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- Airdate: 1/22/2014
- Director: Glen Winter (Smallville, Arrow)
- Writer(s): Wendy Mericle (Arrow, Everwood, Eli Stone) & Beth Schwartz (Arrow, Brothers & Sisters)
Last week, Arrow moved some of the pieces of its puzzle while re-affirming the vitality of the central trio of Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity as as crime fighting unit that cannot succeed while operating at diminished capacity. However, while still enjoyable the episode felt like exactly what it was – a mostly transitional story featuring a plot-device-villain which largely wasted the talents of Firefly‘s Sean Maher, who did at least flash some fun crazy eyes.
What happened this week? Let’s break it down:
THE MAIN PLOT THREADS
Poor Laurel –
Sebastian’s not cool with his aunt/mom spilling the beans last week to Laurel. So, in a really creepy sequence featuring fantastically dark lighting, he forgives her as Sebastian, but then kills her (or inspires a fatal heart attack) as Brother Blood. Laurel’s investigation goes into overdrive when she learns of the aunt/mom’s death. Unfortunately, her boss, the Assistant District Attorney, is having none of her soap opera-y, circumstantial nonsense thus denies her requests for subpoenas and phone records and other lawyer-y stuff. So, she gets her dad to set up a meeting with Arrow, the two exchange unpleasantries considering her earlier attempt to entrap him this season, and she presents enough compelling evidence for him to look into it. Later, Diggle lampshades how insane everything they’re suggesting about Sebastian sounds, but Felicity basically reminds him of the show upon which they are characters by concluding (paraphrasing), “We’re all leading crazy ass lives. I could buy this stuff about Sebastian. Come on – his last name is Blood!” Oliver mostly quietly stares off into the distance, perhaps lost in reflection on how pretty Laurel is or just waiting for the next island flashback to kick in.
The MacGuffin of the plot becomes the physical case file surrounding the murder of Sebastian’s father, which Felicity locates but only Laurel can access. So, yadda yadda, Laurel and Arrow work together to find the file, fight off some cops, only to discover the file is totally empty because Sebastian/Slade got their before them. Slade’s not at all happy that Sebastian’s goofy early life drama is threatening to derail his intricate plan. Now threatened, Sebastian sets out to neutralize Laurel by having the police raid her house to uncover her pill addiction. But, wait, that’s not all. He also kidnaps her just so that she can see someone in the Brother Blood mask murdered only to discover its random police guy and not Sebastian. No one believes Laurel’s rantings about Sebastian anymore, not even Laurel, and the gut punch on top of her crap salad is getting fired from her job for having a substance abuse problem. Don’t worry – her boss hears their severance package is very nice. Oh, make that ex-boss now.
Roy Just Wont Talk to His Girlfriend –
Roy won’t open up to anyone…except for Sin, who’s barely had a chance to playfully insult him when he just punches the side of a brick wall to display his new super strength. She’s freaked, and then kind of insulted he assumed she’d be totally cool with it but Thea wouldn’t. They decide to be Arrow without Arrow, using Sin as bait (hey, Arrow’s done it with Felicity) to lure a rat bastard who’s been killing a bunch of prostitutes. Luckily, the dress Sin borrows from an unwitting Thea for “her big date” does make her look like a rather convincing hooker. Their plan works, and Roy gets the bad guy before he can hurt Sin. Unfortunately, Roy then suffers serious roid rage (just like Slade), nearly killing the serial killer and accidentally giving Sin a hard hit to the side of the face in the process. Roy snaps out of it, and they get the guy to the hospital. He’ll live – just not well. Sin calls in Thea, hoping Roy will spill his secret. Instead, he lies, and goes off to a corner to cry. No, seriously. That’s literally what happens. It’s not as goofy as it sounds, though. Oliver as Arrow decides enough is enough, and offers to train young Roy for fear he might otherwise become Slade Wilson, Jr. Did Team Arrow just become a quintet instead of a trio? Or were they already that because we should count Detective Lance as a part-time member?
Meanwhile, On the Island…-
Oliver and Sara return to the wrecked plane in search of Slade. No dice. All out of ideas, they camp out for the night. Sara does her best to convince Oliver they should take Ivo’s offer to hand over the miracle drug in exchange for safe passage off the island, but as soon as she starts arguing Ivo is a good person who’s lost his way Oliver gets pretty huffy since Ivo’s bullet sure found its way to the back of Shado’s skull. Touche. Sara sneaks off to talk to Ivo over the military walkie talkie, and we get a very clear image of the horribly psychologically abusive relationship the two had. He comes close to winning her back with his whole, (paraphrasing) “You are the only one who truly understands me. Please come home. I need you to save me,” act, but she’s still pretty pissed he pulled a gun on her and killed Shado. Once rejected, Ivo turns back into a stone cold bastard, but Sara turns off the walkie talkie. She has now officially aligned herself with Oliver and Slade.
