Stephen Amell promised that this week’s episode of “Arrow” would make you say “holy s***balls” — and it certainly delivered. There were several points during “Dead to Rights” when we were inspired to make up brand new curse words.
First of all, let’s talk about Tommy (Colin Donnell). In this episode, we finally really got to know him, from his troubled family history to the depth of his bond with Oliver.
(And there was that one thing he said to Laurel (Katie Cassidy): “I have finally figured out why poets have been in business for the last thousand years.” Um, swoon. Hello.)
Tommy’s mother was murdered during a mugging when he was young, and in the fall-out, his father promptly fell off the face of the earth. While Tommy was always taken care of financially in his youth, he relied on the Queen family for his emotional well-being. It was Oliver’s father who took Tommy to his first hockey game and supported him throughout his adolescence, which explains their deep brotherly bond. When you think about it, these guys have every reason to be rivals, but they trust each other implicitly, and for a couple of dudes, they’re surprisingly honest with each other, sharing an impressive heart-to-heart during their little birthday man-date.
When Oliver realizes that the Triad is targeting Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), he reacts as a friend. He knows the pain of losing a parent, and he doesn’t want to see Tommy go through that; the fact that Tommy himself could be in danger zone is added encouragement for him to suit up and intervene.
Of course, the audience knows that Malcolm is the Dark Archer, meaning it’ll take a major player to get close to taking him down. When Moira (Susanna Thompson) puts the hit out him, she’s not messing around — she enlists Chyna White (Kelly Hu), who turns to Floyd Lawton (Michael Rowe). And thus, Deadshot gets his tech! His bad eye is aided by a scope, a gift from
Chyna. That, with the Curare
poison in his bullets, makes him almost unstoppable as a sniper.
Tommy has been convinced to attend a ceremony where his father is receiving an award for humanitarianism. (We know, L-O-freaking-L.) But it all goes south quickly when the villains close in on the event and Malcolm grabs Tommy to get him out of the line of fire. It’s an eventful trip to the penthouse, and Tommy understandably rattled — in their race to safety, he sees his father fight with a disturbing prowess and kill his assailants without so much as a flinch. The crappy dad that Tommy thought he knew doesn’t really exist.
Malcolm is just about to reveal his Dark Archer alter-ego to Tommy when Deadshot finds his mark. An alarm goes off, and the door to his secret panic room closes before Tommy (or Oliver) sees his vigilante get-up.
Malcolm is wearing a bulletproof vest, but he’s still nicked by a Curare-laced bullet, which the Arrow discovers just in time. Given Tommy’s disdain for the vigilante, though, he’s not exactly in the mood to take orders when he’s told that the only way to save his father is an on-the-fly homemade blood transfusion. (We can’t imagine why that didn’t sound like an obvious solution.)
“Why should I trust you?” Tommy asks, furious and terrified (in Donnell’s best work yet).
It’s very telling of just how important Tommy is to Oliver that Ollie only barely hesitates before he drops his hood and says, “Because you always have.” We’ve seen Oliver kill people just to keep his identity a secret. He could’ve gotten the hell out of there and let Malcolm Merlyn be just another one of the casualties of his cause. Instead, though, he reveals himself, and he and Tommy work side-by-side to save Malcolm’s life.
There were two ways this could have gone. Tommy could’ve been grateful for Oliver’s help; he could’ve joined the team. But it wasn’t that. While he seems to be willing to keep Oliver’s secret for now, he clearly feels deeply betrayed by the fact that Oliver didn’t let him in on his double life and, more importantly, never had any intention of letting him in. Their friendship, which seemed unbreakable in the first half of the episode, is cracking. The more people know about Oliver, the more vulnerable he is. The writers are certainly planting the early seeds of what could become an epic, epic feud.
As if the Tommy revelation wasn’t enough to make you want to rewind this episode and watch it again immediately, we got some shocking insight into Laurel’s family when her mother, Dinah Lance, shows up unexpectedly.
Played by Alex Kingston, Dinah Lance is a highly anticipated character who has been an important figure in the Green Arrow comic book lore from the beginning. She appears to deliver some earth-shattering news to Laurel: Sara, Laurel’s sister, may be alive. For years, Laurel believed that Sara died while having an affair with Oliver. “She might sound crazy, but she’s not too crazy,” episode writer Geoff Johns told us of Dinah. Cue ominous music now.
Is it possible that Sara didn’t drown when the ship went down? It seems unreasonable, but in this world, it’s always possible that Sara had some skills up her sleeve that Laurel wasn’t ever aware of.
We’ve been chomping at the bit to discuss this episode with you guys, so make sure to let us know in the comments what you thought of the new developments to the Oliver/Tommy bromance and to Laurel’s family situation. While we’re at it, here are four more things we can’t wait to chat about:
1. Diggle’s arms! Listen, we appreciate shirtless Oliver Queen as much as the next red-blooded human, but sometimes, it’s fun to change it up a bit — and getting Diggle (David Ramsey) out of his suit and tie and into his workout gear is always welcome. Especially if he’s sparring with our favorite new addition to the Arrow team, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). On a less shallow note, we can’t wait to see how Diggle reacts to the news that Lawton, the man who killed his brother, is alive and at large.
2. Romance. Can we talk about how awesome McKenna Hall (Janina Gavankar) is? Oliver has had his fair share of love interests, but McKenna is rapidly emerging as our favorite. She can pretty much hang no matter what new adventures are thrown at her — whether it’s a dinner party at Oliver’s ex’s house or a violent confrontation with someone she believes is a madman.
3. The island. One of the most impressive things about Amell’s performance as Oliver is his ability to embody the confident, capable Oliver we know today and the petulant, self-preserving Oliver that arrived on that island. In this week’s flashbacks, we saw that Oliver has always been pretty capable with technology (though he used to mess around with it for fun, not survival). His knowledge of “The Odyssey” came in handy again, too, when he fixed a radio and heard talk of Scylla. In “The Odyssey,” Scylla was a monster. On the island, it’s a Russian missile launcher capable of starting a war. We can’t wait to see where he and Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) go with that information.
4. Moira’s strategy. With her first major attempt on Malcolm’s life foiled, Moira Queen remains as manipulative as ever. Malcolm seems to be willing to do just about anything to find the traitor who went after him — and he doesn’t begin to suspect that the traitor might be Moira herself. In fact, he puts her in charge of investigating the situation.