Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Arrow "Dodger" Review

I don't know which villains come from the comics and which are invented by the creative team. I assumed Dodger to be from the comics, considering the preview for last week centered on the arrival of Dodger. Plus, the episode got its title from the villain this week--Dodger. "Dodger" is a different episode from the recent string. Everything in the episode is broader, less focused on the island or Moira's dealings with Malcolm. The episode seemed interested in attracting more viewers to the show. Arrow's had a strong first season, earned a second season pick-up already; so maybe the people behind-the-scenes wanted to create an episode that'd attract fans of the comic who dropped out as well as fans of The Carrie Diaries, though the previews lacked a shirtless Amell, to my knowledge.

I enjoyed the return to the simple case-of-the-week format after a few weeks of intense focus on the central narrative of the first season. Felicity's new role in the gang was an easy way for new viewers to settle into the show and learn about Oliver's mission. No, he's not a blood-thirty vigilante without a moral code, as Felicity thinks. Early on, Oliver wants to scare the living hell out of someone who's on the list. Felicity won't let him, because she's afraid of what he'll do, even reminding him that he shouldn't make an orphan of the man's son. Oliver tries not to get angry. Diggle's firmly on the side of Oliver's in feeling annoyed by Felicity's behavior. Oliver reminds Diggle how he was when he joined Oliver's mission.

Oliver pleases Felicity by setting his sights on a criminal that steals expensive, rare antiques without actually stealing them: Dodger got his name from dodging actual dirty work. Hostages are used to steal items for him. Dodgers straps a bomb around the hostages neck and won't release them. Dodger's crimes fall under the altruistic label Felicity pushes Oliver to embrace. His mission needn't always be so violent and intense. Oliver seems to begrudgingly pursue the case. McKenna's working the case for the Starling City Police Department, and during a brain storming session at the diner Diggle pressures Oliver to ask her out. Felicity thinks Oliver could use McKenna to get leads about Dodger--that's what gets Oliver invested in the case.

Dodger's not a particularly violent villain. The only man he shoots in the episode is a rich criminal. Dodger killed a hostage in the past for not following orders, so he's not a virtuous villain. There's an interesting parallel drawn between the hero and the villain of the episode--the hood and the dodger. The parallels seem more like a wink-and-nod to Green Arrow devotees than substantial character study. Oliver's already seen his opposite in more ways than one--once against The Dark Arrow, and on the island with all that nonsense. Dodger's defeated by Arrow inevitably. A villain doesn't stand a chance against Arrow when his only weapon is snapping a bomb around a person's neck. Oliver's quick. Dodger tries to emphasize their similarities before the cops arrive, hoping to connect with the vigilante. "I only steal from the rich," Dodger declares. Oliver's response: "I'm not Robin Hood." The exchange is a nod to the old days when folk compared Green Arrow to Robin Hood; if you recall (you won't), I wrote an extensive intro in my pilot review about my friend's opinion that Green Arrow was Robin Hood. So, yes, I really enjoyed their final exchange. I wouldn't mind watching Dodger and Oliver facing off again in the second season.

Romance is a thing in "Dodger." Diggle takes his brother's ex-wife to dinner, in one the series' most bizarre plots. Oliver screws up with McKenna but is able to charm her by episode's end. My least favorite storyline involved Thea Queen. Let's be honest: Thea Queen has no definition. She was a rebellious drugged up teen in the beginning, a sober teen that made angry faces at Oliver for like six weeks, and now she's Laurel's assistant, learning how the other side lives. When her purse is stolen, and the thief eventually arrested, but even before that, it's apparent the writers introduced Thea's love interest. The CW must gives notes to show runners to put characters in relationships or else the character will cease to matter. It's a troubling trend on The CW. The Secret Circle (Remember that show?) defined its character through who they were with. TSC wasn't a good show. Defining a character through a relationship with another character does work, but it does not work in the way The CW does it. The signs were impossible to ignore: the thief looked like he was pulled from a modeling agency (he probably was), and he's given a name. At least the episode spared the audience of any Laurel/Tommy.

The most important plot involves Moira's request of an old family friend: kill Malcolm. Moira won't be a pawn or a puppet. Robert's dead, Walter's missing, and she got confronted by the vigilante. Moira's tired of cowering in a corner. She's rising up and fighting back. Oliver's like his mother on the island when he resists his instincts to help a beaten man, instead leaving him in cave beaten and bloody because he can't trust anyone he doesn't know. I like to compare Arrow to Shakespeare, so here's this: Moira's Volumnia and Oliver's Coriolanus.

Other Thoughts:

-Stephen Amell's smile to Detective Lance after he told McKenna she'd help him with the vigilante case was amazing. Amell reminds me of a certain actor who starred in a spinoff over a decade ago: David Boreanaz. The comparison is a compliment.

-I think the beaten man in the cave will be seen again. Oliver told McKenna he made tough choices on the island. The beaten man may never be seen again. The man may be representative of Oliver's growing distrust with anyone besides Yeo Fow and Slade Wilson. Slade Wilson, meanwhile, didn't do much except yell and heal from the bullet wound.

-Beth Schwartz wrote the episode. Eagle Egilson 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.