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 is back for the third season of the popular series in our recap feature we’re officially dubbing Pointed Commentary.

This week: Roy gets tossed in the clink and endures some hard times there, Doug Jones is basically wasted as Deathbolt, and Ollie gets teary-eyed but refuses to let tears fall, in true tough-guy form.

  • The Action

    As I mentioned, this week's villain, Deathbolt, is portrayed by Doug Jones, who you may remember as Abe Sapien from the Hellboy movies. Here, he's a skinny dude with a passing resemblance to the 12th Doctor and laser eyes.

    We first see him through the eyes of two guards at the Starling National Bank. One of them goes to investigate some weird flickering in the lights, and then notices his flashlight flickering, too. Soon enough, Deathbolt strolls up and eye-lasers the guy in the chest, incinerating him.

    The other guard gets it as Deathbolt leaves, apparently having stolen nothing. I honestly have no idea what Deathbolt wants or why he's doing anything here. He just goes places and lasers people. That's his deal.

    Later, at Verdant, Team Arrow watches Starling's one news channel and Dig quickly concludes that Deathbolt must be from Central City, because that's the only place that manufactures people with eye lasers.

    With few options (for reasons we'll get to), Ollie asks Smoak if The Flash can come help with this whole thing, but Barry's too busy having team-ups with Ray Palmer to come help, so Ollie has to settle for the next-best thing: Having a team-up with Ray Palmer. (The guy has a wide-open schedule.)

    They go see Palmer and ask for help, and Brandon Routh has the most fun anyone on this show has ever had when he high-fives Stephen Amell and says he's super psyched for a team-up. Ollie scowls.

    Palmer's first act as a temporary member of Team Arrow is to do some patently impossible science. He takes some security footage of Deathbolt at the bank and "removes the radiation" (because that's a thing you can do to a recording) to reveal that Deathbolt is Jake Simmons, a Central City bank robber who apparently doesn't actually steal anything from banks.

    Since the fuzz is puttin' the squeeze on Ollie over the whole being-a-murderous-vigilante business, Palmer volunteers to go fight Deathbolt at the address where the team has tracked him down. Ollie is very hesitant to let that happen, but decides to let Palmer give it a shot. (Though he does tell Palmer to stop calling it a team-up, because he's the worst.)

    Palmer suits up in the Atom armor and eventually finds Deathbolt, who beats the tar out of him. Just about the time Deathbolt is choking him out using a massive length of chain, Atom blasts off into the sky to knock Deathbolt away. Palmer survives the fight, but gets pretty torn up in the process. Deathbolt gets away.

    Question: Why did Deathbolt decide to do the whole choke-with-a-chain thing at all? He has laser eyes.

    Palmer returns to his office with some scrapes and bruises, but he's also got information: he absorbed energy from one of his Atom beams, so that's how he gets his power. Even so, Ollie gives Palmer a talking-to, saying Palmer should "trust [his] instincts, not just [his] tech."

    That's not unreasonable advice, but honestly? If I had an Iron Man suit, I'd let it do everything too. I probably wouldn't even wear it. Just let it go out there and do stuff for me. I guess the Atom suit is different in that it doesn't have a full-face mask, so somebody's got to wear that weird poker visor it has.

    Anyway, the team devises a plan to get Deathbolt: Lure him to a power station (where he gets his juice) and overload him with energy. At least, I'm pretty sure that's the plan. It gets a little unclear through here, and it's probably 50/50 of me missing something and the writers not seeming to care.

    So Smoak goes to a power station and just starts fiddling with knobs, because apparently you can just do that. Of course, Deathbolt is right there to meet her, disguised as a utility worker until he decides his disguise doesn't matter at all and reveals himself to her.

    A lot of this stuff didn't make sense, folks. I'm doing my best.

    Watching from the office, Palmer realizes that Deathbolt is in the same place Smoak is, so he calls her. Deathbolt picks up and says some vaguely threatening stuff, so Palmer goes to suit up and go save her.

    Smoak manages to separate herself from Deathbolt by setting off an alarm system that floods the room with coolant. By the time he catches up to her again, Atom arrives and starts throwing some professional punches. How's he doing it? Ollie is back in the office wearing a motion-capture suit to control Palmer's fighting.

    I'll admit it: That's kinda great.

    Of course, as the fight continues, the link between Ollie and Palmer gets severed, and Palmer has to fight Deathbolt off on his own. Ollie gives Palmer yet another pep talk (their audio wasn't severed, it seems) about heart and being a hero.

    That's all it takes to be able to punch good, so Atom punches good and knocks out Deathbolt.

    Later, Palmer takes Deathbolt to the Star Labs super-prison in Central City, where he and Cisco come up with a name for the guy. Cisco also does a little digging and finds out that Deathbolt was visiting Starman (or maybe someone else) in Opal City when the particle accelerator exploded to kick off the Flash series.

    So he got his power some other way. The plot thickens. (Bye, Doug Jones.)

