ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Arrow’ Episode 1.20: Home Invasion
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 bad guy makes a return appearance, Laurel sort-of adopts an orphan and Arrow’s murder count is made official!Previously, Merlyn found out Ollie was Arrow and quit his job at the Thomas the Tank Engine Club, Deadshot killed Dig’s brother and that made him sad. But Ollie made him determined!
Quick, I’ll give you three guesses as to what kind of scene starts this episode. If you guessed, “Matt, it’s obvious that it’s a training scene in the Arrowcave because that’s how every episode starts,” good for you! Dig’s doing some boxing training so he and Ollie can take down Deadshot.
Speaking of Mr. Lawton, he’s busy assassinating the U.S. ambassador to Germany using his target-vision.
Again, he’s using his cyber-eye to look through a sniper rifle sight for, I guess, double amplification.
After Dig finishes training and speaking in really forced tough-guy talk (“We have to end this guy before he makes any more widows out of wives”), Smoak pipes up and says she hacked an ARGUS database, where she discovered a plan to lure Deadshot back to the U.S. with the bogus promise of a lucrative contract. Dig says he’ll get in touch with his friend at ARGUS, Lyla Michaels, a.k.a. Harbinger, to find out more.
Somehow this prompts Ollie to announce he’s got to go to lunch with Laurel. The island must have really messed up his sense of social cues. It may have affected his speech centers, too, because when Smoak points out that Laurel, Ollie’s ex-girlfiend, is still dating his former best friend who hates him now, Merlyn, he says this word salad:
“I wear a hood and I put arrows into criminals, so when it comes to complexity, I grade on a curve.”
I mean, that sounds kind of clever and smooth, but what does it really mean? It’s something I’d expect Lucas Lee to say in a Scott Pilgrim outtake. Come to think of it, Arrow‘s Ollie Queen is basically the perfect role for Lucas Lee.
On Flashback Island, Ollie, Shado and Slade are planning an attack on Fyers’ camp. Shado proposes that Ollie provide cover using that bow he kind of figured out last episode. Slade thinks it’s a ludicrous idea, but gives Shado the go-ahead to train Ollie.
In the present, at ARGUS’ seriously gigantic Starling City field office, Dig meets up with Michaels, who has figured out Dig provided her with all that info about Deadshot because he killed Dig’s brother. She’s not pleased he tried to get to Lawton through a giant federal agency. Dig counters with the only argument he knows: “You of all people should get that.” Seriously, it’s his catch phrase. It doesn’t work, though.
At CNRI, Laurel is doing heavy research and eating a pencil when Ollie shows up for that lunch. Turns out Laurel cancelled, but he missed the voicemail. Riveting. They briefly talk about how Merlyn quit Ollie’s club to work for his dad just before Laurel introduces the freshest-faced family in the world.
They didn’t wander in from the set of a dishwashing liquid commercial, though. They’re the Moores, a family Laurel’s prepping for a deposition in a case against mustache-twirling Business Swindler Edward Rasmus. (“E. Rasmus,” get it? I assume this is to foreshadow his big conflict with Martin Luther.) Laurel asks if they’re ready to take on such a tough customer, and the Dad, Eric, says yes in the milquetoastiest way you can imagine.
Later, at the Moore home, a terrified Eric hears a knock on the door and asks what the not-at-all suspicious guy he’s never seen before wants through the weird window in his entryway. The guy robotically says he has documents from Laurel, and Eric opens the door because he’s a moron.
The guy comes in and shoots Eric through the briefcase because of course that’s what was going to happen, you idiot incidental TV show character. Then the guy starts trashing the place and talking to Eric’s dead body because you have to take pleasure where you can in your work. He quickly kills Eric’s wife Nancy, too, but their son Taylor escapes through a window.
Around that time, Rasmus (Al Sapienza, one of those character actors who’s been in 1,000 things, including The Sopranos) calls the assassin to ask if it’s done. The guy says the kid got away. When Rasmus asks if the kid saw him, the assassin says, “No. What he saw was the face of the man who will reunite him with his parents.” So…yes? Just answer the question, assassin guy. Don’t try to spin this.
The next morning, Ollie wanders around the house in a towel until he overhears the news about the Moores’ deaths on Starling City’s One Channel. The news also reveals that Laurel was representing the family in court and that their son is now an orphan, because that couldn’t endanger anyone, certainly.
For now, Taylor’s safely at the police station, where a mean, but also really shaky-voiced social worker tells Laurel the kids’ going to child services to be a ward of the state while the cops try to reach his grandparents. Laurel takes matters into her own hands and takes on guardianship of Taylor. Oh, good! Now Rasmus only has to go to one place to kill them both. That makes it convenient.
