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- Airdate: 2/26/2014
- Director: Nick Copus (Dresden Files, 4400, Nikita, Alphas)
- Writer(s): Wendy Mericle (Arrow, Everwood, Eli Stone) & Beth Schwartz (Arrow, Brothers & Sisters)
It was 3 weeks ago that Arrow effectively threw a lot at the wall, not all of it stuck, but when Nyssa and Arrow’s fight scene is so awesome you learn to cope. Now, we’re left to play out Oliver and Sara’s relationship, and Oliver’s sham relationship with his mother. “Time of Death” did all of this while giving Felicity a crisis of confidence and delivering an interesting new villain who we are sure to see again.
Let’s break it down:
THE PLOT RECAP –
The Clock King Unnerves Felicity –
The Clock King (Robert Knepper) is the the type of badass who quotes War & Peace before gutting you, but he mostly operates remotely, using precision-based timing to dictate the actions of paid goons. He has a terminal disease, but so does his sister. So, he’s stealing money to save her, and a stolen technology which allows him to break into any bank vault is making that fairly easy. Team Arrow is on the case, except Clock King is better at computer hacking than Felicity, first hacking their com signal and then later causing the computers in the Arrow Cave to self-destruct. To prove her worth, Felicity not only sets up a trap using Queen Consolidated cash as per Oliver’s instructions but she also sets herself up at a computer on site where the money is located.
The rest of Team Arrow shows up just in time, Diggle off to stop a gas leak caused by the Clock King, Arrow taking out the henchman, and Sara and Felicity, actually, mostly Felicity taking down the Clock King. Felicity gets a flesh wound from a stray bullet as a result, but also later a nice talk while a bit loopy from pain pills with Oliver in which he confirms she’ll always be his gal Friday.
The Awkward Lance Family Reunion –
Laurel declines to attend Oliver’s “Glad you’re not dead!” cocktail party for Sara, but she later agrees to have a Lance family dinner at her place. It’s a disaster. Dinah (Alex Kingston) makes it clear she has no intentions or moving back from Central City to reunite with Quentin, especially since has a new lover back home. Plus, Sara wimped out and brought Oliver for emotional support, which Laurel takes maybe 5 minutes to totally see through, picking up on their “We’re boning again” vibe.
Laurel storms out of her own apartment, and Oliver runs after her to tell her he’s done running after her. She makes valid arguments for why he should feel guilty, and he makes valid counter-arguments about her self-pity. By the end, his tough love works (“Go on! Run off and get drunk – see if I care! I’ll even pay for your drinks!’), and Laurel and Sara hug it out at Verdant, where Sara totally works as a bartender now because of course she does. Laurel even shows up at one of her dad’s AA (or whatever) meetings.
Meanwhile, Back On the Island… –
Just when Oliver, Slade, and Sara need a way to get onto Ivo’s boat a freakin’ random airplane with handy dandy supplies is shot down over the island. While Oliver and Slade are off for medical supplies, Sara bonds with the barely alive pilot and his sob story of a dead-from-cancer wife and soon-to-be-orphaned daughter. She agrees to find and look after his daughter. That daughter? Sin. Yep, Sin wasn’t just a random girl Sara saved on the streets of Starling City.
I’m a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel fan, and I couldn’t get Joss Whedon off my mind while watching “Time of Death.” Basically, on a Whedon show if a character or couple can’t stop smiling (e.g., Tara/Willow, Fred/Wesley) the’re heading for heartbreak because that way drama lies.
Well, no one’s smile was bigger at the start of “Time of Death” than poor Quentin Lance. He was just so dangerously optimistic. He made peace with Oliver, even having an adorable “manly men struggle to discuss their emotions” silence after their conciliatory handshake. He talked Laurel into giving Sara a second chance, and he even allowed himself to believe his ex-wife was coming back to him because she held his hand at a party.
You could just see the heartbreak coming. The fact that it came over a family dinner is an interesting parallel to the more bucolic family gathering we witnessed in the flashbacks of “Heir to the Demon.”
In fact, “Time of Death” was very much so an episode about family, most specifically about how Sara’s return impacts her own family as well as Team Arrow’s nuclear family. Beyond that, Oliver’s stance against Moira threatens to disintegrate his family, the Clock King’s motivations are purely family-based, and the flashbacks sought to (perhaps unnecessarily) provide a more familial context to Sara and Sin’s relationship. Personally, I liked it better when Sin was just a girl Sara protected because it was the right thing to do. However, the whole orphan angle is a bit of a callback to the comics.
Sara’s impact on Team Arrow, specifically on Felicity, was reminiscent of Xander (Nichols Brendan) having to hilariously determine what exactly he offered as the least special member of the Scoobies in Buffy‘s “The Zeppo,” and Fred (Amy Acker) struggling to see exactly what need Team Angel had of her skillset in Angel‘s “Fredless.” Those particular episodes communicated the character’s journey via subverted genre conventions and a liberal dose of comedy. That’s not the kind of thing Arrow does. Instead, here we had Felicity unsure of her place on the team, somewhat as a method for the writers to re-delineate the team member roles now that Sara has joined. We discovered Sara offers some brains, not just brawn, and Felicity can actually be useful as something other than bait when placed in the field.
