Category Archives: cw

Arrow S02 E06: "Keep Your Enemies Closer"

At last, we’re going to find out where Oliver got his Russian mob cred, and where he got that Bratva tattoo, as the crew takes a trip to Russia. Almost sounds like an “I Love Lucy” episode, doesn’t it? Just not as funny.

In our opening sequence, after some Lucy style secret identity shenanigans with Summer Glau’s Isabel Rochev, Arrow and his sidekick, um, snitch, um, sidekick, Roy Harper bust up some counterfeiters in short order. In the midst of it, and here’s where it gets good, Diggle gets kidnapped.

Diggle gets kidnapped by dudes namedropping Task Force X, the Suicide Squad’s official codename, and answering to Mockingbird, who gave orders to the Secret Six in the comics. When he comes to, he is confronted by, da da da dum, a very svelte looking Amanda Waller, played by Cynthia Addai-Robinson, who you might remember as Naevia from “Spartacus,” which also starred our Deathstroke, Manu Bennett.

Waller, who Diggle identifies as being with ARGUS, tells him that Lyla has vanished after following up some leads in Russia. Specifically Lyla was tracking Deadshot for Diggle. Waller, who also knows what Diggle and Oliver Queen do with their nights, wants Lyla extracted. So much for sightseeing in Russia, it sounds like it’s all business.

Back on flashback island, or more accurately, the Amazo boat, Professor Ivo interrogates Oliver with Sarah present. It seems that the island was where a Japanese World War II secret super soldier formula is, and Ivo’s looking for it. The formula, that gifts super strength and enhanced regeneration, is called Mirakuru – miracle.

Or is that Miraclo? With the recent announcement of an Hourman series possibly in development, I can’t help but wonder if The Flash isn’t the only back door pilot being prepped here… For those who don’t know your Golden Age comic lore, Miraclo is the drug that Hourman takes to gain super strength, super stamina, and yes, even regenerative abilities for one hour.

Dylan Neal’s dad next door portrayal of Anthony Ivo is extremely creepy when you think about this guy was up to in the comics, and what he’s probably up to here. There is just this very scary chord of quiet menace in his performance. Factoid: Neal played a character ironically linked to Amanda Waller back on the CW’s “Smallville.” And could the sadistic Captain of the Amazo… be the future Amazo??

Back in the present, Wendy and Marvin, ahem, I mean Isabel insists on tagging along to Russia with the Arrowcave trio. It’s like a sitcom setup almost, and infuriating. They have to avoid Isabel while trying to find Lyla and Deadshot. Let me tell you, this does not make Summer Glau any more likable or tolerable. She is even less likable drunk, and downright hatable as a one night stand.

We do get the goods on how Oliver is a Bratva captain. Anatoli Knyazev, known as the KGBeast in the comics, was his prison mate on the Amazo boat. Oliver saved his life, and was rewarded with tattoo and rank. Anatoli helps them find Lyla and Deadshot, beginning Diggle’s brief prison movie inside the show. In the end, everyone gets saved, but Diggle can’t kill Deadshot.

However Diggle does learn who hired Deadshot to kill his brother. In a reveal that may bring some loose ends full circle to a knot, Deadshot says he was hired by H.I.V.E. Not in the comics, but in the “Teen Titans” cartoon, the H.I.V.E. was run by a guy called Brother Blood. Da da dum.

On the subplot track, Jean Loring makes her third appearance as Moira Queen’s attorney. This is the first time however I was aware of her name. This is Jean Loring?? I was very surprised. Teryl Rothery is a beautiful but older woman, but based on the character’s previous mention (‘Ray and Jean’), I would have assumed she was younger, much younger, a contemporary, a peer, of Laurel and Oliver. Let’s just hope she’s not being paid in white dwarfs or black diamonds…

The Blood Rush mini-adventure starring Felicity and Roy, and sponsored by Bose, is dumb. There I said it. It’s out of continuity, confusing, and dumb. Just give the actors more screen time in the real show and give the audience a real Bose commercial. Otherwise, this is a waste of time.

