Saturday, June 14, 2014

Arrow: An Innocent Man

This episode pretty much follows the show’s standard formula: The Hood targets a corrupt businessman, stumbles across various legal/ethical obstacles in his attempt to take him down, and is ultimately successful in seeing justice served. Unfortunately, this time the plot isn’t so simplistic that its plot holes can be easily ignored.

The gist is that a man named Peter Declan is about to be executed for the murder of his wife, even though the case against him is based almost entirely on circumstantial evidence.
Ollie suspects the man is innocent because the dead woman worked for Jason Brodeur, a man on his list.

Apparently she was about to blow the whistle on Brodeur’s dumping of toxic waste (yes, covering up a toxic waste scandal is apparently reason enough to murder people now – Erin Brockovich must be counting her blessings), which we learn about thanks to an excruciatingly contrived conversation between Brodeur and the actual killer in his garage. I’m pretty sure that when this sort of thing goes down, the culprits don’t usually make casual conversation about it.

Oliver has two days to prove Declan’s innocence, so he goes to Laurel for help. Why Laurel? Well, I guess it’s because he knows she’s a lawyer willing to take a risk on a closed case, but given her prickly demeanour to him earlier in the episode (followed by Thea’s odd decision to suddenly get supportive of Ollie’s social life, even though she was the one making antagonistic remarks about Laurel/Tommy in the previous episode) it would also appear that he was also trying to redeem himself in her eyes.

Which makes no sense at all since Laurel doesn’t know that he’s The Hood. She still thinks Ollie is a dick, and bonding with the vigilante isn’t going to change that. There’s a nice nugget of an idea in there: that Ollie can reconnect with Laurel as Green Arrow, but not from behind his spoiled rich-boy persona, and yet in his second scene with Thea he actually seemed to be happy about the fact that: “it’s helping [to be myself with Laurel].” Dude, it doesn’t count if she doesn’t know it’s you.

So for the second time in as many weeks she’s the target of an assassination attempt, and Ollie handles it so badly that Laurel is now just as leery of The Hood as she is of Ollie himself.

Between the two of them they manage to bring the real killer to justice. This was the first time that an episode has revolved around saving an innocent as well as punishing the guilty, but unfortunately there simply wasn’t enough of Peter Declan to make us care about him. Trotting out his daughter at the last minute didn’t make him any less of a plot device. Thing is, you can get away with making villains one-dimensional figures – give them just a little panache or a quirky character design and it’s always fun watching them go down. But a victim that needs rescuing? A viewer has to care about that.

Elsewhere, Diggle’s first reaction to Ollie’s secret is appropriate: he lashes out and then quits his job, sensibly choosing to distance himself from the vigilante who has murdered in cold blood (and since Diggle very explicitly choses to use the word “murderer”, then so am I). But after a talk with his sister-in-law and Oliver himself, Diggle decides to return to work.

The writing seems to want us to believe his turning point was in learning that Oliver shot dead his brother’s killer. First of all, like Declan, we have no real reason to care about Diggle’s brother. Second of all, if my sibling was killed and I learned that some random person had murdered her killer than I would be FURIOUS at being denied justice.

So I don’t buy Diggle’s decision to team up with Ollie.

Finally, in the episode’s last (and most interesting) little plot-thread, Walter comes across an odd anomaly in the company’s accounts: a missing 2.6 million dollars. Although Moira covers for it, he’s apparently suspicious enough to have Felicity investigate the matter further (which is odd considering she’s an IT girl – shouldn’t he be getting an accountant to do this?)

It leads him to a warehouse in which the wreck of Robert Queen’s yacht is being stashed. So many questions here, the biggest ones being a) if Moira is behind its sabotage, did she know her son was going to be on it? And b) why on earth bring it up from the bottom of the ocean?

Miscellaneous Observations:

I’m sure Laurel copped some flak for her first scene with Oliver in which she tells him off for not immediately coming home from the auction (nice continuity there). But based on the information that she had, she’s absolutely justified in taking Ollie to task for not checking in with his family after a shoot-out at a social function (not that his mother or sister seemed particularly worried about him). Yet from the audience’s perspective, she’s haranguing a man who was busy hunting down the assassin in question.

These scenes really don’t do her character any favours, and I much preferred the scene with her father in which he confronts her about working with The Hood. That debate over law, justice and whether you can achieve the latter without the former was a nice dialogue, and in keeping with the show’s themes.

Laurel’s co-worker finally gets a name: Joanna. Unfortunately, her entire personality still revolves around obsessing over Laurel’s social life.

Ollie attacking the felon who was strangling Laurel was clearly meant to parallel what was going on in the island flashbacks – except that depicting Ollie killing a bird and making it out to be the first step on the road to him becoming a ruthless vigilante is pretty ludicrous. Farmers and hunters kill animals all the time. Every day. It’s not that big a deal.

I suppose I’m going to have to get used to the fact that no one can recognise Oliver under that hood, even though it’s an even worse disguise than Clark Kent’s glasses. Still, that Inspector Lance is onto him a mere four episodes into the show is pretty spectacular. And by catching him on security footage too! Looking forward to seeing how he’ll wriggle out of this one.

Hey, it’s John Barrowman!

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