‘Arrow’ Review: ‘The Undertaking’ ups the ante by filling in the backstory


The Arrow writers and producers have been promising that the last few episodes of the season would bring some answers and “The Undertaking” definitely delivered. We finally got to see the scope of Malcolm’s plan and the real reason that Queen’s Gambit ended up in peril. The episode was jam-packed with action and it did a nice job setting the stage for the final two episodes of the season.

Let’s talk about Malcolm’s ‘Undertaking’ first, which was revealed through flashbacks to five years earlier, right before Robert and Oliver took their fateful voyage. Malcolm, Robert Queen, Frank Chen and some other people were meeting at the Queen mansion to discuss the Glades. We already knew Malcolm’s wife was murdered there, but we learned that Frank’s daughter had been raped and everyone else in the room had something bad happen to someone close to them so Malcolm decided that the Glades needed to be leveled, literally.

Obviously it sounded crazy to the rich people in the room, but Malcolm was working with some scientist who had a device that would make it look like a natural disaster. Robert was hesitant, even after Malcolm told the story of his wife’s death and how he repeatedly ignored her phone calls for help, only to listen to voicemails of her slow death once the police told him what happened. On the one hand, you’ve got to feel for the guy, but on the other, eliminating an entire population is not the answer, Mr. Luthor Merlyn.

Robert eventually clued Moira in and also admitted that he accidentally killed someone he was arguing with once (um, what?) and he saw this project as his penance. Robert teamed up with Frank to go behind Malcolm’s back and start buying up property in the Glades. Apparently, Malcolm had bought some property there and they didn’t think he’d go through with the plan if he couldn’t rule the city when it was time to rebuild. Fair enough, but Frank suggested they go to China to talk to potential buyers. Frank would fly there and Robert would go on the yacht.

The flashbacks also gave us a glimpse of pre-island Oliver, who basically defines the word ‘douchebag.’ I do find it hard to reconcile that Oliver would be so terrible when Robert and Moira were basically good people who loved their children. Comic book Oliver was orphaned at a young age and he lashed out so it’s easier to believe that he would be this terrible. But it is what it is. Oliver was chilling in his room with Laurel and she suggested they move in together. He panicked, but told her that it sounded like a great idea, even though his face was saying that he’d rather jump out of a window.

Instead of facing his fears or being honest with Laurel, Oliver decided that a three-week cruise with his father was a better choice. Moira wasn’t happy about Robert going (she had a bad feeling) and she definitely did not like the idea of Oliver going too. But Robert convinced her that everything would be fine, Oliver behaved like a jackass and had a tender goodbye with Laurel after telling her sister to circle the block a few times so Laurel wouldn’t see her getting on the boat. As Moira watched the boat pull away, Frank (traitor!) made a call to Malcolm and they talked about the bomb on the boat. Suddenly, I don’t feel as bad that Frank died when Moira threw him under the bus.

Now let’s talk present day. Oliver found a lead on Walter, but since Dig wasn’t talking to him until he apologized, Felicity volunteered to go into the field and infiltrate an underground casino. Oliver was hesitant, but Felicity reminded him that finding Walter was the reason she joined the team in the first place and she knew how to count cards. The plan was for her to get caught, get a reprimand from the casino owner and then plant a device on his computer. Oliver was monitoring everything through a com device in her ear and Felicity told him that she enjoyed having him inside her. She quickly amended it to his voice in her ear, but it was still hilarious.

Everything went according to plan until Felicity was about to be escorted out of the office and the casino owner mentioned that people who count cards often have a partner. They found the device in her ear and smashed it and Oliver immediately leapt into action, changed into his gear and bust into the club. He rescued Felicity and demanded that the casino owner tell him where Walter was. He said that he was dead and Oliver and Felicity were both devastated.

Oliver changed clothes and headed back to the mansion to give the bad news to Moira and Thea. But Moira insisted that he wasn’t dead and then she rushed off to get air, leaving her bewildered kids alone. Oliver comforted Thea (until the commercial break). Moira stormed Malcolm’s office and called him a liar, only for him to show her Walter’s location on video. Surprise, surprise (seriously, I was surprised because he got there so fast), Arrow was listening to the whole thing and now Oliver finally knows that his mother has been part of the Undertaking and that Malcolm is in charge of it.

Back at the Arrow Cave, Felicity found Oliver sitting in the dark. She was feeling guilty for not saving Walter and Oliver set her straight and told her to check Malcolm’s phone records. She traced the call to a town called Blüdhaven, which is a city in the DC Universe, but that is the extent of my knowledge on the matter. Anyway, Arrow parachuted in (seriously), took out all of the cards and then turned on his voice distorter to tell Walter that it was time to go home. Aw, I like Walter and I was happy to see that he survived, but I’m still worried for him.

Moira, Thea and Oliver gathered in Walter’s hospital room to welcome him home and Felicity stopped by to drop off flowers and exchange a smile with Walter (cute). Oliver excused himself and then had to rein in his temper when Malcolm was waiting outside. He feigned being nice and asked if Walter remembered anything. Oliver told him that he didn’t, but the people responsible would pay. The two exchanged looks after that like they were sizing each other up, but then Laurel showed up and Oliver excused himself.

We have to backtrack one more time. Laurel came to see Oliver at the club earlier in the episode to tell him that Tommy broke up with her and she was sad about it. Oliver suggested that she talk to Tommy and she did, only for Tommy to tell her that Oliver was still in love with her and she belonged with him. So, in the hospital hallway, Laurel asked Oliver to talk to Tommy and tell him that they were over and he wasn’t in love with her anymore. Oliver refused and explained that it would be a lie and he had enough lies in his life. Laurel was pretty stunned by that.

Oliver showed up on Dig’s doorstep and apologized. He also told him that he’d been right about his mother and she was working with Malcolm Merlyn. Oliver still doesn’t know the full extent of what’s going on, but he told Dig that he needed his help to stop it. As this was going on, we got to see a truck arriving in Starling City from the business Malcolm had talked about earlier in the flashbacks. In other words, it’s about to go down.

I was impressed with this episode. It answered a lot of questions and it humanized Malcolm a little more. Sure, what he’s doing is absolutely crazy, but in his mind, it’s the right thing to do. I’m glad Oliver made up with Dig and I can’t wait to see what happens with Moira. I’m not sure if it’s the route they’d go, but I think it would be a great twist if Moira ended up a casualty. It seems pretty likely Malcolm will be dead by the end of the season and Tommy will take up his mantle, but it would make the dynamics that much more explosive if Oliver was avenging two parents as well.

Whose side are you on?

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.

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1 Comment

  1. I really like how the show has been progressing, and we all learned quite a bit about The Undertaking and Malcolm in last night’s episode. I can’t seem to live without Arrow, and because I work at DISH was thrilled to get my hands on a Hopper when it was released, and I’ve been happy with it as a DVR ever since. I really enjoy how I can use my Hopper DVR from DISH to record up to six shows at once during primetime hours. I use this technology to help minimize my DVR conflicts so that I won’t miss episodes of Arrow.

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