ARROW Starts Twisting the Knife

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Episode 113 “Betrayal”

This episode is about back-stabbing, conniving, manipulation, and… betrayal.

Of course it is. This is a CW show, after all. And it’s all about how things don’t go the way they should. And some characters show more sense than others in how they deal with those turnarounds.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

Betrayal

First, let’s get the flashback pieces out of the way. Yao Fei sent Oliver to a spot on the map, and Oliver finds a downed plane occupied by Slade Wilson, an Australian special forces trooper. So, this is the real Deathstroke, not the mute giant who’s just been wandering around the island willly-nilly. It’s a nice bait-and-switch payoff that helps to build a little mythology around the Deathstroke mask before personalizing the character of Slade Wilson. In the long run, if it’s played right, this could make Deathstroke a more three-dimensional villain. Unlike Deadshot…

Betrayal

Now, in the present. Oliver confronts Moira with the book, leaving out the part where he got it from Oracle Felicity. Moira tells her first mainline lie to Oliver, saying it’s a list of the people who owed favors to Robert — and she quickly throws it in the fireplace, where it burns, baby, burns. And this is where you see just a bit of Oliver’s faith in his mother start to crack a bit. Amell does a good job with the reaction to this, pulling his face back from any kind of movement and cutting his eyes away. Props to whomever thought to add that little touch.

Moira almost gives the whole thing away with her line: “The only way to keep this family safe is for everyone in it to stop asking questions.” Now, if this isn’t a dead giveaway that she knows more than she’s telling… Of course, Oliver doesn’t want to believe his mother is tied up in anything sinister, despite Diggle pointing out that if it had been anyone else, the Hood would already be making a house call.

Betrayal

Meantime, Detective Lance is running into a little PR flameout at work, as the police are starting to feel the pressure of public perception — the Hood is quickly becoming a hero in the minds of the public, so it seems the police muckety-mucks have decided to turn a half-blind eye to the vigilante. Lance, of course, doesn’t like this at all. And he’s even more determined to take the Hood down.

The main plot line on this episode circles around a MacGuffin character named Vanch, played by David Anders. This character is not a DCU character, as near as I can determine, and only seems to serve the purpose of setting up a little more Hood-Lance-Laurel friction. Laurel asks the Hood for help getting new evidence so the police can put him back in jail. Lance uses the bug in the phone to ambush Laurel and Oliver on the rooftop. And Vanch uses that incident to figure out Laurel’s importance to them both. So he kidnaps Laurel.

[EASTER EGG: Vanch’s lawyer — who goes missing — works for the firm of Wolfman and Perez.]

Now, this also serves to show us more of the runup to Black Canary, as Laurel gets to fight off three thugs in a pretty decent bit of fight choreography — until she gets zapped. These little bits give us a glimpse of how Laurel can hold her own when she’s got a chance to adapt to circumstances. I think the fact that she’s moving so well in her apartment suggests that she’s thought out plans for something like this, probably after the first time someone broke in and tried to kill her and Oliver.

This gives Lance the chance to figure out there’s a crooked cop who’s feeding Vanch information. Now he can’t trust anybody, and the look on his face is priceless as he realizes there’s someone on the inside. And then when he figures out the one person he can call, you can see his need to throw up. Kudos to Paul Blackthorne.

Betrayal

And to Diggle, who knows Moira is crooked and takes it upon himself to stick close, offering to drive her to her various and sundry meetings for a while. He’s hoping to catch her in a compromising position, and finally gets a recording of her talking with Malcolm about the Glades project, and the fact that Malcolm wants the warehouse scraped clean of the Queen’s Gambit and any evidence the boat was sabotaged.

Two things here: Malcolm would certainly have more than one bodyguard, and this one seems awfully accepting of Diggle’s lame attempt to convince him it was a smoke break and not a stake-out when the two meet in the closet. And why is Malcolm’s voice altered on the tape Diggle plays for Oliver? Does he have some kind of scrambler in place, the same way Oliver disguises his voice on the Lance-O-Phone? Perhaps these two devices can give Oliver the clue he needs to de-scramble the recording and determine it’s Malcolm across the desk from Moira.

Laurel, in the meantime, has had it with her father’s manipulation. Twice in this episode, she takes him to task for using her as bait to catch the Hood, and for keeping secrets from her in his La Mancha style quest for vengeance against the Hood. And in her outrage, she lets slip to Tommy that she’s been in touch with the vigilante, providing our moment of irony for the episode as Tommy gets onto Laurel for doing the same thing (only different) that her father did to her.

And the mention of Laurel’s mother in this episode is the very beginnings of the arc that will bring River Song Dinah Lance the First to Starling City. Is the Black Canary persona part of the past? Factor in this, plus Laurel’s martial arts, plus the whole back-stabbing betrayal back and forth between Laurel & Dad and Laurel & Tommy… the set-up for Black Canary is building. I’m taking with a grain of salt, the fact that the producers have said it’ll be a while before we see the costume.

And now that Arrow has been picked up for a second season, we’ll definitely see the fishnets.

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[Official Show Site at CW]     [Previous Recap: “Vertigo”]

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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