Episode Title: "Dodger"
Writer: Beth Schwartz
Director: Eagle Egilsson
Previously on "Arrow":
Has anyone noticed that The Undertaking’s plan for Starling City seems to resemble Ra's al Ghul’s plan in Batman Begins, with a little Bruce Wayne origin mixed in?
From what little we’ve heard about Malcolm Merlyn (played by John Barrowman, who doesn’t appear this week), we know that he lost his wife to a mugging and he’s ruthlessly committed to a plan that will see thousands of people in the city dead when it reaches fruition.
“Dodger” offers a slight glimpse of what that may entail, when Malcolm’s reluctant co-conspirator, Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) mentions that the people in the Glades (a poor section of the city) will be targeted by The Undertaking.
Doesn’t that sound like this is really just revenge for Malcolm losing his wife years ago? If the Glades was ethnically diverse, there would be an even more disturbing interpretation of Malcolm’s goals. But so far, the only resident of the Glades we’ve met is Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), who is just as bland as nearly everyone else on “Arrow.”
There are full spoilers ahead for “Dodger,” so if you haven’t seen this week’s episode then you should feel free to skip this review before Baltar shows up with a lovely necklace for you.
Wrapping up The Undertaking angle for the week, Moira is making a move against Malcolm to protect herself and her family from his vengeance and recover her husband, Walter Steele (Colin Salmon). Unfortunately, this led to a few overwrought scenes as Moira and her sympathetic co-conspirator moan about their actions condemning them to hell.
It’s intriguing that Moira has turned to the Triads and China White (Kelly Hu) to take out Malcolm. But I can only assume that Moira doesn’t know that Malcolm is the Dark Archer and he’s more than capable of fending off an assassination attempt with relative ease. It’s the blowback from this move that will be interesting to see, especially if Malcolm and Moira declare war on each other much sooner than expected.
The main story of the week wasn’t very engaging, as the newly formed Team Arrow went after Dodger (James Callis), a gifted thief who supposedly didn’t get his hands dirty... and then kept on doing his own dirty work. So, which is it?! Make up your mind, “Arrow!”
Dodger’s initial M.O. is the 30 Minutes Or Less style explosive collars to coerce law abiding citizens into doing his bidding. And yet that angle was largely dropped until he slapped a collar on Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) to make his getaway. There was a cool visual of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) tearing through the city on a motorcycle while still in his suit. And Oliver’s takedown of Dodger was fun. However, Dodger was just another in a long line of one dimensional villains that “Arrow” has put in front of Oliver. So far, only Malcolm (aka the Dark Archer) has had any staying power. The jury is still out on the Count.
The island flashbacks were also pointless this week, as Oliver went back to the cave for Yao-Fei’s (Byron Mann) eleven herbs and spices so he can treat the injured Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett). Oliver runs into a man bound by his hands and he ultimately refuses to help him because he can’t trust a stranger and doesn’t know him. Right, because he and Slade Wilson are so close.
If that was trick by Edward Fyers (Sebastian Dunn) and his men, then it’s a pretty bad one. Instead, Oliver looks like a dick for leaving this guy to die and then lying to Slade about it. Potentially this angle could be saved if something actually comes of leaving that guy behind. But I doubt that it will.
In the present, the transition of Felicity into Oliver’s inner circle isn’t going that smoothly. I still think that the only reason that Felicity is being elevated is that she caught on with the “Arrow” fans. Now that she’s in on Oliver’s secret life as Arrow, it’s hard to justify her presence when all she says wants is to find Walter and free him. Her decision to steer Oliver towards capturing Dodger just didn’t ring true.
At least it leads to a funny moment when Oliver freaks out John Diggle (David Ramsey) by half-jokingly saying that he would have killed Diggle if he thought that his secret was in jeopardy. Diggle and Oliver playing off each other is still the best part of this show. Less so are their current romantic entanglements; which Felicity urges them to deal with.
Diggle is a character we’re invested in, but his former sister-in-law, Carly Diggle (Christie Laing) is still one dimensional at this point. How many scenes at the Big Belly Burger must we endure before these two have something to talk about besides John’s dead brother? “Dodger” presents a potential step forward for these two, but Carly needs her own identity ASAP or else we won’t care when something bad inevitably happens to her.
As for Oliver and his date with McKenna Hall (Janina Gavankar), I’m kind of surprised that “Arrow” makes Oliver out to be the jerk when McKenna interrogates him about his time on the island. And here I thought that dating protocol was that if something is clearly painful for the other person to talk about, then you should talk about something else! And that goes double for Diggle, who blows his date with Carly by telling stories about his brother just when he was heading for first base.
“Arrow” is clearly setting up Oliver and McKenna for a clash, now that she’s on the anti-Arrow squad led by Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne); who is still seemingly the only regular working cop on this show. For someone who hates the Queen family as much as Quentin does, he’s always at their house to take statements or interrogate a purse snatcher brought in by his daughter, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and her friend, Thea Queen (Willa Holland). I get that Blackthorne is regular cast member on this show, but sometimes inserting Quentin into every cop related scene just doesn’t work.
And speaking of something that doesn’t work: Roy Harper, ladies and gentlemen! As portrayed by Colton Haynes, Roy comes off as completely unbelievable as a kid from the wrong part of town. Green Arrow fans know that Roy plays a big part of Oliver Queen’s story and his introduction was inevitable. Even pairing up Roy and Thea isn’t necessarily a bad idea, it just isn’t convincing that Thea would sympathize and start to fall for the guy who stole her purse just because of his sob story... which he pretty much said was a lie!
Or maybe that counts as a cute meet on the CW.