Wednesday, November 12, 2014

REVIEW: 'Arrow' - Oliver Learns More About Vigilantism from Ted Grant While Roy Questions His Memories in 'Guilty'

The CW's Arrow - Episode 3.06 "Guilty"

After a body is found in the Wildcat gum, Ted Grant becomes the main suspect. Oliver and Laurel argue over Ted's innocence. Meanwhile, in flashbacks, when Maseo needs Oliver to remember where an informant for China White stashed key information, he asks Tatsu to help jog his memory. Roy shares a secret with Felicity.

"Guilty" is the weakest episode of Arrow's third season by a considerable margin. There just seems to be such an emotional disconnect in all of the action this weak. Roy is the least important character on the show right now because it doesn't seem like he has a purpose. Team Arrow still feels like a three man operation with a few allies within the Lance family. There's just a new guy dressed in red who tags along now. Roy hasn't offered anything to this season so far. He's the worst character because it doesn't seem like the character or show has a strong emotional character arc. Thea and Laurel are involved in their own tangential storylines at this point but they each have a reason for existing. There is no such reasoning with Roy. He's a reminder of the show's soapy tendencies and was a part of Slade's grand Mirakuru plan last season. This year, Arrow doesn't have a plan for Roy and that is a major problem if we are suppose to care about him.

Since the start of the season, I've been worried on how much mileage the show could get out of the mystery over Sara's death. In the last episode, Roy awoke from a dream in which he killed Sara. That is further examined this week. But it also doesn't play as anything more than just another red herring without a strong character at the center. When Oliver was battling with Nyssa and Malcolm over the same suspicions, it was exciting because it was a delicate balance of power and intrigue. With Roy, it's pretty clear from the very beginning that he is using this experience to bring back his memories of killing a cop last season during his Mirakuru-infused rage. That never quite works because the show is literally saying that Sara's death is much more important than the death of some random cop. It's the show forgetting its own history. Oliver made a pact never to kill again after all the senseless murders he committed in the first season. That rose Oliver to a higher moral ground that he has no reason to be standing on throughout this episode. Death means something to Oliver and this episode doesn't seem to remember that at all.

"Guilty" would much rather tell you things than actually show you them. Oliver and Roy have never had a strong mentor-mentee relationship. The last time that dynamic was shown was when Oliver tried to discipline Roy via the water in the bowl but the Mirakuru threw that training off. The only time the two actually seem to have a bond is when Oliver talks him through the memory meditation. That only allows him to come to the fuller understanding of the truth.

But the show takes things a step further within the episodic story by making a not-too-subtle comparison between Oliver & Roy and Ted Grant & Isaac. Ted has been training Laurel in boxing for the last few weeks. She's getting better at it but now he gets a major backstory in which he too used to be a vigilante like Oliver. He hung up his crime fighting ways because of the mistakes his partner made. This comparison wants us to believe that Oliver will give up on Roy just like Ted gave up on Isaac thusly making him the bad guy the team has to deal with this week. And yet, we don't have a strong connection to Oliver and Roy in the first place to make it work anyway. This episode wants to challenge how big and necessary a part Roy is to this team. However, he has never been a big part of this team and this episode doesn't change that at all.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Guilty" was written by Erik Oleson & Keto Shimizu and directed by Peter Leto.
  • All of the interactions between Oliver and Laurel were weird. I just couldn't understand exactly where he was coming from - even though I did really enjoy the scene where he admitted that he'll always care about her.
  • It's amusing how much bending over backwards the show has to do for us to even consider it possible that Roy killed Sara. Once the true killer is revealed, I'm confident all of that evidence will be damning immediately.
  • There at least was a variation of the boxing glove arrow in this episode - and it was pretty awesome how they integrated it.
  • I still don't care one bit about the Hong Kong flashbacks. 
  • "I'm Cupid, stupid" has to be one of my favorite last lines in an episode.