Arrow "Lone Gunmen" Review: Mostly Dead On

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Arrow S01E03: "Lone Gunmen"

I admit that I sort of don’t know where to start this week, if only because there were a number interesting and exciting things at work in “Lone Gunmen.” So let’s start a bit with the issues of morality that were addressed. (And judging from the tease, will also carry over into next week.)

There’s been considerable discussion, both in the comments on last week's review and elsewhere on the internet, about Oliver loosing arrows on the bodyguards and other security forces of the folks on the list. There is, as has been noted, an odd disconnect between the fact that Oliver is targeting the corrupt Richie Riches of Starling City, but is leaving them in the hands of the law, and how he seems to have no problem firing arrows into the working class of the private security world.

The episode kind of addressed this, but it was hardly in a useful, let alone clarifying, way. Oliver’s voiceover intoned that Deadshot “has no morality, no code. He doesn't kill for justice.” Is this how Oliver is justifying filling bodyguards with arrows...? Later on, during the big fight, there was a brief, “We’re not so different, you and I” moment between the two accuracy pros, and Oliver maintained the unselfish nature of his quest compared to Deadshot’s mercenary ways.

We don’t know whether the mooks Oliver’s shooting are dying or not, so it seems presumptuous to presume either way (though most folks seem to be leaning toward they’re dead as doornails). The issue then is grounded in the extent of the violence that Oliver inflicts, and that’s where the dissonance is. These security guys may or may not be aware of the corruption of their bosses, but they’re (potentially mortally) wounded by Oliver while the bosses get carted off to jail based on evidence that would be examined in court (in our world, anyway).

As I’ve said in comments, I think that part of this is the show angling to darken and grim things up, but it’s also irresponsible to dismiss it purely as that; unfortunately the show doesn’t offer a clear, in-narrative answer. Oliver’s “it’s for justice” perspective isn’t fleshed out enough to make any solid comments, but it puts him more in line with someone like Marvel’s The Punisher than it does with other, less lethal heroes/vigilantes. It’s something to keep an eye on, and I’ll make sure to bring it up in my reviews as we go forward (and I’m sure you all have thoughts as well, and I want to read them!).

So what about the episode as a whole? It was a big step up from last week’s second episode-itis, as the plot didn’t feel squeezed into the second half of the episode. I think we’re also getting a sense of what this show is going to be, which is a superhero procedural mixed with some decent character work. I freely admit that this approach works for me as both elements are things that I respond to in narratives.

The procedural aspect is probably the one that needs the most amount of work, but it’s still largely satisfying. I enjoyed Oliver working through toxicity and ballistic reports (including from wall climbing) in the Arrow Cave, running it through Interpol to get Deadshot's name, and then strolling up to the headquarters of Starling City’s RUSSIAN MOB, flashing his RUSSIAN MOB CAPTAIN TATTOO, and then heading in to confront Deadshot. It was all pretty easy, I admit, but I liked that there was a process involved, some investigative work.

The show has been less successful with Quentin, and I’m becoming convinced that it doesn’t exactly know what it wants to do with him yet. His scenes with his partner (I know he’s named Hilton, but have they actually said his name on the show?) feel very information-delivery-focused, and that’s never a good thing. And Quentin’s visit to the pool here seemed... pointless? Maybe I missed something while he gazed at buildings, but still.

But it’s the character stuff that I imagine we’ll be talking about a good bit, so let’s get to it: Diggle knows, guys. And it’s awesome. I’m giving serious kudos to the series for not dragging this out for several episodes. Not only does it give Oliver an ally, but it continues to develop the show’s most engaging character dynamic. Diggle’s a smart guy—I loved his bit about Oliver being the white/White knight of the Glades—and keeping this a secret for even a couple more episodes would’ve strained that thread’s credibility. It should be interesting to see where things go from here. I don’t think that Diggle’s going to be thrilled with this whole endeavor, but I also think he’s not going to get in the way (too much).

Speaking of allies, Oliver has enlisted the charmingly babbly Felicity Smoak as his tech expert. I’m not familiar with Smoak in the comics, save for the fact that she’s a software business guru, so I can’t offer much comparison, but I liked Emily Bett Rickard’s work in her few scenes. Along with Tommy, I suspect that Felicity will bring a nice bit of levity to the show.

The other big things in this episode weren’t necessarily as exciting as the Diggle stuff, or as potentially enticing as Felicity’s arrival. The show quickly dispatched with the Laurel and Tommy secret (also kudos for that), so that relationship is moving forward. Katie Cassidy and Colin Donnell seem to have a bit more chemistry than Cassidy and Stephen Amell are proving to (my enjoyment of them in the pilot aside), so their pairing should at least be a bit more interesting.

Based on last week's comments, I can only imagine how the Thea stuff played for many of you (let’s not call the character a ‘bitch’ this week, or any other time in the future, mmmmkay?). I’ll concede that her wild-girl behavior isn’t the most fleshed-out aspect of the character, but I do like that the show is being consistent with it, and that it’s giving Moira something to do other than be all secretively evil. The family stuff is probably the weakest aspect of the series so far, but there’s still plenty of time for it grow, so I’ll be patient.


NOTES


– Have at it about the island stuff in the comments. I have next to nothing to say about it this week beyond, “Oh. Look. The bottom halves of guys in generic mercenary outfits. They’re probably with Deathstroke.”

– I didn’t really talk about Deadshot! But that’s largely because he existed even less than China White did last week. The tattoo thing, to my knowledge, is unique to the show, but the wrist-mounted gun and the huge eye scope (cool image of the arrow implanted in there, and poetic, too) are from the comics. I am sad that he won’t be back. (Also: Everyone else thought Moira hired him, right?)

– Hey, so Laurel can fight a bit. One step closer to a blonde wig (or hair dye) and fishnets.

– I was all set to start an Arrow’d Mook Counter this week, but with the exception of dispatching Holder’s security force off-screen, the only person who was shot on-screen was Deadshot. Maybe I’ll start it next week?

– I rather like the idea of Oliver starting a club above the Arrow Cave. It’s a nice way to give himself something to do, keep his cover, and provide story opportunities.

– I'm going to assume the Jurgens file was named for Dan Jurgens, a comic book artist and writer. He’s worked on Green Arrow, but Jurgens is probably best known for creating the character of Booster Gold, and also for his run on the “Death of Superman” storyline of the 1990s.

– Fun fact: In the comics, Big Belly Burger is the favored fast food chain of the DC Universe and is a subsidiary of LexCorp.

– I watch shows I review with the closed captioning on so I can get spellings of locations and names when needed, and I was thoroughly amused when it spelled Felicity’s last name as Smoke instead of Smoak.

– In case you’re even passingly curious, I’ve been writing these reviews while listening to the Batman: Arkham City and Downton Abbey soundtracks. Yes, I’m very all over the map in my tastes.

Arrow "Lone Gunmen" Photos

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