Arrow "Vendetta" Review: Y U No Explain Your Thoughts on Revenge and Justice, Show?

Arrow S01E08: “Vendetta”

Last week's episode of Arrow started a discussion about revenge and justice, and the differences between those things. They floated around as both Oliver and Helena each killed some guys, and Oliver tried to explain why it was different but then got distracted by Helena’s bedroom eyes and the mood lighting. I can understand that. While I’d certainly be happy to continue a philosophical discussion about those issues while getting undressed, I get that not everyone is turned on by that sort of thing.

So with “Vendetta,” I was prepared for a deeper interrogation of the differences between revenge and justice, an exploration of when it’s okay to murder someone and not murder someone. It’s a tension we’ve been been grappling with here at TV.com, in the comments on these reviews: Is Oliver killing mooks kosher while he lets the people on the list keep their lives but go to prison? Was Oliver’s attempt to stop Helena from killing Nick last week okay, even though he'd just snapped another guy’s neck?

Arrow still has only some vague ideas on the matter.

I think the series wants to say that the difference between the two is ultimately grounded in intent and the possible effects. Helena’s crusade (to borrow Oliver’s phrase) is deeply personal, a way to free herself from her pain and suffering caused by Michael’s death. It is, like Oliver says of the guns Helena favors, emotional and unpredictable. It can put innocent lives in danger, like it did with Moira. Likewise, the way Helena has gone about things—by provoking the Triad—could start a gang war that I assume would result in Starling City experiencing something like the crime spree that gripped Sao Paulo, Brazil last month.

Oliver offered an alternative example to this as the two teamed up to take down an associate of Frank’s, and a name on the list. He and Helena smashed the oxy warehouse, the police arrived, people got arrested, and a blow was dealt to Frank’s criminal operations. No innocents, as Oliver noted, were hurt. And that, Oliver argued, was justice. It employed the system that was already in place, it wasn't just killing folks, and it didn’t provoke other criminal organizations into starting a war (though I have to imagine that they’d just move into the vacuums, but whatever). And it was all for a greater good, something beyond personal feelings. In theory anyway.

The problem is that “Vendetta” never really crystallized these differences in a meaningful way. It’s one thing to allow the audience to interpret a situation—it’s a sign of deeper narrative and thematic gears at work—but it’s another thing entirely for the audience to essentially have to make the argument for the show. As a result, Arrow isn’t giving us the opportunity to dissect it for meaning, a meaning we can debate in the comments using evidence to support our position; instead we’re given poorly devised little scraps of ideas that we can’t hang much of a discussion on.

I wouldn’t have spent 300 words on that issue if it wasn’t something I thought the show didn’t want to engage with. Helena’s behavior forced Oliver to not only explain his approach, but to justify it and clarify it. It forced him to draw a line that has remained largely undrawn, one that even now feels a touch fuzzy. But it’s also one that doesn’t seem super important to anyone.

Diggle is rightfully concerned about Helena’s behavior, but this week's narrative didn’t afford him the opportunity to actually do anything about it except give small lectures to Oliver (to David Ramsey’s credit, his delivery of those lectures is fantastic, just the right blend of caring jerk). And by the end, when Oliver was comforting himself with chili cheese fries with jalapenos (and had he been drinking? Amell played that scene like Oliver was pretty buzzed), Diggle was suddenly okay with Oliver’s attempt to reform Helena, despite saying five scenes earlier that it was a waste of time.

I think it’s safe to say that Diggle is probably most people's favorite character. I don’t think I’ve seen many fans speak ill of the character, just of how the show has been using him. While I preach patience on such issues, this is one of those times were a little involvement would’ve been much more powerful than what we ended up with.

Since the costume aspect of the episode was a bust, that leaves the romance B-plot and “Walter and Felicity Investigations,” which may be Arrow’s best bet on a spin-off thus far.

I know folks have been down on the Laurel and Tommy thing, and I know I’ve been gently defending it, so allow me to continue to do so here as it was the least bothersome aspect of the episode. Sure, the whole impromptu double-date blow-up played out waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too quickly, but given the intensified situations of three of the four of those involved, it was sort of understandable that it would happen. If anything, it gave me a parallel-scene giggle when, immediately after the scene in which Tommy and Laurel made up, we got Oliver attempting to make up with Diggle instead of Helena. Those two are so cute together.

Walter remains, thankfully, wary of Moira. He was a bit distant toward her, and I liked that. But then he went and threatened to fire Felicity after she did exactly what he asked her to do before he ran off to Australia, and that was look into Tempest LLC. He’s stressed and unsure of what’s going on, but his actions were really abrupt and a little out of character. And then he didn’t even really apologize when he handed over the notebook for Felicity to do her tech magic on it.

So it was a pretty frustrating episode for me. What’d you all think?



Notes & Quotes


– Island flashbacks remain MIA. I am missing them.

– I have absolutely no idea if China White is dead or not. If she is, that entire role was a massive waste of Kelly Hu. If she’s not... well... then she’s not, I guess. So weird.

– “I don’t know where the next Olympics are at, but you should think about signing up.”

– The first Arrow Cave scene, when Diggle and Oliver were talking about Helena, was sort of awkward in its blocking. Oliver was all over the place, attempting to work out but never really doing it. As a result, it became mostly a reason to see Amell do the salmon ladder again.

– “I’m trying to teach you something.” “What, the least effective way to shoot someone?”

– “She knows my name. That’s lovely.” I adore Diggle.

– I’m glad the writers are continuing with the club-building story. I imagine they were holding off completing it until after the show got the full-season pick-up, for budgetary reasons. Which is sensible.

– “Will I be getting dental? This smile wasn’t cheap.” “I’ll look into that.” “Thank you.”

Comments (149)
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I actually really like Tommy and Laurel. The have really good chemistry together and I definitely prefer them than Oliver and Laurel. I hope their storyline continues for a long time tho I have a feeling Oliver and Laurel are endgame.
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The episode felt rushed and out of place but am glad it may be the last we see of Helena which i hate and hope she is out for good, Love the Diggle/Oliver Bromance and hope it will be developed much further. The Walter Moira tension is good for a subplot and will add more to the show in the future. Felicity needs much screen time as she is funny and good in what she do and i hope she gets involve with the Hood.
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Finally caught up to this episode and I have to say it is definitely the worst, IMO. The narrative was uber cheery, like a bad soap opera. I liked Helena even less than I did the last episode and the whole quadruple date was stupid. Especially since Helena threw a fit despite the fact that she invited Laurel and Tommy to join them.

