Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Arrow Reviews: Season 1, Episode 3 - Lone Gunmen


For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.




Plot


While confronting a businessman whose company stocked the local slums with faulty smoke detectors, Ollie is surprised to have his current target taken out from a distance as he himself is shot with a poisoned bullet.  His investigation leads him to an infamous assassin, known only as Deadshot.  Meanwhile, Tommy tries to rekindle his relationship with Laurel.  And on the home front, Thea continues to rebel against Ollie's attempts to make her clean up her act.  But Ollie finds an unexpected ally in that battle and quickly realizes that in order to cope with catching Deadshot, whose next target includes his family, he may need to make some alliances in his other life. 


Influences 

Green Arrow: Year One (the island sequences), Hamlet (it's even referenced this time directly with Walter Steele and Moira Queen being called Claudius and Gertrude), Robinson Crusoe (Ollie's rescue at the hands of a native he can't understand) and the Robin Hood legends where Robin earns Little John's loyalty after saving his life.



Goofs

Ollie says that Curare is an incredibly rare poison.  While the form used by Deadshot may be unique or rare, the genus mentioned - Strychnos toxifera.- includes about 190 species of trees and lianas distributed around the world's tropics.  

Why does Deadshot tattoo his victim's names onto himself?  This seems like a remarkably stupid thing for an assassin who depends on anonymity to do.  For that matter, how can he manage to hold the needle that steadily while tattooing himself?


Performances

With this episode, Colin Donnell has finally grown on me as Tommy Merlyn.  Until now, Tommy has seemed to be nothing more than the shallow manipulator Oliver Queen used to be.  But this episode reveals some hidden depths to Tommy's character, as he proves bold enough to try and back Ollie up in a fight, even though he knows he's going to get his butt kicked.  He also seems honestly sorry about sleeping with Laurel Lance when he thought Ollie was dead.  Not bad enough to not try and rekindle the relationship, of course... but one can have depths and still be a bit of a jerk.

Susanna Thompson also gets a chance to add some layers onto Moira Queen this time around, appearing for the first time to actually care about her children as something more than well-groomed accessories and actually acting like a mother rather than a distant ice queen.


Artistry

A note of praise to the writing staff this time, for dodging all of the obvious cliches with the character of Detective Quintin Lance. He is an over-protective father but he is portrayed as being realistic in his relationship with his daughter.  He doesn't like The Queen/Steele family - or most of the other idle rich of Starling City - but he doesn't let that intefer with his job apart from a few snarky comments.  He is concerned about "The Hood" operating in his town, but doesn't let his hatred of a vigilante working in his town blind him to the obvious fact that Deadshot's killings do not involve The Hood.  This kind of intelligence in father figures and cops is unusual in both television and comic book writing.  Bravo!


Trivia

Reference is made to The Glades - the slums of Star City in the original comics.  Apparently it's the same in Starling City.  Oliver's hideaway is in The Glades.

The poison Deadshot uses on his bullets is Strychnos Toxifera a.k.a. Curare.  Curare is a general term for any of the various plants used by South American native tribes to coat their arrows.  The word "Curare" literally means "arrow poison".

Deadshot is said to have killed people in "Chicago, Markovia and Corto Maltese."  Markovia is a fictional European country in the DC Universe, homeland of the superheroes Terra and Geo Force.  Corto Maltese is a fictional island off the South American coast in the DC Universe, first mentioned in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and named in honor of the Italian action comics series Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt.

One of the names among Deadshot's tattooed victim list is Joe Cray.  This is also the name of a Senator, whom Deadshot killed in the pages of Suicide Squad.  (Thanks to Debi L, who originally spotted this!)   


Oliver asks to see a man in the local Russian Mafia named Alexi Leonov.  This may be an alias, as Alexey Leonov was the name of a famous Russian cosmonaut and the first man to conduct an EVA a.k.a. Space-Walk.

The local Russian mob boss says that a man named
Anatoli Knyazev speaks well of Oliver.  Oliver says that he should, given that Oliver saved his life.  Anatoli Knyazev is the real name of KG Beast - a Russian super-soldier/assassin and frequent Batman villain back in the 1980s.

Ollie ditches Diggle once again, abandoning him when his name is not on "the list" as he and Tommy go clubbing.

Diggle takes Ollie and Tommy go to a restaurant called Big Belly Burger.  In the DC Universe, this is the name of a popular fast-food franchise.  The Big Belly Burger we see here appears to be more of a burger-bar style restaurant.

