Episode Title: "The Odyssey"
Story by: Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg
Teleplay by: Andrew Kreisberg & Marc Guggenheim
Director: John Behring
Previously on "Arrow":
I’m not ready to say that “Arrow” has turned the corner and become a really good series. But it’s definitely getting better. "The Odyssey" improved upon “Betrayal” as the island storyline came to the forefront and events in the present took a backseat.
As always, there are full spoilers ahead for the latest episode of “Arrow,” so if you aren’t caught up then you should probably skip this review or else Moira Queen will pull a gun on you.
After a terrific cliffhanger in which Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) as Arrow confronted his mother, Moira (Susanna Thompson) for answers about the conspiracy in Starling City, the resolution kind of punks Oliver out to his mom.
There’s no other way to get around it. Arrow lost a confrontation... to his mom. That would be like Spider-Man getting shot by his Aunt May (I seem to recall some Spider-Man comic covers where she held a gun on him). If there were other superheroes on “Arrow,” this would make our title character the joke of the bunch.
But John Diggle (David Ramsey) is right about Oliver. Armed with indisputable proof that his mom has information about what happened to The Queen’s Gambit, he still lets his guard down around her too easily, giving her the opening to shoot him. And even when Oliver pulls through, he refuses to follow up on it and he browbeats Diggle into backing off of Moira. That will probably be a huge mistake.
But with Oliver largely sidelined in the present while fighting for his life, the bulk of the action turned back to island, where we finally see Oliver being trained by Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett). And hilariously, Oliver still sucks at fighting even after his crash course. In one of the episode’s more hilarious moments, Slade points out that Oliver couldn’t even kill the one guy he was supposed to take out, forcing Slade to do it for him.
The interplay between Oliver and Slade alone made those scenes easier to connect with than Oliver’s awkward exchanges with Yao-Fei (Byron Mann) in his Proto-Arrow incarnation. And ultimately, Slade seems to be the stronger choice as a mentor character for Oliver.
However, Yao-Fei’s character arc made more sense this week as we learned what Edward Fyers (Sebastian Dunn) is using to ensure Yao-Fei’s cooperation: his daughter, Shado (Celina Jade) is being held prisoner in the enemy camp. The ending of the episode broadly hints at the connection between Oliver and Shado and I fully predict that they will be lovers on the island at some point. Shado is actually a pretty important part of Green Arrow’s world, so she may even show up in the present.
"The Odyssey" also dealt with the other Deathstroke (Jeffrey C. Robinson) aka “Billy Wintergreen.” To explain what a huge departure that is from the comics, I’ll say that’s it’s like making Alfred into Batman’s first rival... if Alfred was wearing a costume just like Batman’s. The actual fight between Slade and Wintergreen was fun, but it was over too quickly and it was far too underdeveloped. There’s a slight chance that Wintergreen survived his injury to the eye, so there may be more to come.
I’m not fully sold on Bennett’s performance as Slade, but it was enjoyable to see Slade and Oliver actually bonding. Slade’s decision to save Oliver and miss his chance to leave the island was also a heroic moment; which is far away from his comic book counterpart. The relationship between Oliver and Slade may eventually go bad, but now there’s an actual friendship in the past to give that turn some dramatic weight when it happens.
It was also intriguing to learn that Fyers isn’t the one running the show on the island. Instead, he answers to someone else, but that person isn’t glimpsed on screen. The early money says that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) is pulling the strings on the island as well. But having already established Malcolm as the Dark Archer, it would be kind of predictable if he turns out to be the Big Bad in the past as well.
Emily Bett Rickards was recently announced as “Arrow’s” newest regular cast member, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when Oliver revealed his identity to Felicity Smoak and came to her for help. Felicity's character has been kind of poorly written and underserved up until now, but the same could be said of the majority of the characters on this show.
Felicity’s increased role seems to have been done because of the positive fan response to her. But if the “Arrow” creative team wants to say that Felicity was always supposed to be in Oliver’s inner circle, then the piss poor excuses he gave her in the past can be explained as intentional flubs as opposed to bad writing. Although, one of the funnier moments in the episode came when Felicity pointed out just how flimsy Oliver’s cover stories have been.
This was definitely one of the strongest episodes of “Arrow.” And hopefully this means that the series has finally found itself.