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Comics Alliance Recaps ‘Arrow’ Episode 2.2: ‘Identity’

The CW’s 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 to see how he fares.

This week, the Triads steal some medicine, an alderman stirs up the masses and coffee is fetched…or is it?

Before this week’s previouslies, we get the brand-new, second season statement of purpose–basically the same as last season’s, but now with a promise not to kill stuck in there–and it ends with a pretty grim shot of Arrow looking like he hasn’t slept in weeks.

That’s rough.

Also, are his eyebrows green? I think Arrow dyes his eyebrows. Maybe that’s why he was up so late, getting the color just right.

Anyway, the previouslies cover Ollie giving Thea a hosen (a Buddhist reconnection stone, which may not actually be a real thing), Laurel having a grudge against Arrow, and Arrow saving Roy Harper’s life.

This week’s show must have run short, because the first scene is nothing but about 20 seconds of Ollie working out in the Arrowcave. It doesn’t lead into another scene. It doesn’t foreshadow anything. It’s just Stephen Amell being shirtless. I guess the producers are just trying to live up to the promise of their ad campaign.

Cut to a FEMA truck being tormented by a pair of motorcycle thugs. Roy Harper is sitting nearby in a Mustang, listening in to their radio channel with a scanner. He takes off toward the truck and runs one of the motorcyclists off the road. The other biker turns around and starts shooting at Roy’s car with a submachine gun.

Somehow Roy’s car seems to deflect the bullets. Really. There aren’t any bullet holes or anything. 1990s Ford must have come from the past to sponsor this episode and prove how tough their cars are. But the sparks from the shots distract Roy so badly he drives his Mustang onto some debris that just happens to be in the shape of a ramp and violently flips it over. The car goes like 10 feet into the air! So he’s dead.

The FEMA truck drives on, only to encounter our old Triad friend China White. She promptly kills the two drivers with throwing knives and tells her motorcycle thug to steal what’s in the truck.

Somehow Roy isn’t dead or even paralyzed. He’s just got a bloody nose. Oh, Arrow.

When the cops pick Roy up, they don’t even bother to take him to the hospital. That’s right. Arrow skipped over a hospital scene! This season really is different. Instead, he’s sitting in an interrogation room at the police station getting the third degree from Laurel so she can use him to get to Arrow.

Thea and Ollie come to pick Roy up. Laurel says the DA’s office isn’t pressing charges, even though Roy flat-out admits he stole that Mustang he was driving. Not to mention that he was driving recklessly and spying on federal government employees. He didn’t even help her with her Arrow stuff. What doesn’t this DA let slide, I wonder?

Ollie gives Roy a speech about not letting his anger get the best of him, but Roy explains that he was trying to stop thieves from hijacking FEMA medicine on its way to Glades Memorial Hospital. Roy storms off and Ollie looks down at his hands for no other reason than a scene transition.

In fairness, it is a pretty good transition to Flashback Island. Ollie has just killed the pirate guy who had kidnapped Shado and he’s staring at the blood on his hands. This episode is actually really well-directed in its quieter moments. Nice, tight shots. Too bad all the action scenes are cars jumping 10 feet into the air and bad fight choreography (more on that in a minute).

Flashback Island continues its season-premiere trend of having really terrible exposition when Slade finds a map and talks out his deduction that whatever the dudes who were there, on the island, were looking for must be “here, on this island.” A regular Poirot this guy is.

Slade also figures out that Ollie’s going through a form of post-traumatic stress. That he’s a little better about expressing. Shado helps him by taking him out to the lake and having sex with him. Really not a bad treatment plan.

Back in the present, Ollie and Dig are visiting Glades Memorial, which is kind of a madhouse, with patients just crowding around in the hallways. While there, they encounter Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro), the alderman mentioned in the season premiere (and, sadly, not Etrigan the Demon ). He’s giving a press conference.

Blood isn’t Brother Blood, at least not yet. He’s no cult leader or vampire. He fits the mold of a populist ideologue and maybe a little bit of an opportunist. He notices Ollie during his press conference and confronts him with that whole your-company-built-the-earthquake-machine thing. And he says “earthquake machine”! Someone finally said it! So I have to like the guy.

Ollie says he’s going to make up for his family’s mistakes, and that gets the crowd even more riled up. They start chanting and shaking their homemade signs while Ollie walks to his limo. Someone even breaks out the car’s window.

