Arrow "Betrayal" Review: Mother Knows... More Than She's Letting On

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Feb 07, 2013

Arrow S01E13: "Betrayal"

In a lot of ways, "Betrayal" reminded of me "An Innocent Man," an early episode of Arrow that I didn’t particularly like because the case of the week was really underbaked, and it more of a vehicle for exploring Oliver’s sense of mission. At that point, the show wasn’t quite up to the task of integrating those ideas as part of a fully realized whole. I had a similar issue with "Betrayal" in that our villain’s plot was clichéd as hell (and a real waste of an actor who plays menacing really well), and again the show wanted to dig into larger concerns, this time regarding issues of trust. The difference is that, with nine more episodes under its belt since "An Innocent Man," the show had more ongoing story to help buttress a lackluster case-of-the-week.

Arrow has struggled to integrate its supporting cast beyond Diggle into Oliver’s vigilante activities, and that's been a sticking point for the series' narrative momentum on an episode-to-episode basis. Laurel and Tommy in particular tend to feel like they’re on a totally different show sometimes; while I defend this aspect of the series to a degree because these are characters with lives outside of Oliver’s, Arrow hasn’t made my defense very convincing or compelling.

"Betrayal" didn’t change that, as the fight between Laurel and Tommy—over her lying about going to work and instead meeting up with the Hood—wasn’t really predicated on anything that's come before for them. As a plot, it would’ve likely worked just as well two or three episodes ago as it did here. Sure, maybe Tommy was a bit on edge with regard to trusting people’s intentions after that disastrous dinner with his father, but that wasn't referenced as a motivation for his frustration with Laurel’s behavior. Indeed, it was actually more that Laurel is drawn to bad boys, which is an issue for them given their respective track records and personalities, but again, I’m not sure how convincing that particular point was. I generally prefer the Tommy-and-trust-issues reading myself. But their conflict, and Laurel’s abduction, transformed Oliver’s vigilantism into a cause of tension in their relationship. We learned that Tommy’s not crazy about a guy in a hood shooting arrows into people, which finally gives him something in common with both Quentin and Malcolm (albeit for different reasons), and hopefully we’ll see that play out a bit more in upcoming episodes.

Speaking of Quentin, there was yet another big argument between the Lances about, well, everything. A lot of it felt like well-trodden territory, so Quentin using Laurel as bait (I’m glad we didn’t have to wait long for that phone-bugging to pay off) freshened things up and helped to flesh out Quentin’s obsessive behavior by giving him a slightly finer parallel to Oliver’s obsession/mission. It also awarded Quentin a plot beyond hunting for the Hood, as he can now go after the mole inside the police force.

In more interesting plotting, Oliver and Diggle dealt with the ramifications of the new notebook, and what it meant for Oliver’s mission and his family. I appreciated Oliver’s faith in Moira (goodness knows he’s needed it survive the transition from island life to family life and Hooding up) and his willingness to come around when presented with evidence of Moira’s duplicity, but what I really appreciated was Diggle being significantly more active in this episode than he typically has been. I’m half convinced he locked up Moira’s regular driver in some random locale just so he could spy on her. Every now and then it’s easy to forget that Diggle is a competent guy in his own right, so watching pursue Moira and throw off Malcolm’s security guy was very welcomed.

Plus it resulted in what was probably one of the show’s more dramatic and awesome moments as Oliver burst in on Moira in the Queen Consolidated building to have an “arrowside chat,” and said his “You have failed this city!” mantra while leveling an arrow at her. That line has never really worked for me, but I liked it here because she’d failed more than Starling City in this instance, and it gave that silly line some weight.

Arrow's Starling City plots are typically about the moment when things collide, as we have more information than any of the characters at almost any given moment (though that’s rapidly changing). In contrast, the island flashbacks operate differently because we have very little information, and as such, they’re significantly more twisty. I figured it was Slade Wilson (Deathstroke’s real name) in the crashed airplane just before he revealed his identity due to the costume styling, but what do we make of his story about there being another member of his Australian intelligence crew, and that he was the one who tortured Oliver? I’m not sure I buy it, but like I said, the island flashbacks withhold information, and are much harder to pin down.

But the show's multiple storylines are beginning to coalesce across the board, and hopefully in very productive and exciting ways. We’ve got a buzzy new phrase to hang Malcolm’s big plans on, Moira’s secrets are catching up with her, Tommy and Laurel are potentially hitting rocky shores, Quentin is isolated both personally and professionally, and Oliver now has to face what it means when his mission gets personal.


NOTES & QUOTES


– I suppose a quick mention of the Cyrus Vanch plot as a whole is warranted, even if it was pretty terrible. I love David Anders, and he was completely wasted here. I liked Cyrus's plan to fill in the criminal underworld vacuum by taking down the Hood, even if it, and the execution of it—abducting a person who seems important to the hero—has been done to death, because it made sense given Oliver’s activities in Starling City. I even liked that he counted all the arrows in the quiver, as it was a nice character detail in a character without much detail (though how he pulled that off using news footage is beyond me). I can only hope that Cyrus returns at a later date, and that Arrow really gives Anders something to do.

– Lots of little nods to DC writers and artists in this episode. First off, George, Vanch’s lawyer, worked at Wolfman and Perez, a nod to Marv Wolfman and—wait for it—George Perez, the duo behind DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths story. There was also the Winick Building, named for Judd Winick, a major writer in contemporary Green Arrow comics.

– Iron Heights Prison is located in Keystone City, the Flash’s home city, in the comics.

– “I hope George has gone food shopping. I’m famished.”

– I appreciated that Laurel was able to take down Vanch’s goons before getting tasered. I was worried she was just going to revert to abducted-damsel mode, but there’s self-defense-class Laurel in full form.

– So that was, what, like 20 dudes arrow’d or stabbed at Vanch’s mansion?

– "I'm the vigilante. You're the cop." "Doesn’t mean I have to read the bastard his rights, though." ACTUALLY QUENTIN, IT DOES. Unless you’d like the arrest tossed out on a technicality? I mean, you have a lawyer in the room, for Pete’s sake.

– If you’re interested in reading the current Green Arrow comics, I’d suggest picking up the issue that went on sale today, issue No. 17. The title has really struggled to find its footing, and No. 17 is an attempt at a soft reboot. It’s written by Jeff Lemire, one of best scribes currently at DC, and as such the series probably more potential than the series has had. Just know that it’s not in the same continuity as Arrow, so don’t go in expecting similarities beyond a dude in a hood shooting arrows.


What'd you think of this week's episode?

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  • Gully_Foyle Feb 13, 2013

    Looks like tonight's episode is going to be an interesting one for Deathstroke\Slade Wilson

  • klotensen Feb 11, 2013

    I wonder if it was the writers to write "upon" instead of "on" in Manu's lines, or if Manu Bennett couldn't resist as he has to use "upon" in every sentence in Spartacus.

  • bleumystique Feb 10, 2013

    The optimism you have for this show is infectious. I love it.
    -A vigilante, a lawyer, and a cop walk into a penthouse.... Yeah, Lance he irritates me. You are obsessed with this vigilante....you loathe what he does, and you're dead set on finding and capturing this guy to the point of using your own daughter as bait on a hunch (that could have been wrong) that the vigilante wouldn't hurt Laurel. But then you reluctantly contact this guy to save your daughter, and proceed to almost maim or kill the guy who took her? What happen to justice, Lance? I mean we're willing to accept Lance for being a dick, because he is law enforcement and despite being unnaturally obsessed with his hunt for the hood he does in fact have a job to do, but the day you're willing to cast away everything you preach about as far as justice etc...you've lost the only thing that made you actually tolerable. His view on justice and being so stern about it was the only thing he had going for him...if that was so easily compromised then he's just that one character who is a complete and utter jackass for the hell of it. I mean you know it's bad when the vigilante has shoot the gun out of your hand and tell you to do your damn job. C'mon Lance! Ugh.
    -I loved that Diggle got his own sleuthin on. Because he deserves to be used as the competent and capable character that he is. I love it when he and Ollie at are odds because he's always that much needed Voice of Reason and for reasons I haven't really figured out he somehow manages to get through to Ollie every time. It's funny that Ollie was holding so tightly to his belief in his Mother operating under the impression that she hasn't changed, the episode after he had to school Diggle on having too much faith in a person. Plus it was great seeing Diggle interact with a character that wasn't Ollie.
    -So agree with the Tommy/Laurel thing. They didn't pull out reasonable arguments that they could have made.
    -Yes!! GROSS MISUSE of David Anders!! That should never happen! I was excited to see him and then he did absolutely nothing exciting and I was soooo disappointed because it's David Anders!

  • noelrk Feb 11, 2013

    Haha. I'm a little amused at the notion of having optimism about the show (even though I do) when just last week I described it a solid B-level show that I wasn't setting my world on fire. I do think there's reasons to like the show, and I think I've adjusted expectations appropriately.

    That said, with a season 2 renewal, hopefully they'll step up their game a bit...?

  • Kuro_Neko- Feb 09, 2013

    Despite what tv tells you, cops don't actually have to read a person their rights during arrest, only before questioning. And even if they didn't, the person wouldn't get off, it would just mean that anything they said during that questioning couldn't be used in court.

  • klotensen Feb 11, 2013

    Good to know!

  • thisismetoo Feb 09, 2013

    I wonder when someone in the show is going to call him The Green Arrow. The hood is so lame. I wish they would show a little bit more on what happened on the island.

  • TomWayne Feb 09, 2013

    Malcolm Merlyn actually did suggest the name--in one of the best-scripted self-aware show moments of the season, at the dinner in "Year's End." And, in a Raimiverse "Spider-Man 2" homage (J Jonah Jameson re:"Doctor Octopus"), Oliver flatly rejects the name as "Lame."

    (Even so, Dig slyly referred to their HQ as the "Arrow Cave" a few eps back--can't remember which ep offhand.)

  • Aesandil Feb 08, 2013

    Arrow continues doing two things: grabbing interesting actors to play the villain part (Seth Gabel, David Anders) just to waste their potential, and pulling off ridiculous action sequences (last week's cheap video-gamey climb up the staircase, this week's silly assault on the mansion).
    Quentin continues to bore me as a character (much more than Laurel, Thea, or Tommy). A thick-headed cop that is supposedly such a faithful law follower, blinded in his silly hate beyond all rationale. Yawn. Just can't give him much credit.

    This episode it was Diggle to the rescue, doing some competent job on his own (while Oliver once again came off as too stubborn to make the right call). And I know many people have called this out already, but Moira's crystal clear voice vs Malcolm's distorted speech... ugh. Please get smarter, Arrow.

    I could do with an island-centric episode, personally. There is some interesting stuff going on there, but I feel like the flashbacks are often too brief, too episodic. I get that they want to save some story for the further seasons, but a different formula now and then really wouldn't hurt.

    At least things ended up with an interesting cliffhanger (now if only The Hood could drop this cheesy "failed this city" line...). Here is hoping that the outcome won't be too cheap.

  • TomWayne Feb 08, 2013

    Personally, I think Quentin knows on some level that Oliver is the Hood. His gut tells him what his mind won't listen to--either because he actually can't teconcile seeing Oliver at home when Dig-Arrow was taking down some baddies, or (more likely) because he knows that there's nothing he can do about it given Laurel's feelings, the Queen money and influence over the city leaders, and a lack of solid proof. Or at least I believe that Blackthorne sees his character that way, as his screaming at Arrow about his hatred for him seemed to carry grief with it,

    I just think the writers are reluctant to turn him into Jim Gordon, as they feel it adds depth to the character. The problem is continuing it after this episode. It is now abundantly clear to Quentin that Laurel would've died if it weren't for Arrow's intervention, a situation so emotional for Quentin that he had to be stopped by Arrow from becoming the very thing he hates. That should produce at least some change in the character. Even some villains can appreciate someone heroically saving their child. If the writers intend to prolong this animosity though, they do need to add real depth, not just assume it will seem to be there by default, no matter how well Blackthorne tries to flesh out his character on his own through his acting.



