Arrow teaches us that it's always worse than we imagine

In "The Undertaking," each character thinks they know the awful truth, only to find out that the actual awful truth is even worse. Except for Dig. Dig pretty much has it exactly right.

This is not the episode to watch when you're emotionally vulnerable. Even its unhappy secrets have unhappy secrets. It's lucky that we start off with a rare burst of levity when Ollie, roughing up and nabbing the computer of an criminal accountant, literally talk-spits on the guy. It makes me wonder how actors manage that awkward moment. Do they admit to it, since there's actual photographic proof that they, presumably, would have to watch? Or is it like real life, where, either after the take ends or during the scene, they desperately keep eye contact while the spittee wipes it away while looking as casual as a guy trying to bid at silent auction. What I'm saying is, that footage needs to be included in the first season DVD set.


The accountant provides Pandora's laptop, spilling a lot of secrets. It starts with the fact that a gambling den owner and general mobster got paid two million dollars on the day Walter got snatched. Felicity goes to his gambling den, with the plan to count cards until she's called into his office, where she'll place a bug. She didn't need to count cards to get attention; the woman goes into the underground casino dressed like a cross between a movie star from the '30s and a scarlet macaw. She exacerbates the problem by talking audibly into a earpiece to Ollie, stumbling through sexual innuendo until she finally says, "I should just stop talking." Ollie deadpans, "That would be my preference." Ha! That's the line of the episode right there, and it's good to see Ollie having fun, because he has to put on his devastation eyes for the rest of the hour.

The mobster, when pressed by the Green Arrow, chokes out that Walter is dead. He delivered the guy and heard the shot. Ollie breaks the news to Moira and Thea, but worse news is up ahead. Moira storms over to Barrowmerlyn, who makes a call and proves to her that, as per their agreement regarding The Undertaking, Walter is still alive. All of this is overheard by Ollie, who takes his devastation eyes to the prison-style holding facility (in Blüdhaven!) and breaks Walter out. (Another high point of the episode is Walter's downy prison beard. It saddens me that he shaves it off before reuniting with the whole family in a hospital room.)

Laurel's also getting a helping of bad news with some worse news gravy. When she confronts Tommy about why he left her, he tells her honestly that Ollie loves her and she belongs with him. She runs to the hospital to talk to Ollie. He's fresh from an awkward group hug with his family, two members of which are plotting against him in disparate ways, and one member of which probably hasn't plotted against him only because he's been in Shawshank for the last six months. Laurel pleads with Ollie to tell Tommy that he doesn't love her, and he says he can't, as it's not true. I guess you need to resign yourself to life with your cheating, sister-manslaughtering ex, Laurel. Tough break.


The meat of this episode, though, is the unhappy truths of the conspirators involved in The Undertaking. We see them in flashback, with Robert Queen, Frank Chen, Barrowmerlyn, and a few others meeting in secret at the Queen house. It seems that they're collecting dirt on the criminal rich to blackmail them into giving money to bolster social and civic institutions. Seems like a good, if illegal plan, but Barrowmerlyn, his chin cleft flashing in the sun, says they haven't gone far enough. They need to destroy the 'Glades with a fake natural disaster, and he just happens to have the machine to do it. When Robert strongly objects, Merlyn reveals his terrible truth. When his wife was shot, she called him over and over, but he was busy, and turned off his phone when he saw she was calling.


This leads me to my terrible truth. I would never, ever say this to someone this actually happened to, and I understand the horror of the story. But if I were in her position? It seems that being shot, being rich, and having a functioning cell phone is a problem that solves itself pretty easily. Instead of calling my unresponsive husband, I might have considered calling 911, and then perhaps calling a local news station and saying, "I'm a billionaire, I'm at this location, and I've been shot. Ten million dollars to the person who gets me to a hospital." I'm just saying. It seems to me that there was a way out of that problem.

When Moira sees that Robert is out of sorts (at a Ted Kord Fundraiser — oh please let the Blue Beetle guest star next season), she assumes it's an affair. He breaks it to her that, no, actually, it's a plan to murder thousands of people. And Merlyn blackmailed him into it because Robert accidentally killed a city councilman who hit him up for a bribe. To her credit, Moira realizes that that's worse than an affair, and pleads with him to stop the catastrophe. The last scene — in which Robert goes out to sea and Ollie sleazily warns Sarah to "circle the block a few times" because Laurel came to see him off — reveals a terrible truth to the audience. Frank, Moira's sympathetic ally and martyr of the last few episodes, was the one who ratted Robert out to Barrowmerlyn, and he's the reason why Robert's ship got blown up.


The bright spot of "The Undertaking" is Dig, who spent the episode modeling black tank tops and being completely right about everything, as Ollie tearfully confesses to him at the end. At least one character came out of this episode satisfied.

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