Now that we’ve established Oliver Queen no longer wants to be a killer, it’s time to hammer that point home. Yes, parts of Arrow‘s second episode of its second season, “Identity,” felt a bit wheel-spinny, especially involving the theme of Oliver’s heroism versus his status as a criminal, as well as how difficult it is to balance his alter egos, but two new characters were introduced, relationships are strengthened or changed, and it ends on one mother of a cliffhanger that probably even the Lone Ranger couldn’t get out of in his 1930s serialized format.
We begin with a FEMA truck being hijacked by goons on motorcycles. A red Mustang shows up and drives one of the bikers into a crashing state. It’s Roy, whose favorite color is red, if you hadn’t guessed by his every piece of wardrobe, car, and color of throwing dart. The other motorcycle heads straight for him and causes him to go careening off of a parked car, flipping and totaling the poor Mustang, which didn’t do anything to anybody.
The police, who are much more interested in catching the Vigilante than they are with anything else, immediately arrest Roy, leaving China White (Kelly Hu) to make off with the government pharmaceuticals. Roy gets questioned by Laurel, who is on the vendetta path, but the young fool stands firm in his desire to help the Glades, which are largely forgotten now that the city’s imploded. Oliver tells Roy he needs to knock this off and says he knows how the young man feels about thinking he’s the only one who can do anything. Roy says the Hood’s nowhere to be found and the cops don’t care, so he IS the only one. For the moment.
Oliver’s concern about the Glades has increased, and he and Diggle go to Glades Community Hospital the next day to check things out. It seems FEMA has been sending shipments of medicine to help the people, but those shipments always get hijacked. Outside, Alderman Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro) is giving an enthusiastic press conference about how nobody in Starling City cares about the Glades and are leaving them to die. He spots Oliver in the crowd and calls him out for his family’s doing. Oliver attempts to speak up for himself but the crowd isn’t having it.
Back at Queen Consolidated, Felicity is not pleased with her new position as CEO Oliver’s executive assistant. While it is much easier for her to be sitting there if he needs to speak to her about Hoody activities, as opposed to the CEO going down 16 stories to the IT department all the time, Felicity maintains she did not go to MIT and get all sorts of accolades to get Oliver coffee. This’ll be fun, eh? She’s also angry that Oliver seems to be unaware of how things have gone with Diggle and his girlfriend Carly (his brother’s widow), but we’ll get back to that in a moment.
If you thought Thea had gotten over Roy’s continued nighttime activities, you were wrong. She’s steamed. She gives Roy an ultimatum (which he doesn’t like, making him a lot like most people) that it’s either her or the vigilante-ing. She gives him two weeks of severance pay and the Japanese reconciliation thing that Oliver gave her last year. If he chooses her, he can rip up the check; if not, he can cash it. You know the old saying: you can lead a horse to a girlfriend but you can’t make him stop wanting to fight crime.
The next shipment of supplies is trying to be delivered, but again China White is there to stop it. But this time, so is Oliver, and he takes down her two helmeted helpers. Unfortunately, she’s brought in some backup in the form of Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), who is quick and agile and has two sets of big metal claw things which he uses to easily deflect Oliver’s non-lethal arrows. The cops show up again, and Oliver fills the place with smoke so he can escape, getting grazed in the ankle in the process.
While he cleans himself up in the Queen Cave, Felicity’s finally had enough of Oliver not recognizing when things are bothering his friends. She reads him the riot act about how he didn’t even know Diggle and Carly had broken up. And, to be fair, neither did we, since it all happened during the Summer Break. It seems he couldn’t separate his hatred of Deadshot and his desire for revenge from his feelings for her. It’s a pretty easy way to solidify Diggle’s trajectory this season while cutting out a storyline from the first season that wasn’t going anywhere anyway.
The Hood goes to visit Laurel, who wants nothing to do with him. She blames him entirely for Tommy’s death and says she saw him that night skulking away while she cried over Tommy’s impaled body. I really feel like she’s not dealing with this loss very well, and her becoming this season’s Quentin Lance seems a little too convenient, but we won’t have to wait long for this to come to a head, I think.
In the daytime, Oliver has a meeting with Sebastian Blood, in which he attempts to make amends for what his family did. He offers to throw a fundraiser for his rich friends and draw attention to his desire to make right. However, when the fundraiser begins, Oliver and Diggle are forced to leave before they arrive to try and thwart the next hijacking. Blood is now angrier than ever, and publicly decries Oliver for not caring enough about the Glades to even show up to the event. This guy’s going to be trouble.
At least the hijack-thwarting goes better than before. Felciity has sent year-old surveillance footage to the police to send them away from the action and, now that Diggle’s with him, Oliver can concentrate on China White and Bronze Tiger, whilst Diggle gets the truck. However, China hitches a ride on the truck and makes life a bit more difficult for our favorite “black driver” (they said that in the episode, don’t get mad at me). Oliver has a hard time with Bronze Tiger, who taunts the Hood’s newfound reverence for life.
Eventually, Oliver is able to get a shot in the martial artist’s shoulder, which doesn’t stop him – until Oliver hits the button and the arrow emits a powerful electrical shot. These trick arrows are a bit… well, tricky. Diggle fights China White and is about to get killed when Oliver shoots an arm-lasso arrow that pins her to a convenient pole. She sneers at Oliver and says the city will never look at him as anything but a criminal, that he’ll never be a hero. This was a bit on the nose for my liking, but it makes the point again that Oliver might not be the hero the city wants, but it’s the one it needs. Wait, is that a different hero?
Oliver apologizes to Diggle for not being there for him, and Felicity brings her boss a cup of coffee (one), seeing as he’s taken a public shellacking and no one will know he was actually doing a good thing. The Hood goes to see Roy and tells him that if he WANTS to help the Glades, he can be the eyes on the ground and feed the “Emerald Archer” intel. This frees Roy up to make amends with Thea and not technically be lying. I suppose.
The Hood again goes to visit Laurel, attempting to make her not hate him since he did a good thing, but she was ready for him this time: She hits a button and the SWAT team come a-runnin’. He’s pretty well screwed, eh?
ON THE ISLAND
Island Ollie is ashamed and shocked at himself for brutally killing the man who had kidnapped Shado. He washes himself off in the water and Shado comes over and essentially says “there, there, murder guy,” and then they do it. She’s weird. Slade, who is clearly jealous, says he’s found the tracks of the men and they should follow. They find a cave in which are 60+ year old remains of Japanese Imperial Soldiers. Why would they be there? And why would this be what the pirates were after? Oliver finds, on one of them, the trinket that he gives Thea which she then gave Roy. It all comes full circle.
This episode was good, but it was more about reinforcing themes and setting up a new status quo than furthering any major plot threads. Episodes like these are absolutely necessary, and this one was done better than some shows do; it just wasn’t my favorite. However, it’s only the second episode and we’ve got a whole lot of season left.
And just to show how much we’re going to have in the next episode, “Broken Dolls,” here’s the promo. Black Canary!