Oliver holding Felicity’s face, saying, “You’ll always be me girl, Felicity” will surely light up Tumblr for the foreseeable future (Buffy once famously declared she’d always be Angel’s girl, though it was in a romantic context). However, the truly important moment came earlier when Diggle implied Felicity might be struggling with seeing Oliver with Sara only for her to respond, “This isn’t about them being together. This is about me.” I believed her. She hasn’t been made to feel inadequate as a potential mate but inadequate as a vital member of Team Arrow, and she’s perfectly capable of holding that in higher value than some slight jealousy over her close male friend having a new girlfriend. So, the Clock King was just the right villain at just the right time to shatter Felicity’s confidence, not dissimilar to last season’s copycat vigilante and his underground, masked video signals that fooled Felicity.
Felicity putting herself into the field without any backup might have been a bit much, a mere attention-grabbing act break that might not pass the, “Would Felicity actually do that?” test. However, it was a contrivance necessary to gather Team Arrow (sans Roy) together in the field where we got to watch them divvy up tasks and function like a well-oiled machine. Even Diggle got a task this time.
It was similarly contrived that Oliver would actually agree to attend that dinner party, although Amell played ever second of it as if Oliver thought it was a bad idea. It paid off in Oliver and Laurel’s stunning, though oddly overly heavy Shaky-Cam hallway argument. Laurel has a right to her anger just as Oliver has a right to his frustration. Oliver and Sara reuniting in a mere week must seem beyond offensive to Laurel. Plus, she’s not wrong about Oliver’s responsibility in poisoning her relationship with Sara, who wasn’t particularly contrite this week. However, Oliver is right that Laurel has been wallowing in self-pity all season. His challenge for her to again become worthy of someone chasing after was only as effective as it was because of all those little times earlier in the season the show went out of its way to depict Oliver chasing after Laurel to see if she was okay. To some degree, he was echoing the arguments made against Laurel in many a internet comments section this season.
Not surprisingly, then, Laurel’s rather poorly written closing speech with Sara seemed like an apology to the audience, claiming, “So, when I saw [Sara] so beautiful and so alive I realized that I’m not those things, not anymore. So, please, don’t hate me.” That last bit will probably become a popular .gif. The sentiment runs counter to how I had read Laurel’s reaction to Sara in “Heir to the Demon,” where it seemed she was working through the anger she felt toward Sara over her betrayal as well as wondering where the hell Sara had been all this time. Will no one ask her that? Either way, if this is to be the end of Laurel’s downward spiral then here’s hoping the next part of her character journey will have been worth the wait.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For as much as was going on in “Time of Death,” it was mostly about pausing a moment to re-assess the show’s 3 central families (the Queens, Lances, and Team Arrow) while introducing a purely motivated villain whose skillset beautifully created an interesting conflict with Felicity. It managed to do all of this with an impeccable sense of pacing and inventive action while also delivering a walloping Oliver/Laurel confrontation and ending on a killer cliffhanger (ala Glory appearing at Buffy’s house in season 5 Buffy) which placed Oliver’s family in immediate danger. Now, that was a good cliffhanger.
1. Comic Book 101: The Clock King
The Clock King as we know him first appeared as William Tockman, a Green Arrow enemy. His origin story was pretty much identical to what was depicted in “Time of Death.” If they follow the comics his terminal disease will end up a misdiagnosis, and he will eventually join the Suicide Squad. In fact, beyond his initial appearance, most of the Clock King’s time in the comics has involved going from one team of characters to another, even a brief run as a good guy. A second, new Clock King was recently introduced in 2008 with a supernatural ability to always see 4 seconds into the future. Tockman was just a normal, crazy dude who loved clocks. On Batman: TAS, the Clock King’s real name was Temple Fugate, and he had an entirely different, more mundane “dude just loves being on time” origin story. Check out the Justice League Unlimited episode “Task Force X” (available on Netflix) in which Fugate is a member of the Suicide Squad forced to infiltrate the Justice League’s spaced-based Watchtower.
2. Comic Book Easter Egg: Kord Industries.
The Clock King steals the “Skeleton Key” from Kord Industries. In the comics, Ted Kord, better known by his superhero identity Blue Beetle, inherited Kord Industries from his father, and it was eventually made a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises. Kord Industries was previously referenced earlier this season of Arrow in Barry Allen’s first episode (“The Scientist”).
3. “Being a CEO doesn’t leave me a lot of free time” – Yet we never saw him at work. Am I the only imagining Isabel Rochev off-screen pretty much running Queen Consolidated on her own at this point?
4. Exactly how strange must Roy and Thea think Sin is to find her, “I love when people come back from the dead. It juices my zombie fetish,” a perfectly suitable explanation for running up and hugging an apparent complete stranger like Sara?
5. My first reaction to Oliver telling Canary, “[The Clock King] doesn’t know there are two of us” after their com signal had been hacked was to think, “Well, now he does.” I assume Oliver was supposed to be off-com when he said that, though.
6. So, what must the small talk for the Lances and Oliver have been like after Laurel left? Dinah perhaps politely asking Sara and Oliver, “So, you two are dating now? That’s nice,” as Quentin glares a hole through Oliver’s head.
7. I’m guessing the downed pilot was supposed to be a search & rescue flight looking specifically for Oliver and Sara. Otherwise, what are the chances his daughter would turn out to be from Starling City? That is, of course, assuming Sara really did find Sin in Starling City as opposed to bringing her there with her.
What did you think? Like “Time of Death”? Hate it? Love it? Let us know in the comments section.
All of the pictures used in the above review, unless otherwise noted, came from CWTV.com © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
- TV Club: Arrow – “Time of Death” (avclub.com)
- Arrow Review: “Time of Death” (screenrant.com)
- Arrow-Time of Death (soipondered.wordpress.com)
- Arrow “Time of Death” Review: Healing Some Wounds (tv.com)
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