My response to last night's episode of Arrow? A non-sarcastic slow clap. The show set 'em up and it knocked 'em down, and I did not see it coming at all. Perfect, Arrow. Perfect.
So my notes on the episode "Broken Arrow" are all about the freak of the week's storyline. A bank robber with plasma-shooting eyes comes to town while Quentin Lance is ripping apart the houses and work-places of everyone in Ollie's life. Ollie can't go after "Deathbolt," so Ray will!
What follows is a tea-party-on-the-ceiling of an episode, with Ray as a little ball of sunshine and Ollie as a little black rain cloud and Felicity as the woman who can't decide which type of weather she prefers. (Psst. Felicity. It's rain. You like the rain and I suggest you go splash through a few puddles, before the show forces Laurel-Ollie on us again.)
I could honestly watch Stephen Amell and Brandon Routh play off each other for hours. Ray is irrepressible, even when the bad guy chokes him with a chain, and Ollie conveys, without changing expression, his endless frustration with the situation. Between the forced high-fives, the cutesy-poo gadgets, the times when Felicity goes in for a kiss — Ollie spends the entire storyline looking like the world's most chisel-jawed blobfish.
And the lines! Ollie jealously asking Felicity if she gets this anxious when he's out in the field. Yeah, there's no good answer to that. And then of course when Ray can't shut up and Ollie says, "There's a decent chance you and Palmer are related." Ha! But seriously, if you want to ghost write for V.C. Andrews, Ollie, I've heard the money is excellent and you could use the cash.
Ray gets his ass kicked the first time he confronts Deathbolt. Ollie demands that he stop relying on his gadgets and give in to his instincts. When Felicity is in danger, and Ray still isn't in touch with his inner fighter, Ollie takes over and remote-controls Ray's suit with Ray still in it. The visuals of Ollie shadow boxing and Ray beating the guy up are fantastic. Better yet, Felicity's true love saving Felicity using the body of Felicity's proxy-boyfriend? I would say that's Freudian — but Freud didn't have that much imagination. Felicity is saved. The day is saved. Deathbolt gets locked up.
And Roy, who has been in prison this whole time, gets stabbed by a guard and dies, frightened, sad, and alone.
That, ladies and gentlemen, was a long commercial break. Especially when you spend it staring at your notes thinking, "How the hell am I going to recap this?" And then Roy pops back to life, because this was all a plan cooked up by Roy, Dig, and Felicity. Roy was going to turn himself in. Dig hired a special ARGUS poison-knifed stabber to help Roy fake his death. And Felicity was just going keep Ollie calm and ignorant of the situation.
This worked for three reasons. First, Arrow has pulled this before, with Moira. There's a long unrelated plotline to keep us busy and them BAM! A character dies. They did it once, so we know they'll go there. Second, they set up the heightened tension, with Roy being attacked and threatened in prison, and slowly getting more jumpy and desperate. And third, Roy was a character the show could believably kill off. Colton Haynes does a good job with the character, but at least for now, Roy is surplus. Thea's in place to be Speedy. Roy loves Thea, but so does Ollie, so when she's in trouble they have the same emotional beats. Roy hasn't really developed a closeness with any of the other characters. He was the character who "could" die.
So it's not a surprise when "Roy Harper" does have to die. Roy leaves town to start a new life, but seems at peace with it. Felicity and Dig are worried that Ollie is angry at them, but he's okay with it, too. He says he needs to learn to let people help him. Felicity tells him, "You're so focused on people you love that you forget there are people who love you." And she hugs him. Right in front of Ray, who she not only couldn't say the world "love" to, but sprinted away from like he was attacking her with a knife when he said he loved her. And Ray says nothing. Oh god. This is going to play out to the end of the season. We're going to have to savor every moment of this man's heartbreak like it's a fine wine. So be it.
What else is there to say? In the flashback General Shrieve turns out to be the big bad and Ollie & Co have to save the city from a supervirus.
And then we see Ra's al Ghul go after Thea. She fights him. I can just picture his internal monologue. "Seriously? You're trying to fight me? You couldn't even fight that guy I sent to be a DJ at your club. What was his name? I wanna say Chad? Tad? Thad? The point is, do you know how bad a guy has to be at fighting for me to decide that he can best serve my interests as a DJ? If he had been any worse we'd just have kept him in the basement and harvested his hair every year. Anyway, I'm stabbing you through the stomach with my Queen-killin' blade. Here's a little Arabic to sweeten the deal."
Now this death, I am not buying.