Arrow "Home Invasion" Review: Stay On Target

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Apr 25, 2013

Arrow S01E20: "Home Invasion"

Arrow has steadily gotten better about crafting episodes that pit Oliver's two lives against each other, and "Home Invasion" was another entry in that set. Most of the time these conflicts have served to illustrate the burden Oliver experiences in having dual identities—shooting criminals with arrows gets in the way of family time or hanging out with a girlfriend—and how it chips away at his soul, as Diggle mentioned that it would so early in the series' run. Revealing his identity to Tommy ended up adding another layer to this dynamic, but that strain has largely been part of how Oliver the man functions and not how Oliver the vigilante operates.

Where "Home Invasion" managed to differentiate itself a bit was in the way the episode's two primary plots managed to not only intersect with one another, but to also have ramifications in both areas of Oliver's life. Admittedly, I care about some of these ramifications more than others, but at this point in the season's run, that really shouldn't surprise anyone.

Since getting on board with Oliver's mission, Diggle has been pushing Oliver to look beyond the list and to try to do better by Starling City—to show Oliver that dealing with criminals like bank robbers or drug dealers can do just as much as, if not more than, scaring the city's elite out of the corrupted ways. In the process, the two have come to not only respect and trust one another, but also to like one another. So when Oliver decided to focus on taking down Deadshot and to give Diggle some much-needed closure, it was as much as a gesture of protecting Starling City as it was Oliver showing how much Diggle means to him.

It was an interesting shift, then, that Oliver the man ended up undoing Oliver the vigilante as opposed to the other way around for once. Yes, we ended up with yet another "Laurel's in danger!" plot (I appreciated the show hanging a small lampshade on this as Quentin suggested it was time for Laurel to get a new apartment, but if you keep doing it, show, the lampshade only means so much), but it forced Oliver to reconsider his priorities, and he decided that his top priority was not the man who'd been supporting him, saving his life, and carefully guiding him for a number of months.

It's possible to see Oliver's choice of Laurel over Diggle as a result of Diggle's influence, as if Diggle's managed to protect enough of Oliver's soul that Oliver would make such an emotionally driven choice. Maybe that's what it was, but Oliver getting involved in Diggle's vendetta against Deadshot was an emotional gesture as well. When you factor in Diggle's experiences as a soldier, as being part of a something larger than himself and having to implicitly trust those with whom he fights alongside, the betrayal was doubly damning.

I don't doubt that Diggle will eventually return to the Arrow Cave*, and so I'm intrigued to see not only what will bring him back (probably the Undertaking and Diggle's sense of duty), but how the events of this episode will affect the dynamic between Oliver and Diggle when he does. Considering that the relationship between these two is the show's most developed and interesting one, it deserves to be treated with its due respect.

*Provided the writers don't kill Diggle off within the next three episode. I swear to the TV Gods that if that happens, I will break things.

As for the events of this episode that I'm not really invested in, there was more with the Oliver-Laurel-Tommy triangle. I struggle with this triangle, since I've never really been able to completely buy into the idea that Oliver still loves Laurel. He's hidden it very well due to a desire to protect her (I guess), but he's also never really pined over her, either. The relationship with McKenna, half-baked though it was, wasn't undone or negatively influenced by a love for Laurel, nor did it ever really seem like a "consolation prize" sort of situation. However, when you consider that Oliver wants to protect Laurel by never telling her about his other life, but that he didn't seem to have this concern with McKenna, he looks like a real jerk.

The episode attempted to sell the idea hard, though, with the island flashbacks showing Oliver as dedicated to Laurel despite smooching Shado, Moira wistfully reminiscing while she and Laurel flipped through old photos, and that ill-advised, lingering hug between them in the hallway as Tommy lurked nearby. It didn't alter my opinion at all, but the show is dedicated to playing this out, so I'll just grit my teeth and bear it.

It did result in Tommy breaking things off with Laurel, which was likely the final step in Tommy's brief-ish journey toward taking his place at Malcolm's side. Like Oliver in some ways, he's now isolated from those he cares about, and will likely end up coping under the wing of his father and his father's agenda. I will say that this breaking down of Tommy has worked for me a bit more than I thought it would, considering that Laurel's attention toward and belief in the Hood dates back several episodes, as opposed to just happening now, and given that the Hood and Oliver are one and the same, his assertion that if Laurel knew, she'd pick Oliver over Tommy does ring true.

We have three episodes left in the season to see how it all plays out, though, so I reserve the right to change my opinion. 


J. August Richards was decidedly good here as Mr. Blank. I haven't seen him in very much beyond Angel, so this was a neat, creepy new side to him. However, even he couldn't make that clunky line about feeling pain all the way into the wood paneling of Queen Mansion feel anything but really comic book-y.

– In the lightest plot of the episode, Roy became convinced that he and the Hood are "connected" and began his search to contact the Hood by stealing a police radio. The only interesting tidbit to come out of all of this was that we learned that Oliver's killed 26 people. Which is lower than I thought it would be, honestly.

– "I dye actually. ...I keep your secret!" 

– "Well if it isn't the Wonder Twins." I'm liking Quentin a lot more since Dinah showed up and then left.

– Slade likes to watch. I think, deep down, we all suspected as much.

– I'm guessing that Moira took two Ambiens, and that's why she didn't emerge from her room while Blank shot up the mansion.

– Curse Yao Fei's second sudden but inevitable betrayal that will still likely result in putting the kibosh on Fyers' evil machinations, as the Chinese archer has likely devised some cunning plan that requires Oliver, Shado, and Slade at the camp.

What'd you think of "Home Invasion"?

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  • BiniBeans May 01, 2013

    Really someone should just give this Laurel-Oliver pseudo-love interest a rest. There is no chemistry! She is mostly a wet blanket and his behavior based on his "love" is both unbelievable and makes him really hard to like and I can only wonder that anybody would even try to be his friend anymore.
    The whole thing is just agony to watch.

  • Liria Apr 30, 2013

    I would've liked to see Oliver at least call Diggle and warn him that he wouldn't show up. It would've been infuriating, but it might've lessened the impact of the "betrayal" if he'd explained what his thought-process was...

    Also, I really don't want Tommy to become a bad guy. I'm liking him so much more now than when this whole thing started, and I think he and Laurel are good together. Oliver and Laurel just feels weird...

  • JT_Kirk Apr 27, 2013

    Oh, and just a random thought, but maybe they should rework the show so that every episode has a new character learning Ollie's secret, and then we watch how they react to that. We could meet so many interesting new people that way. The kid this episode was a 50/50 to getting a visit from his favorite hero anyway.

  • JT_Kirk Apr 27, 2013

    I had a time-crunched week, so I put off Arrow, and barely decided to get around to watching it this morning. Arrow and Castle are 2 shows that have had rough runs the past few episodes to the point of nearly losing my interest, I'm not compelled to make time for them anymore. This Arrow episode almost changed my mind on that as it was more interesting and had more going on than before with less little bits dragging, but still managed to fall into a giant stupid-hole.

    Ollie makes a "choice" to stop a corrupt executive from fleeing the country rather than backing Diggle up capturing a dangerous assassin. First off, why couldn't the police stop this guy instead? Does Green Arrow really have to do ALL the policework? That's stupid. Second, Diggle's situation is a life-or-death one while some executive is only dangerous with a pen and isn't putting anyone's life at risk. In what way does that choice make sense whatsoever? Ollie's choice to put Laurel's interests above Diggle's just didn't pass the basic test, it wasn't Ollie saving Laurel's life, it was merely tracking down a guy in a limo, that's not a balanced choice.

    I'm not as invested in Diggle as you are, Noel, but if this is how he's going out then it's pretty lame... yet if he comes back, it's almost equally lame because Ollie's judgement was, as you said, not trustworthy or reasonable. Then again, as badly as Diggle muffed the takedown, maybe he shouldn't come back, that wasn't even a compelling scene the way it played out, just a shooting gallery as Deadshot told him.

    I didn't give a squirt about Laullie, but I felt like Tommy's writing was good and yet is a driving force used to turn him bad, which is a shame because Tommy's ability to make the choices he did shouldn't turn him into a villain, they should allow him to succeed in life. It's lame that Tommy's choice of using Castle Queen as a safe-haven was so pathetically undone though, the assault on the house was way too easy after all the talk of Diggle's hand-picked men and blah blah blah. Diggle kinda sucks at his job this episode, but since Ollie let him down so hard we are supposed to ignore it, I guess.

    The flashbacks weren't as compelling as usual, they felt a bit trite but not terrible until the last one where Ollie gets captured for what seemed like the thirtieth time.

    The sad part was that this episode was a better one in the series, it avoided crappy pitfalls like spending a ton of time on Laurel being mother-y to the sad little boy, or Ollie having bonding moments with the kid, that sort of dreck. We didn't even get "kid crying and being soothed" junk, that section was kept lean without feeling like a lost thread.

    Oh yeah, and then somehow there's a wisp of a storyline with Thea and Roy. It didn't even intrude on the episode, it felt like a webisode someone fan-edited into here.

    And you know this show has a credibility problem when Felicity reveals she's a dye-job and I don't believe it.

    Noel, your quoting of Firefly is too good for this show.

  • Vicky8675309 Apr 27, 2013

    well said and agree except I do think Felicity artificially lightens her hair and find nothing wrong with her choosing her hair color;-)

    be careful of Castle fans~lol, they can be very umm...intense. I still watch Castle because so far the pleasure outweighs the irritation but the scale is leveling. Castle is not growing and is not stagnating but is devolving...

    Ollie chose to abandon Diggle, who was in a dangerous situation, to capture some guy that the police could get (good point) and that we find out later had called off the hit on the kid. The kid was not in immediate danger (not kidnapped, no gun to the head) but Diggle was in the crosshairs of Deadsho (slight exaggeration but he was in immediate danger or was going to enter an extremely dangerous situation).

    Interesting point about Tommy's choices and allowing him success vs forcing a plot down our throat. Hmm, something to think about. Glad you posted

    I'm not sure where to rate this compared to the prior episodes, mainly because I have forgotten a lot of what went on in specific episodes (I don't mean to say I have forgotten everything but just the specifics of what happened when or in what episode; not a good sign).

    When did things get physical between Thea and Roy? They seemed like boyfriend/girlfriend at the restaurant/dinner.

    Why some many people saying Ollie made the right choice to "save" the kid when the kid wasn't in immediate harm and the guy Ollie captured wasn't even the assassin (captured guy had called off the hit). I could see him choosing to save the kid if Laurel (ugh) had called to say she and the kid where in the bedroom hiding and heard gunshots in the hallway. But that was NOT the case.

    done rambling for now;-)

  • Liria Apr 30, 2013

    He only called off the hit after the vigilante threatened to kill him if he didn't.

  • Vicky8675309 Apr 30, 2013

    if the kid's in immediate danger (and he wasn't but Diggle was) then go after the assassin rather then the guy riding in the car. Crappy friend!

  • JT_Kirk Apr 27, 2013

    PS - of course Slade likes to watch, don't you remember what he did with Terra in New Teen Titans? What, that comic is 30 years old and is a rare example of a major comics character staying dead, so nobody remembers that?

  • ChanX95 Apr 27, 2013

    We need more Felicity. The sausage fest is getting annoying!

  • Talesin23 Apr 26, 2013

    Good episode, but i thought Diggle's reason for quitting was stupid. Basically he thought that little boy wasn't worth much and should have just died. Seeing how he objected to Oliver trying to stop the hit contract on the boy, and blaming him even after the hitman killed several of Diggles own guard inside the supposidly inpenetrable mansion.

