You know how all the Transformers, or Power Rangers, came together to form one mega-fighter? Arrow is doing that. All the different characters in Arrow have finally come together to form one powerful crime fighting legend. They are vengeance. They are the night. They... are... MegaBatman.
It's no secret that the Green Arrow comic book character was based on Batman, following the same pattern in everything from the young sidekick to the Arrowcave. And that's just fine. The resemblance is still strong, but the Green Arrow developed into his own character. In the show, the Batman resemblance was clear, but Arrow had never, until now, assembled a full Batman. Today it has. Everything from the fast car to the horror story at eight years old is covered — they're just not covered in only one character.
The episode is entitled"Trust, But Verify," and given that it's a Green Arrow show, I'm assuming they're quoting Lenin, not Reagan. It begins with an armored car robbery, but from there goes straight to Ollie deducing the perpetrator of the robbery while doing shirtless one-handed push-ups, because we did not tune in to a CW show to see male chests covered by bulletproof vests, no we did not. It seems that the mode of the heist coincided with the way a private security force in Afghanistan took down enemy vehicles. That force is now the Blackhawk Squad (oh, how I wish Zinda Blake were on it), and it's run by Ted Gaynor. Digg stops Ollie at this point to tell him that Ted saved Digg's life in the war. He objects to this list item on the grounds that no one who saved Digg's life could be a bad person. The many viewers who wait breathlessly every week to see Digg get in a tank top and spar with Ollie agree, but Ollie has his evil dead father's mysterious book of invisible ink names, and that, he says, couldn't possibly be wrong. The Mission, er, The List, is everything. His partner? Nothing. Digg — and I swear I first wrote his name as "Dick" in the first draft of this — storms off.
That little spat is everything a Batman fan could want (short of Digg sticking his finger in Ollie's face and shouting, "I'm not you, old man!") but the episode really kicks into gear when Barrowmerlyn appears. He calls Tommy and invites him out to dinner. He explains that he only cut Tommy off to get him to grow up and says, "My tough love worked." Here's a tip for parents. If your "tough love" works, and your kid is now an independent adult, just be happy you got an adult out of the bargain. Save saying "I was right to kick your ass," for your deathbed, when your child can't get back at you for saying it. Plus, think of the expression on their face! That's something you can look forward to, right up to the end. Anyway, Barrowmerlyn would like Tommy and Laurel to come to dinner with him. Tommy, reluctantly and with Laurel's encouragement, accepts. I'm sure it will go well.
Barrowmerlyn's next call is to Moira. She's been out with Thea, getting a Thea a beautiful dress for her upcoming 18th birthday party. Thea refuses to let a party, a dress, and the prospect of a new car make her pleasant to be around for more than a few minutes at a time. She changes the subject to her dead dad, saying, "Dad used to say the saddest day of his life would be when I turned 18. Now he's gone and I'm the one who's sad." When the call from Barrowmerlyn comes in, summoning Moira, she would hardly be blamed for jumping out of the car and running to him. Thea notices that Barrowmerlyn is calling, and follows Moira to her meeting. She sees Moira and Barrowmerlyn talking. Actually, Barrowmerlyn is demanding that Moira talk some mutual acquaintance of theirs into staying with "the plan," and Moira is demanding proof that Walter is alive, but Thea sees them and decides that two fully-clothed people talking briefly in an office building must be having an affair. To be fair, at one point I was sure Barrowmerlyn was going to put a hand on Moira's ass, but that's just because I've seen Torchwood.
Over at the Blackhawk Squad offices, Ollie tranq darts a couple of dudes, steals a zip drive, and corners Ted. Digg breaks in and stops him from shooting Ted. Ollie makes a run for it, and Digg gets a job offer. Later, in the Arrowclub, Ollie throws a distinctly paternal tantrum, saying that Robin, I mean Digg, could have been killed. Ollie insists that his father "explained that every name on the list has a reason to be there." Digg points out that Ollie's dad died, and so he doesn't really see how that's possible. Ollie says that he found a secret note from his dad a couple of years ago — and that he found it somewhere other than the island. This is the real "trust" moment of "Trust, But Verify." Because at this point, Digg has to at least consider the possibility that he has been working for a literally crazy person who has been writing Dead Dad Fanfic in his head for the last five years. The fact that he doesn't knock Ollie out and drag him to Barkham Asylum (or whatever they have in Starling City), is a true act of friendship. Instead, he demands that Ollie give him a chance to prove that Ted is innocent.
