Arrow "The Undertaking" Review: Playing Catch-up

Arrow S01E21: "The Undertaking"


I've discussed this topic a bit before—possibly in a review, definitely in the comments—but one of the reasons that Arrow's Lian Yu plot has generally been more "exciting" than a lot of the rest of the show's storylines is that its narrative is largely unknown to us as an audience. We don't know what'll happen next there, we don't know who will betray whom, and neither do the characters on the island. Everyone's on edge, including us, to find out what's going on. 

In contrast, we as viewers are able to see more or less all the pieces of the present-day arc, while the characters have no idea what's happening. Some of those pieces may be a little fuzzier than others, but we have a pretty good idea of how things are working, and where things will likely end up, story-wise. The issue with "The Undertaking"—if you want to call it an issue—is that it made an effort to get all of our characters on roughly the same page. But we've already been on that page for months, so mostly we've just been waiting for them to catch up to us, and that's not always the most exciting thing, especially in situations where the individual case-of-the-week isn't particularly interesting.

I don't really think it's an "issue" so much as one of the pitfalls of serialized storytelling and giving the audience a bit more information than the characters have. It's a good way to shore up viewer frustration against the notion that the writers have no idea what they're doing with the story, since they can give us scenes that hint at the direction they're heading in, but it can also kind of suck of the suspense out of things. Typing all of this, I realize that we as an audience—and I mean the general "we," not me and those of you who will read this—are pretty damn difficult to satisfy. 

I mean, really, "The Undertaking" could've been worse. It could've been "Across the Sea" from the final season of Lost. (Now there's horrible "Let's give you a lot of answers!" episode.)

The most notable, and welcomed, element of "The Undertaking" was the shift in emphasis with regard to the flashback scenes. Instead of returning to Lian Yu, we went all the way back to the days leading up to Robert and Oliver heading out to sea on the Queen's Gambit. It was a nice break from Lian Yu, and it allowed us a few glimpses into how some of these characters were before the crash. Moira was happy and not secretive. Oliver was Pre-Island Oliver in spades ("Jerk pizza guy can't break a hundred."). Malcolm was already pretty dark. Laurel was... well, let's talk about Laurel for just a second.

We all know how different Present-Day Oliver is from Island Oliver, and this week we got to see Laurel before all the hardship. She was girlish but still kind of serious, trying to force Oliver into speeding up their relationship by nudging him out of his clearly arrested development. It was probably the most comfortable I've seen Katie Cassidy on this show, and through her performance and the writing, it was easy to see why Oliver would've come to this epiphany about Laurel being someone who always saw the best in him, and why he'd want to continue to have her in his life. It helped to explain the love triangle just a bit more. I'm still not wholly interested in it, but at least it fleshed things out a little.

Anyway, back to the bigger, more interesting stuff from the flashback. We learned that Malcolm had been spearheading the Starling City clean-up mission for a very long time, and that how they were going about it—extorting corrupt folks on the list to do right by the city—wasn't all that different from Oliver's way. Instead of giving the money back to the people, however, Malcolm and the group were funneling it into more police funding and whatnot.

It just wasn't enough for Malcolm, though, and I want to stress how much I really felt keyed into John Barrowman during his scenes. There were hints of this in "Dead to Rights" during Malcolm's acceptance speech, but Barrowman knocked it out of the park as Malcolm explained his complete and utter desire to level 23 square blocks because he didn't pick up his phone as is his wife was dying in the Glades. It further locked in that Malcolm very much sees himself as the hero in all this, and that he believes that those around him, like Robert, just don't have the necessary vision and resolve to carry through with the mission. It harkens back to conversations that Oliver and Diggle have had about priorities, and where to draw a line and at what cost. 

In the past, I've discussed (and in turn, many of you have also discussed) Arrow's struggle to properly frame its vengeance-versus-justice conversation. While it continues to be a very murky thing—and perhaps it's for the best if Arrow never fully attempts to address the topic directly ever again—the series has at least offered different gradients involving Oliver, Helena, Diggle, and Malcolm (along with a few of the villains of the week, like Firefly and the Savior). Shading the discussion through character actions and plans as opposed to characters just talking about it at least makes a little more dynamic than Oliver lecturing someone on his perceived notion of the differences. And this week we saw how those who may not have the stomach for it get harmed or corrupted as we learned that Frank was the one who placed the bomb on the Queen's Gambit.

The rest of the episode was spent getting Walter back (hurrah!) and making sure that Oliver (finally) realized that Moira was in on the plot to destroy the Glades. Felicity in the underground casino worked really well for me, and it opened up a fresh set of dynamics for her and Oliver in this partnership. She's clearly, and a bit surprisingly, good at the fieldwork aspect of this job, and hopefully this means that come next season (or this season if there's still time), she'll get to do more of it.

Oliver learning about Moira's involvement with Malcolm, and identifying Malcolm as the ringleader, felt a bit...random? There was no set-up for it, and instead we just panned away from Malcolm's office to see a listening-device arrow and Oliver across the way. I guess he followed her after giving Thea that quick and comforting hug? Certainly's Moira intense reaction to the news of Walter's death—Susanna Thompson was great there—would raise suspicions, but we were missing a small scene to connect those other two scenes. 

It did serve two other purposes, though: 1) It gave that moment between Oliver and Malcolm in the hospital all sorts of delightful intensity that I'm eager to see play out over the next two episodes; 2) It knocked the wind out of Oliver enough for him to go and apologize to Diggle. This happened a little fast for me, but I'm hoping that the show provides some actual ramifications for Oliver betraying Diggle's trust in how the two interact and work together (I'm assuming that Diggle's not going to sit by and let Malcolm destroy a significant portion of the city). Otherwise, what was the point of Diggle quitting at all then?



NOTES FROM THE QUIVER

– "I know we haven't talked about Walter in a while..." From Thea's lips to everyone else's ears, show.

– Oliver parachuting onto that tenement building? Yeah. Pretty ridiculous.

– I really liked Diggle's apartment. I also hope he painted all of that art.

– "You've always had something of a god complex, Malcolm. It’s part of your charm."

– "It feels really good having you inside me... and by 'you' I mean 'your voice' and by 'me,' I mean 'my ear.'"

– "Oliver! You're in school!" "Not really... I tried to tell you that."

– DC Comic Fun Facts (haven't done these in a while!): First up was a nice mention of Ted Kord, the first second Blue Beetle. Kord had no superpowers, he was just a super-smart guy who wanted to better the world through his inventions and his super hero-ing. Second was the Markov Device, the earthquake-causing machine from Unidac Industries. It was named for Brion Markov, the superhero named Geo-Force. As you might've guessed, he had the ability to control the Earth, including causing earthquakes.


What'd you think of "The Undertaking"?

Comments (103)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Great episode and a good review! Also on the DC fasts list: Blüdhaven mentioned! Although I think they've mentioned Starling Citys neighbour before, but it's always nice to get a DC reference, especially since it's the home of one Nightwing AKA Dick Grayson :)
Reply
Flag
Some things I really enjoyed about this episode:

a) Backstory into the "Undertaking". While I always enjoy my Manu Bennett, it was nice to get more into the reasons behind this whole thing, and why Oliver's parents, and Malcolm, were actually doing what they were doing.
b) Felicity. Seriously, I could watch her all day (and not just for the eye candy!). Her line about having him inside her had me spewing my water. The entire show could be about her, and I would tune in every week...
c) Walter is back. Yay!

On the note of Walter, I wanted to point out that I think they deliberately had no tie-in scene to Oliver leaving, specifically for the surprise. If they had included a small scene in between, with him gearing up and taking off after his mother, we would know immediately that he was going to find out. This way, when we saw the arrow in the wall, it suddenly became "oh shit! He knows!" I think it worked out well this way.

Some things I didn't like:

a) No Manu Bennett. *sadface*
b) See a).
3
Reply
Flag
Great review, I love this show and enjoyed this episode in general although some parts worked better for me than others - Felicity/Oliver scenes were among the highs.

There were a few issues I had with Ollie's beard continuity (it was distracting and a littler weird) and that god awful hair in the flashbacks but those I'm ok to overlook. A little more sceptical about the parachuting in though.. I generally enjoy the action sequences & the way he regularly manages to dodge a hailstorm of bullets has made me think they're almost trying to see how far they can push it - I imagine eventually one day he's gonna pull a super blurry Neo 'Matrix' style move to dodge one & then just walk away like 'yeah no problem' and by then we'll be so used to it no-one will bat an eyelid. But stlll, I felt that parachuting in shot was random even for Arrow.

Malcolm's reasons for taking out the Glades on paper seem a stretch but John Barrowman's performance sold it so well, you can see that he honestly thinks of himself as the hero and as someone who has the strength to 'do what needs to be done' in his eyes - much like Oliver in a twisted way. But yeah, Barrowman was so on it in those scenes.

I also loved the scene in the hospital between Oliver and Malcolm, the look on Ollie's face right before he turns and then the forced measured responses - Stephen Amell got those expressions perfect & the undercurrents were suitably tense.

On a random note, I loved the shot of him sitting in the corner in the dark after finding out his mother was in on everything all along. His body language sort of reminded me of the earlier island Oliver, almost like he just let it all in for a bit till Felicity came in and he pulled himself out of it.

Hmm two more episodes to go - I'm trying not to expect too much but I can't help feeling the excitement at seeing what they throw at us.
More+
Reply
Flag
LOST can never catch a break, people moaned about the finale not answering enough questions and now the reviewer for arrow is saying that 'across the sea' answered too many questions.
i think your so wrong on so many levels
im loving arrow, i thought it had a very rocky start (with a very over-rated pilot) but later in the season i started to fall in love with it. i thought 'the undertaking' was a very good episode, it wasnt the best of the season but up there in contention.
but 'the undertaking' is in no way close to LOST's 'across the sea'
'across the sea' is a very polarized episode, some people hated it, some people loved it, and i am one of those people who loved it. i thought the answers they gave were enough to make it interesting, the acting was amazing, the story was amazing, the birth of the smoke monster was beautiful, it was a beautifully told episode that some people hated because they didnt like the answers they got or they thought there were lack of answers

but the LOST writers always said they hated answers been spoon fed to them, they even use the matrix' architect as an example of how answers are spoon fed to the audience by just sitting there and telling them whats happening, and in my opinion that is a very bad way of telling a story
LOST is my fave show (joint with buffy) and i know some people hated it, or hated the finale or across the sea, but to put arrow in the same league is atrocious, arrow will never be as good as LOST nor will it gain the attention or cultural impact that LOST did. compare it to similar shows like smallville, shows that are in its league.
More+
1
Reply
Flag
I totally agree. LOST is in a league of its own and while season 6 was certainly not as strong as their epic season 5 - it is still ten times better than anything Arrow has produced. Compare the worst ep of LOST (well not that ep with Nicki and Paulo but any other one) to any ep of Arrow and the bad LOST ep wins hands down IMO.
1
Reply
Flag
I think part of his issue was not so much the answers given, but the way in which they were given. I can't say for certain, never having gotten through the series (which was terribly overhyped), but it seemed from the way Noel wrote it that that was his meaning.
Reply
Flag
The episode was good but it clearly lost rythmn in the middle. Loved seeing Felicity in action, once again. She's the best character on the show, in my opinion. Robert's reason to "cure" the Glades was very shaky. He "accidently" murdered a guy, so he should kill a thousand people? And about Oliver's parachute : does he own a plane or something? If so, who is the pilot? I want answers to those questions, show.
Reply
Flag
Finally a good episode I was beginning to lose faith on this show
Reply
Flag
You forgot to note that GeoForce had a sister, Tara Markov, who ALSO had earth-shaping powers, and infiltrated the New Teen Titans to assist Deathstroke to destroy them.

I'm kind of confused about something... are "The Glades" really only 24 square blocks (4x6)? or do they mean 24 blocks square (576 square blocks)?
Reply
Flag
I wondered the same and rewound with captions to be sure I heard it right--maybe it's narrow (a la the Narrows in Gotham in the Dark Knight films), although even at 3x8, that's still under a mile long.