I do say Diggle, Felicity and Oliver workout moments are the best in the show lol
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I think the reason Walter threatened Felicity initially was because he didn't want her to end up dead like the guy earlier who had looked into this mystery.

I am finding this shows take on killing people (villains or their henchmen) kind of disturbing. I mean dead is dead, whether by a gun or an arrow, or by breaking someone neck through crazy ninja moves (or whatever they are). And can Arrow actually cry self-defence when he seeks these people out on purpose! Revenge/Justice - someone is dead;and most often not the main criminal but his goons. I thought that was like a hero code that could never be broken?! And killing is the easy way out. Disabling someone shows more ingenuity than simple killing I think and what makes a hero, hero!
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Diggle's "it's okay" bit at the diner was a positive spin way for his character to say that he was glad it didn't blow up as badly as he expected it to, and it might have had some of the desired effect. It's equal parts, "you'll get over this," and "you had a point but I kind of told you so."
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We need more Yao Fei! And Deathstroke.
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felicity needs much more air time- i assume she'll find something, get fired, and go work with oliver and diggle (and i think you hit the nail on the head, Diggle is my favourite character thus far and he is very well acted)
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The presentation of Helena's character was totally awfull and not believable . For one to fall to the mythos of a fantasy tale , it must follow some believable points . How a girl with a silver spoon in her mouth , can become something like a ninja warrior , kicking the butt at guys who are hard-ass thugs and much more muscular than her? It's just stupid !!!! And really tv and cinema producers will you ever give a more believable background for your kickass (supposently ) Heroins ? A hot body and a tight suit doesn't make you a master at fighting and weapons arts !!!!!
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I think felicity needs more screen time. What do ya'll think?
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OK, what does Diggle do exactly? Does he need a suit and a tie to do that, whatever it is? Is he there to be Oliver's therapist? And back to my cleaning concerns, I see two guys using that cave and nobody's cleaning it! No, seriously, in practical terms that would be a nightmare to clean.

OK, you can say I'm being silly, this is just a TV show and people never clean, but just remember how well they integrated the cleaning problem to the whole operation in Breaking Bad in Gus's lab: simply put, both Walter and Jessie had to do it. And once Jessie was not there, Walter paid for a bunch of illegal immigrant ladies, and that prompted Gus to send them back to their countries.

Noel, I'm from Brazil (but from Porto Alegre, not Sao Paulo) and I'm not aware of any exceptional crime spree in Sao Paulo last month. Nothing out of the ordinary, I mean. Where are you getting your information?

Oliver: "My trust fund is your trust fund." It seems the best charity work Oliver has thought of was helping a former billionaire to live as a billionaire again. How charitable. Yeah, I couldn't think of a better use of someone's money, except perhaps funding a spa for overweight cats. If Oliver is so concerned about people who have "failed this city" why doesn't he invest in some elementary schools or free clinics in the Glades?

I can't believe with all the money Tommy has handled, he never stopped to spare some millions (it wouldn't have to be many, you see) on a savings account, or invest in the stock market, or perhaps Brazilian bonds (those get good return these days, or so I hear). There are literally lots of things you can do if you have a lot of money and you don't want to be completely out of it. And you don't even have to get your hands dirty by working.
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I'm a bit disturbing that 140 being killed is "nothing out of the ordinary" for you. I'd link to the Guardian news story by Jonathan Watts, but the system will just eat my comment due to the URL.

You can do a quick search for the headline: "São Paulo murder spree leaves at least 140 dead in a fortnight" and it should be your top search result.
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Don't worry, you're a bit disturbing with your interest in crime news from different parts of the world, but not too much!
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Or "I'm a bit disturbed..." I'm not going to try and post this comment for a fourth time.
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I just read that 27 children were killed in Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut. As I was saying, I don't know what is more disturbing, the fact itself or the fact the press likes to focus on such events and an entirely community gets tarnished by the press coverage of a particular event, and we readers start to associate such communities, or sometimes an entire country, with this kind of crime spree or tragedy.
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It didn't make any special news headline here. I suppose if you're specially interested in crime news, or if you live in that region or nearby, you'd be more affected by the situation, you'd've heard of it, but I live far and things in Porto Alegre are quite different. And you've probably never heard of my town since, well, not enough crime, so why would the Guardian be interested in it?

But yes, the event by itself is disturbing. It's also disturbing that this is what the media chooses to talk about when they cover another country. People in America my be saying, "well, I don't know a single thing about Brazil, except that last month 140 people died in 15 days." It sort of gives us a distorted view of reality when the press cherry picks certain aspects to divulge.
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Diggle is Arrowboy s conscience.
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He sure is, but that's not his job description, is it?
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Oh how you've so brilliantly and eloquently summed up exactly what I wanted to say and what I've been thinking about this vengeance vs justice debacle. It continues to feel incomplete. You're absolutely right in that I've seen fans of the show and viewers make better and stronger arguments, and explore it in more detail than the writers are actually doing and that has not ceased to be frustrating. This episode was the perfect opportunity for some exploration, self exploration for Ollie as he tried to explain/show Helena how what he is doing is essentially different that what she is doing etc but we never actually seen that. Never felt it. Nothing. So yes, to all of that you said, in it's entirety. I concur.
-Apparently I've been easily entertained this week because I liked that the two best characters started off this episode, and by best characters I obviously mean Diggle and Olier's abs.
-I LOVE Diggle. He's the best and I'll never tire of saying that every single week. I felt his frustration because Oliver was clearly not using his head. Not the right one anyway. I mean he's known Helena all of three days I'm assuming and he's throwing out all sorts of information. "Here's my super secret identity, the address to my batcave, here's my reluctant friend Diggle he serves as my accomplice/partner/moral compass...you spell that D-I- double G-L-E. Oh and here let me train you in some of my special skills, oh and while we're at it, here's my SSN, the passwords to all of my accounts, my Bank numbers....oh and lemme tell you all of of deep dark secrets because it feels so good to get them all out." Yes, I found all that ridiculous, not because it happen so much as how soon it happened.
So Diggle was right. Obviously, because he's Diggle. But I hate that he relinquished his role of being the Voice of Reason because Oliver was crying into his cheesefries. I love Diggle and all of his little speeches and the suaveness and confidence that he possesses and the fact that he looms over Oliver like a big brother trying to look out for his precocious little brother w/o actually preventing him from making mistakes. But he needs more to do. I'm thrilled that he isn't some trusty sidekick, but he needs more to do.
-Laurel and Tommy make sense to me. I like them together. They shine as characters when theya re together because otherwise I would have wondered why they continued to waste screentime on lackluster characters when I could be watching Oliver shoot an arrow in a man's heart w/o killing him. But they work somehow. I however was not crazy about Laurel in this however. She instigated the entire awkward situation with the dinner date, almost as though she deliberately wanted to sabotage Ollie. Then she brings up Tommy's job situation in an open forum like that, which was just wrong, because she nor tommy knew Helena well enough to discuss personal matters like that. Then ran straight into all the past awkwardness with her and Ollie formally dating. Then in a moment ripped straight out of RomComs that I hate every single time, The wrong person comes over to apologize. As far as I'm concerned Tommy didn't have to apologize, Laurel did. But because in the progressive state of male-female relations that we've come to have in the past few decades, the staple is that we have to emasculate, dumb down, or basically make a guy pathetic and submissive on tv (and sometimes in life) in order for women to come off superior to men, which is an effort to somehow make them equal, and independent,and strong and fierce. I hate that with a passion. So of course tommy had to apologize for nothing. But aren't they the cutest couple?
-I'm glad Walter is still suspicious. I also love Felicity. We need to see more of her.
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The worst part about Laurel is that it isn't working. She's supposed to be the one that people want Oliver with (and Tommy, I guess, for however long they force it), so it seems like they want her to be perfect all the time. She's just a person. Some things she does are fine, and some of them are stupid, but trying to pretend like she's right all the time isn't fooling anyone, and her character and popularity have suffered for it big time.

If Lana had been like this at the beginning, Smallville might not have made it. I think we were just lucky that Lois showed up as late as she did..
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Yeah pretty much. Like she and Oliver have zero chemistry to me. Zero. I could probably conjure up more sexual tension between Oliver and his freakin sister. So my stake in this love triangle (because I guess that's what they are trying to call it) is non-existent. I don't care. I'm not interested. I don't want to see her anywhere near Oliver. It is frustrating because you're right. There is that perfect thing. She isn't, she's far from it, so stop with that. Characters are best when they're flawed and when it's taken into consideration that they are flawed.
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Right, and flawed doesn't have to be stupid. There are often two valid sides to something, and it can actually be a tough call for actual people, not just the suddenly stupid. I'd like just one time to really see the merit in them doing the wrong thing, or both choices making sense in their own way.

I had a Lex from Smallville rant ready to go, but I need to keep things current. You can talk yourself into endless circles otherwise.
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LOL. You don't have to tell me man.
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Forgot to mention - I really liked the music score that subtly played in the background during Oliver and Helena's training session and their hanging out at the hideout (I did enjoy these particular scenes just as well). I think it accompanied two scenes in total, and I wish I could find it as a standalone somewhere.
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The number of extreme opinions is somewhat disturbing. Some people are so quick to fixate in their often-not-so-rational hate of various elements. If that wasn't enough, the "it's the CW" arguments go so far over the top it's not even amusing anymore. As if the writers of every single show dilligently followed the same frameworks and purposefully worked to fall into the familiar trappings.
Hey, Supernatural is also on CW. And at least in its earlier seasons, it's been superb enough to rival anything on any other network.

As for the latest Arrow offering - I didn't think it was awful. I still have "An Innocent Man" (nr 4) noted down as the worst episode to date. But that's not to say that "Vendetta" wasn't without its flaws.

I'm not terribly bothered by the whole revenge vs justice subject, and I didn't expect any deep philosophic currents to be running throughout this particular plot. First off, one's perspective on these notions and how the show handles/handled (is supposed to handle) them seems to be in the eye of the beholder.
Yes, Oliver took Helena for a ride and tried to show her his meaning of "justice". Or just one version of it. The thing is, I have this constant impression that Oliver is struggling to find the meaning of justice himself. He isn't consistent in how he feels or acts, at least not yet. Is it so surprising that his attempts are flawed? Diggle even pointed that out (among many other things), albeit not directly.

I thought that Jessica De Gouw felt more comfortable as Helena this time around, but it grated with me how quickly her character kept changing her mind. "Justice", revenge, like Oliver, hate Oliver, gonna do this, no wait, gonna do that. I wasn't convinced.
I wasn't convinced by how Oliver resolved things, either. He does seem to have curious notions when it comes to deciding who gets to live and should be imprionsed, who gets hurt in the process, and who deserves to die. At least it's connected to what I've mentioned above, and it's either a part of character's growth and him trying to find his way, or holes in the writing. I'd like to believe it's not the latter.

Seems like Diggle has become a resident shrink for Oliver for good now. The guy is right most of the time, too. To the point that I would like to see him being wrong about some things.
The final scene at the restaurant felt good, given the way in which Ollie and Diggle sort of re-bonded. Unlike Noel, I absolutely didn't get the impression that Diggle was suddenly fine with Oliver's attempts at reforming Helena. It was more like Diggle had already seen that Oliver was down and that he understood the lesson. So what was the point for Diggle to rub it in? "Hey man, I told you so"? Just to be annoying?

The restaurant scene with Tommy, Laurel, Oliver, and Helena felt all kinds of awkward. Helena's behavior annoyed the hell out of me, and Oliver wasn't all that better.
At least Tommy and Oliver's face to face at the mansion managed to find the right footing.

Finally, Felicity Smoak - the resident genius. Ah, what would any show do without one? She is all kinds of charming, however, and so far it's been a joy to watch. More Felicity!

P.S. China White doesn't seem to be dead for me. Oliver clearly shot her in the leg - as far as the points on one's body that can cause instant death when pierced go, this isn't one of them.
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this episode felt like the weakest one so far, i liked the idea of helena/huntress last week, but this week i felt her storyline was ruined by the forced romance plot, i get it but it didn't work. diggle trying to reason with oliver and walter's side storyline made this episode for me. tommy being the newly poor rich kid could be good for his character to develop more but at the same time, i just don't careee. i do really enjoy the show but this episode took a bit of the fun out of it. hopefully the next is better.
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I didn't mind the costume as it's genuinely her forte except for the waist down but I was more upset with Huntress' fighting style. She's known for her acrobatic kicks and splits, I felt as if this version of her didn't really live up to that, the costume wasn't the best thing but it could have been a whole lot worse.
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I didn't find myself interested in this episode at all. I don't mind the show putting a focus on the difference between justice and vengeance -- it happens with most comic-book-type protagonists that aren't really "heroes." I do have a problem that it's not done at all effectively.