  • noelrk Feb 08, 2013

    I haven't really talked about Quentin, but it's largely because I don't think I have an opinion about him. He's a quasi-obstacle for Oliver's vigilante activities and for Laurel's emotional development (being charitable), but I also know exactly how a scene with Quentin will play out, and so I sort of hit a cruise control when he shows up.

    Which is probably the worst thing you can say about a character. Yes, many characters play the same beats from episode to episode, but the writing for those beats, particularly in the cases of Oliver-Diggle and Oliver-Felicity, but also Moira-Malcolm and Oliver-Moira, often feel fresher due to writing or acting, be it the one-liners Diggle gets or the lame excuses that Oliver offers Felicity or the fact that Thompson and Amell have a nice bit of chemistry together (making this Hood cliffhanger a very exciting prospect).

    Quentin's problem, for me, is really writing. I rather like Blackthorne as an actor, but you can sort of see him struggling to keep this interesting sometimes (and maintain a consistent accent).

  • Aesandil Feb 09, 2013

    I certainly don't blame Paul Blackthorne for his character's shortcomings. I do think that he tries, but there isn't much to do with this one-sided and a rather bland direction that Quentin has been forced to take nearly from the start. It is indeed very predictable, with little to no variety in his reactions.

    @TomWayne, I wish you were right. This isn't exactly the first time that Quentin has been given hints with regards to The Hood's true allegiances - although it may have very well been the first time when the message was so loud and clear. I just hope it can stimulate some growth in the character, because this one-dimensional approach is very tiring.
    I think it's fine for Quentin not to approve of Oliver's methods and to question some of his actions, but it's the doubting of Hood's every motivation and treating him like the worst sort of criminal that gets me (and in this episode we were even given a proof that many other cops in the department are not nearly as oblivious to the signals that might speak of the vigilante's true nature). This kind of auto-pilot animosity would be worthy of a greater cause.

  • Kazera Feb 08, 2013

    This was by far one of my favorites because it really feels like the plot is picking up now, and I'm so ready for it. There was a lot in this episode that seems to be setting up for future episodes, including Tommy's dislike for the Hood and Laurel's involvement with him, the whole Lance family feud thing, even the fact that Diggle was caught listening in by Malcolm's crony could have some sort of consequence later. Seriously gotta wonder who's feeding information from the SCPD too. The fact that Oliver now is aware the yacht was sabotaged is exciting in itself without any of the aforementioned. I'm very excited for next week.

    One thing I didn't quite expect to see in this show was Arrow vs Moira, or even the very sight of a bow and arrow drawn at her. Kinda felt sorry for her in a way, but I understand Oliver's train of thought in showing up in costume to speak with her a second time. I really love Susanna Thompson's work playing Moira, the final scene of this episode was very dramatic just by looking at her FACE. Lol.

  • TomWayne Feb 08, 2013

    Noel, Vanch knowing the 24-arrow thing was a bit of a plot stretch for me as well (given his claimed source material), until I also considered that he was talking to Laurel, and therefore probably lied to hide his real source (the mole in the SCPD). Still, there was nothing in the "deleted lines" bonus material. (If you watch the show with captions on, you'll see--usually once or twice an episode--a script line that got deleted from the audio track last-minute, either after the captions were added, or the caption people didn't get the memo. For example, check the scene when Laurel tells Arrow about Vanch's lawyer--in the captions, she mentions that the lawyer is now missing but no signs of foul play, but the audio drops the bit about him missing and only has her saying no foul play. The deleted line often fits with the dialogue, but is likely dropped because it doesn't fit with the plot (unlikely that a missing persons report was done) or to edit some of the more trite lines due to critiques that the dialogue isn't tight enough.)

