Episode three of a new TV show. I usually find episode three in a season of any show never to the be most exciting. For a new show, the best you can hope for is the reveal of more character traits and dynamics. Arrow can check mark that box!
Part of keeping interest in a developing series is knowing your audience. So when the opening shot is the sexy lead shirtless in his dark hideout, the only light in the area shining down on him while he lifts a load of cinder blocks on a chain shirtless, capturing attention is clearly a priority. Talk about checking boxes. I don’t even notice that they jump into the usual schtick of reading about the evil bastard, checking to see if he’s on the list, and then longingly gazing at the bow before grabbing the green hood and seeking justice.
But that’s where the familiarity ends. Oliver’s target gets offed by someone else, and suddenly the man to pursue is not on the list. That is once Ollie survives the poisoning. The curare bullets were an interesting way to tie into an island flashback, telling us that Oliver learned a vast amount of survival skills there. I’m trying to figure out why Deadshot would use such bullets if he’s such a good shot. Why would he want others dead other than his targets, like when he was picking off people at the auction?
I was far more interested in who that Manchurian Green Arrow on the island was and why he was saving Oliver’s life rather than the bizarre portrayal of Deadshot, aka the dude who’s seen “Cape Fear” a bit too much. I was a bit disappointed when the behavior of tattooing the victims names on his body was never explained, so couple that with the random killings and I just went with the assumption that the guy is full blown nuts.
As I’ve said before, I’m a self professed comic book moron. I don’t know a lot about these characters from the print mythos, but I do remember Deadshot. When he appeared in Smallville along with the Suicide Squad, I went online and looked it up. Knowing what he was in that realm, I expected he would be around a while and make future appearances. So Oliver kills him? In episode three? Any chance that the arrow through the eye means he escapes eyeless and comes back? Or was it truly established that he’s done. I did find that development to be quite the disappointment.
This episode was directed by Guy Norman Bee, who’s a beloved and well known director in the Supernatural fan community, and is really getting around with the Warner Brothers produced shows. His work is always consistent and visually pleasing, and he managed again to show off his flair in this episode. The first scene that struck me was the pool scene, when Deadshot interrupted Arrow’s confrontation with a bullseye to the heart. Not only did the bad guy get it, but the nice slow float on the corpse in the pool as blood in the surrounding water spreads red is straight out of an awesome mobster movie. I was also particularly struck by the scene in the alley, the full circle shot looking up at Oliver while he looks around for Deadshot’s earlier misfire. The part when Oliver scales the wall with slick agility didn’t hurt either!
The writing was by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, two of the show’s executive producers. Given their influence in the series, I’m stunned a few things in “Lone Gunman” happened this early into the show. Not Laurel Lance kicking ass, that was cool and I love the little hints each week we’re getting about her eventual destiny. What surprised me is Oliver is already reaching out to Detective Lance? I get that the cop is no moron, and didn’t use his blind hatred of “The Hood” to frame him for these crimes because he saw the pattern didn’t fit, but trusting The Hood so easily? Sure, they did show that his intentions were honorable with last week’s arrow of truth, but the detective still had a great mistrust. By acting on The Hood’s tip, that shows a) Oliver’s all about needing help now instead of doing it alone and b) perhaps these two aren’t supposed to hate each other after all. I guess there’s always a c) option too, those two forgetting about all this and going back to hating each other next week like real men.
I’m also wondering why all of a sudden Mrs. Queen is trying to be mother of the year? Thea did have a run in with the law this time, but after ignoring her daughter all this time (her whole life) are her actions diabolical plot or inconsistent writing? I’ll give the writers the benefit of the doubt and go with the latter. I think that by having Thea as an ally, she can use that friction between Thea and Oliver to her advantage. That’s all I got.
But nothing was more shocking to me than the ending reveal, when John Diggle is shot by the poisonous bullet and taken to Oliver’s lair for the antidote. Oliver doesn’t try to run, he just takes off the hood and shares all. Flirting again in Comic book moron territory, I’m assuming that Oliver Queen didn’t have a keeper, aka a Pepper from Iron Man or an Alfred from Batman, to be there when needed and run the bat…er…steel mill cave. Granted Pepper turns into Tony Stark’s lover, but I really don’t think a show meant to attract a male audience will end up going that route with Digg. That would be awkward.
On paper the reveal does make sense. How many more times could Oliver give this guy the slip? It was already getting very old. Will helping Oliver do the hero thing help Digg with all those internal conflicts plaguing him in these first few episodes? Or could he become a foe? If it’s the proper superhero story, that pain is going to end up driving him to do the right thing. I sense Oliver’s got some convincing to do first though. His brand of justice is a bit hard to swallow.
The one reveal that wasn’t shocking is that Oliver found out about Tommy and Laurel. When Thea told him out of anger, Oliver didn’t even flinch. He’s fine with it. Laurel suspected he knew already, but was Oliver’s reaction genuine? Who knows but now that the relationship is out in the open, why does it remain an issue? Enough beating this horse. It’s also interesting that Oliver while he was away has learned skills on how to infiltrate the Russian mafia. That’s one interesting island.
Now that it’s confirmed that we have at least a full season to play things out (and very likely more), there’s plenty of time for these burning questions to get answered. The island no doubt has played a key role in what Oliver does present day, and finding out those triggering events that drive his dark mind and actions is something that will fuel my curiosity for a good long while. There are still some rough edges, but so far it’s been a good start. Although, if the network wants to continue shirtless workouts to keep some wavering viewers engaged, I won’t object one bit.