In watching Arrow, for the most part, I can do without fantastic and smart writing because I've always known this was a CW show -- not a serious drama on an awesome cable network -- and I learned a long time ago that if I was going to enjoy shows on the CW (or MTV) I had to accept that almost always the best I'll get is mindless fun... emphasis on mindless. But uh, Arrow is getting pretty dull on me. I'm not enjoying the fight or action scenes much. I'm not enjoying basically all of the storylines now. Maybe a big part of that has to do with the characters -- I'm starting to full-on hate Laurel -- and Diggle is still the only one I really like... with Tommy and Walter a notch or two below. I like Felicity but she's used so sparingly that she almost doesn't matter. If most of the characters are kinda sucky, the plotlines need to be really interesting, but at this point, I guess I feel that both are lacking.
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When I posted there were no comments showing, just to put my post into context
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Where are all the comments at?

Anyway, it was a weaker episode, but still enjoyable. I have to disagree with the review however, as I thought they were beating the difference between revenge and justice into our heads, to the point where it became kinda annoying.

As for Diggle, he was hard on Oliver for two reasons, one being his identity was compromised and two Helena was unpredictable, dangerous and a killer. Yes, it may seem like he quickly changed his mind, but I think he realized what a Ollie was attempting to do and somewhat appreciated it, even if the notion was ill-conceived. I think he thought Ollie was making some personal progress and growth.
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Not one of their best episodes so far, but still a plus for the CW.
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The other people tracking the money are good. NSA good. They left almost no trace of their presence in our system. The only thing I could find was their evil logo.
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This episode made me question why I'm even watching this show. A lot of what I would like to say overlaps with what Acrobit said, so I recommend his post.
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Definately not the greatest episode so far, but it did remind me of the last episode of Dexter in an odd way; Ollie being the code following Dark Passenger carrying Dexter & Helena being the "What Passenger? I can kill who I like" Dex. Which I suppose would mean Diggle is Harry, OK that might be streching things too far.
Love Felicity and her "I really didn't mean that to sound so dirty" lines, I sort of want to see more of her but if that happens those type of lines would lose thier charm if they happened every 5 minutes.
In the Big Belly Burger, Ollie did seem like he was wasted but what I noticed was the cut away to Diggs ex-sister-in-law during his "you'll find the right woman" speech. So another one of the main characters has a thing for his partner's sister, I'm all for going green but does there need to be that much re-cycling?
'Thinky face' looks like 'normal face'
The salmon ladder, how does he get that bar back down?
And after 7 weeks of opening titles, finally caught a name from the List : Hannibal Bates a.k.a. Everyman
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i think the whole point is that Oliver himself is mostly confused on the differences between justice and revenge. Diggle is doing his best to help him clarify the matter and pick a path but Olie is still a work in process... i kinda took it at face value that this is what the ep was about...
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I still like this show a lot and damn those exercises are killer!
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"it became mostly a reason to see Amell do the salmon ladder again" Sorry, I don't see the problem here.
I've never had a problem with Arrow's ambiguity on the whole justice/revenge/innocents/vendetta/kill-the-henchmen thing. I don't know if this is because I HAVEN'T read the comics and don't have all background info that Noel and some of the other commenters do or if it's due to whatever part of my fangirl brain overrides the rest of my critical thinking skills when it comes to tarnish/fallen heroes?
Random CW mini-rant: characters making finite statements on a CW show is asinine. This week Ollie tells Helena "I'll *never* hurt you" and a few weeks ago Laurel told Ollie "nothing can *ever* happen between us." On the CW, an ultimatum against something basically guarantees it WILL happen, in some form, at least. C'mon Arrow writers, it's like you don't even know which network you're working for! #endrant
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I didn't say it was a problem, just that it was really awkwardly included. ;)

My picking apart of the revenge and justice tension is in no way connected to the comics, and it was completely grounded in what the show was attempting to do, no comics background needed.
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Every time Oliver starts lecturing Helena about 'true justice' I just keep thinking 'Pot. Kettle. Black.' It's hard for me to take him seriously about only murdering when there's no other choice when I see him arrow a thug in the chest, who could have just as easily been incapacitated with a tap on the head, later that same day. It seems more like a time issue for Oliver (or the writers): 'I have time, you go to prison; I'm in a hurry, you have to die.'
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I loved the blocking during the work out scene, mainly because I just stared at Stephen Amell's abs the entire time. What was that scene about again? ;)
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Yeah it was a bit weird. It was like he was gonna push out a couple more handstand pushups but either he couldnt or he couldnt remember his lines at the same time
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While there are a few hands-on kills that Oliver is certainly responsible for--none more cold-blooded than the kidnapper from the pilot episode--I'm not convinced that most of the characters he shoots die. In fact, I think the episode directors have been largely very careful to show Oliver hitting the "mooks" in legs, shoulders, arms, etc. (including China White). Oliver is a sharpshooter and he aims to incapacitate not kill. Protecting his identity, though, seems to be something he's willing to kill for.
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I'm baffled as to how an arrow to the leg, shoulder, or arm doesn't kill you. There are some big blood vessels there.
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In Person of Interest Reese shoots people in the leg all the time and the audience is supposed to believe that it is not a kill shot, only a shot to incapacitate. I think it is a TV thing, as long as the wound is on the periphery (leg, arm, shoulder) then it is not considered fatal.
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Had enough of this show. Extremely brutal and extraordinarily stupid. Dad suicide headshot(s), arrows to the heart and throats cut, while the plot and everything else (but the production) would be ridiculous even for a 12 year old. Who watches this, who is it made for? Get off my screen. tnx.
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I don't mind the brutality, but now that you mention it, it's kind of weird, because the brutality is really the only thing that makes this *not* a children's show.
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The easiest way to get it off your screen would be to change the channel. Your welcome.
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I liked this episode quite a bit. Mostly this is due to the fact that they gave us a pretty intense gang war immediately after the previous episode when they said there might be a gang war. Sure, the double date scene was over the top. Sure, Helena broke up with Oliver for a very strange reason (she is aware that there is someone Oliver almost got serious with, and then is mad at him after she insisted they have dinner with her even though he didn't want them too. True, she didn't know it was Laurel at the time, but it doesn't make sense that she would pretty much accuse Oliver of forcing that situation on her). But even so, this show certainly delivers. In most shows this type of gang war would only occur during a mid-season or season finale. But to arrow such a thing happens every other episode. The only worry I have is that the writers may soon find it difficult to keep it coming.

The downside making a lot of things happen in each episode is that often relationships change too quickly, or events are pushed up much faster than they would in real life. The obvious example of this is the Helena/Oliver coupling, which went from superhero romance (You're the only one who understands me, now hold me please) to a glorified one night stand in an episode's length of time. Still, based on what I know of television relationships, I think it's hard to correctly analyze Oliver and Helena's relationship after the second episode that Helena has been on the show. When Helena broke up with Oliver she was in a very emotional state, which is understandable considering she only recently found out that her own father killed the man she loved. It could very well be that they form a much stronger and longer-lasting relationship in the next couple of episodes.

And then there's this whole morality business about the difference between revenge and justice. I admire that Arrow has given us a hero that actually kills people. Most shows have heroes that don't kill people in order avoid the moral questions that Arrow now has to deal with. Imagine how many people would still be alive if Batman had just killed the Joker? At the beginning of the show, Oliver had a very "so what" attitude about what he did. He killed people when it was supposedly necessary (the first time he does this is to protect his secret), and he didn't apologize for it. The main tension was between him and the police because, while he helped catch the bad guys, he did it by going beyond the law, which leads to a dangerous situation where one person is solely responsible for deciding who will be punished. Then Diggle came along and brought a moral voice to Oliver's mission. He got Oliver to take down bank robbers even though they weren't on the list, because it was a good thing to do.

The point where most people say that Oliver has plunged himself into the muddy waters of hypocrisy is where he condemns Helena for killing people, when he's actually done quite a bit of that. I would like to disagree on this point for two reasons. First of all, Oliver first had issues with Helena when she almost killed his mother. True, they both kill criminals. However, Oliver arranges it so that he takes out a bunch of bad guys in a location devoid of innocents, while Helena tracks down her targets regardless of where they are. Her first "attack" was in broad daylight in the street. So a lot of his schooling has been to steer her away from these methods which are likely to get people hurt. Because when it comes down to it, their methods are very different. Usually, when Oliver's done his thing a bad guy goes to jail, everyone knows the bad things he did, and any victims get their money back or feel better. But Helena's plan is just to kill people in her father's organization and in the triad in order to ignite an all out gang war. While her father would die, it would probably lead to a lot of civilian deaths.

It is for this reason that I don't think the real tension is between justice and revenge. First of all, Oliver's motivation for being a vigilante is to fulfill his father's dying wish (which he tells us all too often in voice-overs). At this point in time, he can't really get revenge for his father's death because he hasn't yet figured out that the yacht was almost certainly sabotaged. Maybe when he discovers this, revenge will be a path he can go down. Helena, though, is motivated by the murder of her fiance at the orders of her own father. Regardless of what she does as a vigilante, she will always be motivated by her fiance's death, and will always be getting revenge for it. So if Helena had done what Oliver did (had the police discover her father near a laptop with incriminating evidence), justice would still have been served and yet she would have gotten revenge. This means that the two are not mutually exclusive, and that a superhero can do good things for revenge as well as for justice.

Personally, I think the real tension between Oliver and Helena is whether bad people should be killed or sent to prison. So far, Oliver has done his best to not kill his targets (while those poor underpaid security guards are neck-snapped one by one), while Helena tries to kill hers. So the real questions should be: Do bad people deserve to die? If so, what do you have to do to deserve such a fate? And, who should be the one to kill bad people?

Again, I enjoyed this episode. Hopefully Arrow will ask and answer all of these questions. I just think we should give them more than half a season to do so.
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Halfway through the episode I found myself really enjoying the characters, the story and the adressed themes. However, suddenly they wrapped everything up (including Kelly Hu's contract), nothing made much sense anymore, dialogue got worse and then everything went back to how it was in the end. Quite a shame. They should have explored this particular story further for a couple episodes instead of giving it only 20 minutes.
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What I don't get is Helena was the one who invited Tommy and Laurel to their table. Then it was Laurel agreeing to it. Oliver had reservations, but gave in to hottie duo. How exactly is it his fault for their sitting together, and how is it he who apologizes for it? Am I missing something? And I also miss the flashbacks.
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I found that this episode was very comic-like and I liked that (I haven´t read Arrow comics, though, I refer to the style).

It was rather obvious what was going to happen, but still I enjoyed the mix of action and feelings just like coming out of comic book pages. Yes, it is always funny that a hero or a villain goes out there disguised with only a tiny mask or a hood and you're supposed to not recognize it. Like it was with Clark Kent glasses. True, it is funny that we get to see Oliver showing off his workout skills during a conversation with Diggle. And yes, the show has not defined properly what is revenge and what is justice (because Arrow is killing lots of people). But I still found this episode more enjoyable than most of the previous ones.

Laurel's character is still at the same place (weakest point of the show, like a hollow shell). Felicity is a cute character, I think. Also very comic-like. I still don´t know what to think about the sister.
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Do you think its the actor or the character?. Im not a big fan of the actor and think she may be miscast.

what do you think?
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Do you mean Laurel or the sister? I have been thinking it was a problem with the actresses, but not sure what to think. I haven´t seen then in any good part so far. Some people say that Kathy Cassidy (Laurel) did a good job in Supernatural, but I have not seen it. In any case, it is a bad casting, not the right actress for the role. It is clear about Laurel. I am not sure about the sister yet, but it looks like another casting error too.
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I was talking about Laurel, it seems like a really bad casting choice to me too tbh. The sister maybe but she doesnt concern me much.

They should have found someone who suits the role, then it would be fair and easy to really judge the character for what they are.
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I agree with you.
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Haha! This comment made me laugh for its nonsense.

Too bad I don't find myself laughing with Arrow's nonsense.
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I was quoting a line from the show, said by Diggle. Hence my use of quotation marks. Punctuation is important.
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Was so surprised when Icona Pop started playing in this episode! I wasn't aware they'd had success outside of Sweden. XD
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I'm sorry, but Oliver Queen is an imbecile, or maybe I should say the writers, in a couple of episodes ago, some family gang started doing some big robberies all around the country, in the last one, shooting and somehow not killing an innocent man in cold blood, then because the leader was fired by his father and didn't get any compensation, it was ok, and he was given a free pass to Oliver, like getting fired and shaft by your boss was a justification to commit armed robbery and murder with your son, then the guy turn it down, conveniently got killed and we got some sobby Oliver.

Same thing goes here, the guy is killing the foot soldiers left and right, I know they tried to tone it down in the last episodes, which was just ridiculous, then, more often than not, saving the real villains, in this episode bad guys were killing each other, very far from any innocent civilian, and yet, he again saved the bad guy, like 3 times(2 times the white one, 1 time the chinese), which they in turn, end up killing more people and almost killed Helena.

Not to mention, one time she is good, the next they had a falling out on a restaurant, which has nothing to do with justice/murder/whatever, and suddenly Oliver is thinking he was wrong, she is evil, etc... and she goes off the rails and kills the Triad Leader, what a lame excuse, and forced story to make her "go bad" again.

This show has some good action scenes, but they are trying to tone it down and are creating some ridiculous subplots on their way, and it's getting way too annoying.
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I've said it before, just watch these shows for entertainment and suspend logic cos if we try to make sense of so many disjoint, it maybe better to just tune into WWF. At least they got much bigger tits to watch. :)
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Just watched the ‘Vendetta’ episode again and sad to say found more issues with it – many missed opportunities. And the justice-vengeance treatment even more grating the second time around. I agree with Acrobit, it just makes Oliver appear hypocritical at worst, clueless at best. Anyone remember his line to Diggle about leaving Moira on the sidewalk. "And Diggle, when I find out who this guy is, he's a dead man." How is that any different from what Helena is seeking?

Also agree regarding Acrobit’s take on Helena. A really huge missed opportunity for the Huntress character. The character could definitely have used a multiple episode arc to really explore the differences in perspectives between her and Oliver, and take the relationship to its logical conclusion – it’d never really work as a steady romantic relationship. Instead of the silly jealous-you-hurt-me scene outside the restaurant, or beating the justice vs vengeance drum. Clearly the issue isn’t so black and white or resolved for Oliver (despite his dialogue), but we don’t really see this personal conflict. And so what if Helena is only interested in revenge (which apparently Oliver would also only be interested in where it concerns his family or Laurel. Remember the prison scene in 'Lone Gunman'). The interesting unexplored question is what comes after? What if Helena had killed her father? Why continue her crusade? What makes her evolve into the Huntress?

Yeah, really liking the whole Walter-Felicity mystery investigation. The most appealing and suspenseful aspect of the series right now.
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Oops. The correct reference regarding the prison scene episode is 'Innocent Man'.
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Gave up on this show, they're doing a terrible job of developing characters, at least into any likeable or reasonably hateable character. The sister is the worst culprit of terrible writing, couple of episodes ago, were we supposed to feel sorry when that guy got shut out by his dad (with all that money you can't create some kind of financial safety net?). Diggle is about the only likeable character in this show. This show has just become so repetitive, each episode, we need to be reminded that it's tough for Oliver hiding this secret from his family, which because of the secret, his family practically hates him. Terrible plot development all-around, if there's any plot to even talk about. I really liked the first two episodes, I thought it had potential to be a more serious and believable Smallville meets Batman. So far, it's just been shoddy writing. I'll stick to my better shows, and leave my guilty-pleasure slot open for a more deserving show.
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2 Things:
So he says killing is not his opening move and then he shoots some loner on the top of the staircase right in the chest?
I don't think there were any voiceovers this episode(those creepy ones when he explains the cases...), except the one at the beginning and I am digging that one.

I am watching this for the scars on Steves body and Thea, who is incredibly hot. At least that way I will not be disappointed. I think this still has some episodes to go before it becomes as epic as there is potential to be.
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Yeah, so....this happened. When Arrow began, it began at the bar of "It's a CW show. I'm a guy, I pretty much know what I'm gonna get." So, at that bar, it was watchable at first. The main guy wasn't stupid, the action scenes were decent, sometimes great...the end. As a guy, that's really all I can hope for in a show like this, and all I can do is hope that the other 80% doesn't kill the entire show for me. Hope is gone. ARROW HAS FAILED THIS COMIC--sorry..

Oliver's a hypocrite. At the beginning of the series, I liked that he killed a few guys, even if he gave the worst ones the chances at redemption. But if he's going to judge people for killing, then his arrows don't make anything better. Death by an arrow or by neck snaps aren't more controlled or merciful than a bullet. I think I said this last week, but if he's going to shoot arrows accurately to the millimeter, then he hasn't had to kill any of the people since he came back. Worse, with his batcave technology, he could make arrows that stun. Blunt electro-tazer arrows. Sexy, I know. Anyway, it's not that I want him to defeat the purpose of the show by using bullets, but I don't want him to pretend he's better because of it.

Diggle's still in the batcave...unless Oliver needs his big brother's wisdom in the diner. One time, Diggle showed up, saw Helena, complained about Helena, and left. So...wth did he originally show up for?

So they have Helena set up to be a badass, yet they write her like a stereotype who's controlled the entire time by her emotions. Also, they have Oliver as the controlling boyfriend that takes her choices away because she's too emotional to make them for herself. One of the things I never liked about making episodes in these shows so compact is that you can see how they stuff every bit of content in, and this episode was the biggest turducken of them all. I don't think we really consider how many actual minutes these characters spend doing what they do.

Approximately:
- 2 minutes with Helena kissing Oliver farewell,
- 4 spent with Oliver using Laurel's sister to get her back.
- 6 spent in the inevitable and forced double date with Laurel and Tommy.
- 2 minutes with Helena telling Oliver he's betrayed her for the last time and they're never-ever-ever getting back together.

How many people are supposed to care about Oliver and Helena breaking up after so little time? (Especially since no one cares about Laurel and Tommy after a good four weeks.) It would've made more sense if they'd spent a good three or four episodes together and then they slowly crumbled. Is their target audience's attention spans so short that they wouldn't stick around to see them actually get to know each other beyond the first date? I know this show isn't made for someone like me, but who *is* this for?

China White isn't dead yet, and I read a few people say it would be a waste of Kelly Hu, but usually when she gets a role, it's a waste of Kelly Hu. (*ahem* TVD) Even alive, this character is a waste. Anyway, she's a ridiculous character in good company, but the fact that Oliver purposefully didn't shoot her (the deadliest one), while he killed the goon for the crime of walking up the stairs, goes back to Oliver's hypocrisy. She's going to kill more people than that goon ever would've. And really, he couldn't have hit that goon with his indestructible bow?

