Watching the "Time of Death" episode of Arrow this week, it occurred to me that Arrow is a series that really knows what it's doing. It's not as if that's the first time that thought has crossed my mind lately, as Arrow is proving to be one of the most entertaining and thrilling series on TV right now, but "Time of Death" did so many things right in its efforts to address a number of dramatic story arcs without simply plunging us face first into drama for the sake of character development and progression. This series knows it doesn't need to choose between drama and thrills to progress the story. Instead of one or the other, we were given a thrilling stand-alone villain story that entertained us while Sara, Felicity, Laurel and Oliver could all work out their issues. The episode ended with some resolution. Not complete resolution, of course, but enough to settle the bulk of the tension so that the leftover drama can be shelved for a bit while the series moves on to what executive producer Marc Guggenheim refers to as "the beginning of the relationship that will define the end of Season 2."
We've been waiting for this story to erupt and the second season has been well paced building up to it, especially in the way it kept Slade in the shadows of Starling while other matters were tended to. It's probably better that they let that stew a bit than it would have been if Slade simply showed up out of nowhere ready to throw down with Oliver right away. There's some build-up, at the very least, leading to this week's episode, which dropped that bombshell into Oliver's lap. Slade is back. And he's in his mother's house.
We're not really in dark over how this feud began, as it seems very likely that a combination of Shado's death and Slade's reaction to the Mirakuru may be primary factors there. In fact, the episode description, for "The Promise" nearly confirms as much, mentioning Oliver's guilt over Shado's death and Slade's growing rage on the island, which makes him unpredictable and teases the possibility that Slade "could turn on his friends if he thinks Oliver is to blame." It's possible, however, that this is just one part of the story. There's usually more to it than that and we'll have to wait and see what transpires on the island to define the start of this situation. But it interests me greatly that Oliver's first time putting on the hood is happening in the same episode that Slade first puts on his Deathstroke mask, as it's definitely a prominent mark on both characters' timelines.
In other news, the freighter stuff looks really cool, between the stunts and the set. Kudos already to the stunt department and production design. The one-minute preview already has me feeling optimistic that Guggenheim means it when he says this episode will be bigger than ever and that it'll "make the season finale last year look like a student film from the 1980's." The series' story is so great that bigger isn't always going to be necessary to make the show better, but "massive" can heighten greatness when done right!
Arrow airs Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. ET on CW. Check out some photos from the episode here and read Jesse's breakdown of "Time of Death" here.