Which brings up the potential suspension-of-disbelief issue of creating an earthquake intense enough to level that small of an area without taking out most of the rest of the city??? Even if it was an island (like the Narrows), it'd be hard to create a remotely believable "natural-looking" earthquake that would level that section but wouldn't substantially take out a much larger area. Or maybe "god-complex" Malcolm doesn't care about that, and his conspirators are really that geologically stupid to think he's only taking out the Glades. (At least Ra's-al-Ghul.and Bane admitted that they had to take out all of Gotham in order to "bring justice," to continue the Dark Knight trilogy parallel).

Reply
Flag
love the show. this has been one of the funniest and coolest episodes. felicity is by far my favorite character. one thing i don't get though... WHY IS THE HOTTEST GIRL ON THE SHOW PLAYING A GEEK? Seriously! I'm half expecting Felicity to do the superman move and reveal a big S on her chest. There is no way a girl that hot and beautiful is that spazzy in real life.
1
Reply
Flag
So spazzy girls can't be pretty or considered hot? And all naturally beautiful women are - what? Gracious and genteel? Bitchy and cool? Or just about anything, as long as it's not spazzy?
I call bullshit. ;)
Although she DOES wear better makeup and dress better than most geeks I know, I'll give you that. ;)
5
Reply
Flag
Anyone else seeing that Laurel is Lana? Man, Lana sucked...
Reply
Flag
I would put this one in the top-tier of Arrow episodes.
4
Reply
Flag
Markov is also the family name of Brion's half-sister Tara, AKA Terra of the Teen Titans and Deathstroke's lackey.

I'd also add Ollie and Laurel's friends Ray and Jean, the ones moving in together, as a possible reference to Ray Palmer (The Atom) and his girlfriend/wife/ex-wife Jean Loring.
3
Reply
Flag
The flashbacks actually left me with more questions. Obviously this is REALLY IMPORTANT, but how did anyone even figure out Sara was on the Gambit? Laurel didn't even realize Oliver was screwing around, the episode implied that Sara snuck aboard the ship, and they never found the wreckage. I mean, yeah, Sara 'disappeared' around the same time that the Gambit went down, but it seems like a huge leap for Laurel to think "Those bitches ran off in a sex boat without me!" when that's all she had to go on- though of course she ended up being right. Gross, can't believe I actually feel bad for Laurel right now.

And, of course, Oliver magically appearing outside Malcolm's office in time to overhear alllll that incriminating speechifying. He must have flung Thea away from him to get out the door in time. And that eye shadow! It takes time to perfect that look. And don't even with that stealth plane. Who was piloting, eh? Not Dig. Someone who doesn't ask questions or go to the police when the wanted Vigilante/serial killer asks to parachute out. What about airspace restrictions? And did Oliver pay in cash? He can't be leaving a paper trail every time he wants to rent some elite spy machinery. #VigilanteProblems

Speaking of the Undertaking, it's pretty much exactly what we've been guessing. Malcolm doesn't like the Poors so he's gonna destroy the Glades- though, pretty harsh that he's taking the people out too :( But the flashbacks did shed some light on the depth of Malcolm's psychological issues. A hero complex, god complex, insatiable urge to kill, AND he blames everyone one else for his mistakes? Impressive.

Roy Watch: It's been 7 days since the last Roy sighting. Where u at, girl?
More+
3
Reply
Flag
Answers to questions in your second paragraph:

1) Ollie drives faster than mom's limo driver does.

2) it doesn't take a stealth plane, just a reputation for doing crazy-ass stunts for kicks and enough money to hire a skydiving plane on short notice. The pilot is busy flying the plane and doesn't see how the client is dressed when he leaves the back of the plane, probably WAY before he said he was going to, so the pilot doesn't have any idea where he's going. "Crazy bastard... hope he doesn't kill himself" thinks the pilot. "He's gonna land somewhere in the Glades. Oh well, not my problem anymore." as he turns the plane away from course towards the skydiving field and returns to the airport.
2
Reply
Flag
I think Sara told her mother, but I'm not sure. Good questions in the second paragraph. I was wondering about the pilot too. I don't think Roy is a girl though. ;)
Reply
Flag
I spent way too much time pondering this instead of paying attention to the rest of the episode, but here's what I came up with: why would Sara tell her mom (or dad)? "Hey mom, y'know Laurel's boyfriend? I'm tappin' that." So they can tell her off? Same with her friends- they probs wouldn't approve and get all judgey about it. Could be she left a note about where she was at, but why? It was a secret affair and she wasn't expecting to die, obviously, so why would she spill the beans so early into the fling? It would make more sense if she lied to cover-up her whereabouts, further muddying the truth. And maybe Oliver's dad radioed back to land, but he wouldn't be too thrilled with his cheating son either, so why would he mention that Sara was a passenger? That'd just stir up shit and upset Moira and Laurel.

I dunno, man. Mysteries.
1
Reply
Flag
Sarah's mother knew, but she didn't tell anyone until a few episodes ago, so that doesn't explain it. It seems kind of weird that Robert would know ("sure, you can bring your girlfriend's sister") and still doesn't explain how anyone who wasn't on the Gambit knew.

Robert finding out about Sarah being on board is actually the most logical explanation. Yeah, it'd stir up shit, but the alternative is that Quentin Lance declares her missing and he and his cop buddies go looking for her and don't find out what happened for five years. It must have been horrible facing the Lances when they and he at the time blamed him for Sarah's death; imagine if they didn't already know!
Reply
Flag
Make that "kind of weird that Robert would know *beforehand* since my argument in the second paragraph relies on him having found out after they set off, but before the explosion.
Flag
For me this episode set up the Moira character as one of the most interesting ones. Hope we'll see more about how and why she got involved so deeply with Malcolm. Who was certainly played to perfection by John Barrowman.
Felicity as always was a delight while Laurel (younger version or no) still doesn't do it or me. Oliver was slightly less jerk like and Diggle is still a good guy whom Oliver should appreciate more.
And yes, glad they finally got around to freeing Walter.
Reply
Flag
I honestly thought it was excellent, one of Arrow's best so far. I loved the flashbacks scenes that took place a little before the Queen's Gambit departure, so we got a little insight on these characters pre-island, I loved that, finally, they worked to rescued Walter (and succeded), I loved that Ollie finally -trying to choose a word between 'realized' and 'came to terms with'- the fact that Moira IS involved in the Undertaking and therefore, Walter's kidnapping, and I loved that scene at the hospital between Oliver and Malcom. Ollie's face of 'you deserve an arrow in your chest, scumbag'... Also, Felicity in the field. And Diggle. Diggle got that much needed apology from Oliver. Also, no sleeve Diggle.
3
Reply
Flag
I think one of the reasons we can always see were the show is going is also because it refuses to step out of a traditional "super hero flick" path. Too often I have the feeling that I'm watching a mix between Batman, Spider-man and some other recent super hero movies. For instance the bomb in the truck going to the Glades is something we've seen in Batman Begins so we have a pretty good idea what the last episode will look like. In the same way we also know that Malcom is going to die and that his son is going to take over as the black arrow just like the green goblin in spider-man. It's not a bad show but I hope season 2 will take more risks instead of doing what others do.

In the same way I don't know if people noticed but the fight when Ollie is on his rescue mission is a big hommage to the asian movie "The raid". The hommage is amusing but again it feels like watching a cheaper version of this particular movie instead of watching something personnal and they do that all the time. It's episode 21 and I still feels like the show is suffering identity crisis. It knows what he wants to look like but it doesn't know what it wants to be.
More+
3
Reply
Flag
The Raid: Redemption totally kicked ass--no resemblance to this imo.
I haven't seen Oldboy yet but watched that fight scene clip and this show had a cheap knock off version of that fight scene.
Strange, this is twice in 2 days I've heard about Oldboy but never heard of it before. Will watch this weekend;-)
Reply
Flag
I haven't seen Oldboy yet but it doesn't surprise me to hear that.
Reply
Flag
FINALLY! As much as I found resolution of the Walter situation satisfying, this episode illustrated the point I’ve been making all season. Getting answers, especially for the characters, did seem a “bit random” precisely because there’d been no set up in previous episodes. Everything just seemed to serendipitously fall into the same time frame. No dots within previous episodes to provide connections to any of the revelations or resolutions in this episode. While I’ve often criticized the relationships in this show as sappy soapoperish and distracting, previous episodes did provide a sort of connectivity throughout the season which made the character interactions in this episode seem like a logical outcome. That the writers failed to do the same with the plot arc has been one of my major frustrations with Arrow. And a single ‘lot of answers’ episode has that feeling of disconnectedness. I agree it’s a pitfall of serialized storytelling, though not an unavoidable one. There are shows which do serialized storytelling very well within stand alone episodes. Person of Interest comes to mind. In many shows, and I agree with you in Arrow’s case it’s more a product of poor conceptualization, writing, and storytelling. Maybe not so much having no idea where they want to go with the story, but how to tell it over multiple episodes across an entire season.
More+
2
Reply
Flag
well said!
Reply
Flag
I was so confused. The entire conversation between Moira and Malcolm that Oliver overheard made it sound like she was being coerced - as long as you do what we tell you, we won't harm Walter. I thought that was the point, that Oliver would still believe his mother's innocent and just trying to protect Walter. And suddenly he knows she's part of it even though nothing was said in that scene that would definitively make it so (apart from, possibly, "we're both in this together" - but even that doesn't, to me, seem out of line for him to say if he were blackmailing her into helping.)
3
Reply
Flag
I don't know why I noticed it and why it bothered me even a little bit, but seeing Oliver with his scruffy beard for most of the episode, then being clean shaven at the hospital with Walter and Merlyn, then having the beard again at Diggle's annoyed me a little bit. Story-wise, he apparently shaved his face after rescuing Walter but before dropping him off at the hospital, then grew it back out by the time he got to Diggle's. I understand this was likely because they shot the hospital scenes after the flashbacks... something that small probably shouldn't bother me but it did a little bit, heh.

The only thing I really hated was seeing Oliver at the accountant's office shielding himself from a bunch of bullets by holding a briefcase over his head. Despite crouching, there was clearly a couple feet of Oliver's body unprotected, and the shooter doesn't figure to aim down a bit? It reminds me of a scene early in Revolution that I hated... Charlie holding a sword above her head to shield herself from some idiot repeatedly hammering down a sword on her... it's a sword, dude, stab or slice her instead. I hate seeing any sort of fight scene where it's just so obviously and stupidly fake.

Anyway, it was a cool episode overall. The minor problems are things I pretty much anticipate seeing from any CW show.
More+
5
Reply
Flag
Staff
I noticed the beard thing, too. Figured that they shot that scene later in the production cycle week when they did the flashbacks (since they likely had to accommodate Jamey Sheridan's schedule), where he's clean-shaven. It *was* jarring.
Reply
Flag
I didn't mind that. I was more concerned about the flashback hair. OHMYGOD WHY.
2
Reply
Flag
That haircut (and hair colour?) is truly awful. It's even worse than the island hair.
Reply
Flag
Right? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING????
Flag
To me this episode did firm up and and develop most of the characters on the show.

Except for one: Malcom - at least in my opinion - changed from a "bad guy" to a douche. I mean, killing however many people in the Glades because you are too much of a douche to pick up your phone? whats up with that?
Malcom as a bad guy was ok to me. We didn't know his motivation before and I would have been ok with him wanting to kill everybody because ... whatever. but because he couldn't be bothered to pick up his own phone and that got his wife killed? He should be more pissed at himself. imho. It would have been fine if he started fighting crime. But becoming just like the guys that killed his wife, that somewhat ironic i think. so, basically a douche-move :D
Seems like he just can't admit to himself and everybody else that he messed up. And as a douche, he can't have that...

Just my very personal opinion.

Otherwise an enjoyable episode that really moved stuff foreward, as usually happens towards the end of a season. Looking foreward to the finale....
2
Reply
Flag
It was established earlier that his wife was his motivation. After her death, he disappeared for a few years to become a badass. And like it or not, that sort of thing does turn people into mass murderers, so at least it's a credible motivation. It's how terrorists are made.
1
Reply
Flag
Was this episode the thinker you're making it out to be? I dunno about that, it tried to be more, but I felt like it was better when it was in the moment. Robert's motivation for joining this battle against the Glades was pretty lame stuff, he's willing to kill hundreds to make up for killing one. But there was a lot going on without feeling crowded, so there's certainly room for it to be dissected as such, I suppose.

