Arrow 2-19: “The Man Under the Hood”

Thanks to Isabelle’s devious machinations last episodes, the Queens are in imminent danger of losing their vast family fortune. Couldn’t happen to a better bunch of amoral jerkfaces. (Not you, Thea. You’re golden. Oliver and Moira and the late Robert Queen, though? Amoral jerkfaces, all of you). Their lawyer convinces Oliver and Moira to sign over their assets into a new trust that Isabelle can’t touch. They’ll need Thea’s signature to make it legal, which is tricky, seeing as Thea wants nothing more to do with them.

This episode seems to think viewers will feel keenly emotionally invested in Oliver’s looming financial troubles. This episode is dead wrong about that.

Per Moira, Robert Queen and Isabelle had an ill-fated affair back when Isabelle was a plucky young B-school intern at Queen Consolidated, and thus now she’s devoted her life to seeking vengeance against the remaining Queens. Oh, yuck. Seriously, Arrow? Can’t your writers conceive of a backstory for a powerful female character that doesn’t involve romantic heartbreak? (See also: Helena Bertinelli.) Why couldn’t Isabelle turn out to be evil simply because she really likes power? Why does it have to be all about some guy?

Island flashbacks: Following Slade’s spontaneous unanesthetized amputation of his arm, Dr. Ivo is dying from an infection. In exchange for a quick death, he tells Sara about a mirakuru antidote he developed, which is kept in a safe in his office on the freighter. Sara can’t bring herself to shoot Ivo, but luckily Oliver is more than happy to do it for her.

Adios, Ivo. Smell you later.

Team Arrow (minus Roy, who is still MIA after skipping town last episode) arrives in their lair beneath Verdant only to find Slade, in his full Deathstroke armor, lying in wait for them. Slade cheerfully beats the crap out of Oliver, Sara and Diggle (Felicity prudently hides in the shadows and thus avoids receiving a Slade-issued smackdown), then steals the all-powerful skeleton key Felicity took from William Tockman a few episodes back and saunters off without breaking a sweat.

Ah, Slade. Once more, you are the very best thing about this show.

Laurel, who now knows about Oliver’s secret identity (thanks, Slade!), takes another big step on the Redemptive Path Towards Awesomeness by calmly gathering evidence to support Slade’s claims in a practical and thoughtful manner. She visits Sara in the hospital, where she’s being treated for a broken arm sustained while battling Slade. As soon as Laurel catches a glimpse of the horrific scars on Sara’s back, which are very similar to Oliver’s horrific scars, she pieces it all together: Sara is Black Canary, and Oliver is indeed the Arrow. Laurel prudently keeps this information to herself.

It happened almost too gradually to notice, but somewhere along the way this season, Laurel became complex and interesting and likeable. Huh. Weird.

Oliver asks Thea to sign the papers protecting their assets. Thea, who is still furious with him for hiding the secret of her true parentage from her, is having none of it. She’s in the middle of a full-scale meltdown, since having Malcolm as her dad means she’s the child of not one but two mass murderers. Also? It means she and Tommy were blood relatives: “I tried to kiss my half-brother!”

Guessing that Slade plans to use Queen Consolidated’s industrial centrifuge to mass-produce the mirakuru in his blood, Oliver, Digg, Felicity and Sara blow up the Applied Sciences building. Ever resourceful, Slade moves on to Plan B: He uses Tockman’s skeleton key to break into a S.T.A.R. Labs warehouse and steal what he needs. In the process, he manages to scare the pants off of a couple of cute nitwits, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes), who will be appearing on Arrow’s spin-off The Flash in the fall. Cisco and Caitlin both have great hair, and they mumble their way through big chunks of clumsy exposition, and they’re not even remotely plausible as brainy scientists. They’ll fit in well at The CW.

Slade swiped a bio-transfuser from S.T.A.R. Labs, which can distribute blood from a single donor into multiple recipients at once. I have no idea why such as device would exist, particularly since, as Felicity points out, the resulting blood loss would leave the donor close to death. Fun fact: Google the word “bio-transfuser”, and every search result will lead you to recaps of this episode. Oliver figures Slade’s going to use the device to give his mirakuru-spiked blood to all the dangerous convicts he freed last episode, thus creating his own super-powered army.

Oliver confronts Isabelle, who has happily settled into his old office at Queen Consolidated. According to Isabelle, she and Robert Queen were truly, madly, deeply in love and made plans to run off together, but then Robert jilted her and returned to Moira and the kids. Oh, wow, I hate this development so very, very much. Way to make Isabelle—cold, impersonal, calculating Isabelle—seem overly-emotional and deluded and petty, Arrow! On a fundamental level, Arrow really doesn’t get the concept of “strong female characters.”

Have a seat in the Emotionally-Fragile Women of Arrow club, Isabelle. Sara, Laurel, Moira and Felicity have been saving a chair for you.

Quentin, who is (crazily) facing an eighteen-month prison sentence for aiding and abetting the Arrow, gets beaten up in jail by a vengeful convict. Laurel visits him in the penitentiary hospital and tells him she knows the civilian identity of the Arrow. He begs her not to let him in on the secret, as he prefers to think of the Arrow as a symbol instead of as a man. I approve of the decision to make Quentin all wise and kindly instead of blustery and jerkwaddish this season. He’s been pretty consistently great. Next, Laurel lobs a few ineffectual-sounding threats at the district attorney to get her to drop all charges against Quentin. It works. Whatever.