Speaking of dumb and waste of time, it seems that Felicity is being groomed for the role of Oliver’s romantic interest, or worse than that, his fawning crush. She tells him he deserves better, regarding Isabel. I’d like to tell the producers that Felicity deserves better than this kind of crap. Come on. Make Felicity a strong female character on television, not another one of Oliver’s failed attempts at a relationship.


Next week: The return of (The) Count (and) Vertigo!

Advertisements

Arrow S02 E02: "Identity"

The winds of change from the last episode sweep in in the first seconds of this one, as Oliver Queen’s opening narrative has changed. No longer a killer, striving to be a hero, yet still unnamed, even without a name (Oliver swore off The Hood monicker last time), this is a change for the better.

Our secondary opening has Roy Harper, in his red hoodie, driving a red car (nice, but when’s he going to get a red costume and red arrows?), trying to save a FEMA truck from China White. He’s really not good at this vigilante stuff, Roy should get a… mentor, or something…

Laurel questions him once he gets hauled to the police station. She seems to have developed her father’s fixation on capturing The Hood, at all costs. She also scoffs at Roy’s mention of a certain Black Canary-like vigilante. If “Smallville” has taught us fanboys anything, it’s that the rules change in the jump from comics to TV. While I doubt it, there is a chance that Laurel Lance is not the Black Canary.

Maybe he’s not Brother Blood yet, as I posited last time, but Alderman Sebastian Blood, defender of The Glades, certainly is a thorn in Oliver’s side. Perhaps this will lead to our hero running for mayor as he did in the comics?

Green arrows, red arrows, black canaries, and brothers blood, that’s all good, but that’s not the big comics surprise in this episode. That would be the Bronze Tiger, played by Michael Jai White (“Black Dynamite” and Spawn). Here, he’s China White’s new partner, but in the comics, he was a member of the League of Assassins, and served in the Suicide Squad, ironically alongside Deadshot and Count Vertigo. More Wolverine than Bronze Tiger, he’s still bad ass.

There were many things I didn’t like. Laurel is annoying in hunter mode. If she is the Black Canary, I hope she’s not mining this personality. Thea is not making a believable grown-up, no matter how adult her dresses are. And I prefer Felicity as nerd girl rather than pretty whiner. Is she shopping at the same fashion designer as Thea?

There was a nice namedrop for writer Jeff Lemire this episode. I also loved the use of the first trick arrows – the electric arrow and the handcuff arrow. Can the Arrowcar and the boxing glove arrow be far behind? Next week, we get the resolution to our juicy cliffhanger, the Dollmaker, and the Canary uncaged…

Arrow S02 E01: "City of Heroes"

We begin, as always, on the island, but much like how things are on Joss Whedon’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” nothing is what it seems. This isn’t a flashback, this is the present day. Oliver is on the island, yes, but Diggle and Felicity are coming to find him.

Some time has passed since last season. Well, obviously. Oliver ran away after failing Starling City and losing his best friend. His mom is now in prison, Iron Heights, and Queen Consolidated is ripe for hostile takeover by a company called Stellmoor International. So Diggle and Felicity have come to bring our hero home.

It’s worth noting that in the comics, the New 52 continuity specifically, Stellmoor International does in fact buy out Queen Industries. CEO Simon Lacroix, an enemy of Robert Queen, Oliver’s father, is also the super-villain called Komodo, one of Green Arrow’s rogues gallery. Notably in the comics, the evil archer known as Komodo also killed Robert Queen.

Speaking of comics parallels, there’s an opening for mayor of the city, a position Oliver Queen has held, and there’s a church and a guy named Blood in the Glades… it couldn’t be Brother Blood, and the Church of Blood, could it?

There are also more than a few name drops of Central City. I guess they are already prepping for the Flash two-parter in December and planned spin-off. Speaking of masked vigilantes, in the wake of the destruction of the Glades and the missing Hood, it seems others have taken up the slack. Roy Harper is one, a gang called the Hoods are others.

