Arrow "Unfinished Business" Review: Character Turns Ahead

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Apr 04, 2013

Arrow S01E19: "Unfinished Business"

Oliver confronts the Count

"Unfinished Business" was perhaps less about things left unfinished—though that was certainly a running thing—than about the episode's other repeated theme: "People can change." Sadly, such changes don't always play out as well as they should, or as consistently.

The inciting incident for everything that happened this week was a new form of Vertigo flooding the streets, resulting in the death of a woman who was at Verdant, and supposedly picked up the drugs there. It put Oliver onto the Count's case and it also ended up putting Quentin and Oliver onto Tommy's case, as both suspected Tommy of dealing drugs in the club, a notion made even more compelling after the discovery that $10,000 was missing from Verdant's books.

Oliver looks at the County

Oliver hunting down the Vertigo stuff was pretty fine, so far as that sort of thing goes. As before, when the show has executed it well, the investigative nature of the case was nicely worked out, from Diggle buying the drugs ("Person of color has successfully purchased your drugs.") to following those drugs around the city in the hopes of finding someone who was going to lead them back to whoever was producing the new Vertigo, and later checking toxicology reports of victims. It had clues, it had dead ends, and so it felt like something resembling an investigation.  There were a couple of nice set pieces, including the scenes at the docks and the aquarium, though I wish the latter had remained in the actual aquarium as opposed to the behind-the-tanks pipe world. It was so much less visually interesting than a strung-out dude with a gun in front of thousands of gallons of fish.

The problem with the Vertigo plot, sadly, was that the conclusion was telegraphed as soon as Quentin arrived in the asylum. The orderly looked decidedly shifty and glance-y at Quentin and the Count's doctor as they went up the stairs in like the third or fourth scene of the episode. "Ah," I said. "The orderly's the one making the new drugs." The extra oversold it, and the direction lingered on him too long. So, mostly I was waiting for them to circle back to the asylum the entire episode, and while I sort of enjoyed the fact that the doctor got to indulge in a little monologuing, I still ended up pretty bored with the overall approach to the case.

The Count in his room in the asylum

The bait-and-switch with the Count and his doctor did prove useful as a character moment for Oliver, though, as he decided not to kill the Count, even after leveling multiple arrows at the madman. Mercy stayed Oliver's bow (just like it did against the Vertigo user in the aquarium) as the realization dawned on Oliver that in the Count's current state, "there didn't seem to be a point" in taking his life. It's something we might've been looking for in the Savior's final moments last week, a chance for the Glades' avenger to redeem himself, but at least it shows some movement on Oliver's morality needle. People don't always fail the city, and not everyone deserves an arrow through the jugular.

However, Tommy was probably wishing he had received an arrow through the jugular in this episode. No one believed that he wasn't dealing drugs in the club, even though he did bribe a city official to forego the building inspection to protect the Arrow Cave. So, just for the record: not dealing drugs but protecting a vigilante who used to be his best friend. It wasn't enough to spare Tommy from other people's horrible attitudes.

Quentin's response to Tommy I totally understood, and I imagine that on some level, even Tommy understood it. And I dug how it affected him and his fears over it causing another divide between him Laurel. The show hasn't handled Quentin super-well, but but he seems to have found something like a grip on his character, and the writers are following through with it, and I can appreciate that. He's even drinking soda instead of soda with alcohol, so hurrah!

Oliver and Tommy in the club

But what made things fell apart for me was Tommy's response to Oliver throughout the hour. Tommy's anger and frustration with Oliver is what we should've seen two weeks ago when Helena returned, and instead Tommy didn't show any signs of that. In fact, he was a paragon of understanding of Oliver's plight. Here, Tommy was very frustrated not only with Oliver's betrayal of their friendship, but with Oliver's lack of faith in him. It's the lack of consistency in Tommy's behavior that irks me. His struggle to come to grips with Oliver's vigilante life was never fully dramatized so as to lend this back-and-forth any real weight. And none of this is Colin Donnell's fault. His performance in this episode was very strong, just as it was he was sort of being understanding about Oliver's life two episodes ago. It's just haphazard writing and character plotting.

It's possible for a person to snap and have a bad day, and for a confluence of events, like the ones that happened here, to lead to rash decisions. But there's a difference between a person and a character with an arc on a serialized television series, and it makes all the difference when that arc feels truncated. Tommy was probably always going to end up at Malcolm's side somehow or another, and the tensions between him and Oliver were likely going to drive him there. The events in this episode did feel like a justifiable reason—he bribed a city official and then turned the Arrow Cave into a storage area ALL TO PROTECT OLIVER, and Oliver was being a jackass about it—but the small hiccup in the journey to get there sort of made the whole thing feel rushed.

Oliver draws his bow

In actual viewing pleasures, Diggle received some non-Arrow Cave love this week. It seems like things with Carly are progressing well enough, but also like he's very much weighed down by Deadshot still being alive. While it's all very much a set-up for the next new episode, I appreciate that Diggle not only got some time to do stuff on his own, but that his plans put him into a slight conflict with Oliver. They're partners, yes, but it's Oliver's mission that takes priority. Oliver at least realized the error of this attitude, and decided to make Deadshot a priority. It'll be interesting to see how Diggle's "kill only with necessary cause" mindset comes into play when presented with the opportunity to confront his brother's killer again.



NOTES & QUOTES

Shado training Oliver

– On the island this week, Shado began her Mr. Miyagi-esque training of Oliver by having him slap water ("We're almost out of slapping water."). It strengthened his arm enough so that he could draw the bow without hurting himself. But it put Oliver another step closer to becoming who he is today. It also clearly means I've been wasting my time lifting weights.

– "Oh, good, you're here. Of course you're here. You clearly love it down here."

– Casual name-dropping of A.R.G.U.S., the organization that employs Lyla, Diggle's contact (and the same contact from last week's Arrow digital comic, by the way). In the comics, A.R.G.U.S stands for Advanced Research Group Uniting Superhumans and was, among other things, the liaison group between the U.S. government and the Justice League. Now they've formed their own Justice League of America headed up by Steve Trevor. Who knows what the hell the group is here, other than a massive intelligence operation. Although I do sort of love the idea of Steve Trevor showing up on Arrow*Update*: As Gislef kindly pointed out, in Arrow A.R.G.U.S stands for Advanced Research Group United Support per producer Marc Guggenheim in a tweet.

– "Clear." 

– "I doubt you could aim a single arrow." And Oliver couldn't. So he aimed three arrows. One for each of the doctors he was probably seeing.

– Speaking of arrows, there was an uptick in the novelty arrows this week. Explosive-tipped arrows, explosive-with-a-trigger-on-the-outfit arrows, and medicinal herb concoction-injecting arrows. Boxing glove or buzz-saw arrow by the finale!

– "Looks like I'm the last one standing. Sitting. Spinning. Something to do. What was I going to do? Memory not what it once was. Nothing what it once was. Is there a name on the gravestone? No. It's new. And clean. And waiting." Seth Gabel had a lot of fun with the Count. I'm hopeful that the Count somehow achieves a degree of rehabilitation and comes back to haunt everyone again.

– Arrow's taking the next two weeks off, so it'll be back on April 24. After that, it'll have an uninterrupted run all the way to the finale on May 15.

What'd you think of "Unfinished Business"?


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  • TomWayne Apr 10, 2013

    Noel and anyone else: Was it just me, or was the mental hospital they used here the same one they used for Arkham in "Batman Begins"? I didn't have time to check my copy of BB, but it was I think meant to look essentially similar if it wasn't the same building--another nod to the Nolans. :)

  • gelf23 Apr 09, 2013

    Did anyone else notice that the guy on the docks with the hat & beard, the one who gave the wad of cash to the drug dealer, was Manu Bennett? Did they run out of extras or was Slade meant to be there? Am I the only one who caught this?

  • MarieLaureDep Apr 07, 2013

    I'd say it was a good episode overall, even if, like you said, the solution to the case was very easy to understand and pretty cliché, like Tommy going back to his father. The best friend becoming the ennemy: that's very Spiderman of you, writers. What I like most about Arrow is how the drama seems always less heavy thanks to the great one-liners characters like Diggle and Felicity have. I also liked the flashbacks on the island, for once. I digged the Karaté Kid vibe of the slap-the-water thingy. Yeah, good episode, can't wait for the next one.