    Thats the only way to interpret his reasoning, which is why its stupid as thats out of character for him imo.

  • gizma1982 Apr 26, 2013

    I loved the episode. Oliver has very clear he is not going to be with Laurel and I love that xD And I hate Oliver dissapointed Diggle for her. Diggle deserves the best for his support, especially when he had tried to be ok with Oliver being like a "killer".

    The most funy part is that I feel like Roy wants to be like Robin to Batman LOL.

  • sablecladferret Apr 26, 2013

    Omg now that you've suggested Diggle's death that's all I'm going to think about for the subsequent episodes. Naturally if it happens I'm going to say you jinxed it!!! and help you break things (your things anyway)...
    As much as I understand Diggle feeling betrayed, when he got angry at Oliver and said you chose her, always her, I couldn't help but think that Diggle would always choose Carly over Oliver anyway, if it came down to it, so that storming off was kinda meh for me.
    Poor Tommy. Not that I've ever been invested in Tommy and Laurel or for that matter, Oliver and Laurel (sorry but Laurel seems to have no chemistry with anyone whatsoever), but I feel Tommy has been rather shortchanged on various areas, his friendship, his girlfriend, his family (or the combined lack thereof), and wish he had at least spent a while "fighting" for Laurel. Even if it's a delusional you're not going to steal her from me or Laurel loves me and I'm not a crazy murdering vigilante. Anything really, because that sad lurk as Ollie and Laurel hugged, and then giving up so quickly was just so...scripted? When did Tommy get so super low self esteem?

  • JT_Kirk Apr 27, 2013

    Diggle has chosen Ollie over his life when it's appropriate I think.

    Tommy has been so shortchanged it's like the writers are trying to take a more mature character and turn him into the movie version of Harry Osborn. Tommy probably gets low self-esteem from his crappy dad though, that guy sucked. I think Tommy's inability to fight for Laurel came when Ollie mentioned the lunch that Laurel hadn't told Tommy about, that's a bad sign for their relationship.

  • sablecladferret Apr 27, 2013

    Indeed, it seems like the writers were just concerned that he became Harry Osborn ASAP that they didn't care about the journey getting there. At this point if Tommy turns evil, should Ollie or Laurel even care? I mean, it doesn't really seem to matter to Ollie whether he has this friend or not, and Laurel and Tommy weren't a couple very long.

  • Vicky8675309 Apr 28, 2013


    Laurel seems much to intrigued with Arrow/Archer (whatever Ollie's alter ego's name is) and by Ollie himself. Not a good girlfriend for Tommy.

    Ollie putting Laurel above Diggle and above his supposed best friend, Tommy, makes me like Ollie less (this episode makes Ollie look bad based on his actions)

  • Vicky8675309 Apr 27, 2013

    Agree with the first sentence;-)

    Tommy is how the writers have chosen him to be.... kind of pathetic but I feel empathy for him. If he becomes a villain, which I am fairly confident of, then no more empathy. Having a crappy dad, a best friend who is "making moves" on the girlfriend, and a horrible girlfriend is not enough of an excuse. Tommy needs to distance himself from all these crappy people in his life. I dislike his girlfriend and am glad he was smart enough to break things off with that soul sucking demon (lol)

  • 377221 Apr 26, 2013

    We should not take our hats off to Roy Harper in my opinion. He's an uncharismatic little brat, plus the actor who plays him is seven years older than him and it shows.

  • BereniceAndrea Apr 26, 2013

    I know I'm a little late to this party, but work with me here.
    I already miss Dig. So please bring him back or I'll break things with you, that's for sure.
    I agree with you about the love triangle, I do buy it from Laurel but not sure Ollie has proven actual love towards her. Tommy's development this week was really good as I'm guessing and hoping that now that we assume he'll be under his father's wing in every way, he'll became the archer, Merlyn, Green Arrow's enemy.
    Also, Felicity's line about her hair = pure gold.

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