Ollie secretly bugs Digg. Digg sets out to prove that Ted is innocent by introducing him to Carly, the woman that he is in love with. Both of these things will come up later.
Meanwhile, Ollie has two mysteries to unravel. The zip drive is encrypted so he hands it to Felicity, saying that it's part of a scavenger hunt, and promising her a bottle of the case of wine that's supposed to be the prize. Felicity, to my horror, actually seems to buy this right up until she finds out that the encrypted material is armored car route maps. Ollie says that he'll hand it over to the police so she won't get in trouble. She says, "So no wine then," prompting me to shout at the screen, "Dummies don't get wine!" I maintain that this policy would make the world a much, much better place.
Ollie's other mystery gets dumped in his lap by Thea. She says that when Robert, Moira's first husband, disappeared, Moira was fighting with Robert and hanging out with Barrowmerlyn. The affair must have started up again. Ollie goes to Moira, and she says that Robert was the one having the affairs, and that's why they were fighting, but she doesn't want Thea to have a tarnished view of her father. Ollie, being the only kid on Earth who wants to know more about his parents' sex lives, asks about Barrowmerlyn. She dismisses the connection as her asking a business associate for advice.
The entire situation comes to a head the night of Thea's party.
Barrowmerlyn is having dinner with Laurel and Tommy when Laurel mentions that Tommy and she weren't friends until after his mother passed away. Barrowmerlyn replies sharply, "She was killed, Laurel. There's no need to be polite about it." You're at a social dinner, dude. There is a need to be polite about it. Although I would love a dinner conversation between just-back-from-the-island Ollie and Barrowmerlyn.
"My wife was murdered."
"My mother is having sex with my father's best friend."
". . . "
"Let's talk about the sexual positions our grandparents used to conceive our parents until dessert, and then move to long, slow, torturous medical conditions until the check comes."
The dinner ends with Barrowmerlyn trying to get Tommy to sign a contract to shut down the free clinic his mother set up, and Tommy storming out. Laurel yells at Barrowmerlyn, and Barrowmerlyn tells her that he has been trying to teach Tommy that the world is cold and hard ever since his mother was shot, and storms out himself. We end the scene with Laurel realizing that she's been stuck with the check.
At Thea's birthday party, she's celebrating getting a car. One of her girlfriends offers her "Vertigo," a special drug, and she's about to go throw it away when she sees Moira and Barrowmerlyn talking again. (Barrowmerlyn is showing Moira the picture of a moderately bruised Walter.) She decides that this means they're definitely having an affair. Thea, no, that's not how mommies and daddies do it. Thea takes the drug, hops in her car, crashes, and is arrested for it. Eh. Fair enough.
Digg breaks into Blackhawk, but only gets as far as seeing a suspicious van before he's captured and forced into doing a heist to keep a kidnapped Carly from being killed. He flubs it deliberately, and then when the crooks threaten Carly, points out that they gave him a grenade launcher. I wish the episode had paused on the bad guys' faces with a wah wah wahhh trumpet, but instead there's a lot of booming, a lot of chasing, a lot of running, and finally Ollie coming in and killing everyone.
Later, Digg says he knew that Ollie bugged him, and that's okay, but he wishes that Ollie trusted him. Ollie says that he can't trust anyone, but that's why he has Digg. Digg "always sees the best in people." Get out the red, green, and gold, Digg, because you are Robin now.
But that's not what makes this story a Batman ensemble. What makes it Batman is Tommy's story about his dad. Tommy's mom was shot in the head in the street when Tommy was, you guessed it, eight years old. After that, Barrowmerlyn became withdrawn. He became dark and obsessed. He took off for a couple of years — doing who knows what. And when he came back... he was a different person. Throughout this story we have a long shot of a dark, cave-like place. Along the walls are weapons of various kinds. We slowly move through the space until we see Barrowmerlyn looking tormented and gazing a picture of his lost family. He puts the picture down and moves aside to reveal... a dark suit on a stand, awaiting the time when he will take it out into the night and exact justice. Yep. It's Batman.
(Oh, and in flashbacks, we see Ollie going on a daring-but-stupid rescue mission to retrieve the Archer, only to find himself imprisoned and the Archer working with Fyers. I don't know what to make of it, and from the looks on their faces the actors don't either. Next week we have Ollie on drugs!)