    It'll be interesting to see who the woman is in the Arrow Cave in next week's preview. The description (and logic) call for it to be Felicity, but I noticed that the sweater and hair (glimpsed very briefly behind Diggle right after the monitor flatlines--you have to freeze frame on the flatline and do a frame-by-frame to catch it) happen to match the picture of Moira at the top of your review. Then again. Moira wasn't wearing that sweater in the final scene. and I doubt that the reveal to her would happen this early, so I'm guessing that Felicity likes the same color (or the costume design budget has been blown on the suits (both business and Arrow) and the island mercenary outfits (gotta say, that Deathstroke mask is still pretty sweet).

  • Aesandil Feb 09, 2013

    Ah, thanks for elaborating on the captions issue. I've been wondering about that for the past few episodes (I would even argue that, sometimes, the removal of certain audio bits doesn't make much sense).

    It would be hard to justify anyone else than Felicity gaining entrance to the Arrow Cave at this stage, and I really hope that the writers won't try to surprise us just for the sake of surprise (by, say, bringing Moira down there).

  • TomWayne Feb 09, 2013

    Agreed--the last-minute deletions sometimes drop lines that should be left in for clarity. (If the line seems trite, then rewrite the thing if the thought-flow still fits.) The perfect case recently was the part in "Trust but Verify" when, in reply to Oliver's questioning about what happens if Dig (in his plan to go undercover on Gaynor's team) finds ut that Gaynor is dirty, Dig's scripted line (based on the captions) was that he would take Gaynor down himself and that Oliver owed Dig that chance. The audio track awkwardly drops the first part of the line (about Dig taking Gaynor down himself) and leaves in the "you owe me" part, making Dig sound more like Thea than himself at that moment.

  • TomWayne Feb 09, 2013

    This comment has been removed.

  • noelrk Feb 08, 2013

    It's odd that you mention the captioning. I normally watch the shows I review with the captioning turned on (even my animated shows), but I simply didn't think to do that this week.

    I'm rooting for Felicity in those promos, if only because I want to see her and Diggle gang up on Oliver with witty one-liners and knowing looks.

  • TomWayne Feb 08, 2013

    Plus, Felicity's typical awkwardness about not saying something of a sexual harassment nature would be comically compounded by a factor of 100 having worked on a shirtless Oliver.

    Moira would definitely be premature IMHO, and would also be reallllly awkward for Oliver when he wakes from the hot Laurel dream to see Mama's face.

    Laurel would be too early as well, given the whole deal with Tommy in this episode, but then Thea would be the true worst choice--not just given her lack of personal stability, but moreover her diarrhea-of-the-mouth. Although I'm sure I've ticked off a few of those members of the Who-cares-about-the-plot-I-wanna-see-Katie-Cassidy-in-Black-Canary-fishnets-and/or-Willa-Holland-in-Speedy-red-tights Club. (Sorry guys, unless they unwisely drop Diggle from the show, I think those will just remain in-jokes.)

  • Kazera Feb 08, 2013

    My money is on it being Felicity, although I'm actually hoping it's Moira. I really want to see what she does / how she continues on with Malcolm after seeing what Oliver really has become.

    I have to wonder how he ends up getting out of that building without being revealed to his mother. I'd think after shooting a mysterious vigilante in a hood, my next step would immediately be to unmask the guy. But, that's just me. ;)

  • PlatinumRosebud Feb 08, 2013

    In my opinion, this ep is more in the relationships between the regular characters and not of the villain of the week.
    It was a shame though in using David Anders much in this ep.
    A positive thing though is that his character was not killed off and the possibility of him coming back is quite high.
    It would be great for The Hood to have an antagonist who thinks and intelligent enough to do research. :)

    Tommy, jealous of The Hood. Hahaha.

  • heartzkidnapper Feb 08, 2013

    OMFG!!!! what a fuckin cliffhanger!!! <3
    This fast-Awesome Cliffhanger makes me forgive the terrible plot lines in this episode ....at least , This Show is moving forward !!!

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