I’m not kidding when I say my absolute favorite thing about Arrow is how quickly the people of Starling City turn into angry mobs with makeshift signs. It’s basically Springfield.

At Queen Consolidated, Smoak is fuming over being offered a job as Ollie’s personal assistant because she’s so in love with computers and junk. Ollie has to explain that he can’t be going to the IT department constantly to talk to her about Team Arrow stuff now that he’s CEO. After Dig points out that his job as “black driver” is even worse, Smoak finally acquiesces. There’s some business about her refusing to get Ollie coffee.

Ollie turns on the news in his office and…hey! That’s the same reporter from the other news channel! The season one news channel! I think this is the same channel, just with a different number and color scheme! What a dirty trick.

Also, this report on the mob accosting Ollie earlier is the weirdest news report I ever heard. The reporter says Ollie was met with flowers and well wishes when he came back to the city. Uh…no he wasn’t? He came back in shame because his family was partially responsible for a disaster, remember? And there was a hostile takeover attempt on his company, that resulted in a forced partnership (which is totally ignored in this episode, by the way). Do you even watch the show, Channel 52 reporter?

Arrowcave. Smoak has info on the next FEMA shipment to Glades Memorial. The Triads are already hard at work on it. While some new score plays in the background (it’s sort of Arrow by way of LCD Soundsystem), they murder several federal employees and head for the back of the truck. Arrow’s waiting for them. He shoots the goons in the shoulders and tells the driver to make his delivery. But China White kills him before he can get in the truck.

Arrow and China share an exchange that ends with him saying, “Your business is going under…permanently!” It is concurrently terrible and wonderful.

That’s when Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White) shows up. Arrow takes a few shots at him and Tiger easily slices the arrows with his brass knuckle/claw things. Tiger growls a few lines about how Arrow didn’t fire any kill shots and a really awkward, tight-quarters fight starts. It’s weirdly low-energy and boring, and it’s hard for me to say that about anything Michael Jai White is involved in.

Before long, the cops show up, so Tiger and Arrow both take off. Arrow takes a bullet in the lower calf before getting away, though.

Ollie patches himself up at the Arrowcave and gets a little bit heated when Dig insinuates that Ollie’s upset because Laurel is leading the charge against Arrow. Also: They’re still calling him “the vigilante,” despite the whole thing about coming up with a name for him. Did everyone have their memories erased or something?

Anyway, this all leads up to Dig revealing that he and his sister-in-law, Carly, had to call it quits on the dating thing because he couldn’t stop thinking about his dead brother and the guy who killed him, Deadshot, when she was around. But where will everyone go to eat burgers all the time now?

Upstairs in the club, Thea tells Roy she wanted Laurel to arrest him for all those crimes he did (I guess Laurel is also a cop now, at least in the episodes her dad isn’t in). Thea gives Roy a choice between a check for two weeks’ severance, which means he’s out of her life, or that hosen Ollie gave her back in the pilot, which means they’re reconnected.

I feel like Arrow is largely improved over its early episodes, but I’ve got to say I’m not crazy about Thea going from sometimes-annoying, but often interesting party girl to worried girlfriend. They’re both cliches, but at least one granted her a little more agency.

Blood comes to meet Ollie at his office. He does some more grandstanding. Ollie offers to host a benefit for the Glades. They shake on it and Blood apologizes. There’s another coffee joke with Smoak.

Back on Flashback Island, Slade sees Shado and Ollie on the lakeshore, post-coitus. He’s super jeals. They take off to find the dudes. On the hike, Slade tells Ollie not to get too attached to Shado because love is a distraction. But, come on, this show is on The CW. He’s jeals.

Arrow shows up at Laurel’s office to ask why she don’t like him no more. She explains: She saw him go into the collapsed CNRI when Merlyn was dying, but he died anyway. There’s a little flashback that shows Laurel going in and seeing Arrow kind of sidling out of the room after Tommy died. It’s… oddly staged, especially since Laurel was kind of forcibly kept out of the collapsing CNRI building in the season finale, if I recall correctly.

“You were too busy fighting a meaningless duel with Malcolm Merlyn,” she says, which kind of gets the timeline wrong and downplays Boe being responsible for the whole earthquake thing to begin with, but she’s upset, so I’ll let it slide.

She promises to send Arrow to prison and tells him never to speak to her again. He leaves.