Genre and fan favorite Summer Glau plays Isobel Rochev, head of acquisitions for Stellmoor. As much as I like her, she’s unconvincing here, but I guess we’ll be seeing more of her. The returning cast is excellent as always, more comfortable in their roles, Emily Bett Rickards continues to be my breakout favorite, and Stephen Amell’s bare chest should still get its own credit.

“City of Heroes” is a very angsty episode. Thea won’t visit her mom in prison. Laurel won’t get back with Oliver because of Tommy. Oliver won’t become the Hood again. That last one is because of guilt, and Tommy’s calling him a murderer. It’s so good that they are finally facing up to that factor of this version of Green Arrow. I don’t like my heroes to be serial killers. This is a good thing.

Speaking of good things, the best part of the episode is in the last five minutes. It’s not just Oliver deciding on a new name for his non-vigilante hero identity. While Roy is out amateur vigilant-ing, he gets in over his head and is saved by a masked blonde in black leather. Could this be… the Black Canary?

Tune in next week, same Arrow time, same Arrow channel… for the return of China White, and rumor has it… the Bronze Tiger!

Arrow: Year One

Last night the CW aired an intriguing hour of television called “Arrow: Year One.” Narrated by Stephen Amell, the actor who portrays Oliver Queen, it tells the tale of the first season of “Arrow” somewhat chronologically, by storyline, by character, and by episode.

When I say intriguing, I mean odd for the medium. What we saw is essentially a clip show, with a voiceover telling us exactly what we’re seeing. Anything that wasn’t clear in viewing the last season, we’re told outright. For instance, things we viewers may have assumed, like names, are verified in this ‘special episode.’

We get to the end of the tale, and our season one cliffhanger. The Undertaking ultimately involved destroying The Glades with an earthquake device, and succeeded. Of course it all ends with a two-minute preview of season two. Here, however, is a juicy clip from season two they didn’t show. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Yeah, baby. Be here next week for a review of the first new episode of “Arrow.”

Arrow Season Two Preview

In a season which also promises The Flash, and possibly Black Canary, Speedy, and Ras al Ghul, this looks like it’s going to be a good one!

“Arrow” season two starts Wednesday, October 9th.

Arrow: Sacrifice

Finally we’re at the season finale of “Arrow.” It’s been a long road, sometimes bumpy, sometimes kinda cool. We enter shortly after we last left our hero. Stephen Amell’s Oliver was unmasked and unconscious, and at the mercy of John Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn. Amell’s chest makes a welcome return as Barrowman plays Bond villain and gloats a bit before leaving our hero hanging chained and flashbacking.

After a pretty dynamic escape, wishy-washily aided by Diggle, Oliver jumps from character to character playing emotional catch up. There’s a real sense of finality to it all. Tommy to potential villain, Laurel to potential girlfriend, Quentin to potential ally, everything but Arrow to the rescue. There’s a nice bit while Felicity is taken in for questioning, and she channels “Smallville”‘s Chloe to Detective Lance, saying maybe The Hood is a hero.

As the gears begin to click together, it seems that Moira Queen is more of a hero than anyone else in the cast. She calls a press conference, revealing The Undertaking and naming Merlyn responsible. The problems? You can’t stop John Barrowman, and Thea goes to The Glades to get Roy. Meanwhile Oliver and Diggle go after Merlyn while Felicity and Quentin look for the Markov Device. Why do I get the feeling someone’s not making it out of this alive?

I have to say I was surprised who it was that wasn’t going to make it. I have to wonder if it was a last minute decision by the showrunners as well. In hindsight, it seems to be more tidying up than anything else. I liked Tommy a lot, and would have dug his young, hip, and vengeful Merlyn the Magician.

