‘Arrow’ Season 1, Episode 20 Review – Sniping a Sniper

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Michael Rowe in Arrow Home Invasion Arrow Season 1, Episode 20 Review – Sniping a Sniper

There have been many different relationships explored on Arrow since it first began. Oliver Queen has seen his world turned upside down and with it the person he once was has vanished forever. Because of his change and new outlook on life, Oliver’s interpersonal relationships have either suffered or been strengthened, and the examination of this aspect of a superhero’s double life has been an interesting, but occasionally troubling, aspect of the series.

Now, as Arrow heads into the final episodes of the season, there’s a rush of sorts to push characters headlong into new or altered dynamic, and it feels a bit like some of them are being shorted when it comes to proper development.

It’s easy to see why Tommy Merlyn and Laurel Lance are headed in the direction they are – Laurel and Oliver were always meant to be together and for as much as Tommy has tried not to become his father, at the end of the day he’s still a Merlyn and they take disappointment pretty hard. To a certain extent, it’s commendable that the writers are doing what they can to give Tommy reasons to do what he’s done, insomuch as distancing himself from Oliver and now Laurel. His reason for pulling away from Ollie is mostly associated with the fact that his best friend and former delinquent buddy is now the Starling City vigilante, who has managed to rack up a considerable body count and is using his nightclub as a base of operations. For the most part, that line of thinking works fairly well.

What doesn’t work so well is when Tommy drops a bomb on his relationship with Laurel because he’s certain that if she ever found out who the vigilante really is, she’d choose a murderer who inadvertently got her sister killed over him.

Stephen Amell and Colin Donnell in Arrow Home Invasion Arrow Season 1, Episode 20 Review – Sniping a Sniper

And of course the purpose of all this is to create a way for Oliver and Laurel to eventually find their way back into one another’s arms, and for Tommy to perhaps one day have justification for joining in his father’s quest to gentrify the Glades by any means necessary. It’s alluding to an outcome that’s been obvious for quite some time, but parts of it feel as though the creators are taking advantage of what has essentially been a foregone conclusion, by putting the pieces where they want them right this second, without entirely justifying their positions.

For the most part, ‘Home Invasion’ is a lot of the aforementioned moving of the pieces, but with a significant amount of it having happened off screen. Essentially, the episode wants to establish the bond and the intense emotions Oliver continues to have toward Laurel, but most of it is left off the table, since the series hasn’t really been intent on building the story around the rekindling of their affection for one another.

At one point during the island flashback, Oliver tells Shado (Celina Jade) he’s still in love with Laurel (despite everything he’d done to hurt her and their relationship), and then later, Moira tells Laurel a story about how Oliver liked himself better when he was with her, and how, as his mother, she did too. These aren’t bad things to be said about two characters the series clearly wants together, but the island scene in particular feels too intent on establishing Oliver’s deep longing and affection for Laurel, when it would have been much better served as a more purposeful plot thread throughout the season, rather than rushed in right before the series becomes tied up in the Undertaking.

Celina Jade and Stephen Amell in Arrow Home Invasion Arrow Season 1, Episode 20 Review – Sniping a Sniper

As that potentially destructive event approaches, Oliver finds himself on the outs with the one man he’ll undoubtedly need when things start to get hairy. After telling Diggle he’ll do what he can to track down and target Deadshot, Oliver leaves his partner in the lurch so that he can stop a corrupt businessman who ordered the slaying of two innocent people Laurel was representing. As such, the operation to apprehend (and possibly kill) Floyd Lawton winds up going all screwy and four A.R.G.U.S. agents wind up dead, while Diggle gets pistol whipped for his effort. In the end, Diggle walks out on Team Arrow, blaming Oliver’s fixation on Laurel for his inability to back up his partner against the man that killed his brother.

‘Home Invasion’ isn’t a bad episode of Arrow; it simply wanted to establish some sense of urgency in a relationship that the series had done little with up to this point, and that, unfortunately, became a little too obvious here. Thankfully, the development of Roy Harper‘s need to repay the Hood for saving his life, and Yao Fei’s insistence that Oliver’s time on the island is at an end, help to give the episode some much needed spark.