  • bleumystique Apr 07, 2013

    I definitely thought this was one of their strongest episodes. Everyone, well mostly everyone had something hearty to do, and for those who didn't have anything pertinent they didn't bother throwing them into the episode as filler, and I truly appreciated that.
    -Diggle was phenom. He's such a likeable character, a necessary character, a potentially fantastic character when they choose to utilized him to the best of his abilities. They finally did that this week, so he wasn't just regaled to Keeper of the Arrow Cave, or Psychotherapist for Arrow wielding vigilantes with mild PTSD and a guilty conscious. I loved that. He got out and did things on his own, with his own mission he was focused on. I was happy to see that things have progressed with his sister in law/ new gf, but that they aren't all happy go lucky, they have their issues. I was thrilled to see him reaching out to his own contacts. I loved that he was focused on his own mission, and he wasn't at Ollie's beck and call. "Person of color has successfully purchased your drugs." He's always fantastic with the dark humor.
    - Tommy blowing up at Ollie. Ollie blowing up at Tommy. Ollie blowing up at Diggle. Diggle blowing up at Ollie. I loved all the conflicts in the relationships. It was interesting to see. I like Oliver, of course, but he's definitely a flawed character, and he can be a bit of jackass, and it was so apparent in this episode and everyone sort of called him out on it, and after a bit he took it to the chin and accepted that. Reprimanding Diggle for not being at his beck and call and being hell bent on a personal mission, when his vigilantism is a personal mission made him the biggest hypocrite. And accusing Tommy of being the same old immature, reckless, kinda guy when he himself is anything but that after five years...again, not a great moment for Oliver.
    -I felt like this was the strongest we've seen of Tommy so far. He's definitely gotten better as a character, but it's hard not to improve on pointless. I agree to some degree on how flighty he's written. He fully accepts things one week, he's disgusted by it the next. I wish they'd balance it out better. The conflicted feelings isn't the problem, it's the going from one extreme to another that is the problem, and the actor has been doing great at what he's been given, which is perhaps why Tommy finally feels like a remotely tolerable character now, but yeah. I felt like the fight between him and Oliver was contrived and overworked, just to get him to go running to his father. I didn't care for that at all. While the evidence was compelling enough that Tommy could have been accused of selling drugs, and he seemed willing to deal with Lance accusing him, which fine, whatever, in this case lance really was just doing his job, even though every time he appears onscreen I just think "jackass" automatically and I guess, unfortunately for him, there is no making him likeable to me, but I digress. It was acceptable for Lance to be Lance about the situation and accuse Tommy. It's in his job description. I couldn't for the life of me get on board with Oliver buying it and accusing Tommy of it though. Like Tommy said, the night club is Oliver's cover and Tommy has been doing all of the work, and that is a lot of work, too much work, and he (was) invested in it, and in his relationship with Laurel and hasn't given anyone a reason to question his maturity level in quite some time, so it didn't make sense for Ollie of all people, to accuse Tommy of dealing.I understood why Tommy was pissed at that accusation. I'd also love to know how and when Tommy removed all of that stuff from the Arrow Cave, when he probably doesn't have the keypad access, and had so little time to do it.
    -I think I established that I'll probably never care for Detective Lance. Also word to the man, daddy's girls are usually attracted to men that remind them of their father.
    -I am more than willing to be secretary of the Felicity Smoak fanclub. Because she is my favorite female on this show. But Shado is up there too. Girl is just badass with her yoga and water hitting, and I couldn't get enough of the S&S; badasses r' us banter.

  • Acrobit Apr 08, 2013

    I did like the Yoga...

    And I liked Diggle getting the drugs, but it nagged at me that anyone could just walk up in a drug den with a wad of cash and buy the latest thing...with absolutely no one caring who the person is. No peek under the mask, not flashlight in the face, no "who sent u?" Just "gimme lots of ur drugs," and "K."

    That one's not on him, just....CW. Did I mention I liked the yoga?

  • bleumystique Apr 09, 2013

    I envied her yoga abilities.

    Eh, sometimes it depends on what side of town your on. It's no secrets that criminals today lack the finesse of those that came long before them. Not that I'm an expert or anything.

    Oh you mentioned you liked the yoga. Probably as much as I like Oliver and Diggle sparring. ;)

  • Acrobit Apr 10, 2013

    Well, Shado's still only one person...

  • KML89 Apr 07, 2013

    Can anyone answear my on why some of the shows, like Arrow, is taking a 2 week break now?

  • Acrobit Apr 10, 2013

    Basically, they need to spread their shows out since reruns aren't watched at all anymore. Either that or make more episodes...heh. If the networks don't conspire to hold their shows around the same time, no one will ever try the spare crap they try to fit in between breaks.

