It’s time for another installment of Pointed Commentary, the feature where grizzled Arrow watcher Matt D. Wilson and newcomer Chris Haley dig into the details of Team Arrow cleaning up the filthy, crime-ridden streets of Star City.

This week’s episode, “Lost in the Flood,” goes to great lengths to make sure you understand that the writers are very smart and making Biblical references to Noah’s ark. Also, Felicity gets wrapped up in a less-than-welcome family reunion. The episode was directed by Glen Winter, from a script by Oscar Balderrama, Brian Ford Sullivan and George Papp.

Matt: Chris, let’s start with the nuclear bomb in the room. I know you and Ziah covered it when I was out last week, but it bears repeating: A nuclear explosion destroyed the town of Havenrock, killing tens of thousands of people. HIVE caused it. Team Arrow failed to stop it. Felicity just diverted the missile so it missed a larger city.

That’s all anybody should be talking about at any point in this episode, right? If it really happened, it’d be the deadliest attack on U.S. soil in history. And yet these characters are talking about it like someone burned dinner. Felicity’s watching reports on the news with less concern than I’ve seen people have for character deaths on Game of Thrones. Ollie’s still listing HIVE’s top crime as killing Laurel, not, the mass murder of tens of thousands more. Am I crazy? Did everyone’s reactions seem more than off the mark this week? I know it’s weird for me to be telling this show I’ve been begging to be sillier to get serious, but come on, a town was destroyed!

Chris: Yeah, I mean, what you’re asking for is consistency, not just silliness. If they want this show to be deadly serious, so be it, but you can’t have people cracking jokes and asking for gossip after a nuclear weapon has been detonated on American soil even if the person responsible is a big bad voodoo daddy.

Matt: I typically really like Curtis, but he was written so abysmally in this episode. He jokes around about how Felicity’s ex boyfriend, Cooper, is quoting Star Trek VI (when he’s really quoting Henry V) instead of noting that he’s helping a mega mass murderer. That seems like the more important thing, right?

And yeah, it’s just so inconsistent. Laurel dies and everybody’s all scowls and crying. A nuclear explosion occurs in a populated area, and it’s all, “Tell me about your parents’ divorce!”

Chris: Exactly! I honestly don’t even know where to start with this or how this show can sleep at night being this… I don’t even know the word to use here… “awful” doesn’t seem strong enough, but it also feels like the people putting this show together have a blatant agenda to try to insult their audience’s intelligence. Does that make sense? Like, you’d have to be trying to make the writing this bad, right? I know we goof on this show sometimes, and we are more than happy to call them out for things, but this episode feels especially egregious. Just above and beyond. I’m flabbergasted by it. But it’s not even so crazy bad that it’s fun. It just makes me angry.

 

 

Matt: Not to keep harping on this, but remember how the whole season has been about the question of who was in that one grave, when it maybe should have been about 20,000 graves? They kinda buried the lede on this whole thing. Is Arrow a video game? Is the difference because Laurel is a playable character and all of Havenrock was NPCs?

One last analogy. Chris, did you watch Breaking Bad?

Chris: Boy, did I.

Matt: Okay, well, spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t. At the end of season two, Walt sort of indirectly causes a plane collision that kills hundreds of people, but no one knows he was involved. In the first episode of season three, he gives a speech to the school where he teaches where he’s sort of negotiating with the numbers. “Yes, it was awful, but it would have been worse if X number of people died.” That kind of thing.

That’s supposed to be Walt’s no-turning-back point. He is at best amoral and at worst evil from that point on. And that’s exactly what everyone does on this show. Exactly!

Chris: I don’t know if I have the strength to think about Breaking Bad in the context of this show. The whiplash I might get from the change in quality could snap my head off. I just realized how many times already this week I’ve had to say “I don’t know” about something in regards to this show. I think it may have broken me. I’m just at a loss here. And this is coming from someone who has so far watched Mortal Kombat: Annihilation forty nights in a row.

Matt: I can’t think of anything more damning.

Chris: Me either. Goodnight everybody! See you next week!

Matt: I think we at least have to try to dig into some details. So let’s muscle through this, huh?

The main plotline of the episode involves Ollie and Dig going to HIVE’s secret biodome to save Thea, which ends up with the whole thing collapsing on itself after an attack by Anarky. Really, it was Anarky who did basically everything. Green Arrow pretty much just yelled at some scared people. Do I have that more or less right?

Chris: Yes. Anarky is the hero this city deserves. He kills Ruve. He spoils Darhk’s plan. He’s the only one that accomplishes anything. Except for Felicity. Who accomplished becoming a mass murderer.

Matt: I’d be a little more forgiving and simply say she was indirectly complicit in mass murder, but to each his own.

Chris: I would like to point out that our readers did a great job welcoming Ziah last week and helping out with some of the questions he had that I couldn’t answer, but one comment in particular jumped back out at me just now. Someone suggested that after that nuke hit, the last two or three minutes of the show should have just been nothing but silence and people’s reactions, because there’s really nothing you can say at that point and I totally agree. Instead, it was just immediately back to the usual… is it fair to call the dialogue on this show “trite”?

Matt: Absolutely. Trite. Contrived. A first draft. All seem accurate.

Chris: I just… what kind of world do you want us to think this is? You know, I’ll also say that I know writing is hard. And I know that writing for a modestly budgeted, weekly, episodic show about a guy who runs around dressed like Robin Hood on a really tight schedule with all kinds of producer and network and character owner constraints and provisions and mandates has got to be difficult. I appreciate those challenges, and I respect that no matter how angry this show can make me, the people involved are all, most likely, trying their best.

 

 

But there are other shows that are under many similar if not identical or more tedious or outlandish constraints that are not this painful to watch. Some of them are even good. I think about a show like Breaking Bad, and I think, “These people must have had to try hard to make this so good.” And I say all of that to say, that so often, it does not feel like anyone is trying very hard on this show. No one seems to be thinking in advance or with any kind of logic. It’s all just, “How can we kill time until the next thing and work a couple fight scenes in?”

Like, when they were working on this script, why didn’t one person, just one, ask, “Can a hacker really make a whole room explode with sparks?” Or, “Even if a computer could be made to explode, how could it possibly have enough power to blow a grown man across a room? Was it a computer made of explosives?”

Matt: There’s a lot to unpack here, so I’ll start with your last point: Of all the nonsense in this episode, the exploding computers bothered me the least, because it’s goofy comic-book-show stuff, which is what I want. If Batman ‘66 had hacking scenes, you know the computers would be smoking and sparking and knocking people across the room. So I’m okay with that.

Chris: Yeah, but Adam West would never have let that nuke kill a single person, so that’s why I don’t mind exploding computers there. I take your point though.

Matt: What’s weird is identifying what’s a choice and what’s an accident. I got hung up on a couple logistical things in this episode, for instance. Like, the explanation for Ruve becoming mayor is that she had to be so they could build Tevat Noah, right? (Tevat Noah, by the way, is Hebrew for “Noah’s ark,” so maybe all the research budget went to that.) But she’s been mayor for what? Two months? It’d take years to build that biodome thing, right?

The other was: Why isn’t HIVE Central inside Tevat Noah? That’s the only place that’s safe from impending nuclear doom, isn't it? I think I know the answer. Damien and Ruve had to be in different places so she could die and he wouldn’t be around for it. That’s the only reason. Plot necessity.

Chris: Which, as we all know, is the truest sign of quality in screenwriting. Also, what in the blue hell was that nonsense about the biodome was powered by unstable dwarf star material, as an excuse to make that room blow up? I mean, I know what in the blue hell it was, it was a way to make that scene happen the way they wanted it to, but come on!

Matt: Again, if they’d just commit to making this show silly superhero stuff, that’d be fine. It’s just that in the context of everything else, it’s totally ridiculous.

Chris: Precisely. You get it. You’re a good friend to be here with.

Matt: Those two things I mentioned are accidents, I think, but then there are the weird choices, like the dwarf star thing or the family that chose to be in Tevat Noah because Star City is so dangerous even though the guy who destroyed the Glades in season one is in there with them, or the way the newscaster of Star City’s One News Channel was clearly directed to deliver the nuclear news. I know newscasters and supposed to be super professional and not show emotion, but I think this would be the one time it might be appropriate. It felt like she was reporting on a bus accident.

Chris: Or a milk accident. “We’ve just received preliminary reports that… yes, I’m being given confirmation that a glass of milk has, in fact, been spilled. We’ll continue to keep you updated on this story as it develops.”

Matt: Speaking of also-mass-murderer Malcolm Merlyn, he gets one of two daddy issues plots this week, drugging Thea into briefly attacking Oliver before she gets better. And... that’s kind of all I have to say about it. You?

 

 

Chris: It’s almost like that happened just to pad the episode out and get a couple fight scenes in there. I’ve cracked the Arrow Code! Am I a hacker now too?!

Matt: Sure, why not. Speaking of hackers, the other major plot of the episode is Felicity and her dad, The Calculator, teaming up to challenge Felicity’s ex, who has been conscripted by Darhk into HIVE’s service. But really that’s just an excuse to get in some family drama, as Donna basically keeps interrupting the world-saving to talk about how crummy Daddy Smoak is.

And yeah, I’m sure he’s not a great dude. The actor who plays him, Tom Amandes, certainly puts that across. But this isn’t really the time, is it? This episode did a lot to sour me on two characters I really like, Donna and Curtis, who both seem to have no sense of the severity of anything that is happening. Like, even more than everyone else. The world’s exploding and Donna’s over here making “not” jokes.

Chris: Also, wasn’t it nice that they made Paul Blackthorne show up this week so he could be in the show for 30 seconds? Everyone should be in an absolute crisis-mode panic and super-focused, but people are just sipping beers and folding laundry and wanting gossip.

Matt: And then in the end, Donna tells The Calculator to leave again. And look, I understand the point of it is supposed to be that he’s a bad guy she wanted to keep away from Felicity, but he’s also a super-hacker who just helped save Earth, and there’s the potential that this crisis might not be over yet.

In fact, it’s definitely not over yet, because Darhk shows up at the end to coerce Felicity into finishing what they started together and blowing up the whole planet. They probably could have used him!

Chris: Hopefully everyone on that Earth will be killed.

Oh, hey, we also got the needless continuation of Ollie on the island with his Russian friend catching Evil Idol Fever. That’s a thing that’s still happening. I’m sure something he learns there that we’ll see next week will be the key to defeating Darhk, thus making the whole season-long slog worth it. Or it won’t, and it will have well and truly been for nothing!

Matt: Well, this week was certainly a whole bunch of nothing, with pretty much just one long argument about whether or not the Russian lady should kill a guy. At least we got to see someone with kitty cat eyes again. That was a highlight.

Chris: You are a man who knows what he likes. And what you like is kitty cat eyes.

Matt: I specifically like people talking in deep, serious voices about the great power they’re experiencing while they have kitty cat eyes. It’s soothing.

Chris: I can’t argue with you there. What did you think of Brother Eye making an appearance? That’s worth mentioning, right? Because comics! (Shout out to the reader that was kind enough to give me a heads up about that on Twitter!)

Matt: Was it referred to as Brother Eye? Because even if that’s what it was supposed to be, it 1) was honestly just a screensaver that ex-boyfriend hacker sent over and 2) looked way more like Sauron than any version of Brother Eye I’ve ever seen.

Chris: I believe I was told that it had showed up previously on the show as well?

Matt: Yeah, maybe back in the Felicity flashback hacker episode which I have conveniently forgotten most of.

 

 

So what’s left? Can we put this terrible episode to bed? Should we mention that Curtis was wearing Daniel Bryan’s retirement shirt?

Chris: Yet another painful memory this show has inflicted upon me. Is there anything we can compliment?

Matt: I did notice this: The directing in this episode was pretty flashy and neat. Interesting camera movements, lots of lighting effects that made things look cool, nicely done scene transitions. If there was anyone on this episode who really seemed to think things out, it was the director and the editor.

Chris: See! Look at all this positivity!

Matt: We’re a regular back-patting society over here. So next week is the finale. We got anything positive about that?

Chris: I’m positively hoping that Darhk kills everyone! But mostly Felicity. I’ll settle for just Felicity. I’m not unreasonable. Also, I mean, even if they do manage to defeat Darhk, haven’t they seriously failed this city at this point?

Matt: They have certainly failed a city, if not many.

Chris: Team Arrow really seems to be great at failing. See I’m being positive about something they’re good at!