Arrow brought it in its mid-season finale, and Arrow brought it again in its sixteenth episode right before its little hiatus before the final third of the season begins. Deadshot returns. Moira's plan to kill Malcolm moves incredibly fast. The question becomes will Moira's plan to kill Malcolm succeed. Villains don't die early in a story. No, villains die late, at seemingly the last possible moment. So, I didn't think Malcolm would be killed. Arrow's a solid series with great action and engaging characters in an engaging world, but it is not a show that takes risks; however, I thought about the possibility of Malcolm's death insofar as what it'd mean for the series, i.e. what stories his death would open. I've compared Arrow to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, but Tommy and Oliver's friendship reminds me of Harry and Peter's in Spiderman. The first half of "Dead to Rights" deals with Tommy's complicated relationship with Malcolm. Oliver tries to help Tommy forgive his father, for his own sake, because 'your dad is your dad.' Oliver holds a lot anger towards his father, but he still loves him. Tommy listens to his best friend, the friend he's trusted throughout his life, and attends his father's award ceremony.
The awards ceremony is where the Triad will kill Malcolm. Oliver spends much of the episode figuring out who the Triad want killed. Oliver killed the first assassin in the teaser. Once he learns the identity of the target, he rushes into action. Meanwhile, Tommy's getting closer with dear old Dad. The old wounds heal slowly; he looks on his father's speech and smiles. Tommy's painful past with Malcolm leaves his mind once Malcolm's shot by Deadshot. Malcolm had accepted an award that was given to him for his peaceful role in the city. For a few beats, it seems like Malcolm will die, and that his death will usher in Tommy as the villain; however, Oliver comes to the rescue as the vigilante.
The scene between Oliver and Tommy in which Oliver reveals that he's the vigilante is among the best scenes of the season. Tommy's yelling at Oliver to stop while Oliver insists he'll help save his father's life. Tommy wants one reason he should trust the hood. Oliver shuts off his voice modifier, takes off his hoodie, and says, "Because you always have." The scene's great because it shows how much Oliver cares about his friends and family. What he did for Malcolm Merlyn will bite him in the ass. What he did for Tommy will bite him in the ass. Later, Tommy asks Oliver if he'd ever tell him about his secret. Oliver, with watery eyes, replies, "No." Oliver broke from the hood persona because he could not separate the mission from his ability toc care about others. It is a decision that will haunt him. Tommy's put off by Oliver's secret. Forget about the good Oliver just performed for Tommy's father. Tommy remembers the killings when he was kidnapped and simply wants to know what happened on the island. Oliver won't say. Tommy learns Oliver would've never revealed his secret in any other situation.
While Oliver helps Tommy help save Malcolm's life, we in the audience remember Malcolm as The Dark Arrow and his promise to save the city by killing thousands within it. His specific plans remain a mystery. Oliver's inability to cut off his feelings from his mission will make for exciting television in late April/early May. Tommy doesn't treat Oliver as a hero, but, rather, as a traitor. Tommy keeps Oliver's secret for him, though. The episode ends with their friendship possibly broken as a result of Oliver's truth. The hood's heroics with the Merlyns seems to put Det. Lance closer to his identity.
The story doesn't just touch the Merlyns. Oliver returns to his hide-out to tell Diggle about what the assassin used in his attempt to kill Malcolm. Deadshot killed Diggle's brother. The news of Deadshot's return sends Diggle into silence as Oliver helplessly stands by. Deadshot seemed dead in the fall after Oliver put an arrow in his eye. We learn that he dies well. Deadshot takes his new eye and becomes more dangerous than ever. Deadshot is a nifty villain. Now it seems guaranteed Diggle will have some resolution before the season ends.
Meanwhile, Laurel runs into her mother, reluctantly. Laurel's not done much. It's notable that Katie Cassidy reacted the same way to Thea nonsense as she reacted to her mother's phone call. Laurel's mother has one piece of information she needs to know: Sarah, her sister, may yet be alive. For all of the action in "Dead to Rights," nothing much is resolved. Moira's in more danger for having ordered the hit on Malcolm. Malcolm doesn't know she's behind it yet. On the island, Slade and Oliver go to meet the monster coming to the island after spending ample time with a broken radio. Arrow's made their cliff-hangers worth the wait in the past. I don't see that changing when it returns on March 20.
-Two excellent fights tonight, in the teaser and in the showdown between Oliver and Kelly Hu's character (I don't remember the character's name).
-I thought McKenna might connect the dots after Oliver left five minutes before she got the call about the award ceremony. Not yet.
-Glen Winter directed the episode. Geoff Johns wrote it.
-Arrow will return with new episodes on March 20.
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