Oliver persuades Thea to meet with him one more time to sign the damn legal papers. He’s interrupted by an emergency call from Felicity: A huge surge in the power grid indicates that Slade is using the bio-transfuser, and thus they might be able to catch him while he’s weak from blood loss. In a moment of damn fool insanity, Felicity urges Oliver not to go after Slade: “If you don’t get Thea to sign those documents, your family will lose all of its assets!” Priorities, Felicity. Oliver might lose his money, sure, but Slade is going to create a murderous super-powered army that will almost certainly, like, kill lots of people, including Oliver and his entire family, unless they seize the perfect opportunity to stop him right now.

Oliver traces the power surge to Slade’s new lair, where sure enough, he’s using the bio-transfuser to simultaneously inject mirakuru into all the escaped prisoners. Only it’s not Slade who’s donating the mirakuru. It’s Roy. Poor beautiful, shirtless, shackled, unconscious Roy.

Slade and Isabelle gleefully confront a horrified Oliver: After Roy skipped town, they tracked him to a homeless shelter. Isabelle smugly gloats that he didn’t even put up a fight when they caught him. Slade twists the knife a bit: “You were the only person he looked up to, and for that, you crushed his soul.”

I have two thoughts:

1) Hey, cool twist having the mirakuru donor turn out to be Roy! I genuinely did not see that coming.

2) Curse you all to blazes, Arrow, for depriving viewers (i.e. me) of a lively sequence in which Slade and Isabelle hunt down and capture Roy! I feel cheated. Seriously, we get four scenes involving various members of the Queen family squabbling about transferring financial assets in this episode, and we can’t even get one little scene of Slade and Isabelle menacing and/or manhandling Roy? I call shenanigans.

Arrow and I are not on the same wavelength. As usual.

Anyway, the standard messy fight scene ensues. Oliver temporarily incapacitates Slade with an exploding arrow, Digg shoots and kills Isabelle, and Oliver rescues Roy.

Back at the lair, Roy lies unconscious and dying from the massive blood loss. Oliver, for reasons having to do with his own inherent dickishness, refuses to take him to the hospital. He fills the rest of the team in on his new plan: Recreate Ivo’s mirakuru antidote and use it to take down Slade.

And then Slade fusses around with Isabelle’s corpse. Isabelle is bleeding from the eyeballs, so it seems entirely probable she’s going to come back to life as a mirakuru-enhanced super-soldier.

Er… okay. I really can’t sort out whether my feelings on this episode are predominantly positive or negative. Let’s call it a draw and hope for better things in next week’s installment, in which Roy goes plumb loco (more than usual!) from the effects of the mirakuru. I can only hope shirtlessness is somehow involved.


DKoren said…
Okay, loved Slade taking everyone out in the lair. I also like that Oliver's special arrow at teh end actually took Slade down for a few. Slade was getting a little too overconfident, so it was nice to see Oliver finally do something right. I also quite loved Quentin's speech about not wanting to know who the Arrow really was. That was very nice.

But what in the blue blazes is up with making Isabelle some lost jilted love. Really? REALLY? Lame lame lame! And Isabelle was really cool too. Until then. Now she just makes me roll my eyes. They seriously do not appear to know how to write any other motivation for female characters, do they.

And I was not expecting the mirakiru source to be Roy. Awww, poor Roy. That was a nice moment.

I didn't have a clue who those two STAR employees were until I read your review, and, while watching, I was completely fascinated that two random unknowns could think fast enough to take Slade down when Oliver has been failing miserably. I was quite impressed. Interesting that they will be coming back in the spinoff. They're so young though.

And your comments about the financial welfare of the Queens cracked me up. So true. Hee.
Morgan Richter said…
I'm so irked at that crappy business of making Isabelle motivated entirely out of vengeance for being dumped by Oliver's dad. It's like the writers have no idea how not to be terribly sexist and retrograde in their dealings with female characters.

(Also disturbing: This is from a recent interview with EP Andrew Kreisberg: "Part of the reason Isabel disappeared for a while was because we still weren’t quite sure which way to go – whether she should be an ally or a villain. We had written it so that it could turn out either way." Okay, dude? That's something you should work out before the last few episodes of the season.)

Roy! I was genuinely shocked to find it was Roy, though in retrospect it does make perfect sense that Slade would go after him.

I do not care one whit whether the Queens lose their vast fortune. In fact, being poor (or at least not being billionaires) would probably be an excellent learning experience for them. I found it so bizarre that Felicity would counsel Oliver to take care of his financial matters first before seizing the opportunity to take down Slade. What the hell, Felicity?
Ingrid Richter said…
Felicity and Diggs are just wondering about their next paycheck ("We're not working for you out of *love*, Oliver... secure your finances first!")
Morgan Richter said…
Heh. I can see that, Ingrid. I'm also a little confused as to why securing the Queen fortune hinges on getting the signature of the teen daughter of the present head-of-household. I mean, did Robert and Moira put the mansion in Thea's name for some strange tax loophole? It's weird.
DKoren said…
You know, I was wondering whether Felicity had been fired or not from her "real job," given that Isabelle didn't like her and there's no reason to keep her employed anymore (and I'm not sure she's shown up to work in months any more than Oliver has).
Morgan Richter said…
I hadn't thought of that, but it would make sense, that Felicity hadn't been working at her real job in a while. I mean, if Oliver hasn't shown up at Queen Consolidated in a long time, it's hard to imagine Felicity would be there, either...

If that's the case, I hope he's been paying her salary out-of-pocket for all the time she spends helping him out.

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