ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Arrow’ Episode 1.11: Trust But Verify
The CW’s new superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along all season to see how he fares.
This week, Dig takes center stage as he comes into contact with some old war buddies, the Queen siblings suspect Moira’s involved in some creepin’ and the island reveals new, mysterious secrets!Previously: Steele got kidnapped! So did Proto-Arrow! Island Ollie got a Resident Evil cosplay costume! The music’s pitch got really high!
Speaking of music, things open up on a pair of guards with a sizable age difference driving an armored truck listening to some jamzz (that’s right, with two z’s). The older guard doesn’t like it very much and switches the radio over to some jazz (also with two z’s). This sounds like a setup for a joke, but it’s really the setup for a robbery in which a group of masked, armored assailants launch a gas grenade into the truck to force the guards out of it and presumably incapacitate them. Then they shoot the guards dead anyway. Overkill, isn’t it?
All the while, the camera is shaking like this is taking place on the Starship Enterprise’s bridge right after a photon torpedo hit. The thieves grab the keys, open up the back and abscond with the money while I puke into an airsick bag.
Things are much less shaky at the Queen home, where Thea is hinting at wanting a car for her birthday and Ollie is joking about how she can’t drive. Got to love the classics. Moira and Thea head off for some business just as Merlyn arrives so Ollie can drop some exposition about how Moira’s taking Steele’s disappearance a little too well ever since she decided to stop being sad last week.
In more stuff-we’ve-already-heard news, the One TV Station in Starling City is airing a report about the armored truck robbery in which the One Cop in Starling City, Sgt. Lance, is refusing to comment. But, what do you know, the whole thing was caught on a traffic camera, which you think would be footage the SCPD would have control over, but who knows how this city’s legal system works.
Ollie responds to this news by going to the Arrowcave and doing push-ups, as he does. In walks Dig, who jokingly refers to his and Ollie’s hideout as the Arrowcave, which would be clever except nobody f**king calls him Arrow. He also mentions my big problem with the hideout being directly under Ollie’s new nightclub: It brings unwanted attention to it. Ollie says he put in a new exit. OK. I’ll take it.
Ollie shows Dig some interesting similarities between footage of the truck robbery and of Marines taking out a Taliban SUV. He’s connected the technique to Ted Gaynor, who works for private security firm Blackhawk Squad Protection Group, just happens to have been Dig’s commanding officer on his first tour in Afghanistan, and is also on The List. Dig and Ollie argue about what kind of guy Gaynor is. Dig says Gaynor saved his life and even offered him a job recently. Ollie believes in the sanctity of The List even though he was doubting it a couple episodes ago. Ollie says he’s going to go question Gaynor and that’s that.
So that’s how Arrow‘s going to play this, huh? In the comics, Gaynor was a traitor to the Blackhawk Squadron, whom, I should note, were Nazi-fighting World War II heroes. Here, Blackhawk is basically Blackwater, which is already pretty bad, and some guys who work for it also commit robberies. That’s…well, it’s kind of gross.
Flashback time. Ollie looks over his newly acquired map and grabs the dead mercenary from last week’s AK, I assume so he can kill the zombies on the way to the Wolf Medal. He treks through the woods for a while until he hears voices and pulls the mercenary’s ski mask down over his face. He approaches the mercenary camp and unconvincingly asks where Proto-Arrow is. The mercenary he asks a little too helpfully offers to take him to where PA is, but not before limpy Fyers gets on the…dune buggy, I think, with them.
Merlyn’s in the still-under-construction nightclub ordering around a bunch of wage earners when Boe calls him up and asks him to bring Laurel to dinner. Both of them have copious background noise as they talk — really sparky welding all around Merlyn, a giant fan behind Boe — which means even the set people knew this conversation was boring.
Arrow shows up at Blackhawk and knocks out a couple office drones with darts before making a beeline for Gaynor’s office. He kicks Gaynor down and demands a talk, but Dig points a gun at Arrow and says to leave him alone. They engage in a standoff about four feet away from each other.
Arrow shoots out a light and slips away with a flash drive he nabbed. Gaynor and Dig dust themselves off and reveal this whole thing was some kind of job interview for Dig. I don’t even begin to understand how they worked that out. I mean, if Dig came to Gaynor saying the vigilante was going to attack him, wouldn’t the first question be, “How the hell would you know that?” I’d think that’d be followed immediately by the obvious answer, “You must know the guy.” Right?
But enough thinking. More yelling! Dig and Ollie are all in each others’ faces in the Arrowcave. “I’m not going to let you William Tell an innocent man!” Dig exclaims, proving he doesn’t know the legend of William Tell. Ollie talks about the mystery origins of The List in mystery language, and things end up with Dig saying Ollie owes him the courtesy of letting him prove Gaynor innocent.