Arrow continues next Wednesday with ‘The Undertaking’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview of the episode below:

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  1. Great episode but there was only one thing I couldn’t figure out. Laurel had A pump action shotgun with only one round in it? She’s A cops dauther you think she would know better.

  2. I think you got the whole Tommy thing wrong….All his life, Tommy has always played second fiddle to Oliver and when his friend was gone fro five years, Tommy had Starling City to himself as the premier playboy…Now, Ollie comes back, more grown up and serious, so Tommy now becomes more grown up like Ollie…but as things unfold, as stuff hits the fan, he starts to see the person he idolized as such an affront to what he thought he wanted to become, that he begins to distance himself from what Ollie has become and then he sees that no matter who he is, old Tommmy or new Tommy, Laurel will never truly love him, never accept Tommy as long as Oliver and The Arrow exist, and he is through trying to compete against something he now despises….

    • Excellent observation about Tommy.

      • I agree completely.

  3. What a great episode. Tommy’s jealousy and anger are pushing right to the Dark Archer character. For the first time I actually enjoyed Thea’s character because of Roy Harper. Diggle’s departing was unexpected, but he’ll be back.

    Why Oliver doesn’t purse Felicity is beyond me. Btw……did anybody notice the logo on Diggle’s cap? It was a red arrow!

    The island flashbacks were ok, could have been longer. Are Ollie and Laurel going to get together, causing the Black Canairy to come to light?

    This show continues to get better with each episode. Great job by DC & the CW!

    • Was it a red arrow on his cap or a rocket? Star(ling) City Rockets was a team in the DCU I thought. I hope we do see Laurel become Canary but not for another season. They need to work out some of the other arcs before heaping more on us. It seems like they’re pushing the Red Arrow angle for the time being — which made for a particularly strong episode for Thea & Roy.

      They established plenty of turmoil and conflict, should make for a fun first season finale.

      I wonder when Celina Jade’s Shado will show up in Starling City…before/after Ollie & Laurel reignite their spark?

      • @ Jason

        After a second glance at that, I think you are correct. It is a red rocket. Very good eye you have there!

        • It raised my suspicion the instant he put it on. Why did he need a ballcap when he’s hiding behind a pillar? :)

  4. Is it just me or does the island story line keep stalling-out? It seems like every time Ollie is on the verge of a break through in his development something breaks stride and resets the whole thing. The second Yao Fei arrived I was thinking, “Here we go again.”

    • I think you have to look at the island big picture. When he first met Slade (6 months after being on the island, I believe). He could have come home, but chose not to in order to rescue Yao Fei. That means that in the next 4 and half years he will probably have other opportunities/decisions that will be stopped/decided against for him to stay on the island so long. Also, if he just went to the island to get better with a bow it wouldn’t explain how he got his connections with the Russian mob, or how his mentality changed so much. Just because you learn an art doesn’t mean you see the need to kill(see Batman’s idealogy), especially WITHOUT becoming blind killer (see Huntress) and Oliver needs much adversity in these 5 years to get to that state. That’s not done by one linear obstacle to overcome.

  5. Great ep. Love how their slowly making Tommy the villain. Cant wait to see oly and laurel together think this may happen at the end of the season. Island flashbacks with manu bennet are so sick. also they finally made Thea not annoying and actually have some sort of purpose.
    And @Old moe i did not get that part either she had a shot gun with only 2 rounds in it like wtf was up with that??

    • the gun had ammo, it apprently jammed.

  6. This is was a growth episode for Stephen Amell as Green Arrow. I really felt for the first time that he owned the character and made the character his own.

  7. Did anyone else notice Digg wearing a Starling City Rockets hat? I want one

  8. Seems like they are rushing through stuff. I understand it’s a comic show, but wish we could have a little more development of the Tommy, Laurel, Oliver dynamic. My fear is that they try to do too much in next couple of weeks and really force Tommy’s fall to darkness before the season’s end. I cringed a bit at Tommy breaking up with Laurel last night (though at least you could tell that the moment was devastating to Tommy as well).

    Also, did Digg’s government friend (or whomever she is) get killed by Deadshot? Thought she opened her eyes but I must have missed it.

    • The character you’re referring to, Lyla Michaels, did open her eyes. I think the four agents were the male agents she was instructing during the attempted sting.

      The writers have been rushing since the first episode. Hopefully they’ll slow things down and develop the characters more. The rogues have a tendency to return, so I’m still hoping for a major arc where Green Arrow is tossed into a supermax facility with all his enemies (similar to the movie idea that never got off the ground a few years ago).

      • @jason

        They should resurrect that supermax film cuz it always sounded awesome! Put Stephen amell in main role and it would be EPIC!

        • Mr. Amell has impressed me. I’d never seen his work before this series but we’re not even to the end of season one and I think he’s shown more character/range than other lead actors in prior superhero-centric series. :) Send him to Supermax and give Laurel an excuse to become Black Canary and save him…with some help from a certain redhead and maybe a proper spin-off of Birds of Prey.

  9. Any guesses which character will die in the finale? I think it’s down to Tommy or Thea, but I’m not ruling out Moira just yet. Not meaning to be morbid about it, I just feel like they’re setting the stories up to raise the stakes for season two.

  10. Are you guys nuts?
    This ranks up there with Burned and Muse of Fire- one of the worst episodes of the series. ‘Invasion’ had a nice setup, but it seemed that too many stories were being juggled around to the point where this ep is all over the map. The dialog was painful to hear.

    This ep started out with a kid’s parents getting killed because they were bringing evidence against some bad guy. The hitman goes after the kid ‘because he seen his face’. Yawn. So strict on this that he kills his employer. Why bother take the meeting at all? Are other mob connected guys going to trust this sort of help if he kills those who hire him? Better yet– WHO is in this ep again?


    The way the ep starts going, you’d think that there would be a rivalry between the hitmen at best and Queen would have to deal with both. Or, better yet, was there something wrong with having the hitman *not* being Lawton?

    Arrow remains overall a well done series, but holy smo-hokies!
    This **was** terrible.

    • 1) As a writer, I’ve never agreed with the “too many story lines” argument, unless they are done poorly, confusing, and without proper setup. Neither of the first two are an option, so the only cause for the discussion would be proper set up. That I disagree with.

      2) Your hitman argument would be valid, except, we have NO IDEA who this guy was. Do you really think he was just some no name hitman working for some random villan in Star City. What the writers have done is allude to someone else, someone who works only in the shadows and doesn’t tolerate exposure, to any degree. This hitman was probably working undercover for another to be introduced villan, who has yet to be introduced to the story line.

      3) Lawton has been flirting with the Arrow storyline for quite some episodes now, I see no reason to investigate a different sniper in this episode other than the one who has been on Diggle’s mind since before the present day story began. Especially since Oliver specifically declared they were going after him in the last episode.

      Also, as a side note, don’t watch the series “looking” for certain things to happen. Those who are familiar with comics (myself included) have a tendency to do that alot. Watch the series as itself, and allow those things you are familiar with to come to you, to surprise you, as if you had never seen them before, and many a show will become much more inviting to your eyes.

  11. Forget Ollie and Laurel. It’s Ollie and Felicity all the way!!!

  12. Since Thea is helping Roy out so much, is it possible that, in the end, they’ll end up sharing the ‘Speedy’ role in the same way Diggle occasionally suits up to stand in for Ollie? And am I the only one *sick* of them calling him ‘The Vigilante’ or ‘The Hood Guy’ or whatever? Seriously. It’s almost as bad as ‘The Red-Blue Blur.’

    I’m still not sure how Tommy is going to turn into a full-on villain. He is clearly shocked that Ollie can stand to kill people, so I don’t see how he’ll be able to continue his father’s plans of end up becoming the new Dark Archer if/when Merlyn Sr. gets offed in the season finale.

    I still think that Tommy needs to spend a year (or season, rather) having his own adventures in Nanda Parbat, coming back in Season 3 in much the same way Ollie did after returning from the island – all smiles and charm, but with a much darker presence underneath.

    • Tommy doesn’t have the physical skills to replace the Dark Archer, you’re right. He would need to undergo some intense training first.

  13. I liked the episode and I do not at the same time. Tommy is a character that has grown on me over the course of this series despite not appearing a lot. I like Diggle but once he became Arrow’s partner his presence story wise was sidelined until Deadshot returned. Felicity has been kind of just there for useful info when plot demands it just like Diggle was on the sidelined.

    Ollie is likeable but lately it almost as if he is regressing in character. He pursued two other women barely thinks or mentions Laurel and is suddenly misses her again. I mean I know he was trying to supplant that love with the other girls but wasn’t one of the points he been lying to Laurel and distancing himself so that she (or anyone in particular) will get hurt. Oliver has been showing growth and then kind of regresses. I did not expect him to have rushed out of nowhere personality swap or anything but the focus on characters, relations, and arcs have been all over the place.

    Laurel in one episode shows promise to have a badass side to her as in having some at least self-defense combat knowledge and here shows up in with a shot gun and overall unafraid attorney but then she is shown to be a simple damsel in distress. I mean she can have an attitude guys. She is tough in one scene but emotionally breaks down the next. She can have emotions and react differently at different context but it should all seem from the same core personality type. I am glad though that they had at least a line referring how many times her apartment has been attacked this season alone. Hopefully she would have moved out or her dad would get some nice home security plan.

    Roy Harper makes Thea relevant and likeable. Harper wanting to meet the man who saved his life is an admirable route to go but his dialogue was so melodramatic and does not fit what I consider Roy Harper to sound like.

    Hopefully next couple of episodes really improve. I like the show and I think its overall great but some episodes even if mildly entertaining really kill the momentum of any particular storyline.

    • I think the idea of one storyline for a series made from a DC comic is quite preponderous. Think of someone who has NEVER read comics before and then tried to pick up Green Arrow (or any American comic for that matter). It would be extremely difficult to follow. There are so many references, cross-references, cross-comic relationships, universes (yes, even after crisis) to keep up with, there can be non linearity (think of the naanda parbat reference for non-comic book readers). This was a big reason contributing to DC’s NEW 52 concept (the other being declining comic sales).

      I’m not saying the show can do no wrong. Far from it, the dialogue could definitely use some help in places, and I was not particularly impressed with Stephen Amell’s acting (or Tommy’s or Laurel’s for that matter) at the beginning of the series. Just things to keep in mind when thinking about the series.

      On another note, the Ollie and Laurel dynamic this episode has not surprised me. Not because I know that she is going to be Black Canary and eventually with Arrow, but because the writers have never left it. Ollie said when he first got back from the island, “she’s the only thing I thought about daily”, everyone seemed to accept this…then were thrown off there rockers when the island scene still features him reminscing of her?? That made complete sense. Also, not only has Arrow made it a point of keeping up with Laurel’s connections to “not-so-nice” people. He has never really accepted her and tommy’s relationship, as can be seen with his awkwardness whenever either of the two were around (I initially thought that that was just stephen amell and poor acting, but I realized that that was indeed, intentional). This wasn’t “rushed” to me.

      • I always figured that Amell’s acting style at the start of the series was intentional – Ollie had been away from his home for so long, it was as if he didn’t know the people there any more, so he didn’t know how to act around them. It probably helped ease the actor into the lead role on a high-profile show too.

        Ollie’s feelings for Laurel are very conflicting. He doesn’t want to potentially hurt her again. Alright, he can’t really top cheating on her with her sister, effectively getting said sister *killed* but hey. On the other hand, he does really love her. He probably always did, but was such a jerk pre-island, he just didn’t realise it. Then there’s Laurel standing up to the bad guys, fighting for the little guy, being there for his little sister…

        She’s hot, a ridiculously successful lawyer against some of the most well-connected criminals and she doesn’t shy away when the going gets tough. The girl’s basically perfect. Ollie’s feelings tend to well up when she’s busy saving the day in her own way.

        I’m still waiting for Laurel to kill someone in self-defence and for Tommy to find out that his father is the Dark Archer so those he felt closest to are all killers. He’ll then need some alone time to find out who is really is and who he is going to become. *ominous music*

  14. This was a great episode. J. August Richards was insane as his brutal assassin, the Deadshot story was well played and shot, and to echo a statement above, Amell was really in touch with Oliver this ep.