This was an episode I'd put in the top 50% of the series, but still didn't hit the highs of the top tiers of the show.

I'm so glad I don't have to be a professional reviewer on this show, I wouldn't want to get past stupid crap like "destroying 24 square blocks!" as if that's not a 6 block by 4 block area, far too small to be a real neighborhood and a cancer on the city, and at least one of those blocks is the Queen steel mill. Or the opening scene where Ollie breaks into the accountant's office, smacks one guy, grabs his briefcase, and stands there with it as a shield waiting to be shot - what's to keep the guy from shooting around the case, like say all of Ollie's torso exposed below it? Oh, right, the script. Or the literally dozens of people Ollie went face to face with in lit rooms with only his green makeup around his eyes to disguise his famous face. Even when this show tries to be better it comes up with a ton of silly, stupid stuff that wouldn't even hold up in a comic book.

I'd like to talk about the action, the action on this show needs a new style badly. The opening scene was dumb as mentioned. Then there's Felicity's rescue, we see Ollie react to her bug being discovered and that means changing outfits and putting on makeup, then he shoots up the place, none of which felt right or looked good having him just walk around thocking arrows here and there. I would have preferred the scene stay on Felicity, have her and the pit boss in the room listening to the violence, the baddies looking at each other and fearing what may be going on, leaving the action up to the imagination until Ollie enters the room and saves Felicity.

There's also Bludhaven scenes, the silliness of the parachute landing wasn't necessarily stupid on its own, but the fact that there are no higher buildings around it from which to jump, Ollie doesn't seem to have a chopper or plane and hasn't shown any parachute training until now, it doesn't hold up. Immediately he lands and instead of silently stalking, he throws one guy off a railing which is sure to attract attention, although they ignore the crap out of that. Instead they go for an Oldboy corridor ripoff scene, and since they don't have enough time or money it doesn't deliver as well as it could, instead going for "hyper real" choppy full-speed shots of punch after punch, but not only is watching stuntmen intercut with Ollie punching people not exciting, it's not fitting for the comic format or the character, so it loses impact when it could be more exciting.

Back to characters and thinkin' and whatnot...

Past Laurel looked really weird, weirder than most, like the makeup they used made her look like someone who had a facelift not a day prior. The way they do hair and makeup on this actress is disturbing. Her portrayal was ok I guess, I'm also not in the least interested. The actress doesn't work for me, and the writing they give her doesn't work for me, it's a very CW problem for a female lead character.

Malcolm on the other hand had a good episode, I feel like his story deserved a minimum of 3 episodes to tell this story though so the reveal of needing to kill all those people had more weight instead of coming off a little too obvious, "supervillain" style.

The bits with Moira and Thea did nothing for me, they weren't as soapy as most but they just didn't land, the episode didn't drag too badly but it wasn't weighty compared to the rest of the stories, Moira now seems like a pinball, a victim of circumstance trying to hang on until she can do something useful, I'd prefer she was actively doing something than just being the victim of everybody else's choices.

Felicity in the casino, she held up emotionally but as an operative she was pretty obvious that she was trying to get caught, not that it mattered.

You are right on the money about Ollie discovering the Malcolm & Moira bit, that had no setup at all, it's like there was a scene cut for time that explained it, that was frustrating.

And oh yeah, there's also Diggle stuff, it's alright but the resolution comes WAY too easily.

Finally, the Ted Kord fundraiser mention was cute, the Markov Device I think deserves a one-upping from Geo-Force to his half-sister Tara Markov, aka Terra, who had similar powers, was a New Teen Titans hero who was actually a plant, and an underage bed-companion to a certain Slade Wilson.
More+
3
Reply
Flag
well said!
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Robert's motivation for being involved in the Undertaking wasn't good, I totally agree. But there it is, and he's dead now, so nothing to worry about too much is how I feel about it.

I'm dying to know your thoughts on the final two episodes, which Guggenheim has been hyping up, including using something along the lines of "It looked like a movie!" referring to their set up for stuff. I'm taking it with a spoonful salt, personally. But I also don't come here much for the action.

Also: You watched this awfully quickly this week. Tim let you out of the Snuggie early? HIYO.
1
Reply
Flag
I actually watched it the night it aired, and was going to reply to the review then, but it needed time to gel a little longer. Tim's snuggie was indeed looser this time, it's really just a robe on backwards, plus I think his new wife got all jealous or something. Ha!

Robert's appearance in this episode didn't even feel like the character from the first episode, I checked a ton of sites to ensure it was the same actor (to me he's the captain on Law & Order: Criminal Intent), they spent too long away from him and his interpretation of the character felt wildly different, and that was before he admitted he randomly killed a guy.

Eww, a spoonful of salt helps the bile come up. Anyway, I'm sure I'll have nothing but pleasant things to say about the "it looks like a movie" claim from those episodes, the CW has definitely earned my trust in that area. AHAHAHAHAHA! Almost got away with leaving that one straight-faced.
1
Reply
Flag
This episode gave us a lot of answers. We now know why and how Robert was involved, who was responsible for blowing up the Queens Gambit, why Oliver sabatoged his relationship with Laurel and most importantly why Malcom is so determined to lay waste to the Glades. John Barrowman is doing such a great job and I am wondering if the finale will be his swan song. Will Oliver kill Malcom and this be what finally pushes Tommy into becoming the Dark Arrow and this be the set up for season 2?
Reply
Flag
Staff
I'd lay down some cash (not a lot because I'm moving and need to buy rugs and such) that Malcolm likely won't make it out alive. Barrowman is great, but he's also probably expensive and likely has lots of other commitments, so I don't see him carrying over into Season 2 unless Warner Bros. TV was more super generous as opposed to really generous in upping the show's budget for next season (and since the show was able to hire on 3 more series regulars, really generous seems to be the order of the day).
3
Reply
Flag
I really enjoyed the conversation between Malcolm and Oliver and Oliver's face a second before he turned to Malcolm.

Fantastic job with Malcolm's character overall. I really like when shows make villains who have a noble goal in mind but a really bad way of achieving it. And Barrowman is doing a wonderful job with that character.

