TV Recaps

‘Arrow’ Review: Dead to Rights Brings Up Daddy Issues and Fractures a Friendship

Last week, I mentioned that I was cautiously starting to really like Arrow and admittedly, I was very much looking forward to this week’s episode. I know I’ve been pretty vocal about my love for Felicity (she’s the BEST), but Tommy has been my favorite ever since he had his personality transplant early in the season and became completely awesome instead of a one dimensional whatever he was before.

So naturally I was looking forward to “Dead to Rights” because several people who were lucky enough to see the episode early or who are actually part of the cast (looking at you, Mr. Amell) indicated that this episode belonged to Colin Donnell. While Tommy was fantastic and we will get into that later, overall, the episode was disappointing. It wasn’t a bad episode, but it was a little predictable, a little too packed with hit-you-over-the-head comic references and honestly, it felt a little like they were trying too hard.

Let’s break the episode down, starting with the island flashback. Slade Wilson was taunting Oliver about how he needed to work out more so they could find a way off the island. Oliver pointed out that he was good at fixing things and started to work on repairing the plane’s radio. Oliver actually managed to get it to work, which shocked Slade, but then no one could hear them so it was still useless, kind of like these island flashbacks…

In the present, Dig was teaching Felicity some self-defense moves and we need to take a moment to appreciate his arms…moving on, I love Felicity and I didn’t think she was in this episode so that was a welcome surprise. But she didn’t have much to do aside from cracking a code to figure out who the random assassin that Oliver killed in the first scene was actually after.

Obviously the target was Malcolm since Moira put a hit out on him in the last episode. After Arrow killed the first assassin, China White decided she needed backup and she hunted down Deadshot (guess what, he’s not dead!). But he had some vision problems after that whole arrow to the eye thing, but China had a solution. She gave him some kind of laser-y looking device to place over his eye (I’m sure there’s a comics’ explanation for what this is, but I don’t know and I don’t want to look it up).

Anyway, it was Tommy’s birthday and Laurel was having a small party for him at her place, which was basically the two of them, Oliver and his super boring cop girlfriend (seriously, I bet he would have had the same amount of chemistry with the wall behind them as he did with her during that kiss). McKenna spotted a picture of Laurel’s sister and a black canary (get it?) and Laurel said that thing used to keep everyone awake.

Tommy was super happy since he had Oliver and Laurel and then Malcolm showed up to ruin everything. Actually, he showed up to give Tommy a present (from Tiffany’s?) and invite him to a benefit that was being thrown for him for being humanitarian of the year (Was anyone else having Gossip Girl flashbacks at this point to when Bart Bass was man of the year?)

Laurel was having some family drama of her own in the few scenes she got to have in the episode (I’m really starting to think Katie Cassidy kicked someone’s puppy or something. How else do they explain the leading lady barely getting to be in any episodes?) Her mom was calling her (refresher: she walked out on the family after Sara died in the yacht incident). Laurel wanted no part of her mother so obviously her mother decided to randomly show up on her doorstep and drop the bomb that she thinks that Sara might be alive.

Okay, first of all, ugh. No one is here for that. Most people predicted that anyway because we all watch a lot of soaps and people are never really dead, especially if there’s no body. But second, do we really need this to be a reality? Laurel barely gets any screen time and now we’re supposed to care about her sister possibly being alive when the bitch died cheating with Laurel’s boyfriend? Sorry, no, please stay at the bottom of the ocean. Even my mom, who normally enjoys this show a lot more than I do, went, “Oh, come on” when the twist was revealed (Oh and about that twist: The CW sent out a press release before the episode was over with the episode description for 1×17 and totally spoiled this revelation about Sara).

Now, it’s time to get back to Tommy and Malcolm. First, Oliver and Tommy had a heart to heart about their fathers while eating at a Chinese restaurant so Oliver could sneak away and interrogate some people. But the two talked about Oliver’s dad and how he wasn’t perfect, but he’d always been there. It got Tommy thinking and he decided to go to the benefit. Meanwhile, Oliver had a boring date with McKenna and bailed on her as soon as Dig and Felicity realized Malcolm was the target.

At the banquet, Moira was chatting with the guy from The Dark Knight and I kept waiting for Batman to show up and drag him back to Gotham City, but instead, he was questioning Moira on how she could be so fake with Malcolm when she had ordered his death and she was all, ‘it’s just another day after five years of lying’ (Seriously, I cannot make myself care about this woman at all. Oliver should have been an orphan). China was at the party without her signature hair and Deadshot was across the street waiting to take out Malcolm. Chaos erupted and Malcolm pulled Tommy away from the crowd because he wanted to make sure he was okay.

I guess this was a sweet moment or it would have been if Malcolm didn’t feel like a caricature. As they ran up to Malcolm’s office, he grabbed a gun, fought with some people and killed one of them to stop him from hurting Tommy. Obviously, Tommy was super confused about his dad’s sudden transformation into action hero like anyone would be and Malcolm started telling the story of some guy he met who changed his life (Okay, is this going to be Vordigan like on Smallville? Will he be the Dark Archer’s mentor instead of Oliver’s? That was my first thought). A hail of bullets interrupted before Tommy could get a glimpse at the Dark Archer costume and Malcolm went down.

But of course he was wearing a bulletproof vest because I can’t have nice things like his death. In the hallway, Oliver and China are having a knockdown, drag out fight, but then McKenna interrupts (Yawn). Oliver gets away and finds Tommy and Malcolm and warns Tommy that Malcolm has been poisoned and he needs a blood transfusion to stop it.

Tommy aims a gun at him and demands to know why he should trust him. Oliver shuts off his voice distorter, pushes his hood back, looks at his best friend and reminds him that he always has. Tommy is shocked. I am not. I feel like this was supposed to be a big twist, but I pretty much expected it from the moment I saw the episode stills and read that another person finds out Oliver’s identity.

Malcolm survives, Arrow gets away and Tommy is unnerved by all of it, telling Detective Lance that he has no idea who the vigilante is. Moira goes to the hospital to see Malcolm and he orders her to find the traitor in their midst (Awkward). Is it too much to hope that these two just kill each other?

Outside the room, Tommy tells Oliver that Malcolm will be okay thanks to him and then he recalls him killing their kidnappers. He asks Oliver if he was ever going to tell him, Oliver says ‘no’ and Tommy walks away, hurt (Can we get a standing ovation for Mr. Donnell? He really did own this episode. More Tommy every week, please).

As I said, this episode disappointed me. I do like that Tommy had a negative reaction to Oliver being the vigilante and it’s obviously going to put a strain on their friendship and possibly lead to Tommy ultimately taking his father’s place as the Dark Archer. That opens up a lot of possibilities, especially if we ever get to see Laurel turning into a vigilante too (not holding my breath on that one).

The show is on hiatus until March 20 and then the Huntress returns (literally, that is the name of the episode). Oliver and Tommy’s club also opens in that episode…I can’t say that I’m sad we’re getting a break. As usual, feel free to leave your comments below and I will see you guys back here in a few weeks…

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.

  • BobSmith111

    I wish Tommy would’ve got a look at the other archer costume, and it would have put things in a better perspective for him. Arrow is a great show and because I work at DISH, I’ve stayed informed on all the products and services we offer, that’s why I purchased my Hopper DVR. I like how my Hopper DVR can record up to 6 shows, all at the same time. With so many of my favorite shows on all at once during primetime, I use this technology to help minimize DVR conflicts so that I won’t miss episodes of Arrow.