I'm actually liking Walter more than anyone at the moment. At least he's actually got something of his own going on. Thea is apparently a rich high school girl with no friends, and Diggle has nothing better to do than show up and wipe Oliver's chin when he makes a boo-boo. He's just a cooler Alfred.
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LOL! I am with you on the Helena thing. Like I like my females on tv to be fierce and badass and equally as appealing as the guys, but basically I just want them to be authentic. Please don't tell me one thing but show me another. What we're supposed to see is this badass vigilante Diva with no mercy. What we have is a girl who basically turned bad, not because she had to, or because she was born a badass, or because of any number of reasons that would be awesome and cool or rational, but because she's emotional. I hate that. Because it is stereotypical. She's an emotional wreck. She's a killer because she's lonely, bitter, and angry over (and here's a chance where it could have been over a number of things but nope, it's over a man. Two men, in a psychologically staple, her father and her fiance. And then to further prove that she's basically an emotional wreck they toss in sexual tension that she should not have had with Ollie, imo, at the very least not this soon, and then they sleep together and she becomes that clingy gf who gets pissed at random stuff, and he becomes that controlling bf whose trying to fix her when he should really be fixing himself. Helena is just a walking stereotype and I hate that. I hate and resent that. But maybe I'm getting too passionate about that, because afterall, we women are emotional creatures.
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The worst part for me is that I suspect the writers actually try for better reasoning, better character development, and better pacing, and then CW jumps up and flattens them like a pancake.

Hopeful Arrow Writers: "Okay, it *is* stereotypical that these are the reasons she goes bad, but we can smooth her out over the upcoming weeks--"

CW: "'Weeks?' You've got 42 minutes. Anything else and we go over budget."

Hopeful Arrow Writers: "42 minutes?! But we have to show the contrast between Oliver and Helena's philosophies! We couldn't possibly fit the complexities--"

CW: "'Complexity?' We'll allow for vapid and childish. *And* hormonal. Anything else and we go over demographic."

Hopeful Arrow Writers: "But...but-but-but--"

CW: "Make that 20, actually. We need room for Walter and Felicity. Oh, and we have ideas about a double date we'd like you to fit in..."

Could it be that the writers were as CW'd as the rest of us? I'd at least feel better *about* them, if not *for* them.
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You make a great point. I admit that I am often guilty of tearing apart the writers etc because despite knowing better it's easy to operate under the misconception that they have more control over matters than they really do. But definitely...definitely a chance that in actuality they are getting CW'd. Hard. I guess because they seemingly gave them more leeway with this show than they have most of the other CW shows, I find myself putting greater expectations on them because they've managed to nail a few things that other CW shows haven't.
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Ha! I'd like to see JPK end up on TVD as Bonnie's cousin or something. Still playing a snarky witch. That would be awesome.

But Thea will be occupied by Colton Hayes from TW.
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Yeah, Melissa...

I saw JPK on something recent (for me, anyway). I think it was In Time? Anyway, so much they could do with her. I miss her. Thea needs friends. Just sayin'.
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I KNOW right?! Like I was waiting for them to stick to that! I was really into the whole Elements thing because it fit with witchcraft and feeding off of nature and balancing out the Earth and all that shizz. Like they could have done things with that, and they didn't, and it annoyed the hell out of me. I was excited over Faye having the fire thing going on and Adam having the water, and just the fact that the elements I'm assuming they had were kinda fitting their personalities. But I see symbolism and deeper meaning in practically everything, but still. I was kinda pouring a 40 for them over the weekend. I was missing Melissa a little bit. Melissa was going places with that snarky thing she had going on. Wasted potential is the worst.
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Yeah, good or bad, shows have a certain flow, and eventually, you can feel a hiccup, or in other cases, a stroke. It just feels like they had much bigger plans than what they've been doing lately, and they just had to toss vital body parts onto the cutting room floor.

I always go back to TSC's early webpage, where they had all the witches doing magic with elements, like Adam and water, Cassie and wind, etc. They had plans. Pretty, pretty plans, but they weren't in the budget. *Pours 40 oz.*
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Hehe, I giggled at: "ARROW HAS FAILED THIS COMIC".
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At least Huntress's costume was purple which was a step in the right direction, I just wish you could see the color a bit better. The design was not the best but I understand that they were not going to go with the classic costume which is a bit revealing and has a cape. Also Helena at least used an actual mask rather than grease paint like Oliver.
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China White lol
It was a pretty weak episode, the worst one yet I think. I really can't relate to the Oliver-Laurel relantionship, I can't stand when they are together.
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Did you really mean the Oliver-Laurel relationship or Tommy-Laurel?
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The Tommy-Laurel thing I can stand. But the Oliver-Laurel thing it's just annoying. The worst sexual tension ever, the writers should watch a few episodes of Bones or The X Files.
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I cant stand bones
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Anything with Laurel
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I agree, what an annoying girl, she comes across like she is better than everybody, and I seriously have a lot of problem seeing why Oliver and Tommy want to be with her if they can get a much better and less boring company.
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Laurel would be likeable if they would just change the actress
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And Katie Cassidy is a one expression actress. Somewhere between dumbfounded and crying. This show is HORRIBLE!
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It's not just that the acting is so goddamn awful (yeah, next time MAYBE cast people for their acting skills and not for their "skill" to look pretty) , it's not just the messed up morals, it's also the characters.Their relationships all feel ... unbelievable. For example:
They never showed us one second of footage that made me believe this friendship between Oliver and Tommy. And how come I hate every single character in this show (exept Diggle)?
Oliver is a self-righteous robot that always talks about how he is in control and how he has a big plan - but you never see him outSMART his opponents. At this point, he could be some rich, delusional idiot. We are supposed to like him, right? Well, I don't.

The female characters are also a problem. They tried to make them look tough and independent. But beating up guys, being successful in their jobs etc. alone doesn't achieve that. Strength lies in character. Of which these walking stereotypes have none.

And last but not least: This show has some seriously mixed up ideas about their target audience.
Who is supposed to like this show? At which group is it targeted?
I had the same issue with Terra Nova Why not just make these shows about, well..., superheroes / dinosaurs? What's will all this tacked-on, horrible, overboarding cliche romance/family-drama? Superheroes might be more popular thanks to Nolans "Batman" and the Marvel-movies of late - but that doesn't mean the audience will suddenly like everything as long as it has a comic license.
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Well said buddy! Its amazing this show got a full season. It should've been lowered into the ground after the first episode. What can you expect from the same production people who fucked up the Green Lantern movie?
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- I never realized before this episode how detailed the green paint around Arrow's eyes is. In the beginning after he had stopped Helena from shooting at the Triad and took his hood off, the close-up of his face showed that the green eye shadow was drawn pretty carefully with green lines radiating outwards from his eyes. Apparently Arrow must spend a lot of time checking himself in his pocket mirror while on missions. Stephen Amell should make a make-up tutorial on Youtube on how to make a perfect Arrow smokey eye.

