At last, the villain we've been anticipating since he was just an Easter Egg on the first episode arrives. And he is not the way we pictured him. But he's slam bang in the middle of an episode with some good character moments, and an ending that leaves us wondering about my favorite couple.
Before we even catch our breath, we're in a flashback. Ollie, and his annoying mentor, Wispybeard, are marching along on the island. Wispybeard shoots game, and indicates that Ollie should collect it. Ollie asks why he can't shoot instead, a question answered when he tries, and fails, to hit a tree. Ollie would earn my annoyance for this scene, if Wispybeard doesn't immediately hoard all the annoyance for himself when he again talks to Ollie in a language that they both know Ollie doesn't understand. Ollie's resigned delivery of "What does that mean," has me giggling. Wispybeard says it means, "You will die badly." Ass. Ollie trundles off to get the meat and is captured like a blonde in a sixties adventure movie the moment he gets out of sight of Wispy.
Back in the present, Ollie is arrested on suspicion of murrrderrr (and Quentin says it just that way), and wants Laurel to be his attorney. Moira and Walter barely contain their impatience. Ollie argues that Laurel knows him better than anyone, and that she'll get through to her father that he and the Hood aren't the same person. He says she'll defend him because her love of the law would obligate her to fight for an innocent man. Technically, her love of the law would obligate her to fight for a lot of guilty ones, too, and that's lucky for Ollie.
Moira goes to ask Laurel for her help, saying that if Laurel doesn't defend Ollie, Ollie has vowed to be his own attorney. Laurel says that she believes Ollie is innocent, but that her relationship with her father and her past with Ollie make taking this case unprofessional and unwise. Moira agrees and apologizes for putting Laurel in an awkward position. It's a very reasonable scene between two reasonable people.
Which is completely countermanded when Laurel waltzes into court in the middle of Ollie's arraignment. The judge says calmly that this much drama can only happen at an appeals court level. Kidding. She's totally okay with all of this, but sentences Ollie to house arrest on fifteen million dollars bail. Laurel snipes at Ollie that he would never be the vigilante, "because [The Hood] is really trying to make a difference." Last episode she recoiled from the Hood and called him a killer. At this point, only three explanations make sense - constantly rebooting robot, multiple personality, or evil twin who keeps escaping. I'm hoping for robot so that she can fight Tom Welling as a Superman robot and Sarah Michelle Gellar as the Buffy Bot during the finale.
Ollie announces to his worried family that to show everyone that they're not worried, he's planning a party to be held on the grounds of mansion. It will be a prison-themed party and the invitations will say, "Come Before Oliver Queen Gets Off." Look, Ollie. I know you're tortured. I know you're pretending to be a playboy to protect the people in your life. I know you're working the Hamlet angle of this show so hard that Shakespeare's skeleton is clawing its way through the Earth to come and claim royalties. But you will keep it to single entendres when you're in front of your mother, is that clear?
Meanwhile, he says to Dig that he meant to get caught. His arrival coinciding with the arrival of a vigilante would be too obvious. Better raise and dash suspicion right away, so no one suspects him later on. Dig wonders what, exactly, Ollie is going to do with the fact that they caught him on camera grabbing a duffel bag and a green hood out of a trash can. Ollie had claimed that he had assumed it was the shooter's and grabbed it in case it was evidence in a move that did not convince anybody. Ollie does not seem worried. Other things have his attention. Learning that a shipment of machine guns is coming into Starling City thanks to Liam Mueller, an international arms dealer who works with poor street gangs for some reason (he's like the Salvation Army of criminals), Ollie asks Dig to tail Mueller for a while. Dig asks how he is supposed to stealthily play follow the arms dealer. Ollie directs Dig to his stash of high tech stuff, saying, "You know us billionaire vigilantes. We love our toys." Somewhere, Tim Burton's eyelid is twitching uncontrollably, and he doesn't know why.
Walter, in his office, calls in his chief of security. He tells the man that Moira, for some reason, has the remains of the Queen's Gambit yacht in a warehouse. He wants it moved to a "secure location." This can only end well.
The Assistant District Attorney calls in Laurel, Ollie, and Quentin. She states that, since everyone knows Ollie went koo-koo-bananas on an island somewhere, they're willing to forego jail and throw him in a padded room until he seems less like he's constantly thinking about sneaking into people's bedrooms at night and licking their fingers. Ollie says no. He's innocent. Dinah, despite the fact that she believes Ollie is innocent, urges him to take the deal. Ollie still says no, and that he'll take a polygraph test to prove to Quentin that he isn't the Hood. Quentin, still seething with hatred, doesn't seem enthusiastic, but agrees to the test, at least. A.D.A Spencer (Hi Manhunter! I hope you find a way to kick ass soon!) agrees to it, even though polygraph data isn't admissible in court.
