Arrow – Season 3 Episode 19
It’s all a bit of a mess for Team Arrow at this point. Quentin Lance knows his secret and Roy has turned himself in so that Oliver can be free. It’s a pretty Kobayashi Maru situation that’s for sure.
First of all I’ll say that Oliver being found innocent because they have a revised suspect in custody with a full confession is a bit of a leap as far as logic goes. Any small investigation would show that at the very least it doesn’t quite add up and Roy being the Arrow is something that makes little sense.
Putting that aside since it doesn’t really matter too much. I like how Laurel used some legal gymnastics to get Oliver out of prison. It seems that Quentin didn’t cover himself very well and was the only one who heard Oliver’s confession. I guess the only word for that is “oops”. Laurel’s reminder of the proper legal channels was a bit of a slap in the face to Quentin who let his emotions get the better of him in this instance. He was so glad to have the Arrow at his mercy that he didn’t think to follow the proper procedures and that gave Laurel the opening she needed to charge Roy instead of Oliver.
Quentin running around looking for any evidence that Oliver is the Arrow to legally back up what he already knows worked really well. Paul Blackthorne played the growing irritation really nicely as his searches turned up nothing conclusive. As far as the evidence goes Roy could easily be the Arrow and it really bugs him that he knows different.
Roy’s situation leaves Oliver angry and frustrated because his identity has been almost completely stripped away. Up until recently he had the Arrow and little else because he felt that Oliver Queen had basically been eroded away. Now that it’s impossible to be the Arrow he feels that he has nothing and that’s something that upsets him.
Another problem is that Oliver is a man of action and doesn’t take well to sitting on the sidelines. He’s bursting to do something and hates the fact that there’s nothing he can do. What makes things worse is that there’s a metahuman troubling Starling City and the city seems to be a little light on heroes right now.
As always Felicity has a solution. She suggests that Oliver enlists the help of Ray and his Atom suit to take on this metahuman threat. As you might expect Oliver really isn’t keen for this but agrees to it in the absence of better options. Barry is busy and he can’t go out as the Arrow any more so Ray’s all he’s got.
By contrast, Ray is really excited about this. Any excuse to use his tech coupled with his genuine desire to help out and be a hero. I’m glad that Ray and Felicity are around because they bring the show some much needed levity to break up the surrounding doom and gloom. There’s some good use of humour here like Ray making his gauntlet wave with his mind as well as his awkward high five when he gets to team up with Oliver. I also loved Oliver’s comment that Ray and Felicity could be related given their awkward conversational fumbles.
I like how the episode focused on the differences between Ray and Oliver in how they approach things. Ray is a man of science so approaches the problem of the metahuman from a purely scientific point of view where Oliver approaches it from an instinctual one.
The contrast worked really well and reminded me of Oliver’s earlier efforts to train Barry. In the same way that Barry’s speed will only take him so far Ray’s tech will only prove useful up to a point. With the nature of it being largely untested tech it’s more prone to problems and is definitely no match for a metahuman on brute strength alone. Oliver tells Ray that the bow and arrow is merely a tool for him where he is the weapon and in order to be effective Ray has to be the same. He still has a long way to go before that happens but at least he’s starting to think about it.
Since this is Oliver’s show he gets to be right some of the time and Ray nearly gets himself killed on the first attempt to take down the threat. The second time mimics the shadowboxing scene from Real Steel with Oliver remotely taking control of the Atom suit to fight for him. Naturally the tech breaks and Ray needs to deal with the problem himself. Oliver encourages him to trust his instincts and find something to fight for. Of course that something is Felicity and he manages to win. It’s an important step for Ray who will need to learn a bit more than how to make better gadgets.
The Cisco cameo was a nice touch as it’s great to see more of Ray and Cisco play off one another. I also found it interesting that the cause of Deathbold’s -there’s a few too death inspired names among the villains in this universe now. We have Deadshot, Deathbolt and Deathstroke, how confusing- many powers had nothing to do with the particle accelerator, I dare say the different source will be explored in due time.
Oliver learns a bit of a lesson here as well. A problem he faces is his innate stubbornness which prevents him from accepting help from others. He likes to do things by himself and it gets him in more trouble a lot of the time. This episode teaches him that he needs to let others help him. He’s compassionate to a fault and doesn’t want to burden others but as Felicity says, he forgets that people love him as much as he loves them.
Now onto Roy who has some really strong narrative development in this episode. He has been somewhat sidelined in this season as I’ve said on several occasions and there have been many missed opportunities to create a mentor/student dynamic between Oliver and Roy. It’s a shame that never quite happened as it could have been really interesting.
It was recently revealed that Roy’s motivation to do good comes from the guilt he feels over killing that cop and leaving his wife a widow with a 9 year old son. For Roy, going to prison is something he deserves and paying for what he’s done gives him some kind of inner comfort. Being able to help Oliver is a big part of that inner catharsis for him so it’s all about atonement for him.
Colton Haynes plays all of this really well and has some really powerful scenes as the episode progresses. His scene with Thea is heartbreaking and his confession to Quentin is equally fantastic but in a more subdued way. The other side of that is that Quentin doesn’t want to see Roy throw his life away. He has no love for Oliver but he doesn’t mind Roy and certainly doesn’t want to see him take the fall for Oliver.
Roy’s apparent death came as a little bit of a surprise but I thought that it would be a bluff given that it wasn’t really treated as a big deal and was undone pretty quickly. It works well enough though and gives Roy that fresh start he’s been looking for. It really is a shame that he has left the show though, I really like his character and he will definitely be missed.
The goodbye scene was really moving with some real sincerity in the performances of the actors. In particular David Ramsey’s genuine sentiment that he was only a phone call away really hit an emotional chord. Diggle and Roy really have grown close this season so it gave the relationship a nice capping off point.
Among all the strong stuff going on in the episode the villain unfortunately wasn’t among that. He was incredibly underdeveloped which is a shame as Doug Jones did a good job with what little he had. At the very least he seemed menacing and something other than human.
That ending did come as a surprise in some ways but it is definitely the next logical step in Ra’s Al Ghul’s plan to get Oliver to say yes to his offer. Killing Thea makes sense as she is the last thing he has left so her death will be the thing that hopefully pushes him over the edge.
Ra’s Al Ghul has a Lazarus Pit and Oliver has a dead sister so I would be willing to bet a lot of money that Oliver will take that offer so that he can save his sister. It’s just the sort of guy he is. If he was ever going to accept then it would never be for his own reasons. At least Thea gave it a go even if she was completely outmatched.
I should really mention the flashbacks but I keep forgetting that they’re happening. It turns out that Amanda Waller isn’t really after them and it’s actually the U.S. Army. Yawn, boring. Can we move on now?
An impressively loaded episode with a lot of strong story elements and even stronger character beats.
The legal logic involving Oliver being considered innocent based on Roy turning himself in was a bit of a stretch but the episode made good use of the fact that Quentin Lance had failed to follow procedures due to his personal feelings clouding his judgement after finding out the Arrow’s identity.
Seeing him rushing around desperate to prove it was a nice touch and Paul Blackthorne played the growing frustration at being unable to find the proof he needs to put Oliver away. There’s nothing quite like Quentin on the warpath.
Oliver’s journey in the episode is an interesting one as he has pretty much lost it all now. Up until this point he was hanging onto his identity as the Arrow after the Oliver Queen side of his persona had all but been eroded away but now Ra’s Al Ghul has removed that from him and he has nothing to go to now.
Naturally this creates a lot of anger and frustration. Oliver is a man of action and doesn’t deal well with being idle so this really bugs him. Felicity’s solution to have Ray use his Atom suit to help take down a metahuman threat creates an opportunity for Ray to prove himself and gives Oliver something to do.
Ray isn’t ready to be out in the field due to his inexperience and over reliance on his tech. The suit isn’t really battle tested so doesn’t hold up to a beating very well. The first fight nearly ends in his death and the second only goes a little better because Oliver manages to take control of the suit. Ray is forced to find inner strength and fight back but he has a lot to learn.
Oliver’s advice that the tech needs to be a tool and he should rely on his own strength is good because tech will only take you so far as evidenced here. Ray’s growth into a hero is proving to be an interesting arc.
Unfortunately the villain isn’t quite so well developed. Doug Jones does a good job but there’s nothing to the character beyond a set of powers. He does feed into a larger story about another source of powers that will surely develop soon but as a character he feels like something of a missed opportunity.
Roy’s stint in prison is really great stuff. It makes sense that this helps him gain a sense of inner peace as he feels he deserves it after spending so long struggling with the guilt over causing the death of that policeman. It’s informed his entire heroic motivation and him making the sacrifice for Oliver is basically the conclusion of that.
Roy’s faked death and subsequent departure from the show is a real shame as there’s so much more that his character has to offer. He hasn’t had the development opportunities that he deserved this season so to see him go really isn’t idea. The scene where everyone said goodbye was appropriately moving though.
Thea’s death at the hands of Ra’s Al Ghul was both a surprise and not. It makes sense that this would be his next move as she’s the last thing Oliver has left. Now that he’s taken Thea from him Oliver should have no choice but to accept the offer to take his place. It makes sense from a character point of view as Oliver always goes out of his way to help those he loves so I bet he’ll take the offer in order to save Thea using a Lazarus Pit.