  • Prison Drama

    What's arguably the A plot of this episode is Roy taking the fall for Ollie and going to prison for it.

    And let's get this out of the way first: The Starling City legal system remains one of the most screwy legal systems around. Roy goes to full-on Iron Heights Prison seemingly without ever having his bail set, being arraigned, or having even an opportunity to talk to an attorney. Maybe he refused representation, since he's dead-set on being found guilty, or maybe he copped a plea and the episode just skipped over it? I'm probably the only person interested in the legal details, so let's just move on.

    The highlight of the episode is the shot of Roy, in full Arrow costume, being led into the police station while Starling City residents crowd around carrying homemade signs(!). Starling citizens' love of homemade signs is the number-one reason I keep watching this show.

    Inside the station, Ollie, who is handcuffed to a desk, attempts to tell Captain Lance that Roy's just trying to save him. Before he can, Laurel (in her only scene of the episode) swoops in and tells her dad that the DA isn't charging Ollie with anything while charges against Roy are pending. Maybe you should see to getting Roy his own attorney while you're at it, Laurel.

    Also: Is Laurel the only person who works in the DA's office now? Is that how she can make these unilateral, unethical decisions? Did she just start squatting in now-dead DA Manhunter's office and nobody noticed?

    Captain Lance is upset that he can't keep Ollie, but he can't, so he lets him go, with the promise of more scrutiny to come.

    Ollie takes the opportunity to casually stroll into the interrogation room where Roy is, because anybody can just do that, and tell him he's making a mistake. Roy says this is his chance to pay Ollie back for saving his life back in season one. Hey, Roy, remember when Ollie shot you in the leg just for fun a while back? I think that evened it up.

    Roy adds that he deserves to be punished for killing that cop while he was crazed on mirakuru, and that's pretty much that. Ollie leaves.

    Lance keeps his promise about investigating Ollie by showing up at Verdant with a warrant to search the basement. The cops bust the door down and find the Arrowcave down there. Hey, at least all my complaints from two years ago about how easy that secret headquarters would be to find are being addressed.

    The cops only find one set of fingerprints down there, though: Roy's. Team Arrow planned this all out, and used that stuff you can buy at the spy store that erases all fingerprints except one person's. You know the stuff I'm talking about. That stuff that exists.

    Next we see Roy, he is fully and completely in prison at Iron Heights. It's been like a day! But he's got a uniform and everything. People are hooting at him. He goes to talk to Thea, who has come to visit him in a very yellow visitation room.

    Roy tells Thea he didn't want her to come see him, because he promised he wouldn't lie to her ever again. He tells her he's going to be okay in there, hangs up the phone, and leaves. Eyes fill with tears, but they don't drop.

    Later, some rando prisoners gang up on Roy and try to stab him, but he beats them all up while taking a slash to the back. It's a pretty cool fight scene.

    Lance and the cops show up at Theapartment and search the place. Thea storms up to Lance and tells him he won't find anything there, but Lance doesn't listen. Instead, he says Thea must be "complacent or the most naive girl [he's] ever met," which is pretty true, but is also a case of a pot pointing out the color of a kettle. Then Lance tries to guilt Thea into giving up Ollie by saying Roy got attacked in prison, and that his death will be Ollie's fault.

    Lance's lieutenant (who we haven't seen in a while) also comes waltzing in and tells him that he's risking his position of authority by continuing to investigate Ollie.

    Thea goes to Palmer Tech to tell Ollie about Roy being attacked, and Ollie flips out, almost getting into a fight with Dig about how he's got to go break Roy out of prison right then and there. Dig and Smoak both talk some sense into Ollie about how he's just going to get himself killed or arrested. Finally, it takes Smoak saying that Ollie is the "man [she believes] in" to convince him. (She nearly says she loves him.)

    Lance tries one last thing: He goes to Roy's cell and tells him that he doesn't deserve to be there, and that he's not doing the right thing protecting Ollie. Roy does something exceedingly stupid and confesses to a wholly unrelated crime — killing that cop. Lance just gets up and leaves on that one.

    Later, Roy gets attacked in prison again, but this time it's a guard doing the attacking, and this time it seems to succeed. Roy takes a knife right in the gut, and lays on the floor bleeding.

    Ollie goes to Theapartment to find Captain Lance visiting with Thea there. He told her that Roy has been killed in prison, and he does the same to Ollie. On his way out, he basically tells Ollie that Roy's death is his fault.

    Ollie goes to the ruins of the Arrowcave to look at arrowheads and almost cry, but not quite. Dig and Smoak walk in and milk the moment like they're pulling some crazy, morbid April Fools' joke. It's downright mean-spirited, but you know what, maybe Ollie deserves it.

    Just as Dig and Smoak get to the crescendo of their "You're sure gonna be mad at us" spiel, Roy comes walking in, looking just fine.