Moira and Thea are coming back from a shopping trip, reminiscing about dear old Dad Queen when Boe — who we see is really named Malcolm and whose face Thea can almost definitely see on Moira’s phone — calls and asks her to meet. Thea asks what’s up and Moira makes up some business gibberish to tell her like phones don’t got pictures on ’em nowadays.
Laurel quickly agrees to Boe’s dinner plans in a scene we don’t really need just before Boe himself meets Moira at the Queen Consolidated offices. “Meet me at the window, you know the one,” is what I assume he told her.
Boe’s a little upset that a fellow named Carl Ballard “is trying to gentrify the Glades.” None of that really matters, though, because it’s all just a way for Moira to get a bargaining chip so she can get proof Steele is alive. “What’s that saying? Trust, but verify?” she asks as if she doesn’t have that saying Reagan often quoted tattooed across her shoulders. Boe leaves, and we see that Thea overheard the whole thing because she was right outside. You are terrible at this, Moira. How’d you get into a secret cabal of evil businesspeople to begin with?
Dig and Gaynor are having cake and coffee at Big Belly Burger, sharing stories about crappy bodyguard jobs. Gaynor notices that Dig’s sister-in-law, Carly, has a particular affection for him and advises him to make a move on his brother’s widow. Don’t see how that can backfire.
A gravelly voiced Blackwater guy comes in to call Gaynor away and awkwardly shake Dig’s hand. Dig’s kind of suspicious of the guy; I guess he did some questionable stuff in Afghanistan. Gaynor says everyone deserves a second chance.
Rather than doing so in his special command center dedicated to doing investigations in private, Ollie’s sitting in his house trying to pull information off that flash drive he took from Gaynor when Thea comes in and says she has to talk to him. She thinks Moira is having an affair with Boe, just like she suspects her mom did just before Dad Queen kicked it, because they had been fighting a lot. Ollie doesn’t want to believe it, but Thea says Moira’s a liar. A terrible liar, but a liar.
Ollie confronts Moira about it, which brings out the confession that Dad Queen “was unfaithful to [Moira] repeatedly.” Stephen Amell reacts to this news the same way the average person would to eating a super-sour Warhead.
Moira says she didn’t mention it because she wanted Ollie and Thea to remember their dad fondly. Oliver asks if she’s seen Boe recently and she shakily lies that she’s only been asking him for CEO advice. How did a family of such awful liars get so powerful? Really.
For further proof of just how terrible the Queens are at lying, look no further than Flashback Island, where Fyers reveals he knew it was Ollie trying to fake his way into looking like a mercenary this whole time. They take Ollie prisoner.
A short dinner scene clunkily reveals that Mrs. Merlyn was murdered, and then it’s off to the office of Felicity Smoak, where Ollie is trying to pass off a flash drive protected with military-level security as something a friend is using for a scavenger hunt. You know, I want to believe that Smoak is really smart, but her believing this is goddamn ludicrous. Ollie asks her to crack it.
More dinner. Boe reveals the true intent of his invitation, which is to get Merlyn the Younger to sign some papers shutting down Mother Merlyn’s free clinic. Tommy refuses. Heated words are exchanged. He won’t let that clinic we’ve never heard about before go down without a fight!
Smoak calls Ollie to let him know the flash drive didn’t have anything about a scavenger hunt on it — as I live and breathe! — but it did have some plans for a series of armored truck robberies involving tear gas. I always say, if you’re going to try to catch a criminal, make sure it’s one who makes detailed records of their crimes. It’s just so much easier that way.
The Blackhawks try another truck robbery, but this time Arrow’s there to shoot the gas mask off of one of their faces and jump over (?) their bullets. A skirmish ensues. One of the Blackhawk guys takes an arrow to the shoulder and Arrow is indirectly hit by a gas grenade. The Blackhawks take off in a van and one turns out to be that gravelly voiced guy. You don’t say.
And just when you thought this episode would slide by without a club scene, Thea has brought the club to Casa Queen for her 18th birthday party. And by “the club” I mean a s**t-ton of glow sticks.
“Y’all know how we do! We glow like a muhf**ker up in the club!”
She got that convertible she wanted, it turns out. Wonder if that’ll be important. Some unnamed friends give her a bag of pills they call “vertigo,” which I can only imagine turns anyone who uses them into Jimmy Stewart. Wonder if those’ll be important.
Dig and Ollie meet up to discuss the armored truck robbery. Dig was with Gaynor the whole time, which means he wasn’t involved in the botched heist. Dig’s got his eye on that gravelly voiced guy. He tells Ollie he can handle going back to Blackhawk for more info, but Ollie puts a bug on him just in case.