But the show is still missing some things. Let's hope they end the season with a bang.
5
Reply
Flag
I'm finally ready to see the great last episode the producers have been talking about; so far it's been like watching this show wade the waters until it can do the big reveals of final island revelations (Just kidding we know there will be more island crap season 2) and Malcolm vs Oliver; my guess is that he kills Malcolm and Tommy becomes the new Dark Archer creating a Lex Luthor and Superman dynamic, Comic fans such as myself still await to see if we make any headway into getting a Black Canary, Red Arrow or Speedy fully realized on the show. I was happy to see Diggle and Oliver make up quickly and Oliver was forced to tell him that you were right about everything; so maybe we can get some action going on this show. I still like Arrow but my patience is wearing thin with the story being dragged out; I'd rather get a villain of the week rather than see the characters drifting along slowly.
2
Reply
Flag
I'm sorry to disagree but for me this was one if not the best episode of the series so far. Why? I thought both the writing and the acting was superb (something we've rarely seen come together in this show) the story was much more character driven rather than case of the week. I agree they missed a scene between shocking news and Moira in the office however I don't think we missed a thing. I think this episode is the turning point for Oliver, from putting Lauren and his family above Diggle and Felicity, he now knows they are the only ones who he can completely trust and be himself with (something he can't even tell Lauren). Despite the dullness of the love triangle (at times) I still think it's very carefully scriptes so it doesn't look like typical teen drama. I wish they could have expanded the scene between Oliver and Diggle at the end since it could've been more emotional. Anyways if the last episodes are remotely like this then I can't wait to see what Season 2 has for us.
1
Reply
Flag
Something needs to be done about that outfit GA is wearing; it looks terrible. The material looks like it was created by stitching several burlap sacks together. The outfit needs to be made out of better, slicker, material. He's a billionaire after all, his outfit shouldn't look like it was fished out of the garbage.
3
Reply
Flag
I think we're all hoping that season 2 will switch from metallic green eyeshadow to a f*cking mask.
1
Reply
Flag
Yeah, I think the eyeshadow thing is pretty stupid as well. I think he should always wear a special type of techno laden goggles. It would hide his face a lot better, along with a longer hood.
1
Reply
Flag
I keep getting distracted wondering how he puts it on so fast (but doesn't have time to call Diggle) and removes it so fast. What the hell does he use to get it off so well yet preserve his light coat of mascara?
2
Reply
Flag
Staff
Maybe it'll get a redesign in Season 2.
Reply
Flag
I'd like to see the hood be a little longer as well. It's too easy to see his entire face.
Reply
Flag
Starling City, I just can't get behind that. It's Star City and more over when will Oliver just take the name Green Arrow already. "The Starling City Vigilante" is a mouthful just like Smallville and the "Red-Blue Blur" crap.

And I know that Arrow is trying to steer clear of the Super powers aspect of the DC Universe but can they at least try to include some of the non super powered heroes like Wildcat or The Question (Original Recipe, not Montoya).
1
Reply
Flag
I also don't care for the idea that they would just refer to him as "arrow". Immediately within at least a few episode he should have been established in the press as "green arrow". It's like the show doesn't want to acknowledge his name. The reason for doing that, makes no sense. It's not as if the so called hyper realistic approach requires them to not refer to him as that. Even in the Dark Knight, they referred to him as "The Batman".
1
Reply
Flag
Agreed about the city name... THAT I never understood. Unless for some copyright reasons or some requests by DC they're keeping the trademarked names / terms on the down-low. Like Starling vs Star, Vigilante / Hood vs Green Arrow, etc.
3
Reply
Flag
Yeah, I can't stand that. Why on earth would you need to add an extra syllable to Star City? Not that it affects the show in any way but I'd like to know why they felt they had to do that.
Reply
Flag
Staff
Guggenheim mentioned The Question at...I want to say it was Wonder*Con as a character he'd love to introduce to the show. It all just hinges on who DC Entertainment allows them to use.
Reply
Flag
Yeh, but they pretty much just call him "The Vigilante" I can barely recall any / many scenes they say the whole thing. As far as hero names go, "The Vigilante" isn't horrible. Though Arrow takes place in the DC world there hasn't been much / any mention of other heroes / metas / vigilantes / etc.
Reply
Flag
This comment has been removed.
Reply
Flag
Ted Kord was actually the second Blue Beetle, the first was Dan Garret who like current Beetle Jaime Reyes uses the Reach Scarab (although he didn't have the armor).
2
Reply
Flag
Staff
Adjusted. Thanks.
Reply
Flag
This was a very strange episode. It had some cool moments, and was pretty enjoyable, but a lot of things were really strange. The weirdest of all was probably this dialogue:

Robert: ...it's about Malcolm...he wants to level the Glades.
Moira: And how does Malcolm propose to evacuate an entire section of the city?
Robert: He doesn't.
Moira: Robert..this doesn't sound like you.

Evacuate? Really? That's her first question? Not "how", "why" or "what the frak are you talking about". And when she understands that Robert really means that Malcolm wants to kill thousands of people, there's no "OMG what the hell are we going to do". Instead she just goes "this doesn't sound like you", as if he had said that he's going to take a yoga class.

And what about the moment where Malcolm told the others his idea for the first time? A group of rich people were having a meeting about how they could make the city safer. They were talking about blackmailing bad guys to make donations to good things when Malcolm said (I'm paraphrasing) "I have a much better idea: Let's kill all the thousands of people who live in the bad part of the city, and tear down all the buildings there so we can start over".

No one is shocked or outraged. No one thinks he's joking. No one gives the others a "OMG this guy has lost his mind" look. No one even tells him that it's a bad idea, even though it's pretty much the opposite of what they've been trying to do, times a thousand. Robert Queen just asks him to confirm that he meant what he said. The Chinese guy is just concerned that people would suspect *them*. The other two don't even speak. Great job, rich guys.

And how about when Oliver found out that Malcolm kidnapped Walter to get Moira to do what he wants? Oliver's conclusion: She's just another criminal. Great rational thinking there Oliver.