The one thing that really bothered me about this episode was the lack of resolution, both on the island, and in the present. While the thinking behind Merlyn’s redundancy plan is sound and logical, it’s very unsatisfying storywise. I don’t want to see the hero lose. Maybe that’s something they can work in next season…

Arrow: Darkness on the Edge of Town

Not the final episode of the season, but this is what all roads have been leading up to on “Arrow.” We know what The Undertaking is – some sort of seismic device that will level The Glades, and Malcolm Merlyn is behind it. Can Oliver stop him, and save the city? The clock is ticking.

The episode begins with a late night killing raid on Unidac Industries by the Black Archer. Unidac is of course the company that made the Markov Device. Killed in the attack, Brion Markov, who in the comics, is Geo-Force. Just so we wouldn’t have a fast paced action adventure show, we’re stalled by more romantic parrying between Oliver and Laurel. It’s getting monotonous.

Meanwhile the two Speedies, Thea and Roy, are still stalking The Hood. It doesn’t take a genius to know they will be in the middle of it when the Markov Device goes off, and also likely for Hood vs. Archer, round two, as well. I hope we’re not headed toward Thea dying and Roy joining Oliver under the name Speedy.

But let’s not say this series can’t surprise me. A clever ploy by Oliver and Diggle forces Moira to confess the specifics of The Undertaking. Nice to see Diggle back in the Arrow togs though.

Revelations continue on the island, in flashback of course. Fyers plans to blow up all planes entering or leaving Chinese airspace to destabilize their economy. He has set Yao Fei up as the fall guy, after blackmailing him by shooting up Ollie, Shado, and Deathstroke. Fun reference for the comics folks, the first target is a passenger jet from Ferris Aircraft.

Back in the now, the Markov Device must be found, and the only way to find out is through the mainframe at Merlyn’s corporate headquarters, thus demanding a break-in with all of the Arrow crew. Nice to see Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity going all Oceans 11. Oh yeah, I want a Big Belly Burger jacket like Felicity’s if there’s anyone listening who can do anything about such a thing. I’ll take a XX.

What I don’t get is that as soon as Oliver knows for sure what The Undertaking is, and who’s behind it – what dies he do? Try to find the Markov Device? Showdown with Merlyn? Any kind of Arrow action? Nope. Booty call with Laurel. And quite possibly creating a new archenemy in Tommy. Yep, we’re back to bad idea theater.

Eventually The Hood does go after Malcolm, and we finally get to see John Barrowman do something other than talk and look pretty. Not for the first time, he hands Oliver his ass, this time getting a look under the hood. A perfect cliffhanger to lead into the season finale.

Arrow: The Undertaking

About mid-season of the “Arrow” series, the powers that be finally gave a name to the master plan that the bad guys of The List had for Starling City. They called it The Undertaking. It’s never been clear what it actually was, but we know it has sinister implications for The Glades – the ‘bad’ section of the city, and home to Roy Harper, the Verdant nightclub, and the ersatz Arrowcave. One supposes by the title of this episode, we’ll finally find out exactly what The Undertaking is.

From all indications, we might just find out what happened to Walter as well. A unique flashbacknot to the island, shows us a meeting of The List several years prior. It seems their original plan was to blackmail bad people into doing good things, but John Barrowman’s Merlyn suggests a new ‘undertaking,’ leveling The Glades and starting from scratch. No Glades, no crime. And there it is.

And OMG, the thing that’s going to level The Glades is called the Markov device. Comics readers know that half-siblings Brion and Tara Markov are Geo-Force and Terra, metahumans with earth elemental powers. Brion was a hero who joined the Outsiders and later the Justice League. Tara was a teenage psychopath who joined the Teen Titans in order to betray them to… Deathstroke, with whom she had a very unhealthy and possibly illegal relationship. Wow. I’m guessing The Glades go in an earthquake.

In the soap opera zone, Laurel goes to Verdant to cry on Oliver’s shoulder about her break-up with Tommy. Felicity’s awkward walk-in may have sent odd signals to Laurel. Sigh. To quote one of my favorite “Simpsons” lines, “When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory?” In this case, fireworks factory equals superhero action.

