Despite a pretty solid opening for the series, Arrow has decided that much of episode 2 needs to reestablish the basic tenets of the series. For Arrow, that is a fairly simple task, which means our hero once more sets his sights on a corrupt Starling City businessman, maybe works out a little, and then attempts to define just who Oliver (Stephen Amell) is when not wearing a hood.
Despite the presence of China White (Kelly Hu), ‘Honor Thy Father’ is really more concerned with addressing some Queen family issues, and the way they balance home life, work and the way the public perceives them handling both. Paying particular attention to the Queens affords the narrative time to expand the show’s characters and throw in epilogue scenes that connect elements to the larger conspiracy involving Moira that’s at play. It also grants a few moments to further develop Thea (Willa Holland), by having her establish just what life at stately Queen Manor was like when everyone thought Oliver had died alongside his father.
He’s only been back a short while, and Moira Queen (Susana Thompson) and her new husband Walter Steele (Colin Salmon) are eager to see Oliver take a substantial role in the family business – which has recently announced it will be breaking ground on a new applied sciences division. But first, the family has to gather before a judge to handle the issue of legally bringing Oliver back from the dead. Ollie capitalizes on the emotion of the proceedings to get some distance from the family and once more leave his bodyguard, John Diggle (David Ramsey), without a body to guard.
As fun as Oliver’s maneuvers to evade Diggle are, the series is quite aware that making a primary character look like a fool every episode is probably not the best way to represent him – besides, Arrow already has the ultra-smarmy Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) to look foolish. As such, ‘Honor Thy Father’ gives Diggle ample opportunity to not only prove his worth, but also be the first to put enough of the pieces together to come to a quiet understanding with Oliver.
It’s likely no coincidence that Arrow and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) are both taking on Martin Somers (Ty Olsson), since Oliver’s last take down was also a corrupt businessman who was dealing with Laurel on the legal front. Meanwhile, on the less than legal front, Arrow takes swift measures in dispensing justice and affords Somers a chance to make amends, as it were. Given that Somers is attached to the Chinese Triad, getting out of the business isn’t exactly that easy, so in walks China White, who sets out to assassinate Laurel as a means to put an end to the legal proceedings against Somers.
While leading to an inevitable confrontation between Oliver and China, the attack on Laurel’s apartment also grants the episode a chance to better develop the dynamics between Ollie and Laurel, as well and he and Diggle. On one hand, although the ice-cream bit is a little corny, it’s telling that Oliver’s choice of people to reconnect with is Laurel – and not only for obvious DC Universe related reasons. Is Oliver motivated by the connection he feels with Laurel in relation to the similarities in their objectives, or is it simply guilt? As far as offenses go, sleeping with your girlfriend’s sister and then having her die while in your care is really, really bad. And for a guy looking to set things right everywhere, that seems like an important, if not extremely difficult place to start. However, it’s a problem that, for any kind of relationship to exist between Ollie and Laurel, they’re going to have to come up with a way for her to justify spending time with him without making her look shallow, or like the death of her sister was a big “whoopsie,” but that’s only two strikes against a guy with really great abs.
Before the two can get to the really deep conversational part of the evening, China White and her cronies storm the apartment and put Ollie in a bit of a secret identity pickle, as no one wants to see him snapping Laurel’s neck to protect his secret. Thankfully, Diggle comes in and holds his own against the deadly assassin, but is ultimately saved by Oliver’s “lucky” throw of a dinner knife. Being the smart guy that he is, Diggle lets Oliver know he’s on to him, but not in any adversarial kind of way – Diggle gets it, even if he doesn’t quite get all of it just yet.
The aftermath of China’s assassination attempt brings Det. Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) into the fray. Not only does this reestablish Det. Lance’s distaste for Oliver, but it helps to reaffirm viewers just what he thinks of this green-hooded vigilante. It also shows an interesting dichotomy between the Lance family and the Queens. While Quentin struggles to protect his only living daughter, he essentially acknowledges to her stern, but caring reprimand regarding her autonomy. As far as the Queens go, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Ollie would step in and take a significant role in his father’s company.
Not only does Ollie not want a role in the company – for obvious vigilante reasons – but because there seems to be some legitimate difficulty on Oliver’s behalf in establishing a solid connection with his family. Perhaps it has to do with his quest of taking down corrupt businessmen, and what he knows (or doesn’t know) about his father’s dealings, but it may also have to do with the fact that when you get right down to it, Moira’s involvement in a plot to kill her husband and son aside, she, Walter, and maybe even Thea aren’t really on Oliver’s radar as significant enough for him to care about – at least not yet.
In the end, China White lives to be a thorn in the side of Arrow another day – which serves as the official beginning of bringing in heavy-hitters to deal with Arrow in a way the businessmen and their goons simply cannot. While this set up of Oliver attacking a new businessman every week and then having to face off against a more legitimately scary adversary looks like it could get tedious kind of quickly, the fight between Oliver and China was engaging enough that a few more episodes of the same likely won’t hurt until the season develops a more intriguing plotline. At any rate, next episode: Deadshot!
As far as the amount of time spent in flashback, it was relatively small, but what was there offered some intriguing questions about who is on the island with Oliver, and the extent of the information given to him by his father.
Arrow continues next Wednesday with ‘Lone Gunmen’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview for the episode below: