‘Arrow’ Season 1, Episode 14 Review – How Not to Die

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Manu Bennett and Stephen Amell in Arrow The Odyssey Arrow Season 1, Episode 14 Review – How Not to Die

Last week’s episode, ‘Betrayal,’ ended on a cliffhanger that suggested Oliver (Stephen Amell) would be taking his fight against the city’s corrupt to an even more personal level; this week Arrow appears to take a step back, rather than drastically advance the narrative by having the Hood continue his investigation into Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) and her involvement in the mysterious undertaking.

To its credit, however, ‘The Odyssey’ manages to reserve its backpedaling for the end, which allows the episode to steamroll ahead and, with the help of excellent supporting roles from Manu Bennett, David Ramsey and Emily Bett Rickards, become one of, if not the most entertaining hours of Arrow yet this season. Yeah, that’s saying quite a lot, and many will undoubtedly disagree, but an adventure featuring a seasoned and grizzled Slade Wilson (Bennett), and a soft, but full of promise Oliver Queen is the kind of storyline that is just too much fun not to be granted some slightly excessive praise.

Kicking off the escapade is a quick turnaround from last week’s cliffhanger, which results in Oliver being shot by his own mother, after a plea for mercy causes him to lower his guard long enough for Moira to reach her gun. The wound, in turn, leaves Oliver with no other alternative but to hide in Felicity Smoak’s car and ask that he be delivered to the Arrow lair where Diggle (David Ramsey) is waiting.

Emily Bett Rickards and David Ramsey in Arrow The Odyssey Arrow Season 1, Episode 14 Review – How Not to Die

There’s a brief moment where Oliver’s odyssey comes dangerously close to being a collection of fever dreams, in which all of the character’s worst fears and past failures come to light, but the dream within a flashback of Laurel asking, “Did it hurt? When they killed you?” is as far as that notion goes. The main thrust of the episode, then, is dedicated to Oliver and Slade’s mission to find a way off the island, and that leads to some great moments that build not only on the Oliver to Arrow transition, but also manage to grant the island flashbacks some additional depth that the focus on the present day storyline hasn’t really had time for.

That means finding out that Edward Fyres (Sebastian Dunn) is working for an unseen individual, and that the other “Deathstroke” on the island is a guy by the name of Billy Wintergreen. But what ‘The Odyssey’ really does is give evidence that, due to his time spent on the island, Oliver is beginning to shed the spoiled rich kid persona, and beginning to adopt a persona more like the Oliver in the present day. This affords the episode several scenes of Slade training Oliver as quickly as he can, preparing the young man for their assault on the airfield that will hopefully provide them a ticket off the island.

To the show’s credit, they depict the transition as a difficult one, illustrating Oliver’s initial difficulty with physical confrontation and especially his reluctance to take another man’s life. But it all pays off in the end when Oliver takes down an armed guard in front of a wounded Slade. There is also a nice moment before that when Ollie uses his brains, rather than any sort of brawn, to get the two out of a pickle by answering a question with his knowledge of ‘The Odyssey,’ and the more heroic (if not naïve) moment when he risks his freedom and his life to try and rescue Yao Fei (Byron Mann). Knowing that Oliver would eventually get off the island before returning to Starling City, there was a question of whether or not that would actually happen in this episode, and considering how some portions of the island flashbacks are just now starting to become fleshed out, it’s good to see that the writers decide to leave things with Oliver and Slade remaining on the island for the time being.

Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in Arrow The Odyssey Arrow Season 1, Episode 14 Review – How Not to Die

The episode also manages its present day storyline quite well by inviting Felicity onto Team Arrow. While Diggle tends to Oliver’s injury, Felicity makes herself useful by fixing a defibrillator and then later by updating his out-of-date computer system. But her time spent with Diggle is more than proving how badly he and Arrow need their own IT department. One thing the show hasn’t shied away from his Oliver’s occasionally lethal methods. Here, Felicity asks Digg how he feels about it, and his response, a story about protecting a ruthless warlord in Afghanistan while being asked to kill teenagers taking up arms against the man was a nice way for the character to justify his affiliation with the Hood. In the end, Felicity joins the team, but only (for the time being, anyway) to help in the search for Walter Steele.

Even though it appeared to take the easy road out, in terms of progressing the season’s narrative, there’s still the chance that Moira’s connection to the undertaking (and Oliver’s refusal to see it) will pay off on an even larger scale down the road. And if that’s the case, then the decision to delay the pay off to everything that’s been set up will transform what first appeared to be the writers making the less complicated dramatic choice, into a disastrous choice by the series’ main character. It’s a storytelling ploy that can be effective, but it also has diminishing returns, so let’s hope the writers don’t wait until all the tension has evaporated before following through on their big set up.

Emily Bett Rickards in Arrow The Odyssey Arrow Season 1, Episode 14 Review – How Not to Die

Various Items:

  • Not only did Arrow receive an order for season 2, but the show has also bumped Emily Bett Rickards up to series regular status. As for what that means for Colin Salmon’s Walter Steele character, remains to be seen.
  • Felicity’s reaction to finding Oliver in the back seat of her car continues Rickards’ win streak with delivering the series’ most memorable lines.
  • I’m ready for a Manu Bennett-led Deathstroke spin-off show, or, at the very least, holiday special.


Arrow continues next Wednesday with guest star James Callis in ‘Dodger’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below:

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  1. The ONLY thing I didnt like about this episode was that Billy got the sword to the right eye. I was hoping slade would have gotten it atleast but maybe that was just a homage to the comicbook deathstroke. If they have Wintergreen come back as the series deathstroke then Ill be saddened.

    • Yeah, I noticed that too. The sword looked deep enough to be a kill, so maybe it’s just forshadowing Slade’s eye’s fate? I don’t know, but I agree; I’d be massively disappointed if they made Wintergreen to be Deathstroke.

      • Yea Im really thinking it was a throw to that in the comics more than him becoming deathstroke. The whole wide part of the tip of his sword was in his head. IF he even survived that he wouldnt be in any shape to become a b.a. killing machine.

        • I kinda thought it was building up Slades future fate? Maybe Wintergreen will get to him for revenge and before killing him will turn to torture an take his eye?

          Slase Wllson is one of my favorite characters from arrowcomics and even though I was quite skeptical of Manu Bennet at first – he actually delivers (really didn’t expect that!). I hope he actually grows into his comic-counterpart and crosses way with Olly as a mercenarie (maybe hired to take out the Hood?). Now that I’d like to see.

          • you must not have watched spartacus then….

    • I think they are def gonna bring deathstroke in as a recurring role. But dam , again when are we gonna start calling this guy GREEN ARROW!!! wtf already! we get it ! its “grounded in reality” or whatever! on with the name. how bout in the finale we see a graffitti pic of “the hooded vigalante” with GREEN ARROW under it. so that way its like the city names him? come on CW dont screw this up.

      • For the same reason why Clark was called the Blur for so long and never referred to as Superman. Licensing and having to pay people they dont want to have to pay should they use trademarked names. It was bad enough with the names Smallville and Metropolis. Luckily there was loop holes for them because there were actual places in the US that were named those. But good luck finding a city named Star City.

  2. Just when I thought Arrow was running out of gas, they renewed the series. I didn’t have the foggiest idea why. Then I saw last night’s episode.

    Halfway in I forgot that I was watching back story.
    This is Spartacus’ last season, right? If the Arrow folks are smart, they won’t kill off Slade Wilson/Manu Bennett. They’ll sign him up for at least a recurring role next season. Or…repeat that last “item” please…? It’s too early for spinoffs, but I’m down.

  3. This show gets the award for most not boring flashbacks.
    Which you can compare to supernatural who also did flashbacks most of this season and sams were horrible.

    • That’s a very prestigious award!

  4. This was, IMO, the best ep yet. Great story, and good action. The addition of Richards to full cast member is an absolute boon for the show, she is very good. I keep saying it, but it bears repeating, the show keeps getting better and better.

    I would love to see Walter come back, he is a real asset to the show and a great actor.

    Slade is an excellent addition as well. I don’t know about a spin-off, but I’d like for them to find a way to keep him on the show, maybe even appear in an ep not in a flash back, but maybe facing or joining Arrow.

    Great ep, great show, great series. Keep up the good work!!

    • The show keeps getting better and better because they are getting away from setting up characters and they can actually move forward now. I think they took a little to long to do that but in the long run it will benefit them because then they wont have to go next season and say ‘Hey, we wanted to bring this element in so we are going to show this flashback, that should have been shown early in the first season, so it makes more sense.’ I absolutely hate when shows do that sort of thing.
      this episode helped wonders to get the flashback scenes “caught up”.

  5. Did I miss it, or did the article forgot to include the fact that Shado was introduced in this episode (which is at the very least, worthy of mentioning).

    Anywho, imo this was the best episode yet! Wonderfully done. No melodrama, no unnecessary character arcs, just a story well told with the main cast members I want to see… and then there’s the great action too.
    I hope it gets even better from here on out (although I can’t help but wonder when Speedy and her life issues get in the way of the show’s progression again).

    • *forget (Can’t wait for that edit button! ;))

    • I thought that was who it was! The tattoo was seriously lacking so I couldn’t be sure.

    • Shado is Japanese… isn’t Yao Fei Chinese? Maybe she is half.

  6. man i love felicity the things i would do to her oh boy

  7. Great episode, but the part where Felicity fixes the defibrillator is SO DUMB! She pokes it with a screwdriver for one second and it magically works! The explanation is: “wiring is wiring”. Riiiight…

    • ….defibulator wiring was a stupid weak moment……stolen/borrowed from Casino Royal…Bennet’s fighting/sword work looked good but some of the fighting is still weak….but generally a entertaining show! Mom’s a great shot!….

  8. Awesome episode. i like that most of it took place on the island. sometimes the island stories are more interesting than the present day ones. i hope they have a couple more island centric stories before the season is done.

  9. Another brilliant episode (if not the most brilliant so far) spent almost entirely in the flashbacks was like a dream come true for me. It seems Manu has grown as an actor since the first season of Spartacus and he really shines here showcasing some of Deathstrokes likeability/charisma, in addition to his all around bad-ass-ery lol.

    I love that smoak is joining the team, but I’m a bit worried about the preview which seemed to show her all dolled up and in danger. I hope it’s a situation that she put herself into and not something Arrow asked her to do…

    I’m excited about the Shado reveal as it only opens up more possiblities. Here’s hoping that Roy Harper’s intro next week works well. Season 2 greenlighted! Sweet, btw there was a moment in the episode last night (I think when Oliver was talking to DS in the tower) that Oliver totally looked like an onscreen embodiment of the Green Arrow. Hopefully in season 2 he will grow out the goatee a bit.

  10. Little to no Thea + tons of flashbacks and Slade = One of the best episodes yet!!

    Let’s hope they can keep it up!

  11. I felt felicity getting rid of the blood evidence was just too convenient and easy..cmon..just hacked in and gave a termination order..give it a little more credibility

    • I’m sure tht will be brought up in the next few episodes. With somebody sayng she was in danger in a previous comment maybe Detective Lance gets ahold of her somehow. Idk. It will be interesting if they touch on that again

  12. This episode surprised me… I’m not too fond of the island flashback, so I kinda went ‘Oh no’ when Oliver started reminiscing about his days in a near-death situation. It was NOT what I expected, and it was great… that I even had my first screencaps of the episode after 13 episodes hahaha (that line Slade said was awesome).
    And I think all these events is going to lead Wilson become Deathstroke, which will be a great setup for future events when both Oliver and Slade would have to face their former comrade once again

  13. Ok…So it’s fantasy, but could they at least try to make some thing plausable? That mercenary army has to be about the most worthless army ever. There’s really nothing about them that comes across as an actual trained force. I think the kids in the “Lord Of The Flies” movie would be able to put them down if they were on that island.

    Look….I know it’s fashioned after comics where you basically have to tell the whole story with all the action in a short amount of time. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t pay enough attention to detail to make some things plausable. Like what mercenaries would have such crappy security around their base that basically anyone can just stroll in like they do?

    I like the show, but some of these gaffs are just a huge distraction…..

  14. I hate to say this but if the show was on lastnight I missed it. A basketball game prempted it oh well.

  15. good episode oi! i dont know about you guys but i was waiting for a episode to feature 90% flashback i was very curious. @OMEGARICAN my friend do not fret they did this to clark (the blur)….really the blur now THATS LAME lmao. other than that i know they will call him green arrow dont foret this is like his rookie year. season 2 i would like to see bruce wayne NOT batman because we know they are somewhat rivials

  16. I really hope that deathstroke costume is for sale later on in the year.

  17. I do have one criticism of this episode… why didn’t Ollie call Diggle when he got shot?

    I realize it was device to get Felicity involved but it could have been done with him trying to call Diggle, passing out, Felicity picking up the phone and Diggle telling her where to go.

  18. I cannot fault that review.

    Manu Bennett as Crixus or Slade is great work!
    I loved him as Crixus.

    A nitpick: In one of the previous flashbacks, didn’t Ollie kill the person we thought was the original Deathstroke? Now it could be argued that it was Slade if my memory is correct.

    However, given the history of Deathstroke in comic book lore, I think it is unlikely that Ollie killed him – unless the smallville line is used – “beyond Death’s stroke” which would seem a tad corny (or arguably an homage)