“The Man Under The Hood” was another mixed bag, although I have to say I did enjoy this one more than the other marginal episodes we’ve gotten this season. Maybe because Slade Wilson is such a badass foe that has Team Arrow so twisted in knots they don’t know which side is up. It’s remarkably a real treat to watch. Or maybe it’s because Detective Lance is freaking awesome. Or maybe adorkably Felicity found some brethren in geekdom in the form of Caitlin and Cisco of the soon to be on your CW station “The Flash.” Nah, it’s definitely not that, but it was cute.

There was plenty of good and some really strange bad.   I kind of liked watching Laurel behave like a grown up and balance the decision to tell everyone about her finding out that Oliver is The Arrow. Heck, she was even smart enough to put two and two together and figure out that Sara must be The Black Canary, although I would have reached through the TV screen and smacked her upside the head if she hadn’t.  She didn’t need to see those scars in the hospital, but we as an audience needed those visual cues since trying to figure out what’s going on in Laurel’s head gets maddening.  A lot of the qualities that grate about Laurel were still there, like how she keeps pushing her luck with the DA. Keep at it Laurel, one day it’s all going to backfire and we’ll be laughing at you. Again.

If you think about it though, Laurel’s explainable act to blackmail the DA to drop charges against her father was just as head scratching as why Quentin was there in the first place. The whole thing didn’t make sense because the dude was arrested for being right. Besides the fact that I wasn’t too happy that Detective Lance got himself beat to a pulp in prison (come on, he’s tougher than that), he has me pretty much convinced he knows who the Arrow is. His speech to Laurel though was perfect. He doesn’t want to think of The Arrow as a man with real problems, a family, or challenges in life. He needs the Arrow to be the super hero that can do no wrong. He believes in the symbol, not the name. I’m perfectly okay with that, as I’m sure Oliver is.  Detective Lance has been growing on me all season after he was such an all over the place jerk last season, and now I’m totally his.  He’s a dreamer!  He’s also probably a little jealous.  The important thing he got it in Laurel’s head that identity doesn’t matter and Ollie’s secret is safe for now, at least until one of the many, many others out there than know spill the beans.  Ollie, you’re the one that sucks at keeping secrets.

Isabel is one of those risks.  I totally cheered when Diggle plugged her full of holes, because that was just so awesome and the bitch had it coming.  He needs to be doing that every week, and he doesn’t even have to be shirtless.  Much.  What I’m trying to figure out is now she’s a Mirakuru infused, not dead CEO of Queen Consolidated that kills with her own bare hands?  Geez, don’t get on the wrong side of her during a board meeting. Of course thanks to this week’s flashback, there’s now an out for all these sudden super-humans, including Roy.  Oh yes, there’s a Mirakuru cure!  Nice of Ivo to reveal that tidbit before Oliver mercifully shot him.  Um, I may have missed it, but Ivo wasn’t exactly sharing formulas while dying of infection from his missing hand, right?  I do recall they need to go back on the boat to get this cure.  Fantastic, more boat conflict pending.  

In the “flimsy excuse of the week” plot, Oliver present day tells his cohorts he knew about the Mirakuru cure but didn’t tell anyone because he was ashamed?  Because he didn’t use it on Slade and wanted him dead instead?  That’s his lame excuse, when the only thing at stake is tons of human lives? Ooh, that is a clear cut sign of a writer who wrote himself into a corner.  I think the cure would have been something very important to know months ago when all this crap started.  I’m dying to know how Oliver gets a hold of this suddenly revealed out of the blue cure.  I also wasn’t impressed either that the Mirakuru could be spread to others by an infected person’s blood.  Geez, every time Roy gets a paper cut we need to worry?   Oh, and Roy, thanks for being such a hot headed dumbass and getting yourself caught by the bad guy. You were under the Arrow’s protection for a reason. Hopefully he learned the “worst case scenario” when you run away from friends that are trying to help with your new dangerous afflicition.  

I should also take this time to welcome back whiny and annoying Thea.  I had hoped you were gone for good. Way to be so mad you won’t sign a simple peace of paper to keep your family’s fortune. Which now belongs to an undead person who had an affair with your not!father.    I hope you enjoy taking the bus. You do realize that Malcolm is looking like a prize right now after seeing Robert’s taste in women, right? My biggest criticism of this show of pushing characters backward some weeks just for the sake of contrived drama because they’d rather kill time doing that than give Diggle a plot.  
But hey, a lot of that is really nitpicking.  When the whole thing came together, I was rather entertained. The pacing of the episode was great and I can’t say I was ever bored.  I love it when the team gets together in dark hoods and a suspicious van and goes on a thrilling siege.  They may still have the deer in the headlights syndrome regarding Slade, but at least they know how to coordinate a bombing.

This episode accomplished most everything you expect in an episode 19, they moved the plot forward and gave us enough setup for more explosive action next week.  I’m even hopeful that we’ll get some character drama that actually makes sense. I’m finding myself actually worried about Slade Wilson, because he’s so good a villain I want him around for a while. I keep thinking they’ve got him pegged for premature death. However, we do have Malcolm Merlyn waiting in the wings, so perhaps these two guys can tag team in their treachery.

Four more episodes to go. What did you think of “The Man in The Hood?”

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