Rather than point that out, Sgt. Lance says he’s posting a patrol car at Laurel’s house and tells Merlyn to watch out for them. That ought to take care of the hired, professional assassins. Ollie shows up for some icy chit-chat with Merlyn, who is none to pleased to hear Laurel and Ollie scheduled a lunch. Arrow-based vigilantism is one thing, but lunch?!?
In the Arrowcave, Dig and Smoak have nailed down the ARGUS plan to pin down Deadshot and arrest him. Ollie actively encourages Dig to disrupt that federal law-enforcement operation and kill Deadshot instead because he’s the hero of this show. With that order of business out of the way, Ollie instructs Smoak to hack into Rasmus’ various accounts to link him to the gunman who killed the Moores. Then he heads off to guard Laurel’s apartment.
Sgt. Lance is about to do the same when Roy Harper swings by police HQ to briefly talk to him about “The Hood”/”The Vigilante” and steal a police radio.
Back at Laurel’s, she and Tommy are passive-aggressively hashing out their domestic issues under the guise of feeding a child whose parents were just murdered. Laurel reacts to the kid saying he misses his parents as if it’s somehow surprising he would say that. Merlyn decides to comfort Taylor with assurances that he’s haunted by the spectre of his dead mother every time he closes his eyes. Then he makes Taylor close his eyes so he can see the faces of his dead parents.
This should be grounds for revoking that guardianship, right?
There’s a knock at the door, and it’s assassin guy again, this time claiming to be a police lieutenant Laurel’s dad sent over to check in on them. Laurel asks to see his badge, and he shows one, but Laurel can tell he’s lying because the badge number isn’t a lieutenant’s number. Smart! But it doesn’t matter, because then the guy just kicks the door in. Why didn’t he just do that to begin with? Why bother with the ruse?
Anyway, he shoots up the place and walks around on broken glass while Merlyn and Taylor hide. Laurel, on the other hand, calls out to him: “You know, my father’s a cop.” Then she busts out from around a corner and blasts a pump-action shotgun at him.
It’s a pretty badass moment that is immediately blunted by Laurel missing completely, and realizing she only had one shell in there. But then Arrow crashes through the window, has a brief shootout with the assassin, and the guy escapes in the commotion.
A little later, Sgt. Lance suggests taking Laurel and Taylor into protective custody, because that’s his solution for everything. Laurel is fine with just hanging out at home and letting Arrow protect her, but Merlyn says the safest place for them to be is Casa Queen. That works somehow.
Merlyn, Laurel and Taylor arrive at the Queen house, where they’re introduced to some disposable bodyguards. Moira asks Taylor, “How about I show you where I hide the good cookies?” because apparently the lady who’s a part of an evil city-rebuilding syndicate is the only one here who knows how to talk to kids.
Dig not-at-all subtly lets Ollie know it’s time to go kill Deadshot, so Ollie tries to step out. He’s stopped by Merlyn, who grudgingly admits the only reason he, Laurel and Taylor are there is for Arrow’s protection. Ollie promises they’ll be safe and leaves.
Meanwhile, Roy and Thea are having a very boring date at Big Belly Burger when that radio he stole starts blasting information about an Arrow sighting. You mean it’s been on this whole time and only went off about an hour into the date? What kind of city is this?
Roy takes off on his motorcycle and stops on a bridge, where Sgt. Lance and a few other cops meet him to take the radio back and arrest Roy. Well, that was anticlimactic.
In the Arrowcave, Smoak and Ollie are going over the Deadshot Murder Plan when an alert pops up showing Rasmus on the manifest of a flight going to Shanghai. So Ollie can either help Dig get revenge or take down Rasmus before he leaves the country.
He chooses Rasmus.
Now Martin Luther will be free to post theses willy-nilly! (Also, Ollie somehow shot two lateral arrows at once while holding his bow upright. I don’t know, man.)
Elsewhere, Dig, flawlessly disguised in a baseball cap — we’ve already seen how baseball caps can make people look entirely different on this show — watches as Deadshot, who seems to have figured out ARGUS’ ambush plot, snipes lots of non-important people. Dig takes off to find Deadshot and gets into a fight with him in a stairwell.
Deadshot, by the way, is wearing his third costume in as many appearances on the show (as pictured up there at the top of the post). I can only assume this is to make Arrow Deadshot more toyetic. This week, it’s Wild West Deadshot. Next time, Arctic Action Deadshot!
Deadshot eventually gets the better of Dig and holds him at gunpoint. He shows Dig the place on his chest he plans to tattoo Dig’s name after he kills him, right next to his brother’s, but he doesn’t kill him this time because nobody’s paying him. There seems to be a couple minor flaws in that logic. First, it could happen that no one ever hires Deadshot to kill Dig. Second, Deadshot just killed four people. Unless someone hired him to shoot those ARGUS agents, he doesn’t get paid for everyone he kills.