In a slightly more high quality melodrama moment we get to watch Barrowman tell of his wife’s death in order to convince Oliver’s father to go along with The Undertaking. It really the first time “Arrow” has given the man room to act. Finally. And we get a glimpse into the making of a villain.

In the distracting secondary plot of the episode (because on “Arrow,” the overarc is always the main plot), Felicity goes undercover in a casino to find clues of Walter’s whereabouts. As I’ve said before, Emily Bett Rickards’ Felicity cleans up real nice, but then again I like her in and out of nerd.

With no Diggle for back-up, The Hood has to save her, doing so like a bull in a china shop. I counted at least four arrows to the chest, one a woman, probably some of them only patrons to the casino. Once again, I find myself rooting for the police to put this murderous Bizarro version of Green Arrow away.

At first it seems that Walter was dead, and then alive. The Hood saves him, plowing through henchmen to get him, but first parachuting down onto their hideout from a plane. I couldn’t get past that. Who was flying the plane? Wouldn’t they know it was The Hood on board, and jumping out? Seems like a major loose end here.

Things are heating up and finally coming together. Oliver makes up with Diggle. And he admits to Laurel he still loves her. And, most importantly, he knows that Merlyn and his mom have been lying to him, and they are behind The Undertaking. The secrets are out, time for the real game to begin.

Other shout outs to the comics in this episode include Ted Kord for whom a fundraiser was held in flashback. Ted Kord was the second Blue Beetle. And Walter was being held in Bludhaven, Dick (Nightwing) Grayson’s old stomping ground.

Yes, things are finally heating up, I can’t wait for the next episode. As long as they keep tying up loose ends, that is.

Arrow: Home Invasion

Deadshot has been a growing threat in the world of “Arrow.” While a minor Batman villain and Suicide Squad superstar in the comics, here he is a one-eyed super-assassin for hire. His most twisted attribute, besides the weird red eye piece, is his penchant for tattooing the names of his victims on his body.

His biggest claim to infamy on the series is that he killed John Diggle’s brother. Diggle is now obsessed, perhaps ever more so than Oliver. Not only is revenge biting his ass, but Diggle’s can’t really move his relationship with his sister-in-law (his late bro’s wife) until Deadshot is dealt with.

We open on Diggle training with Oliver, while Deadshot makes another hit. Felicity has hacked into ARGUS and is tracking Deadshot. I really have to wonder where this is going with ARGUS. Is there a Justice League in Oliver’s future? Probably not, as this ARGUS acronym isn’t the same as the comics.

Diggle’s contact in ARGUS has a little more fire. Named Lyla in the show, she’s given the surname Michaels in the Arrow companion comic. Lyla Michaels is the real name of Harbinger, a power player in DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths way back in 1985. Harbinger was missioned with the task of collecting the superheroes who would then save the universe/multiverse. Harbinger is even her codename in the show. What an interesting connection.

The opening shoves a whole lot of plot, subplot, and information into a very short amount of time, so much so, my head began to spin a bit. The current dynamic of Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity is counterpointed by the flashback dynamic of Oliver, Deathstroke, and Shado. We also learn Oliver is lunchdating Laurel even though he’s on the outs with Tommy. Bad, Oliver, just the first of many bad decisions this episode.

This is all under eight minutes, before the credit sequence. We are also introduced the main plot/subplot of this episode. Laurel is working with a family who were testifying against a bad man, List-worthy, but surprisingly not on it – it could be his dumb name, Edward Rasmus. His hired killer, Mr. Blank, gets the parents but misses the seven year old son. Laurel takes the kid in. Don’t think the thought hasn’t crossed my mind that most times when you add a kid, you’ve jumped the shark.

This is all in about ten minutes. The episode hasn’t really even started. It doesn’t get less complicated as the episode continues. After a few awkward moments between ex-friends Oliver and Tommy, some bonding between Tommy and the kid, and a fairly cool scene where Mr. Blank attacks Laurel, the couple and the kid move in with the Queens to enjoy the heavy security there. I found that puzzling. Besides Diggle, Queen security has seemed extremely lame. Obviously it’s The Hood who will protect them, but Quentin Lance shouldn’t have agreed to it.

