Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Arrow "Time of Death" Review

“Time of Death” opens with a heist sequence orchestrated by William Tockman, the episode’s villain, later known as the Clock King, dubbed by the mainstream media, which Sara dismisses because the name came from the mainstream media. Sara lived with and worked for the League of Assassins for a stretch of time and survived on an island, fought brutally, but she still knows nothing is so much brutal and villainous and evil as the mainstream media. There are numerous ticking clocks in the episode. The clock ticks down on stopping Tockman, on the tension between the Lance sisters, on Thea figuring out why her mother and brother won’t talk; and, also, there’s a ticking clock when Felicity puts herself in danger. Furthermore, Felicity feels a sort of pressure to match the scars and wounds and struggles of Oliver, Sara, and Diggle, as if she’ll lose ‘his girl’ status if she doesn’t act.

The various ticking clocks all hit a climatic and exciting conclusion. Robert Krepper’s the Clock King is a memorable villain. Some Arrow villains fade from memory. The Clock King is distinctive for a simple reason, not unlike other villains in genre television or stories: he’s driven by personal interest in helping his sister after his death. The title refers to the clock king’s terminal illness. Tockman’s more layered than most villains; he’s especially more interesting than Shrapnel. I liked that Tockman wasn’t driven by anti-government anger, a desire to blow things up. Tockman was a very light version of Walter White, distilled for The CW—a seemingly good guy doing bad things for family. He was precise, controlled, and steady, like a ticking clock. The cadence of his instructions to the men he hired to steal for him was metronome-like.

Tockman didn’t unravel. Nothing broke within him except for a cell phone that Felicity infected with the suicide virus Tockman used to destroy the center of Oliver’s underground work. By the second-to-last act, he had ceased being a threat. I mean, all villains on Arrow aren’t that threatening. The most threatening villains in the show are Malcolm Merlyn and Slade Wilson. Tockman’s role in the series eventually became, as most of the villains in the show, a catalyst for one of the characters. In this episode, Felicity changes through her interactions with the clock king. Felicity feels down about herself whenever she sees Oliver work with Sara. She looked on sadly when Sara and Oliver kissed goodbye. Diggle, Oliver, and Sara, exchanged battle stories of their wounds and scars. Felicity felt left out.

Sara revealed a tremendous ability to use a microscope to study blood samples, which made Felicity crawl inside herself like a turtle into its shell. Her interactions with Sara weren’t overtly contentious. Their interactions were like that situation you may or may not have experienced when your friend or more-than-friend brings around someone who knows and understands someone in ways you don’t understand the person you care about like the friend from the past. Diggle noticed. Oliver did not. Felicity put herself in the bait trap for Tockman to be noticed by Oliver. She takes a bullet to the shoulder while saving Sara. She feels renewed. Until the last act, she doesn’t smile. She’s bothered, insecure, doubtful, and sort of sad. Her little act of heroism leads to a meaningful discussion with Oliver about why she’ll remain his girl, and then Felicity asks for another really effective aspirin.

The Lances receive a significant plot in the episode, the details of which are get them all in the same room (with Oliver awkwardly there too). Quentin’s hope for a reunion with Dinah didn’t interest me. He fails; Dinah’s happy teaching college in another city. I was invested in Laurel-and-Sara’s fractured sisterhood. Oliver acts as the key to resolving the fractured sisterhood. Laurel blames each situation for why she’s become a drug-addicted drunk. Oliver calls her on it. Oliver sees into everyone, especially the woman he loved for half of his life. The purpose of his speech to Laurel is for Laurel to look inward to figure out really hurts, deep down. And what hurts Laurel, way deep down, was not that Sara left with Oliver, or that Tommy died, or that she lost her job. Laurel opens up to her sister about her hurt starting after she thought Sara drowned; and since that moment, Laurel felt like she was drowning every day. The writers described feelings of depression really well. I didn’t like the entirety of the monologue, but the monologue effectively transformed melodramatic melancholia into relatable depression for I’m sure, many of the viewers.

So, yeah, some characters healed or began healing. The healing vibe stopped when Moira introduced Oliver to Slade, who’s finally showing off his presence in Starling City. Slade did not come to make amends with Oliver. He’s come to kill Oliver’s family, wreck his family’s entire life, and wear a gnarly costume. All that was missing from the overt clock theme was a clock’s finally tick before a new hour starts.

Other Thoughts:

-I either have amnesia or the Black Canary never saved Sin. Sin’s father died on the island, so there’s that. I didn’t think Sin would become a character that gets a subplot. CW superhero dramas are full of surprises, though. I also think the chances of Slade killing Sara and Laurel becoming the Black Canary are 100%. The thematic unity of tonight’s episode seemingly guarantees that Slade will murder Sara.

-Robert Krepper’s played a villain on nearly every CW series. I want him to play a villain on Hart of Dixie, The Carrie Diaries, and America’s Next Top Model.

-Wendy Mericle & Beth Schwartz wrote the episode. Nick Copus 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.