Last night, Arrow returned from hiatus with a fun, busy episode that was heavy on character exploration and light on plot, which resulted in an entertaining hour of television. “The Man Under the Hood” didn’t have a lot of forward momentum as far as the story arcs went, but that was okay. It took its time letting each of the characters shine and that made it highly enjoyable. I wish the show would do more episodes like this one.
Of course I am oversimplifying things a little. It’s not like everyone was just sitting around braiding each other’s hair – a lot of stuff went down during the hour. There were some great action sequences, poignant family moments, revelations about why one of our least favorite villains is out to destroy Oliver and some major developments on the Slade front as well as the fallout from Laurel learning the truth as her father sits in jail for conspiring with the Arrow.
Before we get into all those important moments, let’s talk about the introduction of Caitlyn and Cisco, two characters who will be appearing on The Flash with Barry, if (when) the network orders the show to series. The episode gave them just enough to do so they’d leave an impression with the audience and used Barry’s backstory with Felicity to add more details without feeling like it was beating us over the head with exposition. Caitlyn stood out to me more than Cisco did, but it’s still far too early to get a good read on either character and that’s fine. I think the show hit the mark with what they were trying to do and now it’s up to The Flash to flesh out the characters and make us care about them (if we choose to watch the new show).
Now let’s get into five key developments from the episode:
5. Isabel reveals her motives
Queen Consolidated no longer belongs to the Queen family and Isabel was reveling in her new position of power when Oliver headed to the office to try and get information on Slade. Instead, he got an earful from his onetime lover and learned that not only had she been his father’s mistress, but Robert had planned on leaving the family for her. Then Thea broke her arm and Robert came to his senses, ditched Isabel and ended her internship. As far as Isabel was concerned, the company was owed to her because the Queens had cheated her out of the life she deserved.
The highlight of this entire storyline was the look on Oliver’s face when Moira first told him about the affair and he realized he’d slept with the same woman as his father. The absolute horror, disgust and shame that crossed his face made me laugh out loud because it was such a genuinely appropriate reaction. Aside from that, I was rolling my eyes at this because (1) it’s not that surprising since it’s similar to Isabel’s comic book story and (2) the whole woman scorned thing is so cliché and I wish the writers had come up with a better backstory for the villain. I already didn’t like her and now I really have zero use for her.
4. Ivo meets his fate
Normally, I don’t care that much about what’s happening on the island, but there were two very important things unveiled this week. First, Ivo told Oliver and Sara that there is a cure for Mirakuru and it could help them stop Slade. He offered up its location on the ship in exchange for Sara’s promise that she would put him out of his misery and kill him because his injuries were causing him so much pain. Sara agreed, but when it was time to fire the gun, she couldn’t bring herself to shoot him. Oliver took it away from her and it seemed like he was going to let Ivo suffer, but then he fired two shots and that was that.
Sara was touched that Oliver had done that for her and he explained that once you take a life, you’re never the same and he didn’t want that for her. This is the first time I’ve believed these two have a deeper connection and I really wish the writers had given us this scene before they got back together in the present. That being said, we all know Sara joins the League of Assassins after this so we know Oliver wasn’t able to save her from being a killer after all. So that killed (no pun intended) the moment for me a little.
Of course this also brings credence to the popular fan theory that Ivo was Felicity’s father. Oliver being the one to kill him seems like something that could cause problems for their partnership if it turns out to be true. But the one thing that keeps me from getting completely behind the theory is that Felicity has no reaction to Ivo’s name. It’s possible he changed it, but I still have a hard time with these pieces fitting together. Then again, as far as I know, this is just a fan theory and there’s nothing in the show that has hinted at it so speculation might just be a waste of time.
3. Thea turns her back on the Queen family
Since Isabel has diluted the worth of the stock the Queen family still owns in their former company, they’re in financial trouble. In order to protect the trust fund left by Robert, Moira, Oliver and Thea all needed to sign off on the paperwork, but Thea wasn’t really in the mood to spend time with the people who had been lying to her. Oliver attempted to reach out to his sister, but his alter ego got in the way. It hurts me to see Thea in so much pain over the fact that she’s the product of two mass murderers and she was also struggling with her crush on Tommy, who turned out to be her brother (awkward). This poor girl needed a hug so badly.