Boe meets Moira upstairs and shows her a photo proving Steele is alive. He doesn’t look so good, though. I think they removed his wisdom teeth.
Thea catches Boe putting a sly hand on Moira’s backside as he leaves, which sets Thea off something fierce. She tells her mom she wishes she had died instead of her dad and runs off to down those vertigo pills, which I hear make you become weirdly obsessed with blonde women in paintings. (I know you guys come here for the Hitchcock jokes.)
Dig investigates the vans at Blackhawk and finds some blood stains in one of them. He then discovers that the Blackhawk logos can be easily removed to reveal a cable company logo. Out comes the gravelly voiced guy, who asks how Dig hacked Blackhawk’s computer system. Dig almost amusingly replies he doesn’t really know how he did that. Then out comes Gaynor, revealing himself as the for-real bad guy. Well what do you know.
Gaynor reveals that night’s hit was supposed to be Blackhawk’s last (before the company retires to a sandy beach, I guess), but Arrow ruined that and took down a man. He says Dig should replace the injured guy. Dig laughs it off. So Gaynor tells one of his men to bring a kidnapped Carly into the room. Gaynor threatens to kill them both unless Dig consents to join Blackhawk.
Ollie’s been listening in the whole time, of course. Even so, he doesn’t show up in time to help Dig as he faces down an armored truck with a grenade launcher. Dig blinks and lets the truck go by, which means the Blackhawk guys threaten Carly again. Dig has a legitimate badass moment when he says, “You forgot one thing, guys. I’m the one with the grenade launcher” and blasts the Blackwater dudes with it. Maybe this show ought to just be about Dig.
Carly runs and Gaynor takes off after her. Dig takes off after them. Arrow finally shows up to stop Dig from getting shot by the gravelly voiced guy. Arrow breaks the gravelly voiced guy’s neck because of course he does. Dig catches up with Gaynor and holds him at gunpoint. As Dig struggles with whether to shoot a man who really had an effect on his life, Arrow plants an arrow in Gaynor’s chest without a thought. Our hero, everyone!
Elsewhere, Thea crashes her new car but she doesn’t actually do it on-screen because The CW. That leads to a scene almost as common as the club scene on Arrow: The hospital scene! Moira and Ollie come to see Thea and she reacts with anger at her mom.
Meanwhile, Merlyn’s spending his day being mad at his dad for being selfish. This is intercut with Boe coldly stroking a family photo in his
Green Goblin Dark Arrow lair.
Instead of doing what he should do and not explaining it at all, Dig offers Ollie a convoluted story as to why he didn’t go to jail for being found standing next to the dead body of a former friend. Then the two crime-fighting bros make up and reaffirm their trust as Dig marks Gaynor off The List.
Ollie picks Thea up from the hospital, but before they make it out a cop stops them to say Thea tested positive for vertigo. “The drug they’re using in the Glades?” Ollie asks, not checking his privilege. She gets arrested for DUI.
The episode ends with a flashback: One of Fyers’ ski-masked men reveals himself to be Proto-Arrow making a heel turn. This seems like a pretty interesting swerve until you think about it for maybe a second. If Fyers and Proto-Arrow were working together this whole time, why all the rigmarole of pretending to kidnap Proto-Arrow or sealing Ollie in that cave? Why the hell would Proto-Arrow teach Ollie survival skills?
If the next episode has Fyers or Proto-Arrow explaining all this by saying, “Oh yeah, we just like to f**k with people here; it’s really boring,” that would make sense.
I wouldn’t necessarily call this episode good. It was loaded with filler and repetition. And that Merlyn/Boe/Laurel C-plot didn’t really add much of anything to that ongoing story. But it was a marked improvement over the past few episodes, which is maybe the best I can hope for.
It was kind of nice to see a Dig-centric episode. I’ve been saying from the beginning that David Ramsey is the best thing this show has going for it, and that’s still true even if he hasn’t been able to totally rise above the material the last few weeks. Putting Dig in the closing action sequence with Arrow confined to the edges actually worked really nicely. It made for the best climax of an episode since…uhhh. Hm.
Not everything about the Blackhawk plot worked. I don’t really get why a big security company that should be eligible for some major contracts and can afford military-grade encryption technology would need to be knocking over armored trucks, for example. But at least these bad guys weren’t silly.
One thing this episode really brought to light is the limited bag of tricks the writers seem to have at their disposal, though. The two big moments at the end — a Queen family member gets arrested, a bad guy unmasks and turns out to be someone we’ve seen before — are already well-worn story points on this show by now. Maybe by the end of the season we’ll be getting this stuff in crazy combinations, at least. Maybe a bad guy will unmask while Moira gets arrested…in a club! Which is in a hospital!