I just don’t get why American shows take so many damn breaks in between their fall seasons. I mean, seriously, Arrow has taken like 4 breaks already or something, and this week at least it is taking another break. It totally ruins the whole momentum of the show, no matter how good it is. And I mean, I’ve been waiting so much to see the Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey themed episodes, but we continue to wait on those. And just generally too, you know, because Slade Wilson is finally becoming the villain he’s promised to be since day one of the show, and I want to see him kicking ass all over Starling City. Still, it helps that the recent two outings of the show have been so good, especially this past week’s.
If I wasn’t busy with my cousin’s marriage these past couple weeks, then I would have already had these reviews up, but since that didn’t happen, this is going to be a club review. And like I said, the past two episodes have been fairly awesome. The first of these, Time of Death, is all about the Clock King, one of the more fascinating Batman villains. The second, Promise, is about Oliver finally confronting Slade Wilson in the present, since we’ve already seen that the character is the big bad villain of this season. Both episodes pack a ton of awesome, but it is Promise that packs the knock-out punch. Too good, just too good.
Time of Death is notable for the fact that it brought another Batman villain into the Arrow-verse. Taken together, I’m somewhat concerned that the showrunners and writers and everyone else involved in the relevant decision-making process is so intent in bringing across so many Batman villains. I haven’t been reading Green Arrow’s comics for long, but surely the character has his own signature villains who could be brought in, instead of poaching from a much higher-profile hero who recently got an entire trilogy made after him and has starred in numerous animated adaptations as well, among other things. I mean, this is a somewhat concerning point for me, and while I mostly like all the villains that we’ve seen in the show to date, it is really odd how the focus is so much on villains who are traditionally not a part of the hero’s cast.
Still, writers Wendy Mericle and Beth Schwartz wrote a really good story involving William Tockman. And in doing so they also introduced Kord Industries into the picture. Or rather, brought it back after the earlier cameo in episode 8, which was the episode to introduce Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen aka The Flash as well. It is these little bits of world-building and nods to the comics-verse that keep things interesting with Arrow, in stark contrast to a certain other show that markets itself as a superhero/espionage show and is anything but. Tockman ends up proving to be quiet a significant villain for Team Arrow to take down and that in itself is even more encouraging than many of the other episodes, because it brings together the entire team (well, minus Roy, who is still on probationary status or something) on a mission. I love when that happens. Everybody gets to interact with each other throughout the episode, and I really couldn’t ask for, not at all.
Another plus point for this episode was how much it dealt with Felicity and her feelings for Oliver. Protectiveness as a friend? A possible crush on the boss? A lot of people would undoubtedly say that this all contributes to making Felicity out to be a cliche and a somewhat derogatory one at that since she’s so obsessed with Ollie. But I disagree. Mostly. Yes, there are shades of that obsession right there, especially in the way that she looks at Sara in this episode, but she is a much more nuanced character than that and as with most of her previous appearances, here too she manages to set herself apart, to stand out as someone unique. I love Felicity. She is one of the best things that has happened with and on this show.
Arrow doesn’t have a good track record with villains, because a lot of the times it so happens that their characterisation is pretty thin and we don’t really know their motivations. In the case of the Clock King, the motivations are all laid out and in themselves, they provide ample reasons to do what he does. This is a subplot that is mostly handled well, although I would have liked to have seen some consequences for all the heists and capers in this episode. That would have rounded out things quite spectacularly.
Thankfully, we finally get to see Laurel’s problems addressed and even resolved to a degree in this issue. At her father’s urging Laurel invites Sara to a family dinner, but since Sara is still so damn uncertain around her elder sister, she brings Ollie with her to the dinner. As if things weren’t already complicated for everyone involved. But we see how the Lance family makes a genuine effort to get along. That is, until Laurel susses out that Sara and Ollie are in a relationship, which totally throws her off her rails and marks somewhat of a regression for the character. But, the writers didn’t disappoint too much because they fixed that. They showed Laurel doing the right thing later on, having learned from her mistakes. If this holds on true for the rest of the season, I think that Laurel could most assuredly come out in a far better place than she did at the start of this season.
The final scene of the episode marks Slade Wilson’s introduction to the Queen family. It is a damn moment of shock and one of the best moments of the episode, by far. I love the character, and it is awesome to see that the two “friends” are finally “reunited” again, in Starling this time, instead of meeting randomly on a beach.
Promise takes over directly from the end of Time of Death and takes place almost entirely at the Queen mansion, as Oliver is forced to give Slade a tour of the mansion, on his mother’s request. It seems that Slade made a promise to Ollie while they were still on the island and everything that Slade has done so far this season in the present, he has done for fulfill that promise, starting with endangering the lives of Ollie’s family and friends. Pretty cold, but perfect from the man who has also been known as the Terminator in the comics. Which is pretty damn impressive.
Of course, as with the previous issue, the entire Team Arrow gets on the case. And welcomingly, Roy is back on the scene and go toe-to-toe against Slade. He is outclassed in experience and technique but he has the raw power and the hints that we see in this episode made for some really stirring scenes. Slade can wipe the floor with Roy any time, but it is still going to be an awesome fight, whenever that happens. The way that the team is portrayed here, it marks an understatement on the behalf of the team’s enemy, and perhaps even a foot recon to suss out the traps that have inevitably been set by the bad guys. What I loved most was the “final” scene involving Diggle. He hasn’t been getting a lot of attention lately in the various episodes, having been reduced to a primarily surveillance post. That kind of works out for the better this time, but there is still something that is missing. I want more of a spotlight on his character.
More than the other episode, this one was marked with a higher percentage of scenes set on the Island. Or Ivo’s ship for that matter. It is all quite explosive, but also features one of the most bitter acts of betrayal in the show, something that is carried on from an earlier episode of the season, which saw the death of someone close to the hero as well. This feeds into one of the best action scenes that the show has done to date. It is not Ollie fighting for his life or anything but it features a very dynamic and kinetic atmosphere nonetheless. The action is loud, is detailed, and more besides.
Robert Knepper plays the Clock King in Time of Death, or rather, he plays the actual character William Tockman. His performance was pretty much right on point. I had no trouble in getting along with his clipped, short sentences or anything. In Knepper, the casting is pretty much perfect. He makes the character his own, especially when he begins to deal with the blog’s intrusion on his own blog. Or something on the site.
Even just generally, all the actors turned out a great performance. All the usual suspects apply, and it is so much fun to watch Slade and Ollie together in the same place, whether that is outside of the mansion, or inside of it Thing is, and all I know is, that this show has some of the best performances of any other show out there. All the actors make their characters nuanced and unique in their own way, especially the established characters like Oliver and Canary and the others. Sometimes, the show makes a misstep, such as what happens with Count Vertigo and Shrapnel, but that’s few and far in between really. Emily Bett Rickards, Paul Blackthorne, Katie Cassidy, Caty Lotz, Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Manu Bennett and all the others are just magnificent in every appearance. And with Bennett’s Slade Wilson/Deathstroke finally coming out in the open, the intensity sure has ratcheted up!
All in all, both these episodes were really good fun, especially last week’s episode. And now, next week we get to see the Suicide Squad episode, which tantalisingly also features someone who could possibly be the Arrow-verse version of Harley Quinn, and then the week after that we see Jessica de Gouw return as Helena Bertinelli aka Huntress for the Birds of Prey themed episode, which is possibly the one episode in the entire season that I’m REALLY looking forward to, being a huge fan of the titular comics, especially those return by Gail Simone and Duane Swierczynski.
More Arrow: Reviews of all the second season episodes can be found here.