Thursday, February 28, 2013

Arrow Reviews: Season 1, Episode 16 - Dead To Rights

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


After The Hood kills the assassin the Starling City Triad had brought in to fulfill Moira Queen's contract on Malcolm Merlyn, China White approaches an expert assassin believed to be dead by most of the world and certainly by The Hood - Floyd Lawton a.k.a. Deadshot.  Backed by The Triad and armed with a new eye-piece that replaces his damaged eye while enhancing his vision, Deadshot intends to make his move during a ceremony declaring Malcolm Merlyn Humanitarian of The Year - an award which has led Malcolm to attempt to reconcile, once again, with a taciturn Tommy.  At the same time, Ollie continues to pursue McKenna Hall (who is now one of the two detectives on the SCPD team to bring down The Hood) and Laurel begins to receive phone calls from her own long-absent parent - Dinah Lance.

On the island, Ollie tries to repair Slade's broken radio so they can contact help.  He fails to get the transmitter to work but does fix the receiver to where the two men can monitor Fyers' radio transmissions.  It's then that they learn about a new superweapon that's come to the island... something called Scylla.


Green Arrow: Year One (The Island sequences), Giligan's Island (Slade hangs a lampshade on the obvious solution of building a raft to escape the island), The Odyssey (Fyers' new weapon is called Scylla, in reference to a monster from that story), Spider-Man: The Animated Series (The main hero unknowingly saves the life of the criminal responsible for most of his hardships) and a general theme of children and parents reconciling.


Honestly, the whole cast does an amazing job and it's hard to single anyone out this time around.  But if I had to choose just one of them for a Best Of Show award, it would have to be Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn.  The man does some incredibly nuanced non-verbal acting in several scenes and he meets the challenge of some very difficult material given the wide range of emotions he's required to display in a short period.  Most impressive.


Geoff Johns wrote the script for this episode and it shows.  Thematically, it's very strong with the theme of reconciliation and family ties coming up multiple times and there's a lot of little scenes of just two characters talking and playing off one another.  I think perhaps the best of these are the three scenes between Ollie and Tommy - first when they're having lunch and Ollie talks about the importance of appreciating your dad while you have him.  The second comes later, as Ollie (as The Hood) pleads with Tommy to let him help save his father's life.  The third and final one occurs in the hallway at the hospital, as Ollie is pressed to answer one question out of all the many questions he guessed Tommy would have.

The opening fight scene with The Hood matching skills against a knife-fighting assassin is very well choreographed as is the fight between Stephen Amell and Kelly Hu.

There is one sequence, totally without words, which moves between Oliver, Diggle, Felicity, Tommy & Moira.  The cinematography, music and performances are all perfectly blended together.

It's a subtle thing, but the shot of Diggle walking off to be alone at the revelation that Deadshot is still alive is a powerful one. 


Guillermo Barrera is the real name of the knife-wielding assassin Brutale.  Brutale is a master of bladed weapons, both stabbing and throwing. Created by writer Chuck Dixon, he first appeared in Nightwing and is pretty much like the character we see Ollie fighting, save that Brutale in the comics wears an armored costume that covers his entire body.

Another nod to Laurel's eventual destiny - her sister Sara owned a black canary.

Floyd Lawton is staying at a place called The Bludhaven Apartments.  Bludhaven is a city in DC Comics located just up the river from Gotham City and it was the adopted home of Nightwing for several years.

For a time in the comics, Floyd Lawton did live in Star City - Green Arrow's home town.

Floyd Lawton says that he didn't care if China White killed him or not.  In the comics, Floyd Lawton is famous for his death wish and ambivalence toward people trying to kill him.  Reference is also made to Floyd Lawton drinking and smoking his life away.  In the comics, Deadshot is famed for his love of cigars and booze.

Malcolm mentions the city of Nanda Parbat, where he says he met a man who helped him make sense of things after his wife died.   Nanda Parbat is familiar to DC Comics fans as a Shangri-La of sorts, hidden in the mountains of Tibet.  Many of DC Comics martial arts characters have trained with the monks there.

It may also be worth mentioning that Nanda Parbat also has connections to Ra's Al Ghul - founder of the League of Assassins, which Merlyn is a member of in the comics.  It may also be worth mentioning that Ra's standard MO - killing many common folk in order to save a chosen few - would fit in well with Malcolm Merlyn's "undertaking" from what little we know of the details.


"Scylla" is a Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile launcher.  It can track 100 targets at once while engaging one dozen.  According to Slade, it could be used to bring down a commercial airliner or start a war.

Dialogue Triumphs 

The Hood: You have failed this city!
Guillermo Barrera:  You've build quite the reputation.
The Hood: And you should have stayed overseas!
Guillermo Barrera: I thought about it.  But then I remembered... I've got a reputation too.

(Ollie returns from his fight with Guillermo Barrera)
Diggle: How'd it go?
Ollie: Badly for him.
Felicity: Who him?
Ollie: An assassin for hire with an affinity for knifes.  His name was Guillermo Barrera.
Felicity (nervously) Was?
Diggle: So we can't ask him about his intended target?
Ollie ... no. 

Diggle: It may not be a good idea to fall for the cop that is hunting you down.
Ollie: Well, it's slim pickings for us vigilantes.

(After Tommy refuses his invitation to the Humanitarian Of The Year award ceremony and access to his money)
Malcolm: I'd still like you to come to the event.  It would mean a lot to me.
Tommy: You know what, Dad?  Sometimes the people you want there the most... aren't.  You taught me that.  Multiple times.

The whole sequence between China White and Deadshot.  It's a treat and a half for fans of John Ostrander's Suicide Squad.

The whole sequence between Ollie and Tommy talking about their fathers.

Tommy: Why should I trust you?!
Ollie: (turning off his voice modulator and pulling his hood down) Because you always have.

Detective Lance: Is this guy (The Hood) a friend of yours, Merlyn?
Tommy: (beat) I don't know who the hell he is.

Dialogue Disasters

(As Laurel announces that the knock at the door is probably the food she ordered and leaves the room)
Ollie: Well, thank god she didn't cook.
Tommy: Amen.


The Triad is bringing in assassins to fulfill the contracted placed by Moira Queen in 115.  Diggle has begun training Felicity in basic self-defense.  Robert Queen was a pilot and used to do his own maintenance.  Ollie watched him and got pretty good at doing the same repair work.  McKenna and Laurel already knew each other from around the courthouse.  Sara Lance once kept a black canary as a pet.  Apparently Laurel is a bad cook.  Ollie speaks Chinese with a perfect accent.  Felicity can't speak Spanish.  Diggle can speak Arabic but not Spanish.  Malcolm Merlyn keeps his Dark Archer gear (or, at least, a set of it) in a hidden room in his private office.  Oliver knows how to arrange a makeshift blood transfusion.  Ollie figures out, based on the unique bullets (103) used on Malcolm Merlyn, that Deadshot is still alive.  Moira is put in charge of finding the traitor in the organization.  Ollie admits that he never intended to tell Tommy the truth about his secret identity.  Dinah Lance shows up on Laurel's doorstep and tells her that she thinks Sara Lance may be alive.             

Untelevised Adventures
 Malcolm mentions traveling to the city of Nanda Parbat after his wife died

The Fridge Factor

While the scenes with Laurel and her mom are played well by Katie Cassidy and Alex Kingston, they also take up the least amount of screen time relative to all the other subplots getting covered in this episode.

The Bottom Line

The only problem with this episode is that there isn't enough of it.  A lot of the supporting cast don't get as much time as they deserve given some of the revelations that come out of this episode (Laurel and Diggle are particularly short-shrifted) but everyone does the best they can with what limited screen time they have.  The script by Geoff Johns offers us quality over quantity, however and this script may be the best written episode of the series so far. 

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