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"... I have to be someone else. I have to be something else."
Now that was a good pilot! Okay, so "Honor Thy Father" is actually the second episode of Arrow, The CW's latest series with DC Comics, but it does a much more elegant job of (re)introducing all the characters, crafting a satisfying story and utilizing the wealth of the super-source material that it's a shame it wasn't the premiere. That's not to say there weren't some really great elements in the pilot (or some shaky moments last night) but the high level of story spoon-feeding shows the series didn't have enough faith in the audience to figure the relationships and backstory out on their own, instead delivering a ton character introductions and on the nose exchanges. Yes, "Honor Thy Father" also has its fair share of exposition (which is why it would also work as the first episode) but it found a better balance by assuming we can keep up, not to mention including three or four great action sequences and a proper "Green Arrow" villain. When the DCU is available, you use it!
"Oh, what's the matter Mom? Afraid we're going to be next?"
Speaking of the DC Comics Universe, perhaps it's not fair to keep harping on how similar in tone (and characterization) Arrow is to the recent Batman movies but ending the opening speech with 'something else' (reminiscent of the Bat's insistence on being more than a man, a symbol) isn't helping to distance itself from Christopher Nolan's trilogy. Not that it wants to, however, it should also realize that the audience is already familiar with the setup and we can move a little more briskly. And give Katie Cassidy's Laurel Lance better lines. "Honor Thy Father," like I said, opens with Ollie monologuing in voice-over while he suits up right before a great action scene really starts the show. Amell is completely convincing kicking ass and his moves with the bow kind of put Hawkeye to shame. Yeah, I said it. The way they shoot the 'arrows' (all meanings intended) is really well done. One thing the show needs to drop though, is the reliance on the TV News to deliver information as televisions advanced the story a few more times tonight after repeated use in the pilot.
"They were bringing me back from the dead. Legally speaking."
Tommy interrupts the Queen's television time to take his best friend to court to be officially resurrected. It sounds like a family affair but Thea isn't interested in being easy to get along with even though her brother was a cast away for five years. Doesn't he know how hard it was at home? And yeah, I get how losing family isn't easy, however, he had NOTHING and the conflict between the siblings is one of the least interesting aspects at the moment. His court proceedings go smoothly, besides a flashback when Ollie is forced to recount the tragic details, and he's pronounced legally alive! He and Tommy bump into Laurel who reminds us of everything that happened between them and her dead sister. You know, in case we forgot. We also meet this week's big bad on the courthouse steps, another Starling City businessman that doesn't mind stepping outside the law to make a buck. Laurel's case serves as a convenient, albeit not all that engaging, way to introduce the episode's crime story involving the Chinese Triad and the murder of a girl's father.
"You said you wanted to be a different person and you are Robert Queen's son."
And the Chinese Triad means the introduction of the series' first official DC villain. But not just yet. First we have to watch what seems to be a recurring element in Arrow with Amell working out while his voice-over describes his quest. This time, it's making sure that Laurel isn't alone in taking down Martin Somers and he heads to the docks (a common but effective settings for a superhero story) to strobe fight the shit out of some henchmen and scare their boss into confessing. You failed this city... asshole! You know he wants to say it. Cue the titles. Yep, that late. Rad. Another major improvement this week was Diggle's character because, as I noted in the Episode 1 recap, something has to give or he's just going to look like a tool and the show managed to work him into the unspoken accomplice role (a la Lucius Fox) not to mention also a badass. Thea, however, is still grinding my gears mostly because she's still grinding Ollie's and nobody likes a pill-popping, drunk teenage girl. Well, except teenage boys.
"How am I supposed to stay away from you if you won't stay away from me?"
Detective Lance, who's quickly becoming one of my favorite scene chewers, is called to Somers' ship to investigate the dust-up with Robin Hood and I loved the way they used the arrow fitting into the arrow-hole as evidence. Arrow! Lance soon loses the upper hand though when Somers brings daughters into the discussion because we all know how protective the detective is since one of them, uh, died. Ollie visits Queen Industries where his mom and Walter push him into taking a position with the company but the prodigal son, heir apparent has other plans to honor his father and throws the offer in their romantically entangled faces. Not before a quick flashback though, where our hero finds his dead dad washed ashore and, after a quick vomit and bird defence, starts carrying him to a suitable burying ground. Of course, we've yet to see Robert Queen's other grave. Or Ollie's for that matter. But before Thea takes him to the family plots, Detective Lance decides to put Laurel and her client in protective custody. A good thing too because China White will do anything for a friend.
"Move away from him."
For those unfamiliar with the source material, China White or Chien Na-Wei was introduced in "Green Arrow: Year One" and she's a drug kingpin that doesn't mind fighting her own fights. As you can see, The CW didn't stray far from the DC Comics in crafting her character not to mention that Kelly Hu was the perfect choice to bring the villain to life. Once Thea convinces Ollie to let some in (not her mind you), he heads over to share an ice cream dream with Laurel and the two seem thick as thieves after he explains the usual superhero have to push you away to protect you situation. Well, minus the superhero part. His island instincts kick in and he hears bad guys approaching on the fire escape just in time to grab a knife and drag Laurel around the apartment behind him. Was it me or did it look like he was putting her in more danger? Anyway, China White arrives to assassinate the single female lawyer but Diggle shows up in the nick of time to murder her henchmen and take her on one on one. He holds his own for a bit before a well timed knife toss from Ollie not only saves his life but confirms his suspicions.
"But I'm not my father. I'm not the man he was, I'm not half the man he was. I never will be, so please, stop asking me to be."
Detective Lance thanks Digs for his service and then shits on Ollie for being there, something that will probably always be entertaining to watch. When they split, our hero heads to 'bed' to serve Somers a different kind of justice and Detective Daddy pleads with Laurel to recuse herself from the murder investigation but instead she successfully lawyers him with the dirty trick of using his own words against him. Their debate is interrupted by the precinct with news of a disturbance down at the docks. It's probably Robin Hood. The final interrogation to fight scene is pretty well executed even though it did feel like Hu was a bit underused in the end. Probably to keep us wanting more since she'll obviously be back. And, of course, I yelled the show's title when Ollie threw the tape recorder/arrow to disarm the Detective. Son of a bitch! The next day (I think, time is weird, I can't believe he's only been home a week) is the dedication ceremony for his father and Oliver arrives in full playboy disguise to make sure everybody knows he's not taking over the family business. He's got other plans.
"Will you be going out tonight, sir?"
For some reason the TV news tells Laurel's client that her father's killer has been brought to justice right before Detective Daddy arrives to continue debating with his daughter, this time about the merits of the vigilantes methods. The lady lawyer is starting to think Arrow might be good for the city even though her father insists, with his twice repeated saying, that you don't have to go outside the law to find justice. The show itself seems to suggest otherwise. Like the first episode, "Honor Thy Father" also features a sequence near the end when Mommy makes it quite clear that she's up to no good, this time meeting with a mysterious logo holding man in a limo and telling us that the yacht accident was sabotage! How could she do that do her own son! Meanwhile, the episode wrapped back on the island with Ollie finding a blank book (?) with the same logo on his father before burying him. And then he gets shot with an arrow by a guy who looks like Arrow. Hm. Hallucination? Or is he not actually alone on the island? I say the former. I wouldn't say, however, that Episode 2 broke new ground for Arrow, only better. It was more fun that I anticipated and I look forward to Deadshot's appearance next week.
Arrow returns with Episode 3, "Lone Gunmen," next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.