Oliver tried again to get through to her and surprised Thea (and Moira) with the knowledge that Robert had known all along that she wasn’t his daughter, but he’d loved her anyway. He’d chosen to be her father and love them. But it was too little, too late for Thea and she added her father to the list of people who had lied to her before she walked out on her family. I have a feeling the show is setting up for Thea to side with Malcolm once he returns and while that makes me very, very nervous for her sanity and well-being, I’m also happy that Thea finally has a storyline that’s actually about her and not her reactions to other people. This is long overdue.
2. Laurel puts the pieces together
Speaking of long overdue, Slade did us a huge favor in the last episode when he clued Laurel in on the Arrow’s identity. While I wasn’t particularly happy with the way the scene went down, I really loved what Laurel did what the new information. First, she looked for the evidence. She traced the roots of the Arrow and connected them with Oliver’s return. Then she investigated a little more and after her sister and Oliver were in a motorcycle accident (aka beaten up by Slade), Laurel realized that not only is Oliver a vigilante, but Sara is the woman in black who helped her. She followed the Arrow and Canary when they went to the lab to try and stop Slade and then she wanted to talk to Arrow and explain why she felt a connection to him. I really think Laurel was going to reveal that she knew here, but then she got a phone call that her dad had been beaten up in prison.
Show, I did not care for this development at all. How dare you hurt Quentin? Sure, it gave Laurel a reason to admit that she knew who the Arrow was and for Quentin to tell her that he didn’t want to know, he refused to give it any thought and then he paraphrased one of the best speeches from The Dark Knight (this was the moment by blood pressure spiked because I hate when they blatantly steal). That gave Laurel a new perspective on things and first she used her BAMF persuasion skills to calmly threaten the DA into dropping charges against her father and then she went to Oliver just so she could hug him and remind him that she was there and on his side. This was a really nice moment and I’m so incredibly happy that the writers are finally using Laurel (and Katie Cassidy’s talent) as an asset. Please keep this going, Show.
1. Team Arrow takes care of business
This show gets a lot of praise for its action sequences and to be honest, there are times where I feel like it relies too heavily on them. Yes, it’s a series about a superhero versus super villains so of course there needs to be a lot of action – and I like action. But I liked the kind of action this episode gave us a lot more than I like the big fight scenes (think “The Promise”). Team Arrow disguising themselves to break into Queen Consolidated and blow up the lab so Slade couldn’t get his hands on their technology was an awesome scene. I love the banter and Felicity’s realization that she was a terrorist bomber was hilarious (Emily Bett Rickards is a comedic treasure).
I also enjoyed the scene of Slade breaking into the cave and everyone springing into action. From Oliver pulling Felicity over the railing with him to Sara’s jump with Slade catching her midair to Oliver and Slade’s fight scene – this entire sequence worked for me. I love seeing these guys work together, even if it was only for Slade to more or less wipe the floor with them and then go about his day. They discovered later that he’d broken in to steal the skeleton key so he could break into the warehouse where Star Labs was keeping its equipment. The team figured out that he wanted to mass produce his army and use a machine to transfer blood and make the process go faster.
Oliver saw that as an opportunity to take him down once and for all because he assumed Slade would be using his blood. But it turned out that Slade and Isabel had kidnapped Roy and he was unconscious and unwillingly created an army of superpowered criminals. Oliver fought with Slade and Isabel and Digg shot and seemingly killed Isabel when he showed up to back him up (teamwork!). Slade got back on his feet quickly and Oliver got Roy out of there and back to the cave. He also snagged some Mirakuru with the hopes of creating and antidote – something he’d failed to do on the island because he’d chosen to kill Slade instead and now feels super guilty about everything that’s happened since then.
Unfortunately, Slade’s plans remain on track. He’s waiting for his army to wake up, which now includes Isabel, who he used the Mirakuru to save. That’s not going to be good for our heroes, but they’ve got an even bigger problem on their hands next week. Roy has absolutely lost it and they need to find a way to stop him from killing everyone.
Check out the promo below and then hit the comments and share your thoughts and theories with us! Did you enjoy this episode? Are you worried for Roy?