Team Arrow meets back up at the Arrowcave. Dig gives Ollie a tongue-lashing for not showing up for Project Deadshot Kill. Ollie says the thing with Rasmus took priority. If only there was some portable communication technology one could use to alert friends and colleagues of things like that. Dig says Ollie ultimately chose Laurel over him and walks out.
On Flashback Island, Ollie and Shado continue their bow training. Then they make out. Man, I wonder if Ollie will ever learn to use a bow or whether he and Shado will become a long-term item.
In the present, Laurel and Moira are looking over old prom photos while Moira, perhaps inadvertently, perhaps not, prods Laurel to reconsider romancin’ Ollie. Speak of the devil, Ollie walks in at just that moment to say Rasmus had been arrested and confessed to everything. There’s still an assassin guy out there, but Laurel concludes the danger is over. Bad-parent Merlyn rushes to go wake up an exhausted, sleeping child, but Moira invites everyone to stay.
At police HQ, assassin guy, posing as Rasmus’ lawyer, gets in to see the now-detained businessman. Rasmus tells him not to kill Taylor, but assassin guy says he has to because the kid has seen his face, as has Rasmus. Then the assassin guy gives Rasmus a deadly embolism by touching him. That really happens.
As the assassin leaves, Thea enters, looking for Roy. He’s handcuffed to a chair, looking unrepentant. Sgt. Lance comes in and tells the two of them to follow him, even though he doesn’t ever uncuff Roy. In the morgue, he shows Roy and Thea a dead body, “number 26,” because he’s the 26th person Arrow has killed. Roy says Arrow saved his life; Lance says he could just as easily take it. Gotta say I’m with the sarge on this one.
Casa Queen. Ollie and Laurel share a heartfelt/flirty moment while Merlyn quietly looks on and gets mad jelly. The doorbell rings and this time it’s a delivery man. Does this really work for him? Really? Oh, but wait, it isn’t assassin guy after all! It’s a terrified delivery boy assassin guy immediately kills, along with one of those disposable body guards. Again, what’s the point of the ruse if you’re just going to start shooting in the doorway?
After offering up some more of his weird talking-to-himself poetry, assassin guy knocks out the power, so Ollie locks Merlyn and Laurel in a room with Taylor. Assassin guy kills yet another bodyguard. Then he and Ollie fight for a while. Assassin guy eventually gets a fireplace poker to the upper torso. 27!
Except it won’t count this time. Ollie tells Sgt. Lance one of the dead bodyguards killed the assassin. The cops wheel out some body bags and Merlyn takes the opportunity to say Laurel still loves Ollie and that’s pretty not cool for him. Ollie offers up some weak logic about how him being a vigilante murderer makes it impossible for them to date again. Merlyn doesn’t buy it.
Later, Taylor’s grandparents drop by from their home in an Irish Spring ad to pick up Taylor. Laurel’s hit pretty hard by it all, so she asks Merlyn for some support. But he’s on his way out the door, bag in hand.
There’s a discussion. Merlyn says a lot of BS about commitment. Laurel calls him on it. Merlyn deflects. He leaves. They cry. It’s actually a nicely played moment.
Meanwhile, in an alley from Arkham City, Thea asks Roy why Arrow’s so important to him. Roy says he owes Arrow for saving his life, and he sees potential in meeting Arrow and probably becoming Arsenal. Thea offers her support.
Arrowcave. Dig resigns, more or less.
Flashback. Shado and Ollie return to the Crashed Plane Base Playset. Proto-Arrow shows up out of the blue. Slade asks how he escaped. “I didn’t,” Proto-Arrow says as Fyers’ men swarm the place. Proto-Arrow tells Ollie his time on the island is at an end, even though we know he’s there for like four-and-a-half more years.
Well, I didn’t hate this one. It had some truly atrocious dialogue and the structure was weird to say the least — the two big bad guys were out of the picture by the end of the second act — but I’ve got to say, the emotional moments between Merlyn/Laurel and Ollie/Dig did have some impact. The buildup to them both was about as lumbering and transparent as it could be, but the actors mostly made the moments work, especially Katie Cassidy and Colin Donnell. Donnell’s gone from what I thought was a weak link in the show to one of its standout performers.
On the flip side of that coin, the part of the show I thought was the strongest at the beginning, the island stuff, has become one of the least compelling parts. Enough fakeout escapes and near-deaths for Ollie, writers. We know he lives. We know he’s on the island for five years. Figure out another way to build suspense and intrigue. You used to be pretty good at it!