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REVIEW: Arrow 1×21 “The Undertaking”

Written by Scott Swartz

Well it’s nice to know that Ollie saw The Raid in his time back in Starling City, because that was awesome. Yes “The Undertaking” saw some of the best fight scenes of the entire season as well as some great backstory on Malcolm’s motivations for his evil machinations.  Granted, there was not a lot of Ollie in these flashbacks, but from what we have seen he was a total jackass in his past life. A lot of storylines and revelations were made during the course of the hour and it feels as if our hero finally gained a slight edge over Malcolm.  It felt weird that the entire Walter storyline was solved in just one episode, but luckily there were a lot of fun references and exploration of multiple characters that needed some fleshing out. So lets dive in and as always SPOILER ALERT.

So the big sticking point of this episode  was that we were going to see flashbacks to before the island. Of course, they were not flashbacks of Ollie but rather his father and Malcolm. It was fun to see how Malcolm came to his idea of leveling The Glades and that he started out much like Oliver, punishing those he viewed as the enemies of the city. It was just weird to hear Malcolm talk about patience in waiting five years for whatever is in the Unitac box. Malcolm seemed to want to destroy The Glades as soon as possible and his willingness to kill anyone not onboard with the plan showed a much different nature than the patience he was preaching. It was easy to see why Robert was “the good guy” within the group; everyone else seemed to have lost someone to The Glades, and everyone went along with Malcolm’s plan way too easily. We are talking about twenty-four square blocks, that’s a lot of real estate to be destroyed by a “natural disaster.” Props to John Barrowman as his performance in telling Robert why he can’t wait was just fantastic, he really is an anti-hero who has gone off the deep end.

Meanwhile, in the present, Walter’s disappearance came to the forefront and while it leads to multiple great action sequences, I found it weird that this is the first time Ollie was really proactive about finding him. Some of this comes from Ollie finally having a solid lead in the case, but still this came largely out of left field, as there was no real build up to getting this breakthrough. It felt cheap or like the writers just remembered they had Walter kidnapped and realized they needed to tie up that loose end before the end of the season. I wanted some sort of real build up, much in the same way we had Diggle go to his friend about Deadshot. It’s the little things that would help to sell this storyline and not just make it feel jammed into a very crowded endgame.

Of course Malcolm was not the only character getting fleshed out as Felicity got a couple of moments in the spotlight, since the whole search for Walter was her reason for joining Team Arrow in the first place. She wanted to help find Walter even if it meant going out into the field and risking her life. She was obviously nervous but it was nice to see her outside her comfort zone of being Oracle to Ollie’s Batman. I hope Felicity gets some more fieldwork come Season Two, as her awkward exchanges with Ollie are always enjoyable.

Now lets get to my favorite part of the episode: the action in the casino and the raid in Bludhaven. Both episodes since returning from the hiatus have had at least one fantastic fight scene and we were lucky enough to get two in this week’s episode. The casino was a nice taste of what was to come, as Ollie got creative in his rescue of Felicity, I especially liked when he threw the broken glass in that guy’s face and stabbed a pool cue into one thug’s leg. It’s not often we get to see Ollie go that brutal but it was a nice touch to show how powerful Oliver really is. Now that homage to The Raid, oh boy, I did not see that coming but it was awesome to see Oliver go one-man army to save Walter. Granted, we could have used a little better lighting as always, but who cares? Ollie smashed a dude’s head into the light and the wall multiple times. Ollie channeled his inner Rama and destroyed that hallway of thugs like it was nothing and thank god he did. I am just wondering where Nightwing was the entire time Walter was being held captive as I feel Dick would have noticed a ton of armed thugs on top of an abandoned tenement. Maybe he does not exist in this universe, but many fans, myself included, are hoping to see him around.

With Walter’s liberation, Ollie learning that both Moria and Malcolm are indeed involved in The Undertaking, and Diggle and Ollie reconciling, I’d say Ollie should take the win. We all know he has a small advantage now that he knows who his enemies are, but his enemies do not know his true identity. Of course, Oliver does not know Malcolm and the Dark Archer are one and the same, but I have a feeling he will find out soon enough.

 

Extra Thoughts

–       “A Ted Kord Fundraiser…” Blue Beetle alert everyone.

–       The “It’s weird having you inside of me” exchange was only funny because Ollie wanted Felicity to shut up.

–       If you have not seen The Raid and like action movies go watch it. I can’t recommend it enough.

 

Final Grade: A-

+ Malcolm flashbacks were fun.

+ Felicity in the field

+ The Raid in Bludhaven.

 

-Walter’s rescue felt shoehorned in

-Pre-Island Ollie is a major Douche

-Everyone got on board with the whole “Level The Glades” plan a little to easily.

About the author

Scott Swartz