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.

On this week's episode, Ollie teams up with Laurel to prove that a death-row inmate convicted of killing his wife was really the patsy in a bigger scheme, Dig considers a proposition and a conspiracy continues!In what I hope is a new status quo for the series, this episode forgoes the lengthy training montage/voiceover speech and condenses everything down to a brisk "here's what I'm all about" blurb and a "previously on..." teaser. That leads directly into a continuation of last week's episode, which ended with Ollie revealing his secret identity to his bodyguard, Dig.

The writers were kind of stuck with that sore-thumb "Hey" Ollie said last week when Dig awoke from his Deadshot-induced poison-sleep, but the scene that follows is one of the best the series has done so far. With little hesitation, Dig reacts to the news of Ollie being "that vigilante" by taking a big, woozy swing at him, which Ollie easily ducks.

Once it's clear trying to fight the hooded arrow-shooting guy while still groggy from poison isn't going to work out, Dig starts to argue. "You really did lose your mind on that island," he jabs. Ollie hits back, "I found a couple things along the way." And Dig replies, "Like what, archery classes?" That's snappy stuff! I am overjoyed to be hearing this after last week's often-snoozy episode. David Ramsey is maybe the best thing this show has going for it. He and Stephen Amell play off each other really well, and in this scene they nicely dig into the tension of the situation. If only they could have retconned out that "hey."

Ollie makes the sales pitch to Dig: Help me protect this city from greedy people who don't care who they hurt. But Dig isn't hearing it. After that weird wishy-washy stuff from a couple weeks ago where Dig sort-of compared being stuck on an island to going to war in Afghanistan, he clearly states here that Ollie isn't a soldier. "You're a criminal. And a murderer," he says as he leaves. Ollie's got this look on his face that kind of says, "Yeah, got me there."

At Queen Mansion, Ollie returns home to find Laurel just standing around in his foyer because I guess she was too anxious to go sit on a couch after Thea or whomever let her in. The anxiety stems from the fact that a guy with one red goggle shot a bunch of people a few hours ago and Ollie basically disappeared afterwards, which is a pretty understandable worry.

Laurel lays some thick moralizing on Ollie about caring about somebody else for once and leaves, which leads Thea to walk over and try to comfort her brother, because she knows a thing or two about a certain someone wagging his finger at her all the time. Ollie gets a little sympathetic piano score because Laurel's the second friend of the night who called him out on his problems. Just to note, those problems are thoughtlessness and being a murderer.

On Flashback Island, Proto-Arrow has a gift for Ollie. It must be Christmas!

The partridge is great and all, but without the pear tree, it sort of lacks the full holiday spirit, don't you think?

Proto-Arrow barks some instructions at Ollie in Mandarin. Ollie doesn't understand, so he goes back to apologizing to a photo of Laurel from his wallet. Makes you wonder if he'll apologize to everything in there. That American Express black card probably deserves one.

Back in the present, Ollie wakes from his restless slumber and heads downstairs to find Thea watching a TV news show about Peter Declan, a man convicted of killing his wife but who still claims his innocence. Ah well, it's probably not an important detail.

Thea suggests Ollie should make a move on Laurel because, after all, she went to all that trouble to stand around in their house for what was probably hours to wait for him. However, Thea also notes, as I would, that Ollie did sleep with Laurel's sister, the sister died, Laurel's dad hates him, etc. So there are roadblocks. This is easily the best Thea/Ollie scene we've had so far, in that it isn't the same scene we've seen every other episode. The relaxed brother/sister vibe is a good one. Maybe the actors and writers are figuring out how to make these character relationships really work. I hope so.

The next morning, Moira has a gift of her own for Ollie: A new bodyguard. Turns out Dig resigned the night before, vaguely stating he didn't like how Ollie spent his nights (we know he means murders). The new guy, Rob Scott, is a former Monument Point cop, the first of many DC Universe nods in this episode. I wonder if he knows the JSA! At the very least, his haircut probably does.

On the TV, they just can't stop talking about Peter Declan. He's set to be executed in a couple days, and Ollie happens to catch a statement from Declan's wife's former employer, Jason Brodeur, about hoping this will give her peace. Seems a little odd that an ex-employer would release a statement like that about a dead employee or that it'd be on the news, but OK!

Some ribaldry ensues involving Scott getting the car but Ollie leaving the house on a motorcycle (what levity!) to go to the Arrowcave. Brodeur, as you might expect, is on Ollie's list, so he does some research by reading stuff off two monitors displaying the same thing at the same time, which would seem to indicate you really just need one monitor.

Brodeur is meeting up with an enforcer guy who looks like Oliver Stone and Patrick Warburton had a baby so they can talk about what a bang-up job they did of framing Declan to cover up some dumping of toxic waste, which Mrs. Declan was going to blow the whistle about. Seems like it'd be safer to try to not have conversations like this, but I'm no master criminal.

Arrow shows up at Laurel's apartment as she returns home from work, hoping to set her up with Declan in a game of Lawyer-Client Connection. To disguise himself, he cuts the lights and uses a voice-altering device because even he knows a hood and some eyeliner ain't gonna cover it. (Also: Why not use that voice disguiser all the time? He's a pretty famous fella. And why didn't Batman use one of those in the Nolan movies instead of growling like the Cookie Monster?)

Arrow eventually convinces a gun-wielding Laurel to take the case by appealing to her justice-loving nature, so she heads off to visit him in prison and recite all the evidence against him. He should know all this already, right? There was a trial and everything. Declan says he and his wife had a big fight about whether she should blow the whistle on Brodeur. She slept in their baby's room and when he woke up the next morning, she was dead. As her client talks about his dead wife, this is Laurel's expression:

I know it's a great case, but maybe save the smirks for when you're outside.

At Queen Consolidated, Steele's a tad frazzled when Moira comes to visit for lunch. $2.6 million has gone missing and the bean counters are all in a tizzy about it. Ah well, it's probably not an important detail.

Laurel pays her dad a visit at Police HQ to go through the Declan file. Detective Lance is fairly sure Declan did it, what with all the evidence. The only person that could connect Mrs. Declan to any whistleblowing, her supervisor, Matt Istook, said no such whistles were ever blown.

Dig's hanging out with his sister-in-law at Big Belly Burger when Ollie shows up and reissues his partnership offer right here in this public place full of people. At least, the sound effects indicate there are other people, even though we can't see them. He even pulls out the secret List Book to show Dig! Ollie learned a lot on that island, but he didn't seem to learn much about how to keep a secret.

Dig still doesn't seem interested, so Ollie pushes harder: He's pretty sure Deadshot, the sniper he "stopped," as in "killed," murdered Dig's brother Andy. (Yes, his name was Andy Diggle.) Nobody's going to help families like Dig's unless the two of them go out there and do it, Ollie argues.

As Ollie jumps up to leave, Scott approaches. Ollie stops him and says he's got to run to the bathroom. "That boy's long gone, man," Dig says in the on-purpose funniest line of the show so far.

Steele's at home, still working on trying to track down that $2.6 million, and apparently he can best do accounting work when everything he sees is orange.

Moira fesses up that she took the money to invest it in a friend's startup a few years ago, but there's nothing to worry about. Whew! Glad that's all taken care of.

At her office, Laurel's frantically paging through files when Joanna asks what's got her going so hard on the Declan case. After darting her eyes around the room like she's Carmen Sandiego, Laurel fesses up that it was Arrow. Joanna says it's not safe, but Laurel says she can feel that he's a decent guy. Joanna says she wanted Laurel to meet someone but not like this, and Katie Cassidy does this little shoulder shrug thing that is actually some really nice acting. Sometimes a girl's just got a crush on a guy who shoots arrows at dudes in suits. What can she say?

Laurel and Arrow reconnect on a rooftop, where Laurel asks why they couldn't meet face-to-face. Not sure what she means by that, given that they're meeting in person, and that's usually what that phrase means. I guess she just wants him to take his hood off to see if his face is a blue dot to match his "voice altered to protect identity" voice.

Laurel tells Arrow about Istook, and Arrow says he'll go get some answers. She frets about him doing illegal stuff and he answers with some boilerplate about doing "what needs to be done." Then Laurel asks why he hides his face, and he says it's to protect people he cares about. I think he's reading these off a superhero cheat sheet. "That sounds lonely," she says. "It can be. But not today," he replies before zooming away. That made no sense at all, Arrow. It's night time and you're by yourself. I think she's got you all flustered!

At the QC offices, Steele has summoned Felicity Smoak to come look over the financials as soon as she's finished rattling through some forced banter about thinking she's being fired for no reason.

Elsewhere, Arrow shoots Istook with a knockout dart and ties him to a train track like Snidely Whiplash.

Arrow gives Istook the choice of fessing up about the whistleblowing incident or getting run over by the "10:15 to Blüdhaven." Another DCU nod! Istook offers up a file with evidence against Brodeur that he's been keeping on his desk in a building Brodeur owns and didn't give up or destroy when he was paid not to talk. Lucky break! Arrow shoots the chain off his hand at the last second and lets him go.

Time for another flashback to Purgatory: Proto-Arrow is cooking up some food that he won't let Ollie have any of because he is just the meanest. Ollie's got to kill the bird Proto-Arrow gave him to eat, PA indicates through hand motions.

Present-day Laurel notices the lights go off in her office when Arrow shows up in a strategically shadowy spot to pass her Istook's file. Laurel and Arrow exchange some hot talk about how people are selfish and the world needs protectors set to a romantic radio tune and I wonder if this might be some kind of stealth propaganda.

After another brief, pretty amusing scene between Ollie and Thea at home (This episode's two for two with those! It's amazing!), Detective Lance arrives at Laurel's office to say Istook filed a report about Arrow nearly killing him the night before. It's not hard for him to figure Laurel handed Arrow that information, which he is not pleased about. "You're breakin' the law," he tells her, as if that's somehow not great. She says the cops should have done their job better and feelings get hurt.

Laurel goes to the courthouse to try to get Declan a stay of execution. It's denied, but she at least gets a chance to threaten Brodeur to his face, which shakes him up enough that he freaks out when he gets back to the office. Not-Patrick Warburton assures Brodeur he's got some guys at Iron Heights (so many of these DCU references in here) who can take care of it.

A Nikita clip that made me wonder if the CW website hadn't made a mistake and started playing the wrong show later, Arrow and Laurel are figuring out where to go from here. Laurel, who, as an attorney, is an attorney, says she'd need a signed confession from Brodeur to save Declan, so Arrow runs off to try to make that happen.

Smoak has dug up some info about Moira's investment: There was no investment. The money set up an off-the-books limited liability corporation called Tempest that owns a warehouse in the city. If this was Batman 66, that'd mean it was a secret theater for Shakespeare productions, but this is not that.

Dig's still hanging out at Big Belly, wondering about why his brother's killer was never caught and moving his finger around the lip of a coffee mug. You know, really thinking. His sister-in-law tells him to follow his heart.

Things are moving fast at Brodeur's place.

Arrow's demanding a confession and Brodeur's being weaselly. So Arrow shoots him in the hand and makes him answer a phone call from Nawliver Stone. The plan to kill Declan in prison starts in an hour, the guy helpfully announces.

Laurel is at the prison talking with Declan when Arrow shows up and knocks out a guard. Brodeur's henchmen kill the power and open all the cell doors. A guard tells Laurel to stay put in the interview room, which she interprets as, "Go run out into a cell block full of prisoners." These prisoners sure do have a lot of paper to throw at people, by the way. Things look bad, but Arrow shows up to shoot a guy and save the day. He is wearing this:

"Yes, it's me, your co-worker, Regular Prison Guard! I'm wearing my standard-issue ski mask and quiver, just like all the rest of us guards!"

Arrow, Laurel and Declan run down a corridor only to run into Warburton-lite, who clocks Laurel with a punch. For someone who was so tough last week, she sure does bleed easy this time. Arrow wails away on the guy before Laurel pulls him off. The guards enter, drag Declan away, secure Laurel and for some reason ignore the ski-mask guy.

Detective Lance arrives to announce that Brodeur's bodyguard confessed to the murder of Camille Declan, so I guess that ties that all up real nice. Detective Lance launches again into saying Arrow is bad news, and now Laurel is right there with him. For some reason, that savage beating did not sit well with her.

In another flashback, Ollie finally kills that bird, but he's real sorry about it. Present-day Ollie looks sad, too, as Detective Lance cooks up an idea after hearing about Arrow's fashion statement inside the prison.

Steele has located Moira's warehouse only to discover a password lock on the door. He opens it on the fourth try, using her dead husband's name. Man, at least put some numbers in there, Moira. Jeez.

Inside, Steele finds the Queens' shipwrecked yacht.

The special effects aren't amazing, but it's a neat reveal.

Detectives Lance and Hilton have a prickly video guy going through all the surveillance from the Deadshot shootings from last episode. As I said before, Ollie is clearly really bad with secrets, because there he is, on camera, yanking his Arrow costume out of the trash can. Oops!

Laurel accompanies Declan to a park so he can see his daughter again, Ollie marks Brodeur off his list, and in Flashback Land, Proto-Arrow reveals what he's been barking at Ollie this whole time has been, "Survive." In doing so, he reveals, as we all knew last episode, that he knows English and is a dick. He advises Ollie to forget about Laurel and start killing some stuff.

In a nondescript parking lot, Moira steps into a limo to meet none other than John Barrowman. Yes, he is finally with us.

The credits call him "The Well-Dressed Man" but lots of guys on this show wear nice suits, so I'm going to call him Boe (as in "Face of," sorry for that five-year-old Doctor Who spoiler) until he gets a real name. Boe tells Moira she should be worried because Arrow isn't just targeting rich guys. "He's targeting the list." Psssh. Yeah. Everybody at Big Belly Burger knows that.

Dig has left that burger joint to come to Queen House and tell Ollie he's on board, but not as a sidekick. He just wants to make sure there are fewer casualties in this crusade and make sure Ollie keeps his soul. I'm so glad he's going to be a major part of the show.

If that wasn't enough of an ending, Detective Lance and a bunch of other cops arrive to arrest Ollie for all that stuff he did. Thea's so shocked her ironic tie is spinning around her neck!

Final Thoughts

In spite of some inappropriate facial expressions from Katie Cassidy and a truly hilarious costume in the prison, this episode was a really good one. The best since the pilot. Maybe even better than the pilot, because I think they got rid of that stereotypical maid character, and that was a smart move.

Where last week's episode committed the sin of often being boring, even with Deadshot in the mix, this one never was. The dialogue was mostly snappy, the rich-creep-of-the-week plot wasn't awful, and the metaplot stuff with the yacht and John Barrowman was sufficiently intrigue-filled to keep me interested.

This episode got some bigger stuff right, too. David Ramsey really shined and I think the writers may have finally figured out the Ollie/Thea relationship (we'll see how it goes next week). Also? No Tommy Merlyn in this episode at all. I'm not saying he drags the show down or anything, but there's certainly a correlation between good episodes and how little he's in them.

Previous episodes:

1.1: Pilot

1.2: Honor Thy Father

1.3: Lone Gunmen

More From ComicsAlliance