I’ve had a couple of friends start to watch Arrow via Netflix. Inevitably they get about 5-7 episodes in and come to me wondering what it is that I’ve been blithering – or cackling with glee - on about insistently. I always counter with I said to watch the Pilot and skip to about episode 11. With SHIELD and a host of other shows returning, I’ve been puzzling about what it is that really tied all of Arrow’s threads together and pushed it down the course it is presently on. It was Emilly Bett Rickards’ Felicity Smoack, she is the heart (and audience surrogate) for this show about broken people trying to find someone to be honest with. John Diggle may be Oliver’s confidant and conscious along with his ability to empathies with him better than most, but he’s still a killer. Sara Lance actually can empathies and understand what Ollie is going through, she has the scars to prove it. None of them are Felicity, unbroken and innocent, she isn’t a killer or damaged goods, she’s adorable and wants to help people. Her presence gave Arrow so much needed warmth for a series that could have the Arrow dropping 5 henchmen like nothing.
Arrow season 2 has done a lot of aggressive expansion in terms of universe and Team Arrow. They’ve nearly doubled Team Arrow and it’s easy to have characters get lost in the shuffle. Even when actors aren’t hampered by scheduling issues (David Ramsey). Seriously what’s up with Roy Harper? I know Colton Hayes is still a recurring character but he hasn’t done a thing in several episodes. Felicity was used to being Ollie’s “girl” and now with Sara around who can fight with a staff and has all those “cool” scars she’s understandably feeling a bit left out and useless. All of this makes for fertile, if a bit cheap, ground to emotionally couch an episode like “Time of Death” within.
This easily bought and executed emotional energy powers the double MacGuffin engine that drives “Time of Death” main plot. When you announce one with the name like Skeleton Key, as in a device that can open anything, and that’s all is said on the matter it comes down to the characters reactions to this meaningless device. Oliver reacts frightened; having developed a similar one for Queen’s consolidated before shutting it down because it was “dangerous”. It provides enough believability in this totally fake meaningless device. “Time of Death” second little engine within the engine (Inception Button Here): MacGregor's Syndrom. Shout out to the terribleness of Batman & Robin. Here it provides proper emotional reasoning for our villain William Tockman to do the things that he is doing, and not turn what could easily have been a totally evil character only a little bit evil. With these two pieces in place, all that’s left for the episode to do is show some cool heists. Thankfully precision is what William Tockman, guest star Robert Knepper, is best at.
The Clock King may be next to only Mr. Freeze in terms of characters with great reinventions from Batman: The Animated Series. In “Time of Death” by Wendy Mericle writers Beth Schwartz take this fact and reference it by turning Tockman into something resembling Mr. Freeze: A man who turns to crime in order to care for someone with an extreme aliment. A tragic motivation and Robert Knepper’s screen presence always has Tockman on the edge between bookish (not that dangerous) and completely dangerous, stabbing people with clock hands. By the end of this, he isn’t dead and I hear that A.R.G.U.S. is hiring for some kind of special Task Force recently.
I come from a big family, we used to have those big family dinners every Sunday; making me a bit of a sucker for big family dinners from hell. Before Sara got on the Queen’s Gambit, the Lance at least appeared to be a happy family. Now that they are all physically present again, they try to reconcile and go back to how things used to be. But discover one of Arrow’s main themes, that you can’t return to how things used to be, only deal with how things are currently. Poor not quiet Detective Lance, he was going to make Chicken Cacciatore.
Laurel ends up being the most violitile element at the table. Her downward spiral has been tough to watch for many reasons but these types of pulp moments of melodrama are what Katie Cassidy dose best. Going into another woe is me rant as she figures out that Sara and Oliver are now…something, and storming out. Amell makes for a good dance partner in these types of situations like the hallway, where all the built of furty is finally unleashed on Laurel for acting so selfish. With this now out of the way, Laurel appears to be on the upswing and rebuilding herself, yay maybe she’ll be pushed into the main thread.
A lot of people don’t , but I LOVE how trash Arrow can be at times. This show is smarter than its appears but it also knows that it is inherently a soap opera and every now and again just goes glorious soap. Who better for this than Mannu Bennet with his classical masculinity and hammy charm (when he wants to be). Again we end on Bennet just chewing scenery in an eye patch and a sly grin. This time in the Queen Mansion, revealing himself to Oliver nonchalantly. “Time of Death” director Nick Copus knows exactly that this scene is meant to be a pulpy cliff hanger and plays it as such. The handshake between Wilson and Oliver could of shook the Mansion. It’s a moment of dumb fun that becomes a fear reminder that people may not be making it to season 3.
The Bits At the End
· Another thing I’m a sucker for: family reconciliation.
· Hey Kord Industries is in town, cool