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"Well, the guy with the black arrows seems to hate the guy with the green arrows so..."
Arrow, The CW's superhero replacement for Smallville is wrapping up a pretty solid first season. After last night's trek into "Darkness on the Edge of Town," only one more episode remains for the vigilante and his ragtag team to take down the big bad and stop "The Undertaking." That's right, the titular event from the previous installment still hasn't happened yet (confusing) and this week continued the recent bout of serious serialization for the comic book series, (a lot of) setting up and then showing Arrow's long awaited rematch with the Black Archer. The two 'bowmen' haven't squared off since Malcolm Merlyn put the hero into critical condition in the midseason finale ("Year's End") but this time there's no secondary villain to divide the superhero's attention. Of course, with "DotEoT" being the penultimate episode and not the, uh, ultimate one, the business with the show's season-long villain was obviously not resolved with Arrow leaving the final, final showdown for next week. Oh, and there was also that increasingly inconsequential stuff unfolding on the island.
"It's not what I want, but rather my employer."
I guess I shouldn't say that everything occurring on 'Purgatory' is inconsequential since there was a few big reveals but it is beginning to feel that way because of its distance from the main events. And we just kind of jumped back into the action after an episode or two away from the story, making it seem like the thread isn't really important and fills time when needed. It actually took me a second to gather my bearings and even recall what was the last thing to happen on the island but seeing Ollie, Slade and Shado in chains was a quick reminder that Yao Fei had reappeared only to help capture the rebel castaways for Fyres. Once the captives arrive at the mercenaries' camp, there's a nice reference for DC fans when the plan is revealed and it turns out that a commercial plane on Ferris Air is the target for all those big guns they brought in a few weeks ago. The two events of note, besides the nod to Green Lantern, included finding out that Fyres' employer has lady legs and that Yao Fei's time on the show is over. Time for Shado to get revenge? Do you think Lady Legs is the main villain for Season 2?
"Psychopaths are color coding themselves now, that's helpful."
Another thread that's been developing on the side is Thea and her bad boy's budding relationship which also includes regular outings to try and find the vigilante. Ever since Roy was reused by the Hood, the former small the crook has been desperately trying to track Arrow down. Only, it turns out that being saved by him isn't the only reason why Roy would like to find (and possibly join) the superhero, it seems that he's also lost someone very important to him. I thought that was rather obvious since he's a teenager who appears to have been fending for himself for some time and I don't recall seeing any guardians. Perhaps a little Batman situation going on in the Glades? While the duo are snooping around, mostly tailing the real detectives, Thea hears about the loose connection between the recent murders at UNIDAC and Malcolm Merlyn. The clue leads them to Malcolm Global at the same time that the crime fighting team's silly heist is happening and Ollie gives Roy the usual disapproving older brother speech, with the added layer of, you know, being the guy the kid wants to find. Roy decides to pursue his quest anyway and once he calls Ollie a wuss, it's over for him and Thea. For now.
"Nothing's changed. My life hasn't changed. I haven't changed."
"Darkness on the Edge of Town" opened with the aforementioned slaughter of the UNIDAC employees (the Markovs, another reference to the DCU) by the Black Archer who is out tying up loose ends. The 'car commercial' look of Malcolm leaving the scene of the crime was hilarious. Meanwhile, the trio of Ollie, Dig and Felicity are hard at work in the Arrow Cave, still trying to come up with a way to stop the undertaking and save the Glades as well as deal with the fact that Moira might be as big a player in the conspiracy as Tommy's father. Speaking of Tommy, Oliver's main romantic interest also decided to complicate things last week as Laurel returned to her awkward place in the love triangle. Tommy doesn't want to be the consolation prize (fair enough but he should also remember she was his best friend's girlfriend forever) and Ollie can't be with her because she's constantly be in danger. The usual thing for superheroes and significant others who aren't also super. So, Oliver once again pushes her away at the beginning of the episode only to go running to her place when he thinks that his time as the Hood may possibly be coming to an end. Talk about counting your chickens before they hatch. Wait till after the final fight before you declare victory and have the creepy younger son of your nemesis who also happens to be your former best friend watch through the window. Hot?
"Why so serious? Did someone decide they didn't want you putting an arrow in them today?"
Another relationship is going through an awkward transition (I mean, even Detective Dad approves of Ollie now? Come on!) with Walter not only back from his kidnapping but fully aware of what got him there. And really, how long are you going to continue to live with that woman? Moira acted like divorce was a surprise. I only had you held for six months! You could have been killed! Stay? But they are a family and Thea's entrance at that moment suggests that Walter's not quite done with the Queens yet. Now back to the cave dwellers coming up with a way to deal with Mom and Malcolm. Once asking nicely fails, Ollie sets up a clever sting operation that gets him and Moira 'taken' by Dig who's masquerading as Arrow. They use the leverage of her kid to extract information about Malcolm and the undertaking and, of course, she's not really that guilty, just a pawn. Although, she's still bad. We've seen her hire hit-men. Anyways, after Dig pulling his punches in front of mom leads to news about the machine that does something different than the one in Batman Begins but ultimately sounds pretty similar. This 'weaponized' piece of R&D will destroy the Glades with a man made earthquake therefore wiping the slate clean and giving the troubled neighborhood a fresh start.
"What are you saying Oliver? You would hang up the hood?"
In order to find more information on this seismic infringement device (the Markov Device), the team has to break into Merlyn Global and it unfolds in a pretty awful version of a heist flick. Dig just is the security guard? Anyway, the ridiculous Ocean's 11 meets Eraser moment passes with the most interesting part of the sequence being the nod to old heroes with Ollie's use of a grappling gun. Crossbow. Whatever. It was also a dick move to use Tommy as a way in, tell him to go for Laurel and then, well, bang Laurel in front of him. Ollie didn't think he'd be watching but still. Plus, the 'heist' leads to the police finding out about Felicity, since their hacker sniffs her out during his own attempt to break into Merlyn Global's system. Like all good villains though, Malcolm is aware of all of this and the team's plans to retrieve the device are foiled. Dig arrives at his location to find that there's nothing in the crate. Arrow kind of catches Malcolm, the Black Archer, off guard but it doesn't really matter. A little hand to hand combat proves that perhaps Ollie's training on the island wasn't as hard as whatever Mr. Merlyn went through after his wife's murder. The fight was really exciting, especially since I didn't expect the two to tangle this episode. I certainly didn't think Malcolm would unmask Arrow but I did love the closing, "oh no."
My big concern now is that Arrow has telegraphed the finale. No one can know his secret. And Tommy's journey sure seems like a villain's origin story. Maybe a(nother) death in the family would push him over the edge? Arrow returns with the season finale, "Sacrifice," next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.