  • TomWayne Apr 10, 2013

    It mirrors the patterns on other networks, especially other WB-owned shows like Person of Interest over on CBS. Whether WB makes those calls or the networks do is unclear.

  • proudz Apr 06, 2013

    Hmm i dunno.. I´m a bit ambivalent about this show. I love the character Green Arrow but i feel that somehow the show doesn´t really capture the character right.... My favorite parts of the show are the time spent on the island, learning about the origin of his character. The other parts seems way to shallow..

  • chris17blue Apr 06, 2013

    I have not read any of the comments! So this is just my opinion, but I hated the episode.

    To my surprise I actually for once enjoyed the flashbacks! Everything else was just ughh,, annoying. I can't believe I'm saying this but everyone in this one came off as a jerk. First Oliver, because of his undeserved hatred he had for the Count and him raising his bow in an attempt to kill a mental patient. That was really uncalled for, the guy is not in his right mind, is that his sense of justice ?<<<

    So yes, Oliver was a tool. No worse than Tommy though, the way he talked to Oliver was frustrating. Okay, I get it, I get it, you hate him and you quit the job he gave you when you had no money to support yourself. So damn sefish! Oh yes, and he went back to his dad. (whom he hated few episodes back)

    I also hated the detective...Laurel's dad. He was doing all of his "investigating" out of spite and dislike for Tommy.

    Hoping next episode improves.....< Worst episode this season .

  • DiegoPecchini Apr 05, 2013

    Nice piece, Noel. Absolutely agree about Tommy's inconsistent behaviour towards Oliver being the Hood.

    I also thought they could've done a better job showing how exactly Oliver doubted him, because it was really one little comment on the matter. I was surprised at Tommy being so pissed at Oliver beacues I hadn't completely realised that Oliver thought Tommy was selling the Vertigo.

  • ChanX95 Apr 05, 2013

    My god but after the end of Fringe I'd forgotten how much I love Seth Gabel!

  • dragon22a Apr 04, 2013

    It may have just been me but I felt like this episode was giving off a kind of Scarecrow vibe. The psychologist may not have been manufacturing a fear inducing drug but he had this air of Jonathan Crane to him, especially when he sort of analyzed Oliver after capturing him.

    Then you had the Count who was acting similar to Crane, espcially the version shown in Batman Begins after he is exposed to his own toxin. Though his tone of voice when he was rambling on at the end had a sort of Riddler quality to it.

    This episode was OK and moved the storyline along. Tommy has begun his fall to the dark side. One could only assume that he will take his father's place sooner or later.

    The island scenes are finally starting to get into Oliver's training which is something I have been waiting for. And we once again have an appearance of the magical deus ex machina island herb which Oliver apparently has a crap load of.

    Good to see Diggle is getting more to do and his hunt for Deadshot is picking up steam. There will likely be a scene where Diggle tells Oliver that he wants to be the one to kill Deadshot.

    I have been thinking, a boxing glove arrow may not be that out of the question. Not the huge one from the comics but an arrow with a small boxing glove as the tip, sort of like Oliver's version of a rubber bullet, meant to incapacitate and not kill.

  • Acrobit Apr 04, 2013

    You don't get a Green Goblin vibe from Tommy and his dad? Obviously, they won't be flying around and throwing pumpkins, but the overall dynamic's there between the three of them.

  • dragon22a Apr 05, 2013

    Oh most definitely, especially when you look at how the Osborns were depicted in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. In the first movie you had Norman and Harry with a distant relationship that begins to mend, then Norman is killed and Harry vows revenge. In the second one Harry discovers Norman was the Green Goblin and takes up the mantle to strke back against his former friend.

    Malcom and Tommy have begun to mend their relationship in a similar way to the Osborns. I could see Malcom dying in battle against Oliver, possibly in this seasons finale, and Tommy later discovers the truth about his father and takes up his mantle. Of course, there would not be any goblin formula or anything so instead Tommy may leave Starling City for a time and go where Malcom went to train under the same master. If Malcom dies and Tommy discovers the truth in the season finale, then the show could pick up next season after a few months with Tommy returning to the city to take up the bow against Oliver.

    It would be interesting if next season Tommy returned as the new Dark Archer and we were shown flashbacks of his time in training similar to how we see Oliver's time on the island.

  • Acrobit Apr 05, 2013

    Dark Tommy flashbacks would actually work for me. I mean, it probably wouldn't work out at all, but the idea sounds good.

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