More+
7
Reply
Flag
Staff
I think their lack of a reaction, and willingness to do it, speaks to how much Malcolm scares them/has influence over them.
1
Reply
Flag
I think that may be what the writers were going for. But I also got the impression that until that point, the group had only been blackmailing crime bosses and that kind of stuff. We're talking about the kind of "respect" that's only given to bosses who like to murder their own people when they get disappointed. People like Darth Vader. If he had already earned that kind of respect, I don't see how he could have ended up a member of the group. So the whole thing doesn't really make sense to me.

Reply
Flag
Did anyone else really like Katie Cassidy with that long hair? Damn she's hot.
4
Reply
Flag
Katie's always been an underrated hottie.
Reply
Flag
She was wearing that tight ass shirt, showing huge cleavage and you were looking at her hair...............
3
Reply
Flag
Best.comment. ever.
1
Reply
Flag
People still stuck in a Laurel vs. Felicity shipping war: This is ARROW. The relationships are secondary. This isn't Gossip Girl. Oliver will bone Laurel and he will bone Felicty and whoever he bones last is pretty redundant. You're missing the point of the show.
6
Reply
Flag
This is The CW, relationships are primary to the network's way of doing things. Clumsy, sloppy, poorly-developed relationships that overwhelm stories. Thoughtless soap-opera relationships meant to culminate in big moments at the ends of episodes.
3
Reply
Flag
Oliver was pretty bad ass in this one. But I'm glad there's characters like Diggle and Felicity who refuse to deal with his attitude in turn kind of evolving his character instead of letting it stagnate. Speaking of... "It feels really good having you inside me... and by 'you' I mean 'your voice' and by 'me,' I mean 'my ear." I can't even with Felicity, she has the best lines, looks awesome on ops and doesn't take Oliver's crap.
Meanwhile Laurel's up there drinking bar coffee and going back and forth like a yoyo.
6
Reply
Flag
The person who's doing the makeup is no good at it. I've always found it annoying that they cover the women's faces with so much paint that their skin doesn't even look like skin anymore. In this episode, they did the same to Oliver. The week before he got on the boat, he looked like Oliver drag-Queen, a prostitute that caters exclusively to clowns. And it didn't even make him look younger.
8
Reply
Flag
Staff
It was OK for most of the episode, but the exterior scene that you mention made him look horrible.
1
Reply
Flag
I actually thought it was even worse before that, when he was indoors with Laurel. His face was really shiny, and he wore a pink lipstick. His eyebrows looked weird too, but maybe I just thought so because everything around them had a coat of paint.

There was also something about his acting that made it even weirder. I think he wanted to act different from the superhero that came back from the island, and the only way he could think of to act weaker was to act effeminate. Or maybe I just thought so because of the lipstick.
Reply
Flag
I like this episode and while I initially thought Oliver's overhearing was random it kind of makes sense he would follow her after that reaction to Walter's death. I loved Oliver's reactions to the news it was like someone kicked his puppy.

I couldn't remember if this was the second to last or the third to last episode but I was almost sure that Malcolm was going to catch Oliver at the warehouse.

Um thanks for the spoiler about the Maroff device? I think that most of us tv watchers thought it was a thing to effect the water supply or was something related to the sewers since that is the Undertaking'symbol. While I also find the Island story more interesting since we don't know what is going on and present day is a little cookie cutter I like the Undertaking because they have set this up as something Oliver cannot stop on his own and I guess why couldn't they manage to destroy half of the Glades. I did find the whole we haven't talked about Walter in awhile comment funny but then when Oliver and Felicity mentioned it was December 12. Wow that was a put a pin it story.

I think this was my favorite episode in a while. Randomly I want to compliment the wig department as that haircut would grow into the mess that Island Oliver has going on. I actually think Katie Cassidy might appreciate playing the Laurel who finds out her sister took off with her boyfriend and live with that anger and rage until news of the boat crash came to light. I wonder if Moira knew on any level that Frank put the bomb on the boat when she set him up as Malcolm's assassin. Heck how on earth did Malcolm get Moira to be from vocal objector to the plan to his right hand conspirator, or so he thinks.
More+
3
Reply
Flag
Staff
It's a....half-spoiler. The device is linked to causing natural disasters in Malcolm's spiel, so not a bomb, not a water supply attack. Factor in the idea of leveling the area, and it's not much of a stretch.
3
Reply
Flag
Seriously you didn't get that the Markov device is some kind of bomb?
Leveling, flattening, taking down to the bedrock, destroying the village; all imply a certain level of violent destruction and not just tampering with the water supply, also how do you make a posioning look like a natural disaster and get the all the residents of the Glades to hang around long enough to drink the water after the first couple of people are killed?
And the Undertaking's symbol is the a map of the abandoned subway system and not the sewer system.

The December 12th thing had me wondering why they were so specific about the date, turns out that was the air date for Walter's kidnapping episode. Looks like producers are making the show run in mostly real-time.
3
Reply
Flag
Well, it isn't a bomb, right? I wasn't aware until last night it was leveling the Glades, I thought they were going to do something like create a Legionnaire's disease or some sort of anthrax attack and they were concentrating on the subway system to make sure the water supply just focused on the Glades.
I was writing this pre caffeine on my phone which changed it from subway to sewer.
Reply
Flag
It's odd the things you remember but there was something about Unidac that half triggered a memory. Turns out that Unidac was the company everyone was bidding on way back in episode 3, so was it Malcolm that brought Deadshot to Starling City?

And I'm guessing I'm not the only one who thought the Undertaking was inspired by the "One Year Later" storyline, were Meryln blows up a huge part of Star City were confirmed .
4
Reply
Flag
This penultimate episode was magnificent and very satisfying.Walter is back and free.Diggle is back and well, Diggle.We now know what the Initiative is and its origin, which confirms what Dante says in the "Inferno" that Hell is paved with good intentions.In that last episode to end the season next week,I feel that something will occur to make Felicity remain on Team Oliver.Honestly, if ever I meet her, I'll marry her. I just love everything about Felicity.Why, O why, are all the best female characters in fiction (sigh) (very big sigh).
3
Reply
Flag
Staff
Except it's not the penultimate! We've got two more episodes! *confetti*
3
Reply
Flag
sorry then. :) *confetti
Reply
Flag
Staff
You are not the first person I've talked to that thought it was the penultimate episode today, so no apology needed (and even if you were, still no apology needed).

