winning scene, however, is when Oliver finally tells Laurel what we’ve all been thinking for the better part of this second season. He accuses her of wallowing in her own pain, of blaming everyone but herself for her problems, and of selfishly overlooking his family issues. He even confronts her pill, booze and Tommy addiction flat-out, which verges on tough love, but is actually pretty refreshing because Laurel is long overdue for some harsh truths. As always Amell totally sells the wounded emotional side of Oliver, which is a nice reminder that as much as the show likes to reinforce his slab of beef appeal (see: the sexy fighting scene that opens the episode), Amell has the acting chops to handle the nuances of a man living a painful double life.
Also bringing the goods this week is Emily Bett Rickards. I’m sure Olicity fans loved the scene when Ollie tells her that she’s “his girl” (this despite macking on Sara right in front of her earlier in the episode). Felicity hasn’t had much of a storyline since Barry Grant left, and with Sara’s inauguration as a full fledged member of the team, the IT girl starts to feel insecure about how adept Sara proves to be at everything. It’s a fairly predictable development, but I appreciated two things about this storyline: 1) Sara is actually super supportive of Felicity instead of the female cattiness we traditionally see and 2) Felicity doesn’t get kidnapped.
As the first episode back after a mini-break, ‘Time Of Death’ is a solid character piece that helps close out some of the recent drama surrounding Laurel and Sara. This allows the show to shift the focus back onto the Queens as we head into the back half of the season. This is reinforced by the final scene that brings Slade out of the shadows and into the limelight as this season’s Big Bad. It’s an exciting cliffhanger that’s as audacious as it is unconventional: I expected Slade to adopt a covert approach, not come out and confront Oliver head-on. It removes the mystery behind who is calling the shots and ups the ante, which is exactly what the series needs to maintain its momentum heading into the final eight episodes of the season.
- Am I the only one who applauded when Sara gave Felicity some training tips? It’s about time someone helped the computer specialist learn how to fight/protect herself!
- Laurel joins AA. FINALLY! As all addicts know, the first step to making a full recovery is admitting you’ve been acting like a complete beyotch.
- Catty comment time: I love me some Alex Kingston, but she looks rough in that party scene. Why is she so bloated all of the sudden?
- Thank goodness the daughter of the pilot who crashed on the island conveniently lives in Starling! Of all the places for Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus) to live…
- Finally, how have I never realized that Verdant was filled with clocks? Have those always there or are they just a timely nod to this week’s villain?
- Oliver (to Sara): “When you come back from the dead, you get a party. Queen family tradition.”
- Moira (to Ollie): “If you don’t want to pretend to be mother and son, don’t throw parties in my home.” Zing!
- Thea (when Oliver denies avoiding Moira): “You’re lucky your life doesn’t involve a lot of lying.”
- Oliver (telling Laurel off): “I have loved you for half my life and I am done chasing after you.”
- Sara (seeing Felicity in her leather jacket): “And the jacket?” Felicity: “I was cold.”
- Felicity (when Ollie asks why she’s being stitched up in the lair): “You guys never go to the hospital.”
What are your thoughts on the various reconciliations? Are you happy that Laurel appears to have turned a corner? Were you surprised at Slade’s ballsiness? Will his appearance thaw the freeze between Oliver and Moira? And are you still holding out hope for an Oliver/Felicity romance? Hit the comments below with your thoughts.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW