I honestly thought Arrow's latest episode, "Tremors," was going to give me an aneurysm. I can't imagine a more effective way to swing between joy and rage. It was half kitten video, half Fox News, and I could easily spot which half was which. Everything to do with the good guys was terrible, but the villains were amazing.
(Just to get it out of the way, the one bright spot in the terrible part was the banter between Felicity and Ollie. Emily Bett Rickards can pull off quirky humor without being annoying – a rare ability. Stephen Amell's deadpan replies are beautiful.)
The Island Crew are trying stop an unstable Slade from blowing up Ivo's freighter, but they mustn't let Slade know that Ollie's actions indirectly led to Shado's death! I know. The Arrow crew are trying to stop an arms dealer from stealing an extra prototype of Merlyn's earthquake device, but Roy was shot full of serum that leaves him overly violent and that gets in the way of his crime fighting! I know. I've known this for multiple episodes! You've discussed this endlessly for weeks. Everyone who could possibly know this, knows this. Stop repeating the same things! Terrible!
Roy's big "I'm a beeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast," moment comes when he gently shakes Thea while trying to convince her to leave town and save herself from the earthquake machine. That's it? That's all you got? I've shaken infants harder than that! I've used more frenetic energy separating eggs! I've had more violent encounters with dandelion fluff! That's your monster moment? Terrible!
Making Dig say, "Holy god," in that choked voice? Terrible!
Even the resolution is bad. The action, dramatically speaking, is okay. When Slade freaks out and they need him to calm down, Ollie conceals the possibly damaging truth from Slade, and we know that that will send Slade down the path to villainy. They even say so in the episode. When Roy is too out of control and the earthquake machine is counting down, Ollie reveals his secret identity – another possibly damaging truth - and Roy comes out of it. He helps destroy the machine and gives Ollie a manly handshake and a thank you for saving his life. But then, at the end, Ollie explains that actually, the vigilante couldn't remind Roy of his love for Thea. Only Oliver Queen could do that, so he had to reveal his identity. Wrong! You showed one guy trust, and didn't show the other one trust, and that made the difference in their madness. That's what you've been saying all episode! For crying out loud, not everything has to be part of a love story! Terrible!
Oh, and "My name is Amanda Waller"? No. No it is not. I have no grudge against the actress, but she was badly miscast as the result of the idea that there is nothing a non-stunning woman could possibly do that would make her worth an audience's attention. Take your chic heels and your perfect lip gloss and walk on home. You are not The Wall. Terrible.
Now let's get to the good stuff, because when this episode was good, it was out-of-this-world good. The good points aren't summed up in events so much as they're summed up in characters. So let's see who's bringing the good stuff.
A bit part who I fear won't get enough credit is the guy who broke Bronze Tiger out of prison. He robbed a liquor store in front of a police station. He got caught. He got put in Tiger's cell. Then he ripped himself to pieces like he was in a Saw movie because Bronze Tiger's claws were surgically implanted under his skin. I couldn't even look at that scene. That was bonkers-intense. Amazing.
I have missed Walter Steele's smooth accent. I've also missed the prison-beard he had, but while Walter doesn't come bearing that particular gift, he comes bearing another. It seems that Sebastian Blood becoming mayor may be bad for banking, and Walter, for all his iron-jawed rectitude, is a banker. Who does he want to run? Moira. Moira Queen, with her bastard child by her psychotic ex-lover and her fixed-jury acquittal for mass murder and her underage (by drinking standards) daughter who runs a nightclub in a bad part of town and her son, who has publicly supported the other candidate. That Moira Queen. My first thought is, "This is so misguided." My second thought is, "They've just set up the Kang vs Kodos presidential race episode from The Simpsons. If I have to tape my eyes open like they did to Malcom McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, I will watch every moment of this. There is nothing that could spring from this that wouldn't delight me. Please, God, let this just keep going." Amazing!
Laurel Lance dances drunkenly through this episode, grabbing martinis and filling her apartment with filth and yelling at her dad and learning from her best friend that she's going to be called up on disciplinary charges. (I am absolutely sure that she can beat those, by the way. Think about it. The cop who arrested her both for drunk driving and for having pills subsequently kidnapped and tried to kill her. How much reasonable doubt do you need? Deny everything, Laurel, and keep chugging that wine!) But she's great. She cruises into Thea's bar, sniping at Thea and engaging in some wordplay; "Bar me from your bar. That's the theme – disbarment." Best of all, she models what I swear is an outfit, consisting of a blue-green blazer and modified harem pants over high heels,that was first worn by Blanche Devereaux in the Golden Girls sitcom. Laurel, you've sunk low and I know you're going to turn around, because Sarah finally reveals herself at the end of the episode, but it was enthralling. Amazing!
Oh, Thea. In the past I have lovingly called her a brat, and been amused by her antics. Her maturity and acceptance with dealing the Hulk Roy has disappointed me, but she makes up for it in this episode. She stopped being a brat to change herself into a bag of nuts with a wig on top of it. This human-shaped collection of loose screws, this haute couture mental patient, this female version of Norman Bates actually thinks that Mother could win the mayoral race. Her reasoning is that, since she, whose family didn't die in the disaster, whose home and job weren't destroyed by the earthquake, and who is the daughter of the only (known) living perpetrator of the mass murder, got over what Moira did, so will 51% of the eligible voters in the city Moira just devastated. She ends with a line that needs to be Moira's campaign slogan – "I don't think it's that crazy." Amazing!
And lastly we have Moira. Good, wholesome Moira, who only did what she had to in order to protect her darling children from a monster! It occurs to her that a political campaign, unlike a trial for mass murder, might unearth some dirt. She confides to Walter that, due to complications in her pregnancy, she told a certain Doctor Gill that Thea was not Robert's child. She looks significantly, smilingly, into Walter's eyes as he significantly, smilingly, looks back. "We need to make sure that he won't be a problem for us." Amazing!