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"And what are you gonna do? Take 'em all down by your lonesome?"
After two almost identical episodes to start the series, The CW's Arrow took a step forward with last week's third installment, "Lone Gunman." Not that the first episodes weren't entertaining despite their similarities (and respective clunkiness) but it was nice to see the series take a step forward, not only in bringing in more villains from the DCU but altering the structure and starting to build Arrow's crime fighting team. There was a lot less rehashing of the past, who was with whom when, and instead was shaping the relationships for the future and once it stops telling us everything, relying too heavily on the voice-over crutch, and starts showing us, Arrow will be more than just a solid comic book series and instead become a very good mix of serialized and episodic action-adventure. Although they are moving in the right direction there as well, skipping the opening voice-over and instead opting for the much more subtle catch-up with a 'previously on' clip package before "An Innocent Man." Much better, even though we still heard him say "My name is Oliver Queen..."
"Oliver, you're not a solider. You're a criminal. And a murderer."
Still, I'd rather them work the awkward voice-over introduction into an assemblage of footage than have each and every installment open with a monologue re-setting the stage. Besides, they couldn't really get away with too much talk because this week starts right where "Lone Gunman" left off, with Ollie revealing his alter-ego to Dig. And the first thing Dig does? Takes a swing. No wonder he's one of my favorite characters. The conflict between the hero and his (not your) sidekick provides a great structural frame for the rest of "An Innocent Man" to build on even though there's perhaps a little too much added for one episode. But before getting to the overstuffing, Oliver's job offer is rejected by Dig and the pair seemingly go their separate ways. Ollie heads home and is greeted by a concerned and then angry Laurel lecturing him on selfishness. Surprisingly Thea is the sympathetic one this week, coming to console and offer advice to her brother instead of piling on like I thought might happen. And when neither of them can sleep, they share a nice moment while the TV tells us about 'wife killer' Peter Declan.
"I'm not the person you think I am and I need your help..."
Did somebody say Jason Brodeur? Well, that's all Ollie needed to hear to know that something must be fishy with the Declan case. The television tells us a bit more about the wrongly convicted man the next morning when Ollie meets the new bodyguard hired by his mother Moira. Yep, there's a new bodyguard after Dig resigned, citing that he didn't like the way the young Queen was spending his evenings, and it doesn't take long for Ollie to make him the source of comic relief. At least he waves goodbye. It takes Arrow and his trusty computer only a few minutes to figure out what really happened in the Declan case, his wife being a whistleblower at Brodeur's company, and he soon decides to bring in a good attorney. I wonder who that will be? He stops by Laurel's apartment at a suitably late hour and it's the first time we get to hear Ollie use his voice modulator, which I think is a great touch. After a brief standoff, he tells her why he walked into her apartment instead of the thousands of other lawyers and, since the next scene finds her investigating the 'open and shut' case, it apparently does the trick. Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
"Oh, that boy is long gone now."
It doesn't take much convincing on Declan's part to have Laurel dive all the way into the case and she's soon off to see Detective Dad about the relevant files. But she doesn't tell him why she's suddenly so interested, namely her superhero crush/partnership. First, we check in on yet another thread developing throughout "An Innocent Man" with Walter looking into a missing $2.6 million in Queen Consolidated funds. There's a nice name drop for Vancouver, the city in which the series is filmed, before the camera shows Moira looking squeamish. Do you think mystery mom has something to do with the money's disappearance? It doesn't take long for her to claim responsibility (with a lie) as well as swear to clean it up herself. Suspicious much? Back to the framing story, Dig sits in his sister-in-law's restaurant looking down in the dumps when Ollie arrives, new bodyguard in tow, to once again extend his offer. The pair have a spirited debate and I enjoy pretty much every time the two sit down together. Ollie does his best to convince Dig to accept, even bringing up how he was the one to finally nab his brother's killer, not the law.
"Ours isn't a court of justice, Ms. Lance, it's a court of law. "
Laurel's poorly used girlfriend at the office has another short scene this week to tell the single female lawyer (I forgot last week) to get out more and she's not talking about vigilantes! Perfect segue to her meeting with Arrow on a random rooftop to discuss how to proceed with the Declan case and how lonely is must be to be a masked hero before he looks super cool ziplining away. Here the episode gets a little choppy, throwing in small scenes in order to space out Arrow's actions and repeated visits with his girlfriend. This time, we leave the hero to check in on Walter continuing his investigation into the 2.6 million even after his wife vouched for its whereabouts. In order to accomplish some sneakery, he recruits the show's resident IT expert Felicity Smoak (a DCU character introduced last week) to help him out. She's cute enough that the banter works, even if not really that well written or purposeful. In the meantime, Arrow has caught up with the dead wife's lying supervisor and it only takes the threat of a train to Bludhaven (where Dick Greyson's Nightwing may or may not be patrolling the streets) to get him not just talking but offering up exonerating evidence!
"I'm right too, about him. He's dangerous. He's outside the law."
Well, what would be exonerating evidence in a city interested in justice. Starling City? It's not even enough to stay an execution. Before Laurel is shut down by what may be the worst judge in history, she first gets delivered the files during another late night rendezvous with Arrow, this time in her darkened office. They is definitely some sparks flying as she tells him how the city needs unselfish people like him and both of them leave with smiles on their pretty faces. The smile is also noticed by Thea, once again showing up sans drugs or any of the other annoying problems from previous weeks, but not the new bodyguard because he can't keep up. Detective Dad, however, is putting the pieces together and shows up pissed off that his daughter is working with the vigilante even though he acted on a tip exactly the same way last week. Okay without the starry eyes. Once the new evidence fails to make a difference, Laurel vows to take down Brodeur which makes him first, scared and second, set up a hit during her next visit to the prison.
"No he's not. He's targeting the list."
Smoak turns up some information on the missing money and informs Walter of his wife's investment in company called Tempest that owns a warehouse in Starling City. Tempest could reference a few things but two particular nautical connections come to mind. Tempest was the second name of Aqualad but more likely, it's an allusion to Shakespeare's play which includes storms and shipwrecks not to mention the fight for power. It's also time to quickly catch up with Dig, with his sister unknowingly encouraging him to reenter the dangerous situation. But was there any doubt? The interrogation of Brodeur is an oddly short scene that feels rushed and out of place but it does lead Ollie to the prison for the episode's big action set-piece. And it doesn't disappoint. It's not quite Arkham Asylum but the prison does become a pretty threatening place with the cages open, too bad I couldn't help but laugh the first time I saw Ollie in the guard get-up. That quickly faded as they fought their way though the building, especially when he almost rage-kills the big bad. It's interesting that they had Laurel flip back to being on her dad's side because I thought she and Arrow would be working together for some time.
"You want survive this place, bird not last thing you kill. And forget her. You look at that all day, you not survive this place."
And seeing him kill that bird, I'm not sure she's wrong! Kidding. As usual, there are several flashbacks sprinkled throughout "An Innocent Man" and this week they're mostly confined to the cave with Ollie debating whether or not to kill for food. He finally steps up to the plate and makes a meal for himself which also prompts his mentor to break the language barrier to teach him a valuable lesson about survival and the importance of letting go. Kill or be killed. Focus or, well, be killed. The end of the installment unravels with a few more clunky-cut, short scenes shifting between Detective Dad's realization about Ollie, Walter's discovery of the Queen's Gambit (the password was Robert) and Moira's meeting with the Limousine Man (a familiar sight since she did the same in Eps 1 and 2). "An Innocent Man" wraps up on an excellent note, having Dig visit the Queen Mansion to accept the other position right before Detective Lance busts in to take the hero downtown. I definitely wasn't expecting him being tied to Arrow to happen so soon but it will probably end up serving as a way to kill suspicion for a while. Dig would be a great alibi, if the rest of his family didn't know about his disappearing tricks.
Arrow returns with Episode 5, "Damaged," next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Prepare for Deathstroke. Yes!