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"My name is Oliver Queen..."
The CW's new superhero series is not without some recurring problems but Arrow has had a pretty solid start and not just in the ratings. Each episode seems a little less clunky than the one previous with last week's "Honor Thy Father" a step up from the pilot's often stiff storytelling and acting. The second installment of the show also dipped into the DCU to find a villain for the first time which added some much needed flavor to the otherwise bland businessmen bad guys that make up Oliver's My Name is Earl list. The corrupt capitalists that failed Starling City, like his father, are fine to keep Arrow grounded in reality but everyone wants to see the superhero mix it up with supervillains. And this week doesn't disappoint as the titular "Lone Gunman" is Deadshot, one of Batman's famous Rogues Gallery and DC's most accurate assassin. Oh, and there's also a bunch of family and/or relationship stuff but thankfully it doesn't distract too much from the action and even starts to become somewhat interesting. Somewhat.
"...cancers can be fought and conquered. All it takes is a surgeon and the right instrument."
"Lone Gunman" opens with the first of (too) many instances of Oliver's voice-over which, along with television news reports, seems to be a common truth for the series in handling the exposition. I would prefer a simple clip package at the beginning to the introductory speeches while Stephen Amell works-out but it doesn't take long for things to get moving. After a minute at his trusty computer, Ollie decides it's time to pay this real-estate scamming, Lex Luthor wannabe James Holder a visit and hold him accountable for all the housing fires and resulting funerals in 'the Glades.' The Glades is the shitty end of town where the run-down Queen Industries warehouse sits, soon to be the home of our hero's underground hideout and uh, nightclub. Back to the visit. Arrow makes quick work of the armed security, though sadly we don't see it, and confronts the businessman atop a beautiful rooftop that offers both director Guy Bee and, more importantly, Deadshot (played by Michael Rowe) some great, well, shots. And just when Arrow was getting his Batman growl on! Besides too much voice-over, it was a great pre-title sequence.
"To protect you."
During the opening scuffle, Ollie took a slug to the shoulder and, since he doesn't have an Alfred (yet), is forced to sew the wound himself. He also discovers that the bullet is laced with poison, only adding to the "Hamlet" allusion that newcomer Emily Bett Rickards as IT expert Felicity Smoak makes later in the episode. Shakespeare's Laertes used a poison-tipped sword to fatal ends in the duel versus the Danish Prince but fortunately our Hamlet is able to find an anecdote at the last second. He still goes unconscious for a while which conveniently allows us to transition to a flashback and solve last week's cliffhanger moment as we meet the man who shot an arrow through stranded Oliver. And it turns out, he severely wounded Ollie in order to keep him safe, something we eventually learn to be true even though the danger remains faceless. I'm getting ahead of myself. Ollie wakes from the poison/drug fuelled dream only to find his sister Thea once again acting out, this time going drunken dress shopping at a closed store. Oops. After she decides to play hooky too, Ollie feels the need to step in and tell his mother Moira how to parent.
"Interpol even has a codename for him. Deadshot."
Speaking of parents, Detective Daddy (Lance) is on the scene of the James Holder murder and doesn't like the common theory that Arrow is the culprit. It doesn't fit because we all know the 'Hood' doesn't use firearms. He uses arrows. It's kind of his thing. While the Dicks discuss the bullet riddled rooftop, Ollie does a little chemistry to identify the poison before turning to his computer (again, there's more) to find a file linking it to Deadshot. And since the assassin is far more dangerous than the white collars on his list, Ollie decides to move him to the top but first, he's got to open a nightclub. The plan is to turn Queen Industries' run down warehouse in the Glades into not only Starling City's trendiest club but also, as I said, Arrow's Arrowcave. Tommy's not so sure and figures they best check out the competition, which happens to be owned by a guy whose fiancé once fell for Ollie's charms, and Dig just rags on the idea for its racist undertones. Yep. The white knight gentrifying the shitty neighborhood. Better to let the Glades rot. And I thought Dig got wise to the hero's intentions last week, why are we back to square one?
"Who stays mad at a castaway?"
