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ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Arrow’ Episode 1.16: Dead to Rights

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.

In this week’s episode, a familiar bad guy with one less eye returns, Moira’s contract on Daddy Merlyn comes due, and a radio is tinkered with!Previously: Sgt. Lance asked McKenna Hall to help him with “the vigilante investigation,” which is a whole lot of syllables! Boe Merlyn will feel great when he kills thousands of people! That’s why Moira wants him killed by the triads! Also, Boe was Dark Arrow! That guy really gets around!

A helicopter lands somewhere in Starling City as Officer Hall and some other cops scream down the highway. She yells into a phone that the chopper wasn’t meant to land for 20 more minutes; it sure was nice of the hardened assassin who is landing to inform them of his flight plans. That assassin, who I want to call Nahvier Bardem because he looks like someone mixed Javier Bardem’s DNA with David Boreanaz’s, but is actually Nightwing villain Brutale, makes a phone call and requests half his payment, which he receives, right there on his phone, in the middle of a call. He doesn’t have to tap the screen or anything! Talk about convenience.

An arrow knocks the phone out of his hand and Arrow does his “failed this city” thing. He adds that Barrera “should have stayed overseas.” Does that mean he flew his helicopter across an ocean? I don’t think helicopters do that. Brutale throws a bunch of knives at Arrow, but he is not the better murderer this day. Arrow eventually stabs him in the heart with an arrow and runs off with Brutale’s phone just as the cops arrive. Hall finds an arrow and looks mighty pissed.


As Dig and Smoak do some fight training (that’s not a euphemism) in the Arrowcave, Ollie returns to inform them he murdered a dude. He also crosses Brutale’s name off The List, which I thought was only for corrupt rich guys. Ollie asks Smoak to hack Brutale’s phone so they can figure out who the assassin was in town to kill and whose mom hired him.

Ollie runs off for a date with Hall (what irony!) and we transition into a flashback. Young Ollie can’t do a pull-up. Bravo, Arrow. That is pretty hilarious.


Ollie and Slade are puttering around with nothing to do since the supply plane isn’t coming for a couple months. But they need to escape before Fyers finds them. They say all this out loud to each other because Geoff Johns wrote this episode. Slade jokes that Ollie should build a raft like they did on Gilligan’s Island. I am not kidding when I say I’d like this show 1,000 percent more if it was just Slade getting mad at Young Ollie for his goofy schemes, and occasionally hitting his little buddy with a hat. Ollie decides he’s going to be the professor, though, and fix a broken radio. I guess that makes Slade Ginger? He seems like a Ginger.

Now-Ollie meets with Officer Hall in the…hall of Laurel’s apartment building. They have some makeout time before Merlyn invites them in to listen to a song that everyone watching heard just a few minutes later in a Honda commercial. I feel like this is some very sophisticated trick.

It’s Merlyn’s birthday, and Laurel has put on a very special, celebratory red jumper to celebrate. (Seriously, though, it is an odd wardrobe choice.) There’s some quick small talk about Laruel’s dead sister, a toast and an…let’s say old-fashioned joke about Laurel’s cooking before who appears at the door but Daddy Merlyn, Boe himself.

He and his ominous mood music are there to invite Merlyn to a Starling City Municipal Group ceremony honoring old Boe with an award for his humanitarian work. Instead of asking why the city’s leading civic organization has the name of an insurance company, Merlyn tries to turn him down. Boe makes the hard sell, but Merlyn maintains he’s not going.

Meanwhile, at the Blüdhaven apartments (though they’ve already established that there’s a city called Blüdhaven in a previous episode), China White has come to visit none other than Deadshot, who is much less dead than the last time we saw him. He’s down one eye, though. China needs him to come out of retirement, and she talks him into it with some fancy new equipment (i.e. it doesn’t look like he bought it at the Halloween store).


Moira and Chen head to a meeting with Boe as they discuss how he’s going to be killed at that award ceremony honoring him. They walk into a board room so Moira can lie to Boe’s face, the audience can see a guy who looks a lot like Morgan Freeman, and Boe can say, “We won’t fail this city.” Geoff Johns, everybody.

Smoak’s working to pull info off of Brutale’s phone, but all she can get right now is the last number he called, at a Chinese restaurant that Dig just somehow knows is a triad front. Ollie tells Smoak to make a reservation at the place for that night. And just like that, he and Merlyn are at the restaurant, being served a giant fish.

Ollie says the night before was a little awkward, and that maybe Merlyn ought to cut his dad some slack. Merlyn delves into a story about how his dad left home for two years “when we were 8,” after Merlyn’s mom died. OK, first off, that would have been 8, 9, and probably 10. Second, wouldn’t Ollie have noticed this at some point? Did Ollie live in a plastic bubble?