To be fair, it had a penultimate vibe with the whole "everybody finds out everything to go into the finale" plotting. And I think most have forgotten that CW tacked on an extra episode two weeks after the full season pick-up. I'm just hyper-conscious about the episode count and airings so I remember to watch and review it.
2
Reply
Flag
Wasn't the best episode, but its only build up for finale. Really mist the island. Love Shado.

At least in this espisode there was chemistry between Olliver and Laurel. I guess that they always had it, but beucause of past they didn't show it.
1
Reply
Flag
I love Felicity. It wasn't just the line but her expression as she realized what she'd just said. She's the best.
15
Reply
Flag
As for DCU references, Ollie ended up in Bludhaven, Nightwing's neck of the woods.
1
Reply
Flag
I am wondering what the geography of the DCU is. I always had the impression that Star/Starling City was on the west coast and Bludhaven was near Gotham which is fictionalized NYC.
Reply
Flag
"It feels really good having you inside me." LOL. That was my favorite part! Oliver and Felicity forever! :D
4
Reply
Flag
Absolutely Magnificent! Outstanding episode! Can't wait!!!!!
The only thing that dissapointed me was the fact that Ollie went to Bludhaven and didnt meet any "vigilantes" there :( it would have been AWESOME.

Trivia: When Ollie and Laurel talk about Ray and Jean, sounded a lot like Ray Palmer (the atom) and Jean Loring hehe.
3
Reply
Flag
I hope they don't get rid of Felicity since Walter is found. At least make her reoccur once in a while in the following episodes and next season. I'm glad they finally did a big reveal even though it wasn't surprising. I thought the flashbacks were great. I was surprised they did flashbacks that aren't from the island.

I must admit though, the 'undertaking' is so Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises, at least the whole cleansing the city part of it. I love the way they developed Malcolm. He isn't a sadistic and evil villain per say, but someone with a radical sense of justice, like Ra's al Gul. What is going to happen in the finale is kinda predictable now so I'm more excited what they have in store next season.
4
Reply
Flag
I doubt they can have Felicity walk away from Ollie's project now, but you make a good point, she was there to save Walter and there's a "now what" that should be on the next episode's lips.
Reply
Flag
Oliver parachuting onto that tenement building reminded me of "The Dark Knight" when Batman went to China. That's probably what the writers were going for.
Reply
Flag
Minus the gigantically-tall building to jump off of, or the cool tech, or a sense of actual planning.

The guy Batman captures in China in TDK is Frank in Arrow.
Reply
Flag
I thought this was one of the better episodes. I thought the Oliver vs. a whole bunch of guys hallway fight was entertainingly choreographed. I was pleasantly surprised to see the return of Walter. And as already mentioned, very little Tommy. I have no problem with the actor or the character in general. However, at this point, Tommy needs to either get over his issues with Oliver or become an enemy. He really has nothing to guilt trip Oliver over.
8
Reply
Flag
I feel that the show has done a poor job in portraying to the audience just how bad the Glades are. All the characters are afraid of the glades but apart from Thea getting her bag stolen I don't have a fear of the Glades like I do for Gotham for instance.
14
Reply
Flag
Staff
I don't necessarily think you need a "fear of the Glades" so much as to think that a bunch of rich elite folks have decided that it needs to be eradicated/cleaned up because they've been wronged in that section of the city.

So, really, I'd tweak your point to say that the show hasn't exactly demonstrated the crime rate that plagues the area, outside of the Count flooding the area with Vertigo and the Savior's little killing spree.
1
Reply
Flag
agreed!
Reply
Flag
I thought it was pretty good. But the whole reveal of Merlin's plan wasn't hat big of a reveal. It was kind of obvious, many bad guys start out trying to be the rally really good guy in their mind and from some type of delusion fail to see when they have become the bad guy. Likely this will lead Oliver to th realization either personally or Diggle will bring it to his intention that letting it get personal and going around killing people, that if he doesn't watch it, he will follow a similar path as Merlin. This will kind of build up to that with him finding out that his mother was in on it. So that aspect of the story was pretty good.

The bad guy of the week was kind of lame, but hey they can't all be winners.

It is nice to know that Walter is back. I always liked him as a character.

Way way way too much Laurel for it to even a resemble a great episode. It was balanced with a fair amount of Felicity in a very nice outfit. So that makes up for it slightly. However, the love triangle thing is stupid. Laurel is supposed to be intelligent, she is supposed to be capable, but really she is just a glutton. Tommy and Oliver are similar, they are their father's sons and respectively have issues. Are smart person would see this and run the other way full speed. I say this knowing the reasons as I have a sister with penchant for doing the same thing. But it just makes Luarel just as silly as her with the shotgun from last week. And it makes Oliver just dumb.

Diggle is back on the squad, that is cool. Some guys whe hey screw up all is needed is a sorry bro and that is it. But Diggle I think at the conclusion of the season is going to be solidified in his role as the voice of reason.
More+
Reply
Flag
Loved this episode!

The good:

-Walter is back! Yay!
-Ollie and Diggle make nice
-Minimal Tommy
-Zero Thea's twit of a boyfriend
-Malcolm's maniacal machinations
-Felicity as a smokin' hot card counter

The bad:

-Ollie's boorish behavior toward the people HELPING HIM
-Past Ollie--yep, still an epic douchebag
-Laurel's reaction when Ollie told her he was still carrying the torch. Bitch, like you didn't know!

The ugly:

-Jamie Sheridan's beard. That shit looked like someone glued pubes on his face.
8
Reply
Flag
I thought the beard kind of made Sheridan look like the comic book Oliver Queen.
3
Reply
Flag
If Mrs. Merlyn could leave multiple voice mails, and call out Malcolm's name "over and over," why didn't she also have the energy/ability to call 911?
12
Reply
Flag
Yeah I was wondering that to, but then she was shot in the Glades and it might take time for EMS to get there. She was also suppose to be a doctor, maybe she knew the shot was fatal and wanted to say good bye to Malcolm.
3
Reply
Flag
AWESOME EPISODE!!!!!!!
3
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook