Arrow‘s much anticipated 19th episode blows the roof off of the status quo as heroes rise…and fall.
Let’s bitch it out…
If you follow the show or star Stephen Amell online, then you knew that something big was headed down the pike in this episode. Over the last six weeks or so, the 19th episode has taken on a sort of cryptic reverence that fans (rightfully it seems) interpreted as a goodbye to someone on the show. Of course, since Arrow writers are a mostly clever bunch, they know how and when to pull a rug out from under viewers with a serious bait-and-switch.
Roy (Colton Haynes) is dead! No, wait he merely faked his death! Now he’s forced to leave Starling City – and the show – forever! Aww, so sad. Oh wait, Thea’s (Willa Holland) just been impaled by Ra’s al Ghul and left to die on the remains of her expensive looking glass coffee table (RIP coffee table. Thea – not so much).
Spoilery previews for next week aside (why you gotta ruin my fun, CW ad people?!), this is a pretty awesome state of affairs. Despite featuring the usual moping from Oliver (Amell) and a broody, out for blood Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne), this is probably one of the most enjoyable episodes of Arrow in ages. Considering how dreary this tortured superhero show has become…that’s no small feat.
Part of that kudos goes to Arrow‘s S3 MVP: Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh). He’s just so damn personable and geeky – he really is a great addition to the show. Sure the guy is headed for heartbreak hotel when he realizes that he’s in the second position on Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) tall, musclely superhero list, but for now Ray is definitely on the rise. With Lance on the war path looking to prove Roy’s confession is false, Oliver is essentially benched. The appearance of Deadbolt, a fiery-eyed metahuman (Doug Jones) promotes Ray from the small time into the big leagues as the sole candidate capable of taking on an enhanced villain (I do find it strange that David Ramsey’s Diggle essentially just sits things out, but whatever).
Much like Laurel’s (a barely seen Katie Cassidy) initial effort to help the helpless, Ray’s first battle in the ATOM suit doesn’t go very well (his effort against Brie’s bees on The Flash went much better). Let’s be honest: this is probably realistic. After all, Ray is a tech playboy and his gizmos are pretty much his biggest asset (note to Oliver: not everyone spent five years on an island and in Hong Kong fighting for their lives). Despite Oliver’s best advice, when Felicity gets abducted after being in the wrong place at the wrong time (groan – again?!) Ray is called into action. Amusingly his hopes for a “Team Up!” comes to fruition when he grants Oliver control over his suit for some first player fighting with Deadbolt. It’s only when the receiver is broken and Felicity appears to truly be in danger that Ray is able to embrace his inner hero and initiate a smack down to take the metahuman out.
The thrill of a successful first battle ends fairly quickly, however, when news of Roy’s demise in prison comes out. Almost immediately the truth is revealed: Arsenal’s death was planned in advance (without Oliver’s knowledge) to allow Roy to leave this life behind. The whole “faked death with a conveniently placed stab wound and heart-slowing toxin ruse” is a classic comic-book/action movie trope that we probably should have expected, though I do think Roy’s fate would have carried more impact had the writers waited a little longer between the death and the resurrection. As it is, the boy wonder gets a heartfelt send-off from everyone except his on again, off again girlfriend, Thea, who is too busy drinking herself silly and clashing with the Demon Head in her apartment. She puts up a decent fight – shout out to Malcolm (a briefly glimpsed John Barrowman) for his training regiment – but ultimately Ra’s is the guy who bested Oliver so Thea never really had a chance. I’ll admit that the possibility of Thea’s death never truly occurred to me; I figured Ra’s would want to kidnap her and hold her for ransom. Instead it looks like Thea’s a goner and Oliver may end up begging for a resurrection spell…
- Roy’s prison fight scene is a nice combination of Haynes’ athleticism and good stunt doubling. It’s a tight, gritty little number
- Ditto Thea’s fight with Ra’s. All of Arrow‘s stunt doubles got to get in on the fun while filming this episode!
- In the brief crossover, Ray hands over Deadbolt to The Flash‘s Cisco (Carlos Valdes) who discovers that Jake Simmons shouldn’t have been affected by the particle accelerator explosion in Central City. This begs the question: how did he come to develop super powers? Will this mystery be picked up on The Flash or Arrow?
- So glad someone told Lance to chillax. The guy really needs to just ease back on the grief-driven vengeance thing.
- In the mostly slow-moving flashbacks, an injured Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinsin) tells Oliver that General Shrieve has the Alpha/Omega virus and plans to release it over Hong Kong. Initially Maseo (Karl Yune) wants to flee, but Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) – echoing the spirit of the episode – vows to be a hero to their son and stay and fight. This is all good, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely ‘meh’ about the flashbacks at this point.
- Felicity (after telling Ray she could kiss him in front of everyone): “Awkward. Sorry. Boundaries. We’re working on it.”
- Felicity (when Ollie asks if she gets as worried about him as Ray): “I honestly can’t think of an answer to that question that doesn’t get me in trouble” Diggle just waves his head.
- Ray (as Ollie takes control of the suit): “Ohh it’s working. I’m just a passenger now.”
Your turn: which shocked you more – Roy’s departure or Thea’s death? Are you frustrated that Lance is keeping up the vendetta? Are you happy to see Ray tackle crime? Why is Diggle back on the sidelines? What is going on in the flashbacks and does anyone care? Sound off below.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW. Here’s your preview of next week’s episode, which suggests big things for Team Arrow (SPOILERS ahoy)