While it appears that Arrow doesn’t want to let Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) wallow in complete solitude with the secret he’s been hiding from his family and friends, there is some skepticism about how far the show will be willing to take things with John Diggle (David Ramsey) following the climax of ‘Lone Gunmen.’ Oliver has made it quite clear that the heroic persona he’s adopted is more valuable than a random thug’s neck, but in the aptly titled episode, he discovers flying completely solo may hinder his ability to help.
That’s a good thing, because as enjoyable as it has been watching Ollie ditch Diggle, or listen to the two discuss past evasions, it was a shtick that had already shown an expiration date and would only lead to Diggle looking like a buffoon. So, in the interest of creating a unit around Arrow, and easing up a bit on the endless sneaking about, Oliver decides it’s time to cut Diggle in on exactly what he’s been up to with a simple, “Hey,” at the end of the episode. Diggle’s involvement seemed inevitable after he demonstrated some ability while taking on China White (Kelly Hu) in last week’s ‘Honor Thy Father,’ but more importantly, it is indicative of the writers’ desire to move the overall narrative of the series forward at a decent pace. The whole Diggle thing could have dragged on for several more episodes, if not longer, so demonstrating a willingness to keep plotlines from becoming too tepid will certainly help when addressing some of the other shortcomings of the series that are hopefully just the growing pains of a new program.
Clearly, the primary issue here is the use of the villain-of-the-week format. Last week, China White was quickly introduced, briefly utilized to help progress the episode’s plot, as well as the relationship between Diggle and Oliver, and then sent packing after a short tussle with Arrow. ‘Honor Thy Father’ was still riding the wave of the series premiere, so it’s understandable that the White character would appear only for a short time, so that larger story concerns could be addressed. The main draw for ‘Lone Gunmen,’ however, was always Deadshot (Michael Rowe) and whatever kind of conflict would erupt between the two diametrically opposed sharpshooters. For the most part, though, it turned out to be a non-event. Although it drove the plot of the episode, Deadshot’s appearance was about as significant as China White’s. Certain elements like his trademark red eyepiece and wrist-mounted gun were present, but the character remained wildly underdeveloped up to his apparent death at the hands of Arrow.
While discussing the similarities and differences between two men who enjoy gimmicks and make the choice to take the lives of others would have been an interesting avenue to explore, the purpose of Deadshot appears to have been simply to bring Diggle and Arrow together. Although Deadshot’s demise appears to be beyond question, this is a comic book program, so perhaps this truly isn’t the last we’ve seen of the character. At any rate, considering the build up to the climatic confrontation, the whole thing did come off as a little underwhelming.
On a brighter note, Diggle’s not the only one Ollie may be trusting with his secret. ‘Lone Gunmen’ also introduces another DC Comics character in Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), who manages to handle some vigilante-related tech issues without being too nosey about the whole thing. Rickards is fairly sharp in the role, and it would be nice to see her character develop into someone Oliver – or even Arrow – begins to utilize on a more regular basis. At any rate, getting an outsider’s take on the whole Queen family drama somehow makes Oliver seem more well-rounded, like pointing out his family foibles keeps the character from becoming too lost in himself. Still, overtly pointing out the similarities between the Queens and Shakespearean tragedy might be a little too on the nose – even for this show.
Oddly, the Queen family’s inner turmoil, the problematic Thea Queen (Willa Holland) and the parental shortcomings of Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), become the dramatic weight of ‘Lone Gunmen.’ After Oliver expresses some resentment toward his mother’s hands-off approach to raising him, Moira decides its time for some (relatively) tough love to come Thea’s way. Dramatically, it’s enough teen angst to be right up The CW’s alley, and although it comes off as a little anemic, Moira’s admission of failure in regards to being able to communicate with her daughter helps make her more than the one-dimensional conspirator she was revealed to be in last week’s episode. Similarly, the relationship between Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) and Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) seems to be headed in another direction, which could lead to complications for Oliver, once the writers figure out how to get him more involved in personal relationships without working in a vigilante angle every time. Perhaps the club he plans to build over his lair will provide a better foundation for that sort of thing.
Finally, the island backstory has quickly become much larger than expected, but it may be too soon to tell whether this is good or bad. Oliver is certainly not alone on the island and neither is the archer we saw at the end of last week’s episode. Adding to the backstory is the revelation that Oliver is a captain in the Russian mob – or at least has the right people convinced of that fact. It’s a stretch, to be sure, and one apparently used only to bring Oliver closer to Floyd Lawton, but in order to sustain the backstory for the length of the series, it seems likely that more leaps like this will be made. Hopefully, the writers won’t make Oliver’s time on the island more enticing than his adventures as Arrow.
Arrow continues next Wednesday with ‘An Innocent Man’ @8pm on The CW. Take a look at a preview for the episode below: