Thursday, February 7, 2013

Arrow Reviews: Season 1, Episode 13 - Betrayal

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



Still reeling from the revelation that his mother had a copy of The List, Ollie refuses to believe his mother has anything to do with whatever evil his father was a part of.  Diggle is less idealistic but no less determined to investigate the angles Ollie refuses to consider.  Over Ollie's objections, Diggle sets himself up as Moira Queen's driver for a few days - all the better to observe her and see what other secrets she may have.

At the same time career criminal Cyrus Vanch - recently released from prison - has started plotting how to best fill the power vaccum left in Starling City's underworld thanks to the recent activities of The Hood.  His plan?  Prove his power to the disorganized gangs by taking down The Hood himself.  But how to do it?

His answer comes after Detective Lance tries and fails to trap The Hood, using his own daughter as bait to lure The Hood out into the open.  When a tip comes from a traitor within the SCPD, Vanch builds a trap of his own using Laurel Lance as bait.  With bad feelings all around and a lack of trust in their own allies, can Quentin Lance and The Hood put aside their differences long enough to work together for a common goal?

In the flashbacks, Ollie follows the map Yao Fei gave him only to be attacked and nearly killed by another man.  After fighting back, the man introduces himself as Slade Wilson and explains that he needs a second man to help him retake the air-field that is the only way off the island.  He then asks Ollie to choose a weapon, so he can begin training to be of use in a fight.


Shakespeare's The Tempest (a story where great play is made about characters swearing loyalty to one another, even as they are constantly betraying one another to meet their own goals), Green Arrow: Year One (the island sequences), Batman Begins (the training scenes between Slade Wilson and Ollie on the island), Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies (the triangle between Laurel, Tommy and The Hood vs. Mary Jane Watson, Harry Osborne and Spider-Man), various Robin Hood legends (specifically, Maid Marian being used to lure Robin Hood into traps) and Les Miserables (Quentin Lance's attitude regarding The Hood is very reminiscent of Javert's attitude toward Jean Valjean)


David Anders mispronounces the word "sheathes", like "chefs"


Honestly, the entire cast is firing on all cylinders this time and it's hard to single anyone out.


The opening scene lets us know exactly what we're in for symbolically, as a criminal betrayed by his lawyer's sudden development of a conscience responds by literally stabbing said lawyer in the back while hugging him.  Quentin Lance later makes reference to "twisting the knife in my back", regarding what he sees as Laurel betraying him by working with The Hood after he told her not too.

There's some nice cinemaography as Quentin Lance glances around the police station and realizes any one of his fellow cops could be a traitor. 

The fight scenes at the end as Ollie storms Vanch's mansion are also very well choreographed.


The episode opens at Iron Heights Penitentiary.  In the DC Comics universe, Iron Heights was a high-security prison for superhumans located in Keystone City - home of The Flash.

Reference is made to Kate Spencer - a lawyer with the D.A.'s office of Starling City.  In the comics, Kate Spencer is a lawyer who also fights crime under the alias Manhunter.

Laurel says Cyrus Vance, among other crimes, is connected to 52 different homicides.  52 is a number of some significance to the DC Comics universe.  52 was the number of comics released by DC Comics as part of their initial New 52 revamp in 2011.  It was also the name of  a well-received mini-series focusing upon several minor DC Comics heroes, set during a year where Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were out of active duty.  It was also, briefly, the number of official alternate universes making up the DC Comics cosmology following Infinite Crisis.

Ollie asks to meet Laurel on the roof of The Winick building.  This is a reference to Judd Winick - a comic writer who wrote both Green Arrow and Green Arrow/Black Canary in the early 21st century.

Slade Wilson is the real name of the mercenary/assassin and long-time Teen Titans villain Deathstroke.  His costume in the comics does feature an orange/blue mask like what we see among his gear and what we saw the man who tortured Ollie before wearing.  He's a master of many weapons but his preferred weapon, as he notes here, is the sword. 


Ollie makes use of an arrow with a listening device built into it.  The Bug Arrow, perhaps?  He also makes use of an explosive arrow.

Dialogue Triumphs

The hilarious sequence where Diggle's spying on Moira results in him having to feign being desperate for a bathroom while maintaining his cool at a birthday party. 

(After Laurel finds out Quentin used her as bait)
Laurel: So what happens when you catch him?  What happens then, Dad?  You're going to find another criminal?  Someone else to blame for Mom leaving?  For Sara dying?  For your drinking?
Quentin: That's enough, Laurel.
Laurel:: Yeah, you're damn right it is!
(Laurel turns and starts to walk out)
Quentin: Laurel!
(Laurel turns around, looking at him, hopefully)
Quentin: ...the phone.  Give me the phone.
(Laurel approaches him, looking disappointed, and slams the phone down on his desk) 

(As Ollie and Tommy talk about Laurel's lying about working with The Hood)
Tommy: Lying.  Keeping secrets about who she's spending time with.  Does that remind you of anybody we know? 
Ollie: (beat) Me, in every relationship I've ever been in.
Tommy:  Me too.  Except this one.

Cyrus Vance: I love a girl who can take care of herself.... but can't block a taser.

(After knocking the gun from Quentin Lance's hand before he can shoot Cyrus Vance)
*Lance looks at The Hood as if to ask "Why?"*
The Hood: I'm the vigilante.  You're the cop.
Quentin Lance: (charging Vanch) That doesn't mean I have to read the bastard his rights, though! 

Slade Wilson:  Now, you're going to find yourself a weapon.  Have you considered a sword?  I like swords.


 The episode opens at Iron Heights Penitentiary, last seen in 104Cyrus Vanch refers to the death of the local Triad leader and Frank Bertinelli's arrest (108). Moira destroys her copy of The List after Ollie confronts her about it.  Reference is made to "The Hood" saving hostages at Christmas (109), stopping an arsonist (110), thwarting a group of armored car thieves (111) and busting the Vertigo drug ring a week before (112)Reference is made again to Kate Spencer at the Starling City District Attorney's office, last seen in 105.  Laurel makes reference to The Hood helping her with two cases (104 and 110)Moira meets with Malcolm Merlyn to discuss her handling Carl Ballard, which was first brought up in 111.  Slade Wilson claims to be with ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service) and claims that he and his partner were sent to get Yao Fei out of prison. 

The Fridge Factor

Averted somewhat, as Laurel is able to fight two men at once until being brought down with a taser by a third.  It doesn't stop her from being a hostage through Act III, though. 

The Bottom Line

A brilliantly scripted episode made better by the ensemble playing off one another perfectly.  The episode opens with a criminal literally back-stabbing someone who betrayed them while in the middle of a hug and nearly everyone turns on someone else or betrays their own ideals at least once over the course of the next hour.  Thematically, it's brilliant.  A high-water mark for the series.

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