For the past few weeks, Roy Harper hasn't been sleeping well. After being called out on this for the third time while in the field, Roy goes to Felicity and privately asks for her to conduct a blood test to make sure the Mirakuru is out of his system. He then confesses the reason he wanted the test and the reason for his insomnia - a reoccurring nightmare in which he kills Sara Lance by throwing arrows into her!
At the same time, a mysterious vigilante is killing gang members in The Glades and all signs point to former professional boxer and gym owner Ted Grant being the guilty party. Laurel thinks otherwise, having been with Ted when one of the murders occurred but Oliver isn't convinced. Particularly after he discovers that six years earlier, Ted Grant was a vigilante who protected The Glades of Starling City at about the same time another gang leader was killed under similar circumstances...
Green Arrow: Year One (references to China White), The Cat and The Canary episode of Justice League Unlimited (Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance team up to investigate Ted Grant's involvement in a criminal act) and numerous Green Arrow stories that dealt with Roy Harper failing to live up to Oliver Queen's standards.
The thought occurs with the flashbacks in this episode that Amanda Waller using Oliver as a secret agent in Hong Kong is rather stupid. Granted it's unfamiliar territory that limits his escape options, it also leaves him sticking out like a sore thumb.
The script tries way too hard to draw a parallel between Ollie's current situation with Roy and Wildcat's falling-out with his sidekick. While it's a nice idea, the differing circumstances of their having killed someone (Roy was under the influence of a mind-altering substance compared to Stanzler being overly-violent of his own free will) are completely different and not really comparable.
The larger problem is that the script has a lot of characters speaking dialogue that it makes no sense for them to be saying. This includes Stanzler's speech to Roy about Ollie abandoning him, which doesn't make sense because Stanzler knows nothing about what Roy has done or his fears of abandonment. This also includes Ted Grant's talk with The Arrow later about cutting his sidekick loose before he loses control, which - while well spoken by both J.R. Ramriez and Stephen Amell - doesn't make a lick of sense because Ted Grant knows nothing about what is going on between The Arrow and his sidekick! Even John Diggle - usually the voice of reason - seems horribly out of character, urging Oliver to cut Roy loose if there's even a chance he really did kill Sara Lance!
Laurel does some truly unethical things in this episode, which are covered in The Fridge Factor.
Oliver does some truly idiotic things, which are covered in The Winick Factor.
The scenes between Colton Haynes and Emily Bett Rickards are well-acted. We haven't seen much happen between these two, so it's a nice touch that we get to see that Felicity is the person Roy trusts the most to handle the news of what he thinks he's done without judging him.
J.R. Ramirez is given a good deal more screen time as Wildcat this time and proves to be capable of holding his own against Stephen Amell - both in a fight scene and in a dialogue.
The fight between Arrow and Ted Grant in the gym is well-shot and played out.
During their storming the gang's hideout, Oliver tells Roy he is on "overwatch". Overwatch is the name of a new novel by Arrow show-runner Marc Guggenheim.
Oliver's inability to pronounce the name Chien Na Wei and saying China White instead is a callback to Green Arrow: Year One.
In the comics, Ted Grant is a vigilante, gym owner and ex-professional boxer who fought crime under the code-name Wildcat. He would later go on to train other vigilantes, including Batman, Catwoman and Black Canary.
In the show, Ted Grant is a lefty who is known as The Sterling Southpaw. In so far as my research can determine, the comics never specified whether Wildcat was a righty or a lefty.
Ted Grant's gym is located on the corner of 9th and Hansen. This is a nod to artist Irwin Hasen, who drew the first Wildcat comic back in Sensation Comics #1, which was also the first appearance of Wonder Woman.
Ted Grant's former partner in crime-fighting - Issac Stanzler - is named in honor of Arrow director Wendey Stanzler.
Captain Lance glibly tells Laurel that she knows how to pick them. Beyond being a reference to Laurel's bad romantic choices on the show, it could also be a reference to the comics, where Dinah Lance has a similar history of dating questionable men. Even ignoring her history with Ollie, she dated Ra's Al Ghul at one point!
The newspaper in Starling City is The Starling City Star.
Arsenal is the code name that Roy Harper eventually adopted after deciding he had outgrown the moniker Speedy. It referred to his mastery of multiple weapons - not just arrows. He eventually became a master of Moo Gi Gong - a Korean martial art based around turning any solid object into a weapon.
Cupid - the woman we see killing a prisoner with a bow at the episode's end - is a villain from the Green Arrow/Black Canary comics and she will be discussed in more detail next week.
Though it is an improvised weapon, Oliver does make use of a boxing glove arrow - a regular arrow thrust inside a boxing glove.
Roy: Nothin' much. Just a feeling. A feeling of being not me. Being strong and out of control. But, here's the thing... in those dreams, I killed Sara.
Felicity: And this really had you worried?
Roy: Because the dreams,...they didn't feel like dreams, Felicity, they felt like memories. I actually remember throwing arrows into her. Crazy, right?
Felicity: (quietly) Yeah. Crazy.
Arrow: That's the second time I've found you with a body.
Ted: I've never killed anybody. I'm being set up.
Arrow: And why should I believe you?
Ted: Because I used to be a vigilante. I used to be you.
Arrow: I've never heard of another vigilante in Starling.
Ted: It was six years ago. I wasn't news; I stuck to the Glades.
Arrow: And these are supposed to convince me? Masks are also useful for serial killers.
Ted: Says the guy currently wearing one.
Arrow: Who else knows about the locker?
Ted: No one. This is where I kept my supplies, a safe place separate from my day job. I'm sure you got one just like it.
Arrow: Mine's bigger.
Arrow: You cannot be serious.
Laurel: I am not on your team. I don't work for you.
Arrow: Exactly. You're untrained.
Laurel: And whose fault is that?!
Oliver: You're playing a very dangerous game, Laurel.
Laurel: I can handle it.
Oliver: No, you can't. Because you haven't realized that it's not actually a game.
Arrow: Ted, your mistake wasn't cutting him loose. It was losing faith in him.
Roy: I'm going to miss this. I feel like I was just starting to get good at it.
Oliver: You are getting good at it.
Roy: That guy? He said I was just another weapon in your arsenal.
Oliver: Well maybe that's what we should call you, then? Arsenal.
Roy: So I didn't kill Sara. But I am a murderer.
Stanzler: (To Roy) Don't you get it? He's using you! You're not a human being, man! You were just another weapon in his arsenal! And the second you do something wrong, he'll turn his back on you! He will abandon you!
Roy: Don't abandon me.
Cupid: I'm Cupid, stupid.
It is confirmed that Roy did not kill Sara and that his dreams were formed from a jumble of memories and his seeing Sara's face right after he killed a cop in A220.
Oliver learned how to use meditation to clear his head and focus his memory from Tatsu while he was in Hong Kong.
The Fridge Factor
Again, Laurel proves to have poor judgement in how to exercise her authority as an assistant district attorney. Over the course of the episode, she interferes in an active police investigation where she is the only alibi for a suspected killer. She is somehow allowed to drop all the charges against this Ted Grant without a word of protest from anyone. And at the end, after it is revealed Ted Grant was a vigilante six years ago, she makes sure he's only charged with crimes for which the statue of limitations has passed.
The Winick Factor
Ollie's hypocrisy regarding vigilante ethics is on full display through this episode. Oliver is contemptuous of Ted Grant when he thinks that Ted was a vigilante who killed people, neatly ignoring just how many random thugs and minions he killed during his first year on the job. (A major weakness of the script is that nobody calls Ollie on this point). Later, when Oliver helps Roy to remember the truth, he tries to comfort Roy by saying that it didn't matter that he killed some random cop when he was under the influence of Mirakuru... so long as he didn't kill Sara Lance! To Roy's credit, he doesn't buy Ollie's half-assed justification either.
The Bottom Line
The first bad episode of the season and a serious candidate for the worst episode of the show ever. The script does a lot of good things (the scenes with Felicity and Roy and Oliver and Ted's confrontations, especially) but it also has a lot of bits where everyone seems out of character, especially Oliver and Diggle. And for a script that is supposed to be focused on Roy, he barely seems to be involved in the action with more time being devoted toward Laurel and Ted Grant than Roy's emotional torment over the revelation that he's killed someone. Not even the long awaited premiere of the boxing glove arrow can save this one.