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: Sidekicks fight back, Wildcat reveals his vigilante past, and another red herring in the season's big murder plot.

  • The Action

    This week, Team Arrow has apparently prioritized the street gang the Culebras over the unsolved murder of their partner and friend, so Arrow, Dig and Roy investigate what else but a warehouse.

    What they find there isn't an active gang; instead they find a pretty gruesome scene: what must be a dozen dead bodies strung up by their legs and a message that simply says "Guilty" written in blood on the floor. Arrow interrogates the one guy left alive, who tells him that a guy named Paco was involved.

    Arrow goes to a bar and does his best Christian-Bale-as-Batman voice to ask the patrons about Paco. I don't know what happened to his voice-altering device in this particular scene, but he's really gruffing it up here. It's ludicrous. Anyway, a guy tells him that Paco is really a fellow named Emilio Ortega, along with where to find him.

    Turns out that place is Wildcat's gym (where he's been training Laurel in boxing). Arrow finds yet another dead body there, so when Wildcat comes walking in, it's pretty incriminating. He's only saved when Laurel comes walking in behind him and establishes an alibi.

    The police come and, after some formalities, decide not to arrest Wildcat. Ollie, who is super jealous, isn't so eager to let Wildcat off the hook. The killer is apparently left-handed, just like Wildcat, and the corpses are being hung from the ceiling, just like heavy bags! That is a real point that is made.

    The victims are also being beaten to death with brass knuckles, which makes it even more incriminating when Arrow goes to Wildcat's secret shed and finds: 1) brass knuckles, 2) another dead guy and 3) weird newspaper clippings about the local vigilante.

    After a brief fight, Wildcat explains that he used to be a vigilante just like Arrow, and that this is all some kind of revenge setup. Arrow rightly asks why he's never heard of Wildcat. Wildcat says he stuck to working in The Glades, so TV didn't pay attention to him. This is...highly dubious. Maybe he was just terrible at his job.

    Either way, Wildcat says he's never killed anyone...except maybe one guy he may have beaten to death by accident six years ago. He's not killing these people, though.

    So of course Arrow and Wildcat have to team up. They track the killer to a nightclub, where a masked assailant shoots at the heroes and openly talks about his shared past with Wildcat. It is very apparent he's Wildcat's old sidekick, but Wildcat tries to play it off like, "Who's this guy? What's he talkin' about?"

    The killer escapes just as the cops arrive and arrest Wildcat for the murder of the body they found in Wildcat's secret shed (our heroes just left it there, I guess). In the interrogation room, Captain Lance says Wildcat is charged with 16 murders, "more than Son of Sam. That's a Bundy." That a hilarious way to count murders.

    Anyway, Laurel gets Wildcat to admit that the killer is his old sidekick, Isaac Stanzler, who is not a comic character I'm aware of. Turns out Stanzler also killed that guy six years ago and Wildcat took the heat for it.

    The cops drop the charges on Wildcat, and as he and Laurel are leaving police HQ, Stanzler sneaks up on them. He says he was captured by the Culebras and "tortured for months" after Wildcat quit the vigilante game. Wildcat apologizes and asks to talk. "I have so much to say before I kill you," says Stanzler, which is a pretty good line.

    Stanzler takes Laurel and Wildcat hostage and makes her drive him...somewhere that doesn't really matter. Laurel secretly calls Smoak because Stanzler is super careless and didn't take her phone, tipping Team Arrow off to where they are.

    Arrow catches up to them on his motorcycle in almost impossible time, but he goes down when Stanzler shoots out a tire. (Arrow also shoots an arrow directly into the car that should definitely have killed Wildcat. It goes right through the seat.)

    Roy comes riding up and manages to get Stanzler out of the car while it's moving. Laurel crashes into some other cars. Dig and Arrow get her and Wildcat out just in time before the car explodes.

    Roy and Stanzler fight for a while as Stanzler tells Roy that Arrow will abandon him, just like Wildcat did to him. Roy says he's not Stanzler and incapacitates him in an act of sidekick-on-sidekick violence.

  • The Murder Investigation

    That thing I just mentioned where it was Roy who actually dealt with the bad guy this week is important, because this was sort of a redemption story for him.

    Last week, we found out he was having dreams about killing Sara by throwing three arrows into her stomach. Turns out those dreams have really been making it tough for him to sleep. He asks Smoak if she can do a blood test on him to see if there's any leftover mirakuru (a super-soldier drug if missed last season) in his system. She does and he comes back clean.

    Even so, he finds it prudent to tell Smoak that he's been having dreams about killing Sara.

    "Those dreams didn't feel like dreams," he says. "They felt like memories." You know, like real people talk.

    Instead of offering any reassurance at all, Smoak promptly acts super freaked out and adds fuel to the fire, telling Roy that she did a "virtual autopsy" on Sara's body and found that her wounds could have come from arrows "thrown with mirakuru force." Well, this all seems very conclusive and above board.

