"Interesting. Using deception and intimidation to make a name for himself... this guy stole my move."
Arrow had a run in with more than formidable adversary last week with Seth Gabel's The Count showing up in Starling City to peddle his new drug "Vertigo" and that was on top of Oliver's never ending issues with his secretive family. "Betrayal" seems like a pretty fitting title for the followup episode after more of Moira's extra-curriculars came to light, not to mention our hero's trying past on the island. A past that always seems to be informing the present. Oliver is getting it from all sides but he should have known, 'it ain't easy being green,' especially a green superhero because Ollie not only has to get a handle on all the serialized issues that have been building over the course of the first season, mounting family suspicions as well as complicated relationships as a cast away, there are always more villains to fight. And this week, one comes hunting for Arrow with the predator becoming the prey.
"If this man's a hero, I don't know what my life as a cop in this city means."
The predator in question is Cyrus Vanch, played by Once Upon A Time's Dr. Whale (David Anders), who, after being released from Iron Heights Prison decides to make the Starling City vigilante a stepping stone on his way back atop the underworld. But before the villain of the week plots his assault on the vigilante, he has to make out with his nameless female associate and make his lawyer's place his new lair. I'm not buying much of it so far, he's like the Count-lite. As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to playing comic-book adversaries, actors need to either play it with stone cold stoicism or chew the scenery, and Anders is somewhere in the middle. However, the battle with Vanch is only one of many threads running through "Betrayal," most of which are thematically playing on the title. And Ollie is stuck smack in the middle of several. After the episode introduces Vance, we immediately get into last week's cliffhanger as Dig prods Ollie about his mother's possible involvement with the city fail-ers on the list.
"If this were anybody else, you'd be Hooded up right now on your way to have an arrow-sight chat with them."
As much as I like the banter between our crime fighting boys, there might have been a few repetitive scenes in "Betrayal" because I remember a lot of accusing and deflecting at various points of the episode. This time Dig makes a point about Walter's disappearance and yet Ollie firmly believes in his mommy. Of course, when he confronts her about it a few scenes later, she not only manages to burn the evidence but also convince her son she did it for his safety. Well, that might be technically true, however, certainly not the reason for tossing the list in the fire. Dig seems a bit more suspicious about the events of the exchange even going as far as to suggest that if it was anyone else, Ollie would already be rocking the Hood and on the hunt. Good thing he's got this whole other Vanch, Laurel and SCPD business to run to and we get all the info we need on the big bad from the law office wall-to-wall exposition scene. Personally, I didn't mind the telling not showing because Arrow was showing pretty ladies the whole time. Laurel, this new rich lawyer Anastasia and Thea sporting a ridiculous shirt on her first day of work. Ridiculous for work, perfect for hiding bad dialogue with pretty people. The CW!
"You met up with the Hood guy? Knowingly?"
And yes new girl, she does have a personal police force. It's the perfect time for Laurel to call Arrow too because Detective Dad just got dropped off the case and really needs the shady betrayal (wink...) of his daughter to happen soon. Oh, and Tommy and her relationship could use a little shaking up. Things are going too well. And boring. Time to also ignite the single female lawyer love for the reckless vigilante who just happens to be her irresponsible ex-boyfriend. Who am I kidding? As I fanboy, of course I take pleasure in the girl taking a liking to the superhero. I'm not sure why the police haven't arrested the dude for squatting in a missing man's house and making it a fortress but Ollie doesn't mind doing the recognizance as long as it's for his girl. It doesn't go so well though and Vanch vows prison style to boost his rep by putting down the biggest guy in town. You know, Arrow. The rooftop meet to exchange info, vigilante to lawyer, also doesn't go so well because Detective Dad has a swat team break up the date. Didn't you think Laurel would understand?
Meanwhile, that island past is never far from our hero's mind and the first cut back shows the 'resurrected' former captive using Yao Fei's map to find the crashed plane cabin before getting ambushed by the current occupant. Manu Bennett (Spartacus: Blood and Sand ) handles himself better than Anders in his guest spot even though the flashback thread wasn't particularly exciting either besides the reveals. I knew them in advance so that might have hurt the suspense, however, I did really like the way that the writers let fanboys in on the surprise a bit early by having Bennett say his name, Slade Wilson, before revealing the Deathstroke mask. That means that the guy I've been calling Deathstroke isn't actually him, that's Deathstroke's Aussie Secret Service partner who's been causing trouble for Ollie on the island. And by trouble, I mean torture. Stabbing. Wilson doesn't treat him much better but does recognize the boy's 'will' to fight and the training continues. There's still a long way to go until Oliver turns into the long-haired, full-bearded Green Arrow ready to return and fight the Starling City scum.
"There isn't anybody else I can trust."
Obviously, things are a little rocky between the Lance's after the whole I used you as bait thing and once again all his issues are dragged back into the fray. Poor guy's got no wife, a dead daughter and a drinking problem, why not throw in another daughter that wants nothing to do with him. At least he got the aPhone back. Another bit of good timing since word leaks from the SCPD that Arrow is hot for Laurel and Vanch makes her bait again, this time to bring in the Hood. Faced with police corruption, no where to turn and the saddest face ever, Detective Dad turns to his hated rival for help, an interesting twist on the betrayal theme. Too bad the action sequence that follows isn't all that exciting, with the fighting broken up by the Bond villain spilling his guts to the tied up damsel in distress. Oh, I almost forgot! It was nice to see that it took a few henchmen and a taser to take Laurel down since she, well, in the future, never mind. Vanch's counting arrows plan backfires when Detective Lance shows as backup and fires on the remaining goons. She's not going home with dad though, instead she'd rather take a cab and have a steamy chat with a superhero in the parking lot.
"What's the undertaking?"
There is still the little matter of the untrustworthy mother and a secret cabal but don't worry, Agent Diggle is on the case. As a way to keep digging (had to) for information on Ollie's mom, which the latter continues to frown upon, the bodyguard sings on to be her driver for the week and this takes him a few interesting places. At first, he looks down right incompetent (shades of old Dig) walking into the party and then getting busted by Merlyn's stooge but the cover with the smokes was pretty slick. It probably won't keep Merlyn from finding out that Moira's security was sneaking around the building though. Not that any of that particularly matters once the episode gets where it is eventually going and you'll actually be happy to hear the 'failed this city' line for the first time in some time. Yep, with some undeniable evidence against her, thanks to Dig's spying, Ollie has no choice but to put on the Hood and have that arrow-sighted chat. "Betrayal" wasn't as consistently engaging as the few week's leading up to it but the way the flashbacks and present both ended already have me excited for the next episode. Too long.
Arrow returns with "The Odyssey" next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.