Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Arrow "An Innocent Man" Review

Arrow might solve its biggest problem in time for November sweeps. Superhero staples are doing good deeds and concealing their identity from the public. Mary can't know Peter Park is Spiderman. Rachel couldn't know Bruce Wayne is Batman. The man fears for the safety of those he cares about. Oliver, disguised as the Green Arrow, explains why he hides his face using the people he cares about as his reason. Oliver is never himself around the people he cares about. Thea urges her brother to be whoever he is now instead of failing to be the boy who left five years ago. Oliver shares a wonderful conversation with Laurel as Green Arrow which leaves him grinning to which his sister volunteers to help him find a spot to propose. There's a major suspension of belief during his Arrow scenes with anyone he cares about. The outfit barely conceals any part of him and then there's the matter of his voice, which hilariously changes only in scenes with Laurel. The concealment is a distracting detriment that takes away from the action e.g. when Oliver saves Laurel in the prison wearing a ski mask because she'd see his face.

What is Arrow going to be long-term? Will it mimic the comics years and years of no one knowing Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow? Did Berlanti, Guggenheim and Kreisburg realize the hilarious difficulty of Oliver concealing his identity weekly? Oliver's desire to express feelings he cannot when Oliver the Playboy gets him arrested by the Starling City Police Department. Laurel told her father of the vigilante's ski mask and officer wear. The chief-of-police watches security tape to catch a glimpse of the man behind the hood. The video clearly shows Oliver Queen, crouching down, allowing the police to arrest him under the charge of various crimes. Oliver goes off with the police as his family looks on, setting up a significant change in everything known about the decades old archery superhero.

Story-wise, "An Innocent Man" tells two stories of an innocent man; one is Peter Declan, a man on death row for killing his wife, though Oliver believes a man named Brodeur framed him; the other innocent man is Oliver. Oliver's story is worthwhile, while Declan's is typical procedural, right down to his heartwarming reunion with his daughter. Oliver's Starling City is a bit less interesting than his island life. The island is where the best story is. How did an idiot billionaire playboy transform into someone who seemed like he jumped out of a video game? Oliver's Chinese archer mentor had something to do with the transformation. Oliver's flashbacks consist of his starvation and reluctance to kill a bird for food. He's not a killer. The Chinese mentor won't speak a word to him until Oliver's desperate and kills the bird. The mentor uses English in telling him he won't survive unless he kills, and he won't survive by staring at a picture of Laurel.

Laurel's disturbed by Arrow's ferocious beating of Brodeur's man in the prison. Diggle initially refused to work alongside Oliver to rid the city of its poison because of the murders committed in the name of justice. Diggle won't work with a man who kills. Laurel tells her father about the vigilante’s brutality, how his eyes were a killer's, empty except in pursuit of the kill. Laurel's father lambastes her for working with the vigilante, citing moral and legal reasons for why, specifically regarding her career. Lauren responds to 'He's a killer' accusation by defending the good deeds done by the vigilante. Murder is murder, though; a civilized city cannot allow a man without a badge to enforce the law.

Oliver's so damn convincing in his speech to Dig about what he does, though. The best scene of the series was their diner conversation. Amell had a quiet intensity in his delivery, as Oliver explained what happened on the island and why he's going to make a difference in Starling City. Absolution for sins can only be given by priests in Catholicism, and Diggle's not about to let a crazed zealot dictate his life, one who he perceives got stranded on an island and had a religious conversion. Oliver's not a savior in Diggle's eyes; still, Oliver's words stick with him like a passionate sermon delivered on a Sunday. Diggle agrees to work with him in a scene before Oliver's arrested. Diggle weighed right versus wrong and went with his heart: he needs to make a difference, and Oliver's work represents the only opportunity to do actual good in a poisoned city.

Meanwhile, Walter looks into $2.6 billion missing in funds. Moira casually explains the money was invested in a business that never took off. Walter discovers, thanks to Ms. Smoak, that the money was put into an off-shore LLC account under the name Tempest. Tempest purchased a warehouse in the city. Robert's boat is inside the warehouse, raising yet more questions about the enigmatic Moira. The name Tempest conjures thoughts of William Shakespeare's last play. Shakespeare's most famous tragedy's been used on the show already. The Tempest involves a shipwreck and a mysterious island. Is Moira the Prospero of The Tempest side of Arrow? He caused the shipwreck that brought the people responsible for exiling him and claiming his Dukeship to the island. Is Oliver then a quasi-Prospero, intent on bringing people to justice? I won't drone on about Arrow-Tempest parallels, but its fun to think about.

It's early yet in the series. Next week's episode should reveal a great deal about the series actual intent. It's the most important hour. Thus far Arrow's been solidly entertaining. I'm curious to see how the writers handled a possible Oliver reveal so early; if he's not, will it be written horribly and give me nightmarish flashbacks to this creative team's last superhero show No Ordinary Family?

Other Thoughts:

-Gosh I have a TV crush on Willa Holland. She's so cute. Thea gave advice and was less hardened this week. No sign of late night benders.

-The villain of the week was horribly written. What kind of villain walks up to his hit man in broad daylight as he reads the paper of the crime he committed and remarks, "Admiring your handiwork?" Not all villains will be engaging, but leave out those kinds of trash lines, please show.

-I thought the tertiary bodyguard character Robb was a success. I knew he wouldn't make it to episode's end as the bodyguard.

-Moira Kirland & Lana Cho wrote the episode. Vincent Misiano directed it.


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.