    Once Team Arrow and Laurel are all assembled in the Arrowcave, Roy outright says, "I killed Sara," with no further context or explanation. Smoak says it has to be true, too. He dreamed about it!

    Laurel reacts to this by getting super snippy; Ollie just looks kind of sad. Later, Dig suggests dropping Roy from Team Arrow and punishing him because it's not like Ollie's a murderer or anything, right? Plus, it's not like the case against him is super, super shaky.

    After the week's villain is caught, Roy and Ollie talk in the Arrowcave. Roy talks like he's going to give up being on Team Arrow. Not only does he think he killed Sara, but Stanzler said he's "nothing more than a weapon in [Arrow's] arsenal."

    Ollie's response to this is, "Maybe that's what we should call you, then. Arsenal."

    First off, that's nonsense. He's not the arsenal, he's one weapon in it. (Comics Arsenal used the name because he used a bunch of different weapons at the time.) Second, how is it a comfort to be like, "Hey, let's name you what that sidekick who went nuts and killed 16 people on a horror murder spree and said I would abandon you called you. Let's validate what he said."

    Roy should have been like, "Can I just be Red Arrow?"

    Ollie does a memory trick on Roy (one he learned in Hong Kong) and it turns out Roy was remembering killing a cop when he was mirakuru crazy, not Sara. Roy's very reasonable response is, "Well, I'm still a murderer." But Ollie says he won't give up on Roy so that's OK.

    And we're no further along in the murder investigation than when we started. Great.

  • The Relationships

    Besides the loving exchanges between Ollie and Roy that surely lit up Tumblr this week ("Don't abandon me"), there was also a sort of love triangle thing between Ollie, Wildcat and Laurel.

    As is often the case, Ollie was mostly in the wrong throughout. When it looked like Wildcat might be a murderer, he tried to tell Laurel to stay away from him (despite his own sizable body count). When it became clear Wildcat was a former vigilante, he told Wildcat to stay away from Laurel (despite him being a vigilante that hangs out with Laurel all the time). He tries to convince Wildcat to stop training Laurel because she wants to become a vigilante.

    Ollie is kind of a controlling dick.

    To her credit, Laurel just keeps training anyway and says she doesn't have any allegiance to Team Arrow. To his credit, Wildcat says Laurel is her own person who can make her own decisions.

    So, yeah, it seems like Wildcat's the better choice here. There's a hospital scene (take a drink) in which Ollie tells Laurel he cares about her and just wants her to be safe, but come the eff on, bro. Let her make a decision for herself.

  • The Flashbacks

    The Hong Kong flashbacks continued their run of being little more than frustrating wheel-spinning this season.

    Ollie is tracking down a courier for China White, but he botches it, gets kicked in the face, and loses the guy after a short fight among some plastic crates. Lucky for Ollie, the guy gets hit by a car, but the message he was supposed to be carrying for China is missing.

    So at Ollie's ARGUS handler's house, Katana does a memory trick on him (the same one he uses later on Roy) and he remembers that the courier dropped the message near the crates.

    The handler and Ollie go and recover the message, take it home, and analyze it. It's another contact's name. Katana tells Ollie she wants him out of her house as soon as possible.

    I agree. Then at least something would be happening.

  • The Cliffhanger

    As Stanzler is being escorted out of police HQ to a prison transport, a mysterious archer kills the two cops who are leading him out.

    Stanzler asks, "Who are you?"

    The archer, a redheaded woman in a bedazzled outfit, replies, "I'm Cupid, stupid!"

    I simultaneously hated and loved it. (At least Arrow's going to be fighting a Green Arrow villain for once.)

  • Final Notes

    A few random tidbits:

    • One of Stanzler's victims was a magician's assistant named Albert Mancini. It may be nothing (he's not a comics character) but maybe it's setting up a magician appearance (Zatanna?) down the road.
    • I spent most of this sidekick-centric episode thinking about this old episode of The Tick and the sidekick's lounge.
    • Also, no one used the word "sidekick" once in this episode, but we got that crazy leap to the name "Arsenal"? Come on.
    • Ollie made a makeshift boxing glove arrow. So we did get that.
    • Smoak line of the night: "They're moving fast. 45 miles an hour!"
    • I still can't believe that as an audience we're supposed to be relieved at the notion of, "Oh, it's OK. He just killed a cop."

     

    The more I think about this one, the more it frustrates me. As I was watching it, I felt like it was mediocre, but now I'm thinking it's the most striking example of the flaws of the season so far.

    Namely, the whole season-long murder plot. It started out with a little momentum, but it's been all detours, screeching halts and red herrings since. There's no real urgency to it, and when it does come up, it's the B plot. It feels wrong.

    Which is why I have such mixed feelings about Cupid. She could be a silly, diversionary villain, but my suspicion is that she's going to become a murder suspect when it's beyond clear it ain't her. Ugh.