It gets very predictable at this point. There are newborn kittens who knew Oliver will be distracted with Deadshot the next time Mr. Blank attacks, letting everyone down, duh. Or the other way around, although it should have been the former. As one would expect, Oliver makes the bad choice. The worst choice, and we lose Diggle over it. At this point, the only thing that could make this worse would be an appearance by the Huntress.

Speaking of bad choices, on the island, while being trained in archery, Oliver kisses Shado. For comics fans, we know how that works out. The cliffhanger here finally means forward motion on the island at least.

Mr. Blank is an intriguing villain, played by J. August Richards, formerly of “Angel.” He reminds me a lot of Chiwetel Ejiofor as The Operative in Serenity. He’s very calm, very precise, and likes to make conversation with his prey. He was a very suitable foe for this version of Green Arrow. His clash with Oliver is perhaps one if the best of the series so far.

As if there’s not enough going on, Roy Harper, who is apparently dating fellow Speedy, Oliver’s sister Thea, is trying to track down The Hood. There is a good scene where finally it’s addressed that The Hood is a murderer. Finally. Thea agrees to help Roy find The Hood. More shark jumping in the form of idiotic 1950s secret identity protection? I hope not, cuz that’s what breaks up Tommy and Laurel. Worst case scenario – Oliver takes on a teenage sidekick (or two) to replace Diggle. I know it’s the natural progression, but damn it, I liked David Ramsey’s Diggle a lot.

This was a very uneven episode, save some great character bits, a throwaway Wonder Twins reference, and of course, Mr. Blank. Only three more episodes to go, I wonder how it’s going to go…

Arrow: Unfinished Business

We begin with a girl dancing and dying in traffic, drugged up on a new version of Vertigo. This results in visits to see The Count in the asylum, by both The Hood and Detective Lance. For the second episode in a row, the Joker parallels are there. The Count is obsessed with Arrow, and more focused in his presence. While Starling City is under siege from this new Vertigo, yeah, you guessed it, The Count escapes.

While Arrow pursues The Count, Diggle is still looking for Deadshot, the villain who killed his brother way back when. He gives all info that Felicity found on him to an old friend named Lyla, who now runs with an outfit called Argus. Comic readers will recognize the name. A.R.G.U.S. is the organization that manages the Justice League, and does all their gruntwork, as well as their PR.

Tommy has problems of his own. Lance thinks there’s a connection between Verdant and the dead girl who died from Vertigo, and starts to investigate the club. He finds a suspicious $10,000 missing in its records. At first I’m thinking, wait, the ‘Arrowcave’ only cost ten grand??

It turns out however that the cash was used to pay off a corrupt building inspector. Lance wants to see the sub-level to the club now, and has brought a search warrant. In what should have been some clever switch, we merely get some rearranged furniture and crates. It’s still not clear who packed up the Arrowcave – Oliver, because he inexplicably knew Lance was coming, or Tommy because he was afraid of what Oliver might do. This best friends one minute, assailant/victim thing the next is getting old.

Speaking of supporting cast, Felicity is not as much fun now that she is in on the secret. Rather than an actual player in the show, she’s become simply an errand girl. Find this, do this, she may as well have “Yes, sir, no, sir.” as her only lines. I want the old Felicity back. And as long as we’re talking about the women in Oliver’s life, on the island, Shado starts training him finally.

In the end, the Vertigo is tracked back to the asylum. Another Joker reference emerges. How many years did the Joker operate out of Arkham, his own headquarters beneath the mental hospital itself? But it’s not The Count doing the dirty work, but his doctor and intern. Once they have been dispatched, Oliver mercifully does not take out the apparently insane Count.

This is just like the Carl moment in this past week’s season finale of “The Walking Dead.” Carl kills a surrendering kid, not for what he had done, but for what he might do in the future. Will Oliver live to regret not killing The Count, or should he have Carl-ed him?