Hi, I’m Carina Adly MacKenzie, the official Zap2it broken record, telling you again that this week’s “Arrow” is the show’s best episode yet. Again.
Yes, we know that we say that all the time. But we also mean it all the time. The “Arrow” writers aren’t afraid of building momentum, and in Wednesday’s installment, “Dead to Rights,” they throw not one, but two major curveballs, putting almost all of our favorite characters into unpredictable, precarious situations, and forever altering some key relationships.
This episode perfectly balances an exploration of some important relationships in Oliver’s life — specifically with Tommy and McKenna — with increasingly adrenalized action sequences (hat tip to stunt coordinator James Bamford). Instead of facing just one villain, Oliver is up against Chyna White and Floyd Lawton, who have been hired to kill Malcolm Merlyn.
Of course, Oliver doesn’t realize that Merlyn is the Dark Archer, he simply reacts with the knowledge that his best friend’s dad is in danger, and for once, he lets his heart, not his mind (or his list!) make the decisions.
We chatted with episode scribe Geoff Johns (who just so happens to be a bit of a legend in the DC Entertainment universe) about what to expect from “Dead to Rights.” Just trust us; you’ll want to watch live on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST on The CW. In the meantime, here are 5 things to look forward to.
1. Some major insight into Tommy and Oliver’s friendship. Tommy celebrates his birthday in this episode, and after a dinner party at Laurel’s goes south, he and Oliver decide to man-date it up at a Chinese restaurant. (Which just happens to be a front for criminal activity! How convenient.) The guys have a revealing heart-to-heart about their families, and we come to understand why their life-long bond is so important. They aren’t just two rich kids who stirred up trouble together in their misspent youth. They’re as close as brothers.
2. Romance! Somehow, Oliver seems to have found the one woman who doesn’t mind him abandoning her, sans explanation, in the middle of a faux-picnic in a creepy half-built nightclub in the most dangerous part of the city. And that is why McKenna is pretty much the coolest ever.
3. Oliver, unable to do a pull-up. In a flashback to the island, we see Oliver minus any notable physical prowess. (Stephen Amell should get an Emmy for that reach.) While his upper-body strength may leave something to be desired, Island Oliver does have some surprising technical skills up his sleeve, which will certainly come in handy in the future. “Things will start to evolve and change in those flashback tales on the island,” Johns tells us. “I think the biggest seed in this one is that you’re really starting to see an Oliver who is defying other people and deciding what he can and can’t do. He’s finally starting to not give up. Obviously that grows into what he is now … the island is all about testing him, and he has a long way to go. Oliver even sounds different on the island. I don’t know how Stephen does it; his voice is different. He sounds younger, more inexperienced.”
4. Laurel’s mother makes her first appearance. In this episode, Laurel references a canary for the first time. “It’s more than just an Easter egg,” Johns says. “It is setting some stuff up for the future.” As if she was beckoned, her mother, Dinah Lance (Alex Kingston), makes her debut. The bombshell that Dinah drops in her brief scene has the potential to change everything for Laurel. “She will factor in majorly in the entire series, and she might sound crazy, but she’s not too crazy,” Johns says.
5. Floyd Lawton gets his fancy monacle thingy. The special targeting device that Deadshot uses in the comic books is introduced (though it’s not referred to as a “thingy,” that’s all us), making him an even more formidable target than he was before. With the scope on his eye and the Curare-laced bullets, Deadshot is nearly impossible to beat. “He’s going to be a major focus of Diggle,” Johns teases. “Whether Diggle finds him, and what Diggle chooses to do with that information, you’ll see with the episodes carrying on. Diggle is a little more reserved and buttoned up. He doesn’t show his emotions as much as everyone around him, but you can bet his mind is working overtime on ways to take down Deadshot.”