Thursday, January 24, 2013

ARROW: "Trust But Verify" S1E11 (review)

By PJ Hruschak
"Trust and Justify," more like quick and deceitful (with a heaping helping of revelations)

As the episode name "Trust and Justify" pretty much explains, this week's episode features deceit galore. So they can pack in as much deceit as possible, this week's show utilizes a flurry of short, quick scenes that leave room for little dialog, a bit of action and a pair of end of episode revelations.

Blackhawk Down
Instead of the usual breathy intro, this week we start with an armored car robbery by some guys using military grade weapons. Although we don't get the usual Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) ultra workout session, we do see a second of him performing some on-arm pushups. We quickly learn that John "Digg" Diggle's (David Ramsey) former squad leader Ted Gaynor (Ben Browder) is on Oliver's list of local high-powered nasties destroying the city.

Arrow, Green Arrow, DC Comics, Blackhawks, Stephen Amell,
You can pretty much see where this is going already, can't you?

Diggs claims his old friend cannot possibly be bad and even stops Arrow early in the show from taking him down.

Throughout the episode Diggs and his friend chat about old times, much as Diggs' sister's-in-law diner and say slightly enigmatic things about their own lives.

Little sis Thea (Willa Holland) and mom Moira (Susanna Thompson) have some brief bonding time before mom gets called away from their birthday shopping spree into the giant office to have a secret meeting with corporate creepy man and co-conspirator, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman).

Arrow, Green Arrow, DC Comics, Blackhawks, Stephen Amell,

Sis sees them talking and assumes the worst. The sexy worst. That leads her into more complaining to Oliver and eventually to mom, resulting in the ultimate dramatic "I wish it was you on that [crashed and sunken] ship instead of dad" line. She's handed some glowy green drug-like mini Ziplock and, end of episode, crashes her car, fulfilling one of the show's opening lines that she'll not get a car for her birthday because she'll "crash it in the driveway." Nice play, writers. At the very end of the episode she's arrested and taken away for driving under the influence of a drug called "Vertigo" which will also be featured pretty prominently in next week's episode.

The Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) and Dinah "Laurel" Lance (Katie Cassidy) romance is brief in this one. It's mostly them dealing with Tommy's corporate nasty daddy (that guy pushing around Moira and who took Moira's new husband, Walter (Colin Salmon), in an earlier episode). The couple meets him for dinner where he's pulls a fast one at the end to try and get Tommy to sign over a charity clinic to him. Man, he really is a mean one. More on that later.

Arrow, Green Arrow, DC Comics, Blackhawks, Stephen Amell,

Oliver and Diggs spend most of the show dealing with Diggs' buddy at Blackhawk. Oliver eventually gets his hands on some secret file that he brings to our cute Queen resident techie, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), promising her wine to decode what turns out to be secret plans for - you guessed it - robbing armored cars. Diggs eventually goes snooping, and discovers that, yup, Blackhawk vehicles were used to rob armored cars. He then quickly discovers that his old leader is now leading the robberies. Diggs is eventually conned into helping - kidnapping the unrequited love interest will do that to ya - and Arrow saves the day. We do get to see Diggs fire a big old grenade launcher.

Arrow, Green Arrow, DC Comics, Blackhawks, Stephen Amell,

Oliver's island flashbacks this week begin with him in the outfit he grabbed from the guy he defeated last week. He pulls down a hood and is able to blend in with the other minions in the camp. He eventually ends up on a truck with the big baddie, Edward Fryers (Sebastian Dunn), who almost catches Oliver. No, wait, he does when they are looking at some cages.

Arrow, Green Arrow, DC Comics, Blackhawks, Stephen Amell,

The next reveal is that that green hooded Asian-y guy, Yao-Fei (Byron Mann) is actually on the side of the minions. Doh! Didn't quite see that one coming.

The show's final reveal is kinda big (but maybe not so much if checked out the character's names and know a bit of the DC lineup). Toward the end we see a pan of some fancy arrow shafts, a partial mask and costume with Malcolm Merlyn standing next to it. Yup, he's the Black Arrow (a.k.a. Arthur King, The Dark Archer, Vordigam and simply Merlyn) who whopped Oliver's green hooded arse a couple episodes ago.

Arrow, Green Arrow, DC Comics, Blackhawks, Stephen Amell,

Red, Amber...
While this week we saw a lot of Oliver in the green hood, we also saw a lot of everyone. For about three minutes each. The writers seem to be having a tough time keeping all the characters involved and interesting each week. It's forcing them into short, blurby dialog, one-minute scenes and hardly enough time to really be convinced of much. Little sis is too bratty, mother seems unconvincingly evil, Tommy and Lauren seem more like awkward friends than lovers and the flashbacks are truly flashes. Granted, I'm sure they want to avoid the lingering melodrama and yawn inducing dialog that would drag Smallville to a standstill but this week's quick cutting was a bit much. Tommy and Laura could have been completely cut out and nothing would have changed (although I suspect it's a tiny setup for a later episode).

All these brief moments also mean that Oliver's bar, dance club cover could take months of episodes to get anywhere past Tommy with blueprints telling workers where to go. Of course this is TV land so the week they need it done, it'll miraculously be awesomeness. Thea seems to be around simply to be an annoying teenager and abuse drugs. This is also a natural setup for her to become Arrow's archer sidekick, Speedy (which he also called her in the first episode), whose comic book incarnations also experienced some substance abuse issues.

Arrow, Green Arrow, DC Comics, Blackhawks, Stephen Amell,

Despite all the tidbits, this episode was really trying to focus on Diggs' heart of gold. Of course, it was established that he was a good guy (despite his grey and cranky persona) in an earlier episode when he confronted Oliver about killing people. I do have one nit to pick one point with Diggs: Oliver lets Diggs cross his former friend off the list in the book but, a moment later, Diggs tells Oliver he doesn't want to know any of the name in advance. Diggs just held it in his hands and there were clearly more than a dozen names yet to be crossed out on the open pages. Like last week's awkward phone call, it seems the show's pace may be cutting into its credibility.
 Arrow, Green Arrow, DC Comics, Blackhawks, Stephen Amell,

It also seems we have quite the deceptive parents theme going on throughout the series, with all the younger generation choosing the higher road. Sure, we know that a few might become heroes later but it's such a cut-and-dry generation gap that something will have to give. Some of the bad guys/gals Oliver runs into early in the season could be close to Oliver's age but it really seems that the persistent opponents are all parentals. And lemme guess: Tommy will take up his father's bow at some point a la Marvel's Green Goblin? (If so there may be a collective show-crushing sigh of annoyance.)

While Arrow seems to be paralleling Batman a bit - guy with no powers, fighting crime, secret hideout, has a high-tech friend and lives in a mansion - it needs to take a few more cues from the Detective Comics, allowing a bit more investigating and undercover work. Yes, that means we might get a few sluggish scenes here and there but I'm convinced they can work it in without killing an episode.

Arrow, Green Arrow, DC Comics, Blackhawks, Stephen Amell,

1 comment :

  1. I agree that the tertiary characters seem be getting screen time just so we don't forget about them; they aren't adding much to the episodes. I'm hoping next week might change that, with Thea having to face the consequences of her teenage misbehavior.