    Turns out the guard that stabbed him was one of Harbinger's ARGUS friends, who knows how to stab someone just so in the gut with a beta-blocker-laced knife so that they look dead, but they're fine. We get a flashback of Team Arrow planning this all out, and then we see Roy getting zipped up in a body bag, and that's the end of the flashback.

    What the hell happened after that? How did Roy get out of the body bag? How was he not incinerated or buried alive? How was there not an autopsy or an embalming? Wouldn't someone at the prison or the morgue care about a missing prisoner body, especially the body of the guy who was supposed to be Arrow and admitted to killing a cop? How did this all just work out? Did the prison staff just dump him on the side of the road? What is happening in this city?

    However any of that happened, Roy rides off into the sunset in his fancy Dodge Charger after Team Arrow says their goodbyes. I suppose he's driving into a spinoff series?

    Ollie says he learned to let people help him because of the hilarious prank his friends pulled on him, making him think his protege died taking the fall for vigilante murders on his behalf. It all worked out!

  • The Flashbacks

    After regrouping last episode, Maseo, Katana, their kid and Ollie hole up in an apartment that looks like it's made out of old newspapers. There, Ollie devises a plan to go to ARGUS headquarters and find Amanda Waller, to ask why she's trying to kill all of them. Maseo even gives him his keycard.

    Cut to: Ollie at ARGUS, where he finds Waller looking angry and dehydrated. Wouldn't you know it, she hasn't been behind the recent attacks after all; she herself been held by the real villains: Gen. Shrieve and his Army dudes.

    There's still a chance for some Creature Commandos, everyone. There's still a chance.

    Waller tells Ollie to skip town because Shrieve has a plan to use the alpha and omega bioweapons on Hong Kong. She also notes that the Army has developed an antidote so they survive the complete destruction of the city. Handy.

    Ollie goes back and reports all this to Maseo and Katana. Maseo says it's impossible to leave the city, because Shrieve's people are everywhere. So instead, they devise a plan to go steal the antidote.

    It's pretty easy, too. They break into Shrieve's HQ, interrogate a guy, and grab the antidote. It takes about 30 seconds.

    Back in the newspaper apartment, they realize they were perhaps a little too cavalier, though: They've only got three doses of antidote for four people. Ollie volunteers not to take it, and instead says he's going to stop Shrieve's plan, because he just happened to also steal some plans on their little trip to his base. What a lucrative mission!

    Katana and Maseo insist on helping, because these actors want to be paid for a few more episodes this season.

  • The Cliffhanger

    While Ollie is being mercilessly April Fools'd, Thea's having it even worse. See, she still thinks Roy is dead, and she's mourning him by sitting in Theapartment drinking wine and looking at pictures of him on her phone.

    Just about then, Ra's al Ghul appears in the window and asks if she knows who he is. "You're the Demon," she says. "Um, actually, it's Demon's Head," he replies. I always pegged him as a commenter.

    He tells her that he's going to make Ollie his successor no matter what, and she retorts that Ollie will never do that. Ra's says he'll make it happen.

    That starts a fight that Thea probably realizes she never should have gotten into when Ra's suddenly teleports across the room. There's no special effect or anything, it's just that in one shot he's on one side of the room, and then in the next, he's on the other. I don't know if it's on purpose or not, but it actually does make him more terrifying than anything else this show has done.

    The fight ends with Ra's flipping Thea through a glass table and stabbing her through the abdomen, leaving her on the floor, bleeding. The theme of this episode is lying on the floor bleeding from stab wounds.

  • Final Notes

    • Like Laurel, Malcolm Merlyn is in exactly one scene this episode, and it's pretty totally unnecessary. It's just full-on exposition about how Ra's wants Ollie to be the new Ra's. If you're going to have John Barrowman, why not use him? (The same could be said for Doug Jones.)
    • Smoak and Palmer briefly, awkwardly discuss his unrequited "I love you" in an early scene, and he passes it off as emotional wackiness from the nanobots. She still doesn't reciprocate it.
    • There's also a moment where Palmer is rambling some nonsense to Ollie and Smoak while he's looking for Deathbolt in the Atom costume. Ollie jokes that Palmer and Smoak could be related, which seems to be the writers making a joke about themselves for creating two such similar characters. It's a self-snap.
    • I know I complained a bunch about the Roy legal stuff, but here's one more: How was his conversation with Ollie in the interrogation room not recorded? They were in a police station.
    • The address that's given for Deathbolt's whereabouts is "Gantner and Yount." Often, those are sly references to DC Comics characters or creators, but they're not ringing any bells for me. Maybe they will you.


    I thought this episode was a bummer. It bummed me out.

    Maybe it was seeing two major characters, both of whom try really hard to do the right thing, getting (seemingly fatally) stabbed that did it, or maybe it was just the general air of hopelessness to the whole thing.

    Also, how crummy the villain was, despite getting a really cool actor for him.

    I mean, it looks like Thea's going to make it based on the preview for next week's episode, but it just felt like this was piling on instead of ratcheting up tension, you know? I never thought I'd miss Ollie getting Arrowed up this much.