Wednesday, May 8, 2013

'Arrow' Review - 1.22 Darkness on the Edge of Town

        On the newest episode of The CW's Arrow, Malcolm dons his black hood to handle some loose ends; Oliver and Moira entertain a number of surprise - and mostly unwelcome - visitors; dark secrets are revealed; Roy and Thea continue their search for the Hood; Laurel makes a decision after Tommy's revelation; and, on the island, Oliver, Slade and Shado struggle to prevent Fyers from shooting a Ferris Air jet out of the sky.

         Let's talk about relationships, shall we? Character interactions and viewpoints are pivotal to making any TV series - actually any story, period - work. The audience needs to understand where the characters are coming from and how the actions that they feel true to the growth and challenges they've experienced in life. The dynamics and chemistry between characters are what make viewers want to tune in to a certain show over another. Thusly, it is sometimes confounding to see Arrow execute things increasingly well throughout its stellar first season even though a huge part of it is built on the relationship between Oliver and Laurel. The show wants these two to be together and they will put them together because that is what they intend to do despite the fact that they have present very arbitrary reasons for the two to actually be the core relationship fans of the show are dying to see each and every week. This has been the biggest issue all season long with this show. I don't care for the Oliver-Laurel relationship. Most of the blame can be pinpointed on Laurel being a plot point instead of an actual and honest character. This is not the fault of Katie Cassidy who is putting her best efforts into this role. It's just not a well-realized character. But then, the show can put the two of them making out together to Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" and all can be forgiven. On any other network, that music cue would have been a much more subtle way of saying how toxic these two are together and their love for one another. The contradiction of this sexy reunion being paired with this song gives me the notion that perhaps the writers too see the problems with this pairing and give a nod that they may not be focusing on it as the be-all end-all for the series. Or I could just misinterpreting the whole scene and the song choice was simply because Arrow airs on The CW. But I do have to say that the relationships that yield the best drama on this show are Oliver and his mother, Oliver and Diggle and Oliver and Felicity. Each of those pairings have enough mileage for great storytelling for the foreseeable future and when the show focuses on them, it suddenly is elevated to a whole other level.
        As the season has progressed, the ongoing conflict between the Hood and the Dark Archer has been building. The audience knows more than all the characters do. We have known that Oliver has been working to stop The Undertaking run by Malcolm and Moira and that Malcolm is the dark archer while Moira has mostly been threatened and blackmailed to stay in line with Malcolm's plans. Character's communicating important information is often a very infuriating topic on many series. The plot builds to a confrontation and then backs away from it in order not to change too much from its established norm. When Oliver confronted his mother as the vigilante in her office, that was a groundbreaking moment because it had the promise of changing the status quo. Instead the show back-stepped with him getting shot and still fully believing in his mother's innocence. Last week saw that trust finally break down fully and it is immensely satisfying for the characters to have a confrontation this week were actual and honest answers to the story are given. Oliver now knows the full plan of The Undertaking which sets up his episode ending confrontation of Malcolm perfectly. The one loose plot thread? He goes into that room thinking that Malcolm and the Dark Archer are two different people. Their fight sequence was amazingly entertaining while keeping the theme of secret-exposing as the episode's through-line. Oliver now knows Malcolm is the Dark Archer and Malcolm now knows that Oliver is the vigilante. The conclusion of their season-long is in sight with one being victorious and the other not - which makes for a great setup for next week's season finale.
        Finally, we have the episode's weekly dose of island flashbacks. These scenes have always been a little less exciting for me simply because I am more captured by the stuff happening in present-day where we are more unsure of what will happen. Also with the island flashbacks, I'm like Oliver - I just want to get off the island. I don't care about enough about Yao-Fei to mourn his death. Fyers monologues about blowing up a plane simple to cause economic disaster in China. Sure, I'll go with it but I don't care what happens to the economy of China in this narrative. Should that be relevant? Based on what we've seen in the prior 21 episodes, I don't think so.

So what did everyone think of the episode? Who is the woman that Fyers is working for? Before I forget Thea and Roy had a plot in this episode too. So what did you think about that? Share your thoughts in the comments.