Merlyn says his dad was very cold when he came back from his trip, but Papa Queen actually did stuff with him, like taking him to his first hockey game (they are just not hiding the Canadian-ness of this show, are they?). Ollie says that he’s got anger about his dad, but your dad is your dad.

A guy with a gang tattoo walks past, so Ollie makes an excuse about going to the bathroom and follows him to an office, where he beats up the first guy and squirts some hot sauce in another guy’s eyes so he can interrogate him in Chinese about the triad hit. The guy tells him all he knows is that it’s tomorrow. The other triad comes to and asks who hit them. The guy with the saucy eyes says they had to be Chinese, because the accent was perfect. It’s a nice little touch.

On Flashback Island, Slade has returned to the plane with a boar he killed while Ollie continues working on the radio. They banter for a minute before the radio kicks on. Slade quickly discovers that he and Ollie can hear a signal, but nothing they say can get through to anyone. Man, what a run of bad luck. You’d think Ollie was on this island for five years or something, with all the trouble he’s having!

In the present, Ollie calls Sgt. Lance on the Arrowphone to warn him that… someone is going to be assassinated… sometime tomorrow. Lance growls that he needs a name and hangs up before telling Hall they’re going to catch the vigilante. Meanwhile, China, the triads and Deadshot plan their Boe death-plan: Lure him outside and shoot him. I don’t know, guys. Might be too complicated.

A weird montage of characters sitting leads to Merlyn deciding to go to the award ceremony after all. Just as Merlyn leaves, Laurel gets a call on her cell phone from her long-lost mother.


So wait. Laurel has had her mom’s phone number this whole time? Her mom didn’t even change her cell phone number when she left? They could have just called each other? It’s Sgt. Lance Laurel’s mom was mad at, not her. What the hell, man. Anyway, Laurel doesn’t take the call.

At the award gala, Moira continues lying to Boe’s face. Chen’s astonished she can do it, but she’s been lying for years. She could do this in her sleep. Probably does.

Ollie and Hall are having a picnic-style date inside his soon-to-be nightclub, because who needs another set, where they talk about how honest they have to be with each other. This leads directly into some lies. Dig and Smoak finally get the info off of Brutale’s phone that Boe is the target, so Dig heads upstairs to discreetly tell him that IT has an “item” for him. Ollie says he has “unexpected business” and heads out to call up Sgt. Lance and warn him.

Meanwhile, Boe’s giving his acceptance speech, which would seem to be all about his dead wife, and how maybe the guy who killed her wouldn’t have if he knew she was nice. You sure do know how to liven up a room, pal. This speech, weirdly enough, makes Merlyn smile from ear to ear.


China White, who is at the gala cleverly disguised with dark hair — seriously, that is the full extent of the disguise — hits a remote that sets off the fire alarm. Why she needed a remote to do that when she has a ton of goons accompanying her, I do not know. People start filing out and the triad waiters start killing bodyguards. Why do they do this? If Boe thought this was just a regular fire alarm, he’d walk out and Deadshot would have a decent shot at him. Now, he’s keenly aware something’s going on. Why are all the villians in this show so constantly, constantly stupid?

Deadshot tells China to get Boe up to his penthouse office so he can try to snipe him there. Boe grabs Merlyn and tells him there’s an exit on the second floor. The cops zoom toward the hall.

Back on the second floor, two triads are just flat-out standing in the hallway, blasting away at Merlyn and Boe. That’s the only way they could think of to get them to the penthouse? This is a terrible assassination attempt. Arrow shows up and tells father and son to go somewhere safe while he holds off the attackers. He fights a bunch of dudes while Boe and Merlyn head up the elevator to the top-floor office, which is also a panic room.

Arrow finished off the last of the triads when China approaches and takes off her wig to reveal it was her the whole time. Much like the pull-up thing, this is hilarious, but I’m not sure it’s as intentional. They fight, and there’s actually some awesome fight choreography here. China does a hurricanrana thing that is pretty great. Arrow gets the upper hand in the end, but Officer Hall charges in and puts a halt to things.

Merlyn and Boe make their way to the penthouse office, but they’re stopped by two triad thugs. Isn’t the penthouse where they wanted them to go, though? Who’s in charge of this operation? Boe beats the two triads up and shoots one of them with his own gun. Merlyn’s stunned. When they get to the office, Merlyn asks how Boe knew how to do all that, and just as his dad’s about to show him his Green Goblin Dark Arrow gear, Deadshot shoots through bulletproof glass (?!) and knocks Boe back. Boe eventually gets up and Deadshot puts a couple bullets in his chest.

Arrow escapes Officer Hall by shooting a fire exinguisher and taking off down a hallway. Hall just stands there. They must not train Starling City cops on how to run through extinguisher gas at the academy.