Deadshot's real name, as in the comics is Floyd Lawton.  His portrayal here is little like the original character in the comics, who does not tattoo the names of his victims onto himself.  He does, however, seen to have a similar attitude of professionalism regarding his work, assuming Arrow is another assassin and asking for a little professional courtesy. 

Floyd Lawton's hotel room number is 52 - once the official number of parallel universes in the DC Multiverse.  Also the number of monthly comics published during DC Comics recent company-wide revamp, widely known as The New 52.

Ollie takes Deadshot's damaged laptop to a Queen Enterprises tech named Felicity Smoak.  This is also the name of a software company manager in the Firestorm comics, who filed a lawsuit against the hero for destroying her company's property.  By coincidence, she started dating the father of Ronnie Raymond (one of the two people who merged to become Firestorm) and eventually became his step-mother. 


Technobabble

Deadshot's signature bullets are 7.62 mm, coated in Strychnos toxifera.


Dialogue Triumphs

Diggle: So how was your evening, sir?
Ollie: You mean after I said I had to to go to the bathroom at dinner and never came back?

Diggle: (beat) I guess from now on I'll be watching you pee.

Tommy: Look, man.  About Laurel... I was going to tell you.  I was just trying to figure out the right way...
Ollie: .. to tell somebody that you slept with their girlfriend after they went missing and were then presumed dead.  What, there's no greeting card for that?

Ollie: Digg?  Got your eyes open?
Diggle: That's what I'm here for, sir.  That and answering patronizing questions.


Dialogue Disasters

Ollie: I was in my coffee shop, surfing the web, and I spilled a latte on it.
Felicity Smoak: Really?
Ollie: Uh-huh.
Felicity Smoak: Cause these look like bullet holes.
Ollie: My coffee shop is in a bad neighborhood.


Continuity: Ollie was shot through the shoulder with an arrow on the island.  He knows how to treat a bullet wound and poisoning, keeping some kind of antidote in his trunk.  Thea Queen was brought home once after being picked up for public intoxication and in this episode is brought home after she and some friends break into a store.  Ollie's teenage years were apparently as turbulent as Thea's and Ollie takes his mother to task over this, saying he needed parenting more than space.  The cops refer to Oliver as "The Hood".  Ollie once slept with the fiance of a club owner named Max Fuller at the rehearsal dinner for his wedding.  One of Oliver's tattoos identifies him as a Captain in the Russian Mafia.  Tommy, despite being horribly outclassed in a fight, is still ready to try and defend Ollie in a 3 on 1 fight against a group of bouncers.  Laurel took self-defense classes at her father's request and is capable of easily dropping a larger man in a one-on-one fight.  Diggle has a sister-in-law named Carla who works at a Big Belly Burger.  Diggle's brother Andy apparently worked in security as well and died on the job.  One of Deadshot's victim-name tattoos is of "Andrew Diggle". Ollie is capable of performing intricate forensic analysis and identifying a poison but isn't computer savvy enough to pull the data from a damaged computer.  Ollie is a good enough shot to shoot a man through the eye.  The island Ollie was trapped on was populated by a group of killers who laid out booby-traps including net-snares.  By episode's end, John Diggle is aware of Ollie's secret identity.      


The Fridge Factor

Averted, as Laurel comes to Ollie and Tommy's rescue after they are pulled into a backroom by the bouncers working for a club owner, whom Ollie cuckolded in the past. 


The Winick Factor

Considering everything we've seen Ollie prove capable of so far in the series, it's a little surprising that he isn't tech-savvy enough to pull information off of a damaged laptop.  It's also a little unbelievable that Ollie will trust to a strange employee keeping quiet about his asking questions about a laptop that obviously isn't his enough to question her as himself.

The Bottom Line

This episode was somewhat of a disappointment though that may just be the Deadshot fan in me moaning since I'd hoped he'd be a recurring villain, given the history between Green Arrow and Deadshot in the original comics.  And the scene with Felciity Smoak, whose actress tries way too hard to be a delightfully quirky manic pixie dream girl during her brief time on screen, is painful to watch even if you ignore Ollie's stupidity in approaching someone about his computer problem in his secret identity.  Despite this, the ensemble cast manages to salvage everything as the strength of their characters and the well-written script soldiers on  The paired scenes are particular effective, with Ollie/Digg, Laurel/Tommy and Thea/Moira playing particularly well off each other.  It's good, but not great.

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