"You chose Laurel. Always her and everybody else be damned."
After taking a three week vacation, Arrow returned to The CW last night to start the first season homestretch with "Home Invasion." The twentieth episode of the comic book adaptation picked up right where "Unfinished Business" left off but that unfortunately also meant picking up some of the previous installment's less impressive attributes. Namely, being a lot of set-up with very little pay-off as the show builds to a big finish. Not that the serialized side of the drama isn't interesting or important, whether it's the troubled relationships or never ending vendettas, however, it's equally or even more necessary to ensure that the episodic side of the story also delivers. And the villain of the week in "Home Invasion" is very satisfying, seemingly shoehorned into the episode simply to meet the series' action quota as well as return the relationship focus to Oliver's real love interest creating a wedge between him and several of the other main characters.
"I'll feel better once we end Deadshot."
The hero's relationship with Dig is the first (and most important) one affected by Oliver's glaring lack of priorities when it comes to anything related to Laurel. "Home Invasion" opens with the dynamic duo working out their Deadshot frustration in the Arrow Cave as the assassination simultaneously makes his return to Starling City for another hit. The DCU is a small world. Anyway, resident cyber-terrorist Felicity Smoak relays the information to the sweaty dudes and Dig is determined to stop him before he makes more widows out of wives! He must never shoot women. Right, Dig's making it personal. And Ollie totally gets that and is willing to take care of things as soon as he gets back from lunch... with Laurel. She, however, has that shoehorn case and asks her former flame for a rain-check to take care of business. Who doesn't take their kid to a law office and let him hear all about how the family was swindled? Oh well, that's just the beginning of his problems. He's about to get his own Batman inspired origin story.
"What he saw was the face of the man who will reunite him with his parents."
This is where we meet the villain of the week, Mr. Blank (J. August Richards), an assassin that seems like a mix of many other pop culture hit men. The first person that came to mind was Firefly mostly because of his calm, almost aristocratic demeanour and cheesy lines. He makes short work of Laurel's newest clients, however, their kid, Taylor, manages not only to escape out the window but also see Blank's face! Laurel seems to be the only one with a brain and realize that there might be more to the murder than just a break-in and decides to take Taylor to her place instead of letting him become a ward of the state. And once the TV informs Oliver what happened to the nice family he met a few ours earlier, he goes to check on Laurel. Tommy would have rather he called. Especially since his girlfriend forget to mention lunch with her ex-boyfriend. Oops. Meanwhile, Dig's out doing Deadshot homework on his own, trying to reach out to his former colleague for more info but she wants nothing to do with his revenge kick.
"He won't let anything happen to me."
Isn't it a little weird that Dig, who used to be the voice of reason, isn't interested in anything except crossing Deadshot off his list? One thing I like about Arrow is the show's willingness to accept that vigilantes would have to kill people in order to actually do their 'job' but it was important to the dynamic having Diggle and Smoak keeping Oliver from going over to the dark side like Huntress. After the team decide Lawton's fate in the Arrow Cave, Ollie heads over to Laurel's to check on the kid. Yeah, the kid. At this point, Tommy has already showed his sweet side by telling a nice 'my mom is dead too' story and then covering Taylor when Mr. Blank comes blasting. Not that his gesture wasn't also heroic but maybe Laurel would be more into Tommy if he was the one fumbling with the shotgun instead of hiding behind the couch with the kid? Oh, and way to ruin a good moment! Why have Laurel come out with a shotgun (which was rad) only to have her screw up seconds later and need rescuing from Ollie? Couldn't she have held her own until he arrived to take over? Bah.
"Deadshot or Rasmus, your choice."
Once the dust has settled and Detective Dad arrives, Tommy begrudgingly admits that the Queen's mansion is probably the safest place to hide, especially since the Hood wouldn't let anything happen to Laurel. The Hood, however, is supposed to be out helping his best friend avenge the death of his brother with the sting operation on Deadshot about to go down but instead chooses to intervene in his lady's troubles and pay this Rasmus a visit. The question Felicity should have asked was, 'Dig or Laurel?' And while Oliver obviously chooses the latter, the former is hung out to dry during the op and Lawton not only escapes but manages to kill a few agents in the process. I guess he was willing to donate those kills as freebies because, when it comes to Dig, Deadshot won't pull the trigger for nothing. He will save a space on his skin for the kill though. He's a complicated man. On the other hand, Ollie's detour to see Rasmus worked swimmingly with the bad guy agreeing to confess to all his crimes.
"I'd be pulling these triggers right now except there's nobody paying me. I got space for you right here. Right next to your brother. You do best remember that."
That doesn't mean Mr. Blank is done though, like Anton Chigurh, anyone who sees his face has to die. This leads the villain of the week to the Queens in order to take out the kid and finish the job but, unfortunately for him, that was kind of the idea when Tommy made the suggestion. The fight between Blank and Ollie was pretty exciting and ended the stake-less subplot with style. After the threat is over, the former best friends share a moment talking about Laurel and Tommy does that honorable thing where the guy makes the decision for the girl. You know, cause he just knows that Ollie as Arrow would seal her deal. Either way, the boys seem to depart on amicable terms while the split with Laurel produces a few tears from her and Tommy. Oh, so noble. The really troublesome split occurred shortly after when Dig decided that he and his partner in crime fighting no longer see eye to eye. Could this be the end of a beautiful friendship?
"It feels like my life is connected to his."
One of the only side stories this week was the continuation of Roy Harper and Thea's relationship, more specifically his quest to locate the vigilante. Ever since Arrow saved Roy's life, the ex-thief thinks he may have found a new purpose in life but the first step of this transformation means finding the man known as the Hood. Obviously no easy task, just ask Detective Lance. Roy doesn't do exactly that, although he does pay the precinct a visit to snag himself a police radio. Not a bad idea really but it turns out Lance was wise to the plan all along and sets up a little sting operation of his own. Lance tries to dissuade the red hood wearing former hoodlum, and the recently arrived Thea, from pursuing the vigilante, however, the advice doesn't take and the two (Speedies) decide to make it their mission to find the Hood. I actually really enjoyed these sequences and look forward to seeing if/how Harper will be integrated into the team next season.
”Your time on this island is at an end.”
Lastly, the events on the island are also (slowly) coming to a head, although there are so many twists and turns during the flashbacks that the endgame is hard to figure out. At the moment, Ollie is still stuck with the sarcastic Slade but thy are recently joined by Yao Fei’s daughter Shado and she has taken over the lion’s share of the training. Let’s just say, the combat exercises are still physical, just in a slightly different way. Ollie also decides to be faithful to Laurel for the first time, even if it’s probably the dumbest possible moment to devote himself to his girlfriend. I mean, what are the chances he’d live another week let alone ever see her again? And Shado is a babe. I guess that’s besides the point but not much else happened during the first couple scenes on the island, it wasn’t until the end of “Home Invasion” that something of consequence actually happened. And the closing assault was technically another titular event since the stranded trio have been calling the crashed cabin home. What do you think Yao Fei meant by those final words? It might be time for Ollie to go earn some of those tattoos. Just a guess.
Arrow returns with Episode 21, "The Undertaking," next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.