- Helena's behaviour in the restaurant scene was weird. She was the one who wanted Tommy and Laurel to join Oliver and her at the table. But afterwards she was angry at Oliver and said that he made her have dinner with the love of his life. Sure, she didn't know about Oliver's and Laurel's past, but she was still the one who insisted on the double date.

- China White was shot in the leg. She probably limped her way out of there. Why Arrow couldn't kill this dangerous assassin at the spot is a question of its own.
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I agree. why can't they just use normal camouflage make up to cover his eyes. The one he wears with his hood looks like glam make up. It does screws up his image as a BA superhero.
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I read a bunch of the comments before watching the episode (weird, I know), and thanks to you I was hyper-fixated on Ollie's war-paint-makeup. Did you notice how there's gold beneath/around the edges of the green? Fancy stuff.
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Fabulous..
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two questions:
1) where is all that water coming from at the hide-out? The amount would suggest there is a leaking dam on top of the building

2) Helena was pointing her little crossbow at her father, then Oliver stood behind her shooting the thing out of her hands... thats pretty amazing, considering the crossbow is smaller then her (great) body.
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yea ha ha, that was messed up.
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haha... 2) -- exactly what I was thinking... he must have arrows that shoot round corners or something..
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First of all critiquing Arrow is a measure of my investment in the series. I enjoy the show though all episodes are not created equal. So…..

I’ve commented before on the whole morality – or in the case of the last 2 episodes justice vs revenge - thing. It’s been a running theme here in the reviews and commentaries. Frankly I’m over it and I think the show is going overboard and too much in your face with it. These characters are placed in violent situations, and they kill. That’s a moral struggle the characters have to deal with in their own emotional context, ala Person of Interest, or Nikita (another CW show BTW). The narrative doesn’t need to preach to the audience about it.

The Laurel Tommy romance I find really boring, mostly a distraction, and I usually fast forward past their scenes. I agree with the other commentators here that the whole double date restaurant scene felt like a contrived device lacking the ring of authenticity. And if Laurel and Oliver ever get back together somewhere down the line (which I suspect is where the writers are heading) then all this in between stuff is just a long wasteful setup for future conflict in this triangle, and perhaps a mechanism for keeping Tommy on screen. Right now the Laurel/Tommy romance seems insignificantly tangential to the show.
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Amazing episode can't wait for more.
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Simply put: Oliver doesn't understand the difference anymore than Helena. I think that's what it boils down to. Oliver was changed by watching Laurel's sister, his father, his father's partner, and whoever else happened to be on that island all die, some of them by his own hands (metaphorically, and possibly, literally). He's far more changed than Helena, and he knows that. In a way, he's locked down his emotions far enough that he believes that he is approaching is case in a detached and unemotional manner, which brings out the justice in revenge. Which is something you touched on, but then retreated from when I believe you were right on the money.

The episode itself was meh. I knew I wasn't going to really warm up to Helena's character after last week's awkward crying scene at the end. I know I should have felt bad for her, but I just thought her entire side of things were kinda weird, so I was really hoping she would disappear this episode, preferably in death. But of course, she got away, and now she knows Oliver and Diggle's names and I think that was the stupidest move on the writer's parts. How are they going to explain that not being delivered to the police, exactly? And was Laurel's father on vacation or something? Why wasn't he ALL OVER the fact that two different types of arrows are being used now?

And if it's not two different types of arrows... Have the writers just forced themselves into a storyline in which Oliver gets to be framed for a whole bunch more killings around town?

In the end, Helena can only become either an ally (which I personally think that she's crossed that line now, and I'd be severely disappointed if the writers decide to try to bring her back) or a villain, and then that leaves the question of why she would keep Oliver's secret a secret... Makes no sense to me.

Laurel and Tommy is awkward and weird. Tommy is an unlikable character. I neither want him to succeed nor care if he does. Laurel... I just want her to become kickass already. It'd be really cool to see a superpowered female on television that doesn't have to walk that line between good and evil to be sexy. Just a straight up good girl who happens to be able to kick any man's ass would be amazing. Please?

Last thoughts: Felicity is amazing. But every time she shows up, I'm wincing in fear that she's about to get killed off.
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I'm with Noel and many of the other commenters, this episode fell far short of the mark in so many ways. Up to the last couple episodes I guess I've been impressed enough by the momentum and the newness of it all to 1) forget that the show airs on the CW and 2) believe that the writers and producers had a serious commitment to achieving something that both entertained and asked the audience to consider greater thematic issues, along the lines of the Dark Knight franchise or Person of Interest. But this episode came off as slapdash and juvenile, most of which felt terribly contrived IMO.

The entire restaurant scene came off as ridiculous and irritating. I do not think I have ever seen a relationship implode at such velocity as Oliver and Helena's and it just felt forced and overly dramatic. Not to mention that Laurel, lofty, mature, got-it-all-together Laurel behaved like a child, created all the problems and yet there are no repercussions for her behaviour what so ever. It does not bode well for the show nor my confidence in things to come if Tommy Merlyn is the most evolved, self-aware character in this unnecessary quad of conflicted relationships. I thought the chili-cheese-fries-with-jalapenos scene at the end with Oliver and Diggle's BFF relationship post mortem was absolutely silly and implausible. I like Diggle as a character, but the show is seriously underutilizing the guy if he is only around to be Oliver's conscience and confidant.

This show needs to up the game by a factor of 10 if it wants to maintain its appeal to the grown folks audience; I for one am only willing to give the "but it's on the CW" argument so much weight before I stop forgive them botching opportunities as they have with the last couple of episodes. As Noel pointed out, they provided ample space here to explore some major themes here that speak to the heart of the conflicts surrounding superheroes and vigilantes and they mangled it, badly. I hope this was simply growing pains and not a symptom of issues that will ultimately kill the appeal for anyone who expects television entertainment to be more cerebral than a soap opera.
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Totally agree with the sentiment of your last paragraph. These themes and conflicts are so much better explored through the actions and emotional responses of the characters than through preachy dialogue. IMO outstanding examples of this can be found in Person Of Interest and Nikita, the latter on the CW.
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