After another bout of voice-over, this time completely unnecessary since it's simply rehashes what we just saw, Laurel finally shows her beautiful face only to once again be fed some terrible lines! Someone has to do something about the dialogue between her and her co-workers, especially since they didn't even use 'trolling' in the proper context. Anyway, all work and no play makes Laurel a dull girl and it's time she got physical with someone other than Ollie and Ollie's best friend. The other ladies in his life have their own thread with Moira taking her son's advice (although not admitting it) and enforcing a few rules on Thea. The 'I care, I'm your mother' line plays nicely since we know she's up to something sinister from both of the previous episodes' tags. While Oliver's out doing some parkour detective work (wear a disguise if you're going to Spider-Man up a wall!), Detective Lance continues to contest the conclusion that Arrow is their man, especially after they finally get caught up on the poison angle and discover that the killing shot came from over 100 yards away.
"Well, if you need us, we're just a 911 call away."
The bullet casing that Ollie found on his PK adventure leads him to the Russian mob, more specifically to a particularly seedy garage somewhere in the Glades. The meeting doesn't start so smoothly but once Ollie reveals his legit 'captain' tattoo everything calms down. Who knows how he got that ink, probably something to do with the increasingly LOST-like mysterious island on which he was a cast away. The Russians agree to find out some info on Deadshot who, at the time, is busy tattooing the name of his latest victim on his skin. We know this thanks to the TV. Any of the other names ring a bell? Detective Lance decides to interview Walter and Moira since all the people killed by the assassin are potential buyers of a business that the former is also interested in acquiring. If not a veiled accusation, then consider it a friendly warning and reminder that the Staring City PD is there to protect and serve. Ollie and Tommy obviously run into Laurel at the rival nightclub, poorly named Poison, and Thea does everyone a favor by drunkenly airing their dirty laundry. That's enough out of her, except Ollie's not her father!
"How dangerous is this gig anyway?"
The Thea threads continue to drag on me a little but Holland isn't a bad actress and perhaps her upcoming reconciliation (or sorts) with mommy with help her start to get over all the festering hatred for her brother. Back at the club, the owner is indeed not too pleased to see Oliver and decides to have the bouncers beat him and Tommy up a bit. That is, until Laurel steps in a handles things and all in her high heels. This bird can fight! She also doesn't need nor want her former boyfriend's forgiveness for her and Tommy bumping uglies. This image forces Ollie into a flashback where we see him run from the Green Arrow dressed marooned man and into a giant net. Dig takes the beaten up white boys to the local burger joint run (?) by his dead brother's wife. The way they handled the information about the cause of his death was perhaps the clumsiest sequence of the series so far. Fortunately, it was cut with Ollie and Tommy hashing out their differences which contained a couple of pretty good lines. The writers can manage the quips just fine but anything sincere reads painfully on the nose.
"I can't protect all of Deadshot's targets. I can't do this alone."
Good thing the next scene is a great action sequence that finds Arrow arriving at Deadshot's doorstep before the pair shoot it out. Ollie is horribly outgunned but still manages to make Floyd Lawton flee out the window but not before riddling the computer with bullets. Hence the visit to Ms. Smoak to see what she can salvage. Do you feel a team coming together? Meanwhile Mom and Thea have a heart to heart that is actually rather warm even though the cat-tiger story is a bunch of gibberish. It also fits a scene in between the two with Smoak and when we return Ollie learns the location of the next assassination attempt as well as a little humility. Yes, even superheroes need some help. He recruits Detective Lance, his sarcastic Jim Gordon, and the rest of the SCPD to ensure that the auction is protected but of course Deadshot has killed one of their men and is perfectly in position. For some reason we leave the action to watch Tommy ask Laurel to give him a chance before returning for the final showdown.
And It doesn't disappoint. The extended sequence, from the thwarted shooting (except for the fact that the waiter as well as several others still get hit) to Deadshot taking one in the eye, is pretty exciting and well choreographed. It's also great to see them inject a bit of fun in the otherwise bleak universe with remarks like "I admire your work" right in the middle of the fight. We also get those aforementioned mysterious men who arrive at the now empty net. They look like some kind of military outfit, all clad in black with big black boots, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was somehow related to Moira's scheming with the man in the limousine at the end of last week. Anyway, the island Arrow helps Ollie hide from the men reinforcing the theme that you can't do everything on your own right before the big moment when he reveals his true identity to Digs. A great way to end the episode and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see that they'll be working together. Arrow returns with Episode 4, "An Innocent Man," next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
Arrow returns with Episode 4, "An Innocent Man," Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Based on DC Comics' "Green Arrow," the series stars Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Willa Holland and Colin Donnell.