The episode that hooked me on Arrow was “Damaged” (S1, EP5). It’s the one where Detective Lance did only what a good cop would do and deduce Oliver was clearly the vigilante, thus arresting him for murder. I had refused to give Arrow a chance, assuming it would be Smallville all over again. However, for lack of a better description there was just something so cool about this plot. They had manged to make a believable, real-world based episode out of the question that plagues many comic books, “Why hasn’t anyone guessed the hero’s secret?” Sure, they did it by mostly having Oliver use the situation to formally apologize while taking a lie detector test to Laurel and her father for Sara’s apparent death. Plus, why did Lance so quickly give up his case against Oliver just because Diggle paraded around as the vigilante while Oliver had an airtight alibi? They still had some solid evidence. Nitpicking aside, Arrow managed to do all of it as if it had always been a part of Oliver’s plan, making him seem like, again lacking a better description, a total badass.
It’s no coincidence then that “Blind Spot” shares a screenwriter, Wendy Maricle, with “Damaged.” They set out to do the same thing as “Damaged” just from the villain’s point of view, right down to the fake guy in the suit discrediting a Lance’s theory (this time Laurel’s) about a masked man’s true identity. It’s an interesting way to flip the script. Unfortunately, the result this time around doesn’t build Oliver up but makes him seem like a bit of a sucker. However, the real focus is on discrediting and undermining Laurel. Man, whenever everyone finds out Sebastian IS Brother Blood Laurel is going to have the biggest “Told ya’ so!” in the history of the show. For now, I imagine fan satisfaction with “Blind Spot” will rest upon how cool you are with the idea that by episode’s end everyone has been completely fooled by Sebastian and Slade.
Yes, it turns out that Laurel has a pill addiction problem she’d kept in secret, and yes, that sure as heck wasn’t Sebastian under the mask at the end of the episode. Plus, the fake Brother Blood was their mole from the police force who was around enough to have maybe been able to pull some of these things off. However, why is no one looking into what this cop’s possible motivations could have been? Why would he have cared to remove the file about Sebastian’s father? Does this really instantly mean that Laurel’s trail of circumstantial evidence against Sebastian is any less suspicious? Why before even the reveal of the fake Brother Blood was Laurel’s father so unwilling to believe Laurel? Why doesn’t Arrow find it odd that Brother Blood apparently had no guards or henchman to be fought through while rescuing Laurel?
However, while you can nitpick the resolution I rather enjoyed the journey getting there. Laurel’s arc this season has been a point of much debate and ridicule. Some have held the faith (looking at you applefour); I’ll admit I lost patience. First, she was President of the I Hate Arrow Fan Club. Then, she was “OMG, dad, did you all totally know I was just blaming Arrow for everything because I feel so guilty about Tommy’s death? Why didn’t anyone tell me!?!” Then she was boozy and pill-popping and self-loathing, and then…nothing. She was just gone for several episodes in a row, with some openly wondering if they even missed her. These past two episodes have returned her to the inquisitive Laurel of the first season, following leads just like a policeman’s daughter and working outside the legal system when necessary. It was fun seeing her back, even if the quick shots of her opening pill bottles let you know this was a house of cards about to crumble down on her just as she – not Arrow or her dad – was about to crack the case.
At this point, it might actually be kind of challenging to even remember why Laurel’s taking the pills to begin with? Kind of a quick, “What was that about, again? Oh, that’s right, Tommy.” However, in Oliver’s conversation with Laurel “Blind Spot” argues her substance abuse is perhaps more cumulative. This is, after all, a girl who has suffered repeated near-death experiences in a very short amount of time. They also keep arguing it’s in her blood, due to her father’s past with alcoholism, drawing a direct parallel between his mourning of Sara in the first season to her mourning of Tommy. Either way, it’s been an unexpected direction to take the character, but Katie Cassidy’s acting in “Blind Spot,” particularly when begging her father to listen to her, was up to the task. Plus, it was interesting to see her actually murder someone at the end. Yes, she was a damsel in distress yet again, but she was a mighty defiant one, mocking Blood’s attempts to scare her and not hesitating to pull a gun and actually save Arrow for a change. It will be interesting to see if she suffers any psychological trauma from murdering someone. I don’t recall her having done that before, although I could be wrong.
This was a big episode for the Lance sisters what with Sara getting her most significant screen time in quite a while. The island flashbacks are sometimes a pain, constantly pulling us away from the more immediate action in the present. However, they’ve reached the halfway point of season meaning they can afford to take a moment to spend an episode on character development for Sara. Her rejection of Ivo (Dylan Neal playing a great mad scientist, sympathetic one minute, crazy the next) was a huge deal. To this point, it’s not like she voluntarily ran away with Oliver and crew. He literally just grabbed her hand, and pulled her away. So much has happened since then that we actually didn’t know where she stood on Ivo. Oliver actually getting a moment to apologize to her for taking her on the cruise ship, and her accepting her own responsibility for going on the ship to begin with was a necessary conversation.
The most shocking moment, though, might have also been the quietest when Sara recounted her story of a party which Laurel once got shut down for the apparent purpose of keeping Sara and Oliver apart. It might seem like retconning to discover that Sara had a crush on Oliver even before he was with Laurel, and Laurel knew it. However, we still don’t know a whole lot about how those two were as sisters, and this offered an interesting insight into their sibling rivalry while also tying into the episode’s theme of people not being what they seem. I’ll admit that maybe I just missed a mention of it last season, but I don’t quite have a handle on how much younger Sara is supposed to be than Laurel. So, when she was describing that party I went back and forth between picturing a Sara who was clearly too young for Oliver to one who could have conceivably been his girlfriend.
As for Roy, the approach they are taking with super powers on this show so far is to equate them with corruption – that you don’t get to just stay the same person who can now hit really hard but are instead made into something you don’t recognize. Slade is the worst-case scenario, and Oliver wants to help Roy avoid that fate. I’m still not entirely clear why Roy won’t talk to Thea about it, although the show got in a good joke about Roy, Oliver, and Diggle all being the same emotionally reserved, taciturn type. It was inevitable that Roy would eventually train with Oliver, and this is probably the right time to do it. I still have my reservations about Colton Haynes as Roy, but he was good this week. Plus, any story that gives so much screen time to Bex Taylor-Klaus as Sin is fine with me. Heck, I even liked the supposed-to-be-funny scene where Thea quickly realizes she has no idea if Sin is straight or gay.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For Laurel, “Blind Spot” was the culmination of all of her story lines this season, representing her hitting rock bottom even though her skills of deductive reasoning are now superior to both that of her father and Oliver. For Roy, this was about finally getting him ready to be a sidekick instead of a glorified street informant. Plus, this episode ended with Slade Wilson officially revealing himself as Deathstroke, killing several guys to make a point in a kind of stupid scene that still managed to also kick ass. Throw in a couple of quieter scenes with Sara on the island and three or four major action scenes and you’ve got yet another jam-packed season 2 episode of Arrow. As such, it’s an easy one to nitpick, but the big moments that needed to land emotionally did so perfectly.
1. Am I the only one who found Deathstroke’s entrance at the end unintentionally funny? Did they have a standing appointment meaning he knew when to commence the killing? If not, was he standing off to the side of his own office in that costume for hours on the off chance they’d show up? If they’ve had so many problems creating their Brother Blood acolytes why sacrifice 3 of them just to make a point? Also, why do that, threaten Sebastian, and then just randomly disappear? That’s your office. Do you think that maybe like a minute later Deathstroke stormed back in, shouting, “I forgot this is my office, and, crap, I got blood all over my files. Sebastian – why are you still here? Get out. You have a mayoral race to win.” It is probably just a genre convention that gets a pass, and Deathstroke is a bad-ass in the comics, cartoons, and on Arrow. I just laughed more than they probably wanted me too.
2. After Oliver actually admitted he has a real blind spot when it comes to Laurel, Diggle displayed great restraint in not responding, “No shit. I’ve only been saying that now for as long as I’ve known you.”
3. Considering all of her recent in-fighting with Oliver, I loved Felicity’s prefacing her suggestion that they find a new way of investigating Brother Blood by saying, “Now, don’t yell at me, but…”
4. Where was Sebastian hiding that mask when he went to visit his aunt/mom?
5. Laurel won’t be charged with manslaughter because it was “clear self-defense,” but, come on, she shot the dude 7 times. That stopped being self-defense several shots ago. Plus, hasn’t Sebastian been instructed not to kill Arrow? So, was his life every in any real danger while fighting fake Brother Blood?
6. Apologies to any frequent readers who missed my normal review format of breaking it down into the things I liked, and things I didn’t. I decided to instead focus most of my review on the Laurel portion of the episode since this was a really big one for her, and my opinions didn’t as neatly break down into a pros/cons list this time. Sorry.
- TV Club: Arrow: “Blind Spot” – avclub.com
- ‘Arrow’ Review: “Blind Spot” – screencrush.com
- Arrow Blind Spot Review: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Laurel? – tv.com
What did you think? Like “Blind Spot”? Hate it? Love it? Let us know in the comments section.
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