Flashback! Ollie is brought into a tent. The guy there has the icy demeanor of a man who should be battling John McClane in a Die Hard movie. He introduces himself as Edward Fyers. He speaks with an English accent, and suddenly so many things become clear to me. Walter has a British accent. And yet his is not evil. While I believe that the British play villains in so many American films because we are anglophiles, not anglophobes, there's no denying that every upper-class accented British character ever to grace an American screen has a bit of the redcoat to them. They can act as nice as can be, but we do want to leap on a horse and tell people that they're coming, just in case. And yet the show seemed to keep Walter good and honorable. I realize now that was because it was holding a British accent in reserve. Ollie says his family has money and will pay for his return. Fyers shows Ollie photograph and asks him if he knows the man in it. It's Wispybeard, only he's clean shaven and in a military uniform. Ollie says he doesn't. Fyers doesn't buy it. He says that he doesn't know why Ollie is protecting Wispy, and that Ollie probably doesn't even know why he's protecting him, which is a nice bit of business because it's clear that it's true. Ollie doesn't know why he's protecting the guy, and you can see it on his face. Fyers says that Ollie should probably keep that ignorance in mind and then calls in . . . Deathstroke. Who is a big guy in a mask, but who clearly has both eyes.
And back to the present. Ollie asks Thea to move a keg nearer to the house, since if he goes out too far, his house-arrest ankle bracelet will go off and a SWAT team will show up. Thea, unsurprisingly considering both the plot and her character, does not seem inclined to oblige him. She points out that he's covered in scars, goes out every night, has been acting weird as hell, and gave her an arrowhead when he got back from the island. She doesn't really see how he's getting out of this, since it's clear he's guilty guilty guilty. Oliver promises that it's going to be fine. Thea says, "Yeah, when you and dad left on the yacht you promised me you'd see me in a few days." Oh, Thea. So many good points, so much accuracy, all covered in a rich broth of unreasoning self-absorption. Zut alors! Eet ees deleecious! That's good teen. Ollie sighs and says that he got the arrowhead at the Beijing airport, just so he could have something to give her. She seems to accept this.
Barrowmaaaaaaaaaaan! Moira walks in, and since we haven't been given a name for this character yet, I'm just going to pretend it's the actor himself. It's not like his fans would love him any less if it were true. Moira says that the charges that her son is the guy hunting Barrowman's organization are ridiculous. Barrowman points out that the entire legal establishment of the city doesn't seem to agree with her. Moira gets a little angry, saying that Quentin Lance has a grudge against her family. He cuts her off saying, "Why? Is there something untoward about your family? If so, something really needs to be done about that." Moira's scared look says all we need to know about that.
It's a good scene, and it's followed by another good scene. We cut between Ollie taking the polygraph in front of Laurel and Quentin, and the scene of Deathstroke torturing him to get information about the Archer. While the young Ollie screams and struggles, the present Ollie calmly answers the questions, hesitating a bit before saying he'd never been to the site of the prison riot on the last episode. He eventually admits, flashing back constantly, to the fact that he wasn't alone on the island, and that he didn't say anything about other people because the people there tortured him. When he finally is asked if he had ever killed anyone, he looks at Quentin and says, "Yes. When I asked your daughter Sarah to come on my father's yacht with me, I killed your daughter."
At last it's party time. Girls in striped dresses gyrate in fake prison cages, and Ollie wears a jumpsuit and gives a speech about being sent up the river. Quentin is there, looking not the least bit amused. Dig is also not amused. It seems that Ollie's big plan was to send Dig out as The Hood while Ollie himself was in sight of hundreds of witnesses. Dig will now be doing that while taking out arms dealers. Ollie begins to apologize, but Dig reasonably points out that he didn't take the job of crime fighter imagining it to be safe. He just doesn't like being lied to, especially since Ollie has no reason to lie t him at this point. Out Dig goes, to stop an arms deal, and manages it handily, even though Mueller gets away. (Don't worry. Ollie kills him later.)
Moira isn't having any better a night than Quentin, Dig, or the arms dealers. Walter summons her to his office. He found the boat, he tells her, and was having his security chief transfer it to a safer location when his security chief came down with a bad case of the deads. Supposedly it was a car crash. Moira reacts with unmasked fear, asking Walter to stop making waves. "You are very far out of your depth."
Having had three very good scenes, the episode decides that, if there's a little prison party, they're doing an homage to Caged Heat, dammit. Laurel runs to Ollie at the party. She explains that her dad didn't lose just her sister. When her sister died, both she and her dad threw themselves into work. Her mother felt isolated and walked out on them. (I so want it to turn out that Black Canary is actually going to be Laurel's mom. That? Would be perfect.) Laurel then talking about how she realizes now that Ollie suffered more than he deserved, but then insists that she "needs to see" his scars. Ollie, as well as many of the show's female fans, agree, and the jumpsuit is ripped from Ollie like a bodice from a lone Victorian maiden on the moor. The two kiss, but Laurel pushes him away and runs out of the room.
Flashback! Ollie is slumped in the tent. Fyers is impressed with the fact that Ollie didn't talk, and is actually beginning to think he might not know anything. He orders Deathstroke to kill him, when in comes Wispybeard. He fires an arrow at Deathstroke's eye! Deathstroke catches it, and snaps off the tip. It might have worked on a guy named Floyd, people, but it won't work on a guy named Slade. Them's the rules. Name your children accordingly. A fight that is commendably full of grappling ends up with Deathstroke temporarily taken down, and Wispy helping Ollie out of the tent. They make it to a cave, where Wispy gives Ollie what looks like a potion and says he'll lead the bad guys away. Ollie starts to follow him and a big giant boulder falls over the entire entrance to the cave. It's like the boulder in Indiana Jones was made into a baby gate or something. I don't even know what to say to this.
Back in the present, an assassin dressed as a caterer takes a shot at Ollie. They fight, and the guy does impressively well for a dude in a bow tie (No offence, Barry). He looks like he might have a good chance, and then Quentin shoots the guy dead. When Ollie fought with the guy, he damaged his ankle bracelet, and Quentin came running. Quentin also announces that the Hood has been seen elsewhere, and Ollie is in the clear.
That fires up Moira, who knows that Barrowman was behind the attempted hit. She threatens him, but we don't take it seriously, and clearly neither does he.
Dinah briefly confronts Ollie, saying that the prison he denied going to was where they went in eighth grade, and the polygraph shows a flutter on that question. Maybe he was lying about everything! Ollie fakes her out, saying that he can't sleep, he can barely eat (No kidding. That poor actor must be starving to death for those shirtless scenes.), and he can hardly manage to sign his own name. He doesn't want people to know how damaged he is. She tells him that, though they're attracted to each other, nothing can happen between them. So . . . nothing has changed since their last meeting. I'm glad we established that.
Dig comes to Ollie and muses that Ollie doesn't seem prepared for all of his family and friends being more suspicious, more observant, and more hurt than he had anticipated. We see scenes of Thea trying to find the inscription on the arrrowhead, Laurel resignedly picking a drunk Quentin up from a bar, and lastly . . . Walter leaving Moira to go tour their foreign factories. This last scene is the most affecting, because they both seem more sad than anything else. Moira is red-eyed. These two are my hands-down favorite couple on the show. Ollie and Laurel are pre-ordained, and they have the disadvantage of constantly being involved in drama and screaming fights. Moira and Walter, though, actually seem to respect and care for each other, and now seem well aware of the obstacles between them. When bad things happen, they're sad, not angry. This makes them much more touching than any of the other couples.
And now, for the fanservice. Like the fanservice of Deadshot, the characters puzzled me. I'll tell you why. Deathstroke first appeared in Teen Titans comic, in a story called "The Judas Contract." He started out as an ambiguous figure who orchestrated a complicated plan that finally got the Teen Titans turned over to their enemies, H.I.V.E. It eventually came out that he was a mercenary, but he was only doing this because his son had been contracted to do the job, but died (accidentally) trying. He was trying, in an amoral way, to honor the work his son died for, and when the Teen Titans escaped, he didn't pursue them. He'd done the job his son promised to do, and it was finished. This was a new kind of character, and Deathstroke proved to be so wildly popular that he got his own series, Deathstroke the Terminator. This changed his character into a kind of hero, and ran for about fifty issues. He then was used as the ultimate villain in wider DC continuity so often that he became the kind of outright sociopath that would set off a radiation bomb over a populated city to make a point. In other words, he's been characterized a lot of different ways, but never as the Big Mute Dude Who Does the Torturin'.
Eddie Fyers was originally a Green Arrow antagonist, if not technically a villain. He was a contract killer for the government, but he eventually became a hero and a mentor to Ollie's son, Connor. The British accent might come from a different character called Wintergreen. He was an army buddy slash manservant slash confidante of Deathstroke. He mainly appeared in the series in which Deathstroke was a hero, and was a thoroughly good guy.
Neither Deathstroke nor Fyers in Arrow resemble any iteration of their comics counterparts - so far. So I'm a little puzzled as to why they've been chosen at all.
Still, I feel like the series is on an upward curve. I'm sad at the idea that we might not see more of Moira and Walter's relationship, but I liked their scenes in this episode very much. The quiet scenes between characters, when there's no high drama to be stirred, are good. Barrowman, as a villain, always gets it done, and has some good lines to do it with. And I was impressed by the slow build of that torture/interrogation scene. I'm not on the cliff, storywise, as much as I was last week, but I'm finding fewer things to mock, and I just might like that.