Merlyn drags his dad away from the window and pops open his shirt to reveal a bulletproof vest. Boe insists he’s OK. Are those really made to withstand shots from high-powered sniper rifles? Even Boe’s didn’t work perfectly. He’s bleeding from one of the shots and quickly passes out. Arrow walks in so he can smell the bullet, because he’s weird like that. Merlyn trains a pistol on him. Arrow says the bullets were laced with curare, and Boe needs a blood transfusion to dilute the poison. Merlyn wants to know why he should trust Arrow. So Ollie does the only thing he knows how to do and takes off his hood to reveal his true eye makeup identity.


I have a suspicion that by the end of the season, the only person in the cast who won’t know Ollie is Arrow will be Thea.

They do the transfusion using a convenient medical kit, and Ollie keeps his hood off the whole time, even though Boe could wake up basically any second and see who he is. Somehow, he knows the exact right moment to get up and leave when Boe does come to.

As the paramedics wheel Boe into an ambulance, Sgt. Lance and Officer Hall ask Merlyn a bunch of questions, culminating in Lance weird-accentedly asking if Arrow’s a friend of his, since he’s been taking down all the rich guys in town, but inexplicably decided to save Boe’s life. Merlyn dramatically proclaims he doesn’t know who Arrow is. Moira watches the medics roll Boe in to the ambulance with a real “Oh s**t” look on her face.

Slade fiddles with the radio on Flashback Island while Young Ollie whines about wasted time. Man, you were the one who wanted to try to fix that thing! Slade discovers that they can listen in to Fyers’ transmissions to his employer about “Scylla.” Well, what do you know, another thing from The Odyssey! This is literally the only book anyone on this island has read. Sadly, Scylla is not a mythical sea monster. It’s an anti-aircraft missile launcher.

Present-day Ollie returns to the Arrowcave to break the news to Dig that Deadshot, who you’ll remember killed his brother, is still alive. Dig does an Incredible Hulk closing-credits walk through the cave, which I guess is comic-book TV shorthand for “going through some stuff.”


Ollie goes to see Officer Hall at police HQ and they decide to keep things going between them, even though their lives are busy. All right then.

Merlyn goes to see his dad at the hospital to tell him about the blood transfusion and how Arrow helped. Boe opens up and says he was lost after his wife died. When he was gone for those two years, he was actually in Nanda Parbat, a place name I was pretty sure I’d never hear on the CW TV Now Network, where an unnamed man helped him find purpose in his life and a plan for Starling City.

All right, so: One would assume that visiting Nanda Parbat would mean a visit to Rama Kushna, but she’s a goddess, so that’s out. Maybe Richard Dragon? That would be pretty boss. But I’m thinking he met Proto-Arrow — who is, technically, the Accomplished Perfect Physician — there. Also: How much does this make Merlyn the Elder’s goal sound like Ra’s al-Ghul’s from Batman Begins? I’d say a lot.

Moira shows up and Merlyn leaves her and Boe alone in the hospital room. Boe says he wants Moira to find the traitor in the Secret Organization and weed him out. Moira will launch a full investigation of herself shortly, I’m sure.

Ollie comes to see Merlyn at the hospital and things are a little awkward. Merlyn asks if Ollie was ever going to tell him he was Arrow, and instead of saying, “Chyeah, bro, I just did, didn’t I?” his forehead gets all veiny and he says no.

Laurel opens her apartment door to find her mom (Alex Kingston) standing in the hallway. She’s got something important to tell Laurel: her sister Sarah may be alive, despite that whole being sucked into the South China Sea thing. This is what happens when you let two different Doctor Who actors come to your door in one episode. You get timey-wimey s**t.

Final Thoughts

Despite some clumsy expository dialogue and a few otherwise dreadful lines (that “will not fail this city” thing was just the pits), I’d say this was a mostly good episode. Things kept moving, there were some legitimately funny moments and the last act had some nice action. So good on you, Geoff Johns.

I even liked Merlyn’s arc, and it was really a Merlyn episode when you get down to it. I’m not sure I’m crazy about him knowing that Ollie is Arrow, though. The “knows Ollie’s secret identity” group on the show is quickly growing to rival the “dresses in a hood and shoots arrows” contingent in size.

The other major problem with this episode? The triads really botched the assassination plan, didn’t they? They made it way louder and more obvious than it really should have been, continuing this show’s not-great track record with bad guys. At least Deadshot doesn’t look like a total doof anymore. Now let’s get him that mustache he so desperately needs.

Previous Episodes

1.1: Pilot

1.2: Honor Thy Father

1.3: Lone Gunmen

1.4: An Innocent Man

1.5: Damaged

1.6: Legacies

1.7: Muse of Fire

1.8: Vendetta

1.9: Year’s End

1.10: Burned

1.11: Trust But Verify

1.12: Vertigo

1.13: Betrayal

1.14: The Odyssey

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