In this episode of Arrow, everyone finds out that they are their very special someone's second choice. The people who take this well have a relationship at the end of the episode. Needless to say, there is only one couple left standing.
Did you have a best friend in grade school? Did they find a different friend in middle school? Did you cry into your pillow and write whole journal entries and/or song lyrics about the pain and unfairness of it all? Then you'll relate this episode of Arrow, titled "Home Invasion." If all you want is creative deaths, including death-by-handshake and death-by-poker, you are also in luck.
And many of us feel lucky when the episode starts of with a shirtless Dig, hitting sparring pads that Ollie is holding up. "Just heard that you were seeing Slade later in this episode," he grits out as he hits them. "I want you to remember this. And this!" The only way to finish that routine is for him to fall back in a chair, pull a rope, and douse himself with water, Flashdance-style, so it's a bit disappointing when it cuts off with Felicity saying she tracked down Deadshot by hacking a federal database. She worries that she'll be sent to Guantanamo, and when Ollie tells her that blondes don't go there, says, "I dye it, actually." Then looks at him worriedly, and says "I keep your secret." I am up in the air about Felicity in general, but I have to admit she gets the best lines of every episode. But on to Dig's inevitable disappointment.
First he finds out that Lyla, his friend at the government agency ARGUS (an anagram that will never be explained on the show because the S stands for Super-humans) likes justice more than him. She angrily tells Dig that although he gave them the information to set Deadshot up for a fake "job interview," she'll arrest him if he gets anywhere near the operation. He, in turn, likes revenge more than her — and of course shows up. He just happens to show up alone because not only does Ollie not show up — as he'd promised — he doesn't even call. Let's all say it — diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick. (And not the Grayson kind.) After a humiliating, painful, and nearly fatal encounter with Deadshot, Dig walks out on Ollie. As he goes he furiously says that it's clear that, when caught between two choices, Ollie "will always choose Laurel."
This week he's choosing Laurel because she's the target of a hitman played by J. August Richards, Angel's Charles Gunn. Ollie ditched Dig in order to force the guy who hired Gunn to confess, and call off the hit. Sadly, Gunn started out by killing two potential witnesses in front of their kid, and wants to finish the job because the kid has seen his face. He kills his former employer with a pressure-point handshake that is so cool that, and I will admit this right now, if I could do it, I would. All the time. I would be an absolute monster. I would depopulate whole regions like this. If you've ever wondered what has stood in the way of the death of you and everyone you've ever loved, know now that it is the fundamental impossibility of that move.
The kid is staying with Laurel because she's a busy lawyer and doesn't have to time to go find bullets to throw herself in front of. She needs the bullets to come to her, so she all-but wrassles the kid away from a hilariously indifferent social worker. (The lady's line when Laurel offers to keep the underaged witness to a murder at her house? "Well, have it your way.") When the bullets do find Laurel, and the Hood saves her, she, Tommy, and the kid need to find a safe house. They go to the Queens', at Tommy's suggestion, because Tommy both wants her safe and wants to test her loyalty without letting her know about it. The kid is staying with Laurel for the wrong reasons, while she is staying with Ollie for the wrong reasons, and Tommy stays with them both for the wrong reasons. It's a Russian nesting doll of dysfunction that comes to a head with Laurel and Ollie cuddling in a hallway outside a traumatized child's bedroom while Tommy spies on them.
(Tommy, just to drive the knife home, has been especially kind to Laurel the entire episode. He even has some advice for the kid, telling him that, when Tommy's own mom died, he would visualize her every time he closed his eyes, so she stayed with him. He tells the kid to close his eyes and the kid smiles and says, "I can see them." Laurel is touched. The rest of us look on in horror because Tommy just unmade Batman. I guess Bane gets Gotham City in this universe.)
The fight with Gunn is multiple levels of good, with both Ollie and Gunn falling down stairwells and through coffee tables. It ends with a poker-stab through the heart, which convinces me to never try the handshake kill with anyone who has a working fireplace, but otherwise leaves me undeterred. The main casualty of the fight, though, is Laurel and Tommy's relationship. Although Ollie swears he'll never reveal his secret to Laurel, Tommy says he can't be with Laurel knowing that if she really knew everything she'd always choose Ollie. Three seconds after the kid walks out the door, Tommy does, too, telling Laurel that he once thought he wanted her, but now he realizes he doesn't. Damn. That's cold, Tommy. To dump anything any harder than that, you'd have to hire an industrial service.
Even the side characters feel the sting of being second best. Shado, in an attempt set up a rescue plan for Yao Fei, continues her Karate Kid training of Ollie. This time she uses techniques that would have gotten Mr. Miyagi thrown in prison. There's a lot of chest-fondling and yearning looks, and it all culminates in a kiss... that Ollie breaks off because he's still in love with Laurel. (Slade watches the flirting and grumps because he realizes Shado likes Ollie more.) Then Yao Fei shows up with an ambush and lets everyone know that he considers them all second best, because his first priority will always be plot twists.
Meanwhile, Roy has been obsessively trying to find the Hood. Thea, annoyed when a theft of a police radio lands Roy in custody again, tries to talk to him. Roy breaks it to her that she's second in his affections, waxing poetic over how he "owes the Hood everything," and knows that they are supposed to be connected in some way. Unlike everyone else in the episode, Thea seems okay with being a rung on the ladder lower than a murderer with sloppy eye-shadow, and says that she will help Roy find the Hood. And so, at the end of the episode, the punk and the brat have the only healthy relationship left in Starling City. Good luck to you, people. Between the two of you, you'll make a great Speedy.