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Friday, April 17, 2015

"Broken" ARROW

Article originally written for Seat42F.



This week’s episode of ARROW on The CW, “Broken Arrow,” is anything but boring, again. Oliver (Stephen Amell) agonizes about letting Roy (Colton Haynes) sit in police custody and asking Ray, a.k.a. The Atom (Brandon Routh), to protect the city. But he has no choice because Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) is on an Ahab-like quest to expose Oliver as The Arrow and toss him behind bars, too. Will Oliver finally accept Ra’s (Matt Nable) position and end this mess that, admittedly, Ra’s has caused?

Oliver is not someone who relies on others easily, and that has always been a core part of his character. But Team Arrow exists now, and he is not just a lone wolf. When Oliver is believed to be dead, the others step up and continue the job he once performed, finding their independence. The transition is irreversible, and never has Oliver needed their help more than now, when he is sidelined again. Except, this time he has to sit and watch them perform his duties, rather than recovering in a secret hideout.

The team is worthy of Oliver’s trust, though. Perhaps not Ray, who means well but is far too inexperienced to tackle a metahuman named Deathbolt (Doug Jones, Falling Skies, Hellboy) himself in “Broken Arrow.” But Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), Diggle (David Ramsey), and Roy have earned his confidence, and even if they don’t fill Oliver in on their full plan, they have one. Diggle and Felicity convince Oliver to mostly stay back, and to his credit, he does listen to them.

Staying back isn’t enough, though. With Quentin latched onto the idea that he must catch Oliver, the issue isn’t going away, and Oliver can’t hide from it. Lieutenant Pike (Adrian Holmes) advises Quentin to slow down, lest he lose rank again. Quentin doesn’t appear to heed those words, though. It is likely that Quentin will let this destroy him, and that will be another thing for Oliver to feel guilty about, meaning he can’t save everyone and this is something he must come to terms with.

“Broken Arrow” shows Oliver at his lowest in this regard when Quentin tells Oliver and Thea (Willa Holland) that Roy has died in prison. He isn’t actually dead, this being a trick cooked up by Team Arrow without Oliver’s input, but Oliver doesn’t know this and comes as close to breaking down as we’ve pretty much ever seen. He sometimes comes across as a little cold, but he truly does carry the weight of what he does and the people he protects on his shoulders.

Which makes it all the more tragic that, while Oliver and company are saying goodbye to Roy for good as he leaves town to start a new life, Ra’s runs Thea through with a sword. Thea is the most important person in Oliver’s life, and if she dies, it will wreck him. Even if she doesn’t die, the fact that she might have will definitely make Oliver re-think his priorities.

Can Oliver ever be The Arrow again? That identity has been burned, and the public thinks the man responsible is dead. I don’t think Oliver can give up trying to save the city, but will he do it as Ra’s, even though Ra’s has done evil things, or will he take on another identity? ARROW is very uncertain on this front.

It’s less uncertain about the future of Ray and Felicity. Their days as a couple are numbered as soon as Ray sees how affectionate Felicity is with Oliver. Ray knows her heart belongs to someone else. It probably won’t be long now before they split.

“Broken Arrow” opens a big mystery when Ray takes Deathbolt to Star Labs to be locked up. Cisco (Carlos Valdes) observes that Deathbolt was not in Starling City when the reactor exploded (see: The Flash television series), so how is he a metahuman? Thus far, all the metahumans they are aware of stem from that accident. I assume this will be a story spanning both ARROW and The Flash in the coming weeks or years.

There’s also yet another boring Hong Kong flashback in which Oliver and his friends break into a lightly-guarded lab to steal an antidote for a virus that some bad guys are about to unleash. To be honest, I find myself zoning out during these scenes, as uninteresting as they usually are, and hope the day comes very soon when ARROW dispenses with this nonsense. Thankfully, these bits are brief this time. It was a good convention at the start of the series, but has long since lost its luster.

Still, even with that complaint, “Broken Arrow” is an excellent, engaging hour for the rest of its running time. ARROW has been having a stellar third year, and this episode is no exception.

ARROW airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

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