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ARROW is Guilty of The Best Trick Yet

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Episode 306 “Guilty”

[photos: Ed Araquel/The CW]

This episode is about guilt. Perceived guilt. Actual guilt. Projected guilt. And a little misdirection thrown in for good measure. Oliver is a hypocrite, by the way…

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This week, we get Ted Grant’s back story. Six years ago, he used to be the vigilante known as the Wildcat, and he gave it up when his actions were responsible for the death of a drug dealer. His guilt drove him to open the boxing gym to help others out of the Glades in a way that didn’t involve death and overdosing.

Now, bodies are starting to turn up with the word “Guilty” written in blood on the floor. Someone is trying to send a message — that Ted Grant might be the primary suspect in all of these murders, because they match the methodology of the one from six years ago. Only no one ever made any connection to Grant back then. Because it’s the Glades, and who cares?

Turns out, Ted had a sidekick, y’see, by the name of Isaac Stanzler, and it was Stanzler who actually killed the drug dealer. Grant took the blame and told Stanzler to duck out of Starling City. But Stanzler’s back, and he’s bent on revenge. Because his perception is that Grant cut him loose, abandoning him to his fate.

Oliver, of course, has it out for Ted already because of the whole thing with Laurel training at the gym. But let’s stop for a moment and consider the massive hypocrisy of Oliver Queen, body count in the “up there” range, having a conniption fit over one accidental death that may have been caused by the guy training his ex-girlfriend. Ollie, get your head examined. This is obviously not about Ted Grant’s vigilante past. Unless the show writers are just trying to forget most of the first season…

Guilty

Laurel, meantime, is stepping up in her training. And she’s standing up to Oliver, even to the point where she admits to Ted “we used to date” — essentially giving away a trade secret, because if Ted’s been a vigilante, he probably has the resources to track down the names of Laurel’s ex-boyfriends and figure out Arrow’s true identity.

The rest of the episode is spent with Oliver fuming, thinking that Ted might be guilty, until they track down Stanzler and figure out he’s the real culprit. And Laurel gets a few moments to show that she’s not huddling on the sidelines anymore.

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Nice fight choreography this week, too. And it also gives us a moment between sidekicks, as Stanzler tells Roy he’s cannon fodder. Stanzler is convinced all sidekicks are just meat for the hero (something we heard over on Doctor Who as well), nothing more than another weapon in an arsenal for the leader to use in the fight. Roy’s already having issues with focus anyway, figuring out he may have had a mirakuru fugue moment and actually killed Sara Lance.

But he didn’t.

Guilty

Using meditation techniques taught to him by Tatsu Yamashiro (finally making her appearance on the show), Oliver leads Roy back in his memory, helping the young apprentice understand that he didn’t kill Sara, but instead an SCPD officer back when Deathstroke’s men were invading the town. Roy apparently took his awareness of Sara’s death and superimposed his suppressed memory of killing the police officer, thus giving him a false memory of killing Sara.

So, the mystery of Sara’s killer is still out there to provide the flashpoint for when Ra’s Al Ghul arrives.

But Roy also gets his moment, as he’s contemplating what Stanzler told him about being just another weapon in Oliver’s arsenal. Oliver embraces it with “Maybe that’s what we should call you.” Thus, the sidekick gets his comic book name before the hero actually does. Congratulations, Arsenal. Of course, that leaves the “Speedy” moniker open for Thea to take it when she joins Team Arrow…

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And at the end of the episode, we get a glimpse of our newest antagonist. “I’m Cupid, stupid.” Just as she kills Stanzler with an arrow to the heart.

Sadly, this episode puts the kibosh on my hope to see an older Ted Grant, Senior as the vigilante Wildcat. But the truly rich fan-service moment of this episode, the moment fans have been craving since the premiere episode, the moment no one figured they’d ever see because of the show’s grip on “realism”… that moment happened on this episode.

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BOXING GLOVE ARROW!

It’s the favorite trick arrow, and incorporating it into the show has been a puzzler for fans, mainly because it’s such a silly and ungainly weapon. Which makes it doubly satisfying to see it introduced in way that was organic to the story, taking place in the midst of Ted’s boxing and vigilante paraphernalia in a storage locker the size of a small warehouse. When Ted gets the drop on Ollie, the archer makes the most of his resources, stabbing a boxing glove with an arrow and firing it at Grant. Not only does this give fans a squee-able moment that almost broke Twitter, but it also shows Oliver’s consistency in his refusal to kill anymore.

Congratulations, Arrow writers. You’ve just proven you can make pretty much anything work. Now start calling him Green Arrow, for Pete’s sake…

[Show web site at CW]     [Previous Recap: “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak”]

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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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