As always, this review is written from the point of view that you’ve already seen the text in question, Arrow Season 3, Episode 19, “Broken Arrow.” There will be SPOILERS ahoy. You’ve been warned.
You’re not going to love every episode of a 22+ episode season; that’s just the facts of life. No show of that length bats a thousand. Once you get past 13, the freshness gets diluted. It doesn’t mean it’s suddenly become a bad show, or even that it’s losing its punch, it just means that it’s not an episode you like very much. I haven’t disliked very many episodes of Arrow Season 3, but sadly, this week’s episode, “Broken Arrow,” was one of them. It wasn’t that anybody did a bad job or that it wasn’t competently made, it’s just that an episode that made me consistently roll my eyes, and I wish it didn’t. The saddest part of all is that it’s one of the most OH-MY-GOD-DID-THAT-JUST-HAPPEN episodes we’ve seen yet. I hate it when important plot episodes don’t get me excited. Baaah!
The show has taken a week off, so let’s get us back up to speed: Captain Lance is off his rocker trying to catch the Arrow, whom he thinks (and won’t be swayed otherwise) has murdered the mayor and many other people. We know, however, that it’s really been the machinations of Ra’s al Ghul who wants Oliver to take his place as the Demon’s Head and he’ll make Oliver suffer unforeseeable losses until he accepts. Al Ghul tells Lance who the Arrow is (which is a huge “no shit, DETECTIVE” situation) and Oliver then confesses and turns himself in, only for the “real” Arrow to come forward, Roy Harper.
This episode picks up with Oliver still in custody while Roy is being booked. That’s not exactly a legal thing to do and Laurel shows up for her only scene in the episode with a writ from the DA to release Oliver, pissing off her father something fierce. All he needs is evidence and he shows up at very inopportune moments throughout the episode to ransack places like the Foundry and Thea’s flat, looking for something to nab Oliver. Lance has really, REALLY gotten on my nerves lately. He’s just being vindictive and petty. It’s perfectly understandable for him to be grief-stricken, but he just has a personal beef with the Arrow, compounded when he finally takes off his Stupid Blinders to see that it’s actually Oliver.
Lance does seem to care about Roy a bit and thinks that Arsenal is throwing away his life for someone who doesn’t deserve it. Even when Roy confesses to having killed that police officer, Lance doesn’t think he’s doing the right thing, or that he “deserves” to be there. And, I mean, Roy’s got plenty of other crap to deal with, including all those inmates at Iron Heights who were put there by the Arrow and who want a piece. Luckily, Roy’s been taught by the best. More on him later.
This week on the CW’s DC shows has been all about making sure the Atom is as established as possible. After finally coming around to see that Oliver isn’t a villain, he went over to Central City on Tuesday night in The Flash episode “All Star Team Up” where he got to show off his skills, which admittedly need work. And back in Starling City, with Oliver completely helpless thanks to being followed by the police everywhere, it’s Ray Palmer, the brawny, male Felicity, who has to suit up to take down a Metahuman whom they later dub Deathbolt (played by guest star Doug Jones). At first he gets his ass handed to him by the bank robber who can harness and shoot energy, and later he allows Oliver to “fight” for him with his remote appendage controls. But, ultimately, Ray has to learn to be the hero himself, with a little encouragement from Oliver. But, even he can see that Felicity (who still hasn’t returned Ray’s ILU sentiment) clearly has more affection for Oliver. Poor billionaire; probably he’ll be okay once he heads to the unnamed spin-off.
TWIST: Ray takes Deathbolt to Central City for Cisco to lock up in their containment units (which are getting pretty full at this point) and they discover that, while Deathbolt is from Central City, he was not in the city when Star Labs exploded. So how can he be a metahuman….?
Oliver allowing people to help him is right at the forefront in this episode, since he is well and truly ineffectual without his gear and the freedom to patrol. He hates this. He’s never been a patient guy, nor has he been the kind of person who truly trusts people to do what needs to be done without his direct involvement. He’s like that manager that’s always looking over your shoulder or like your dad who stands there and watches you mow the lawn, not saying a word, and then once you go inside and pour yourself some lemonade, you hear the mower start up again and he goes back and fixes everything you just did… That was a universal thing, right? Regardless, Oliver is unaccustomed to letting other people do things for him. He’s an active participant but here he can’t be. He even almost gets into a fistfight with Diggle after believing he can break Roy out of jail. His interactions with Ray were a highlight of this episode for sure.
I guess I’ll talk about the flashbacks here for a second. Ultimately, they boil down to Oliver going into ARGUS to find out why Amanda Waller’s been trying to kill them, finding her shot and telling her General Shrieve was behind it, then he, Maseo, and Tatsu (against Oliver’s wishes to do it alone) break into the military facility to steal the antidote for the toxin Shrieve wants to use to wipe out the Chinese. Tatsu says something about Oliver needing to accept help, which was literally (verbatim) said by Diggle AND Felicity earlier in the episode in the present. I can’t stand these flashbacks and have made no bones about it, but when they so directly reference the theme of the episode that’s perfectly adequately explored in the A-plot, they seem all the more superfluous. Again, please, writers of the show, no more flashbacks next season. I beg of you. Who cares where Oliver goes next in a timeframe before the show started? I don’t.
Okay, so most of this episode was just whatever, but then ALL OF THE THINGS started happening. 1) Roy apparently gets knifed to death in prison by, of all people, a guard. Lance tells Thea as Oliver walks in, so of course Lance has to gloat and stand up on his highest of horses. 2) Turns out, Roy isn’t ACTUALLY dead because, episodes ago, he, Diggle, and Felicity concocted a plan wherein Diggle’s friend from special forces could pose as a prison guard and stab Roy in just the right spot so that he bleeds a lot but isn’t mortally wounded. And the knife was laced with a beta-blocker which slowed Roy’s heartbeat enough for them to pronounce him dead and take his body away. 3) Roy has to leave Starling City (in the fancy schmancy red car he owns…not smart) because as long as he’s “dead,” the Arrow will be believed dead as well. 4) Before Oliver can tell Thea the truth, Ra’s al Ghul appears in the apartment and says he has ways of making Oliver accept his offer, which includes stabbing Thea through the gut with his sword. Early in the episode, Merlyn told Oliver that Ra’s won’t stop until Oliver accepts, meaning anyone he cares about is fair game, and this means Thea apparently. So the episode ends and she’s “dead.”
This was an episode that just did nothing for me. As much as I like Ray Palmer and Brandon Routh’s portrayal of him (and I do, a whole lot), I feel like this was a really weird time to play up his breed of shenanigans, in what amounted to a very The Flash-style villain plot, even going so far as to have Cisco there at the end. I think it’s setting up the way the spinoff series will be, and while they probably don’t have any more episodes this season to perform that function, it seemed very out of place for the tone of the episode at large. Are they truly writing out Roy? I can’t imagine so, but I guess he’ll be gone for the foreseeable future. And, can Lance just give it a rest already!? I’m so tired of him. Even his boss was like “Dude, chill out.”
Next week’s episode is “The Fallen” and looks to be where Ra’s al Ghul makes Oliver an offer he can’t refuse. The whole team (plus Merlyn) return with Thea’s body to Nanda Parbat to put her in the Lazarus Pit. No good can come from this, I’m sure.