Tonight’s episode of Arrow was special for a multitude of reasons: storylines coming to a head, surprise guest stars, and returning characters thought to have bit it a long time ago. “Dead To Rights” had a lot going for it simply from being written by famed DC scribe Geoff Johns. This, combined with building upon the momentum the series had managed to muster since Slade Wilson (Spartacus’ Manu Bennett) showed up to be Ollie’s (Stephen Amell) Mr. Miyagi on the island. Choosing to focus the attention on a different archer this week, John Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn/ The Dark Archer, that is, we are able to see what Johns does best—make us think the bad guy is not so bad. Although this episode had a low point at the end, the ride was just as thrilling to us all.
This episode really chose to focus on one character, Tommy Merlyn, played by Colin Donnell, and how his relationship with his father and best friend become fundamentally altered after the events he witnesses. I will admit Tommy is not my favorite character on the show, as he has had the least amount of character development. Usually all he does is bitch and moan about his dad cutting him off financially or emotionally. While they do well to not make him just be the raucous party boy he was portrayed as in the pilot, these developments did not add much to the story when they were first introduced.
In this episode, we learn that after his mother’s death, Tommy’s father vanished for two years, and that all the big dad moments were done with Oliver and his father. This is fantastic, as it shows that Oliver and Tommy are not just best friends but more like brothers; they were together for all the big moments of their childhood, and to be lied to is like an arrow to the chest. This is apparent in how Tommy reacts when Oliver reveals his identity as The Hood to him; this is not just a lie, this is the biggest lie ever and Tommy is understandably distraught when Ollie says he was never going to tell him.
By the way, hats off to Barrowman for making me feel for the big bad Dark Archer. I can now finally understand why he wants to destroy the Glades. He sees that this entire area is full of vermin and the people who killed his wife, and he does not believe they deserve to exist in his world. Love has always been a powerful motivator/weapon and Malcolm is using it with extreme prejudice. We all know good old Captain Jack Harkness can handle a gun, but watching him full on execute a guy without hesitation sent shivers down my spine.
On the flipside, Moria (Susanna Thompson) hired China White (Kelly Hu) and surprisingly, Deadshot (Michael Rowe) to kill Malcolm. Of course they fail due to a combination of Malcolm being a well-trained killer and Oliver showing up to save him. Even still, at least we know that not all of Arrow’s villains are one offs. Perhaps the best thing to come out of all of this is that Malcolm tells Moria to find the traitor in their midst, which should be interesting to watch.
The downside of the entire hunt sequence and the episode as a whole was that the action fluctuated between being shot very well and very poorly. I had a hard time seeing what was going on in all the darkness, and you never want the audience to be confused about what they are watching, especially during a fight scene. Also, I was kind of hoping for Malcolm to don the black hood and lay some sweeping vengeance on the triads, but I guess that will have to wait for another week.
Meanwhile, on the island of misfit soldiers, Slade and Ollie are developing a nice relationship, as Slade realizes that Oliver has at least oneskill that he does not. When Ollie manages to “fix” the radio you can see that this is the first time Slade has had an advantage over Fryers. Slade is legitimately proud of Oliver and believes that they can get off this island. But in my opinion, that anti-aircraft missile station means bad things for the boys on the island.
The one major problem I had with the episode was that the end felt very info dumpy and disjointed from the rest of what was an otherwise enjoyable experience. Especially when Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) mum showed up, played by Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston, it felt like they forgot to edit in the end of the episode.
-At this point, just have David Tennant on. It will make things great.
– Diggle’s reaction to Deadshot being alive was great, could have used less lens flare though.
– “I did not see his face, but he spoke perfect Chinese.” Oliver used the Rosetta Stone on the island I guess.
Final grade: B
+ Malcolm Merlyn being awesome
+ Ollie revealing himself to Tommy was unexpected but great
+ Slade carrying a full pig
-The romantic relationship stuff was lackluster
-The action was wonky and uneven at best
-Too info dumpy at the end