Oliver has yet to show up to the benefit he proposed. Blood’s getting antsy. On the elevator up, Ollie gets a call from Smoak saying the next FEMA shipment to Glades Memorial is on its way out now, and if he’s going to catch it, he’s got to go.

Blood’s already fed up. He’s heading over to tell the media what a two-faced liar Oliver Queen is. Laurel stops him, asking if Blood’s just going to crucify the guy who paid for the benefit like that.

Blood’s reponse is nuts. I’ll just transcribe the whole thing:

“Crucifixion has such a bad reputation, but the Romans used it to punish people who acted against the public good.”

I’m not sure if this is being presented as a sort of reasonable, counter-intuitive thinking or as off-the-deep-end supervillain s**t, because it’s definitely the latter. Crucifixion was a form of torture-killing that people suffered through for days. It was humiliating. Even Cicero said it should have never happened. Slaves who tried to escape were crucified.

So, I don’t know. If this is handled right, Sebastian Blood could be this show’s first really, really good villain.

Blood delivers a speech about how Ollie needed to show he cared by showing up at the benefit, because his money alone won’t fix the Glades. It’s pretty damning.

Arrow rushes to the FEMA depot, where China White, Bronze Tiger and some goons are kind of casually stealing the medicine again. Another fight ensues. It’s a little better this time, but still not great.

Dig’s there, too. He beats up some of the goons and says, “Health care has enough problems without you punks!” Timely social commentary. Dig gets in the truck and starts driving it away. China hops on the back. They fight on the side of the truck until Dig runs into some boxes.

Meanwhile, Arrow and Tiger are playing fort in some crates covered in plastic. Tiger gets in a few stabs, but Arrow eventually takes him down with an electric arrow. He kinda goes out like a punk. Disappointing.

Arrow rushes up to China and Dig, and he binds her with a rope arrow. I like that he’s using a lot more trick arrows now. She tries to get in one last burn, telling him that the cops will always think of him as a criminal, even if he’s quit killing. Arrow does a Dark Knight-style “as long as the city’s safe.”

I suppose that was more important than any explanation at all of why the Triads would give a single crap about keeping medicine away from a hospital for poor people whose houses have been destroyed. They could have stolen prescription drugs from somewhere else without murdering federal employees, couldn’t they?

Back at the office, Ollie sees Blood’s takedown of him on TV and Smoak gives him a consolation, sorry-your-name-got-dragged-through-the-mud coffee. Well, that payoff was worth it, wasn’t it?

Flashback. Original Team Arrow exposit for a while before going into a cave that houses a few mangled skeletons of some Japanese World War II soldiers. Ollie finds that hosen he gave Thea on one of them. It’s a skeleton hosen.

Present. Arrow confronts Roy in an alley and tells him to stop being a hero. Roy begs Arrow to train him. Arrow says he doesn’t need people to fight Triads, he needs intel from the Glades. Roy seems OK with that. He makes up with Thea, too, on sort-of false pretenses.

Back at the DA’s office, Arrow stupidly returns to talk to Laurel and stupidly says he lost a friend when Merlyn died, too. He might as well just say, “Hey, I’m Ollie Queen. Remember how Tommy Merlyn was my best friend?” Laurel doesn’t pick up on it, though. Instead, she calls out a team of like 20 cops to surround Arrow.

That is undoubtedly a cool image to end the episode on, but it also 1) forces us to believe that all these cops have just been waiting around at the DA’s office waiting for Arrow to show up for hours or even days and 2) repeats a plot point from season one, which also ended with Ollie/Arrow being caught by the police.

Final thoughts

This episode dampened some of my enthusiasm after the premiere. Not only was a good hunk of the cast not even in it (Paul Blackthorne and Susanna Thompson needed to rest up, I suppose), the plot about the Traids stealing medicine was nonsense, the fight scenes were slow and awkward, and the only payoff was over a cup of coffee. Most of the plot lines introduced last week were flatly ignored. Worst of all, Michael Jai White was criminally underused.

A few things did encourage me, though. I like this version of Sebastian Blood, if the writers do what I hope and make him a full-on evil guy. If they keep him as a sort of semi-reasonable voice of the people, though, that crucifixion line was just bonkers.

And this episode was really nicely shot, outside of the action scenes. The action scenes are pretty important, though. If I’m not mistaken, this is an action show, right?

 

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