Arrow episode 5 review: Damaged

Review Caroline Preece 9 Nov 2012 - 08:44

Arrow picks up the pace in what might be the season's best episode yet. Here's Caroline's review of Damaged...

This review contains spoilers.

1.5 Damaged

Just when we all thought Arrow had reached its peak, it might have delivered its best episode yet. Last week’s wholly unexpected twist of Oliver’s secret identity actually being discovered is played out in interesting and unanticipated ways over the hour, and characters and relationships have come out of the other side developed and changed ready for future episodes. The series might even be rivalling The Vampire Diaries in terms of pace right now, and it’s more than a little refreshing to see after living through ten years of Smallville’s relentless pondering.

As I’ve said before in these reviews, I’ve been impressed so far with the show’s willingness to paint Oliver as more loose cannon than outright hero, and that thread runs through this episode to even better effect. The beginning voiceover states his disbelief at being called a killer and a menace, before showing us how seemingly arrogant he is about getting caught. Of course, we later learn that the whole thing has been staged so as to pre-emptively prove his innocence, and it’s a rare example of a show answering one of its own bothersome fan queries.

We’d all wondered why the characters in this show wouldn’t connect the dots between Oliver’s return and The Hood’s emergence, and it seems that our protagonist had the same worry. He’s staged the whole arrest, relying on a reluctant Diggle to pose as The Hood (because that’s what we’re apparently calling it now – what was wrong with Green Arrow?) while Oliver is under house arrest. The plan is successful, but not before we’re treated to a cracking break-down of Oliver’s character. This is really Detective Lance’s episode, with a personal vendetta mixed with genuine good intentions leading to a proper interrogation down at the station.

My favourite scene might have been their face-off over the polygraph, which really showed off both men’s side of things. As far as Quentin’s concerned, Oliver killed one of his daughters while breaking the other one’s heart (and he admitted as much during his questioning), and he’s utterly convinced that he is also the masked vigilante he’s been tracking. The trouble is that Oliver directly requests Laurel be his defendant, and the conflict of interest escalates to a whole new level. I love the dynamic between the three of them, and they’re what make this episode so great.

And the show’s central romance actually gets marginally interesting this week too, with Laurel essentially finding out her ex's secret directly after he’s proved his innocence to the rest of the world. Whether she’ll let her father in on what she knows at some point remains to be seen, but to have the love interest be the second to know is a nice switch-around from the usual status quo (I was expecting Thea to know by now). Their ‘will they, won’t they’ dynamic is already wearing me down, however, and if The Hood remains the main obstacle to them being together for any extended amount of time it’s going to get annoying.

The flashbacks have more to do with the present day action than they have before, with Oliver even voicing some of his experiences during Quentin’s interrogation. While out hunting, Oliver was captured by a mysterious group of Brits and tortured for information about his island bowman friend. We’re to believe that most of his scars were a result of this torture, but I’d be really surprised if he doesn’t get into a few more scrapes over the next five years. If I liked the pace of the present day action, I’m a little worried they’re giving away too much of the island too soon. Like with Lost, there’s a real danger of running out of interesting flashback stories.

This might not have been the most action-packed episode of Arrow, but it’s still an immensely enjoyable undressing of what we expect from superheroes on TV. At this point, I realise it’s churlish to think they might be peaking too soon but, if this is where we are in week five, I can’t wait to see what happens in week twenty-two. 

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, An Innocent Man, here.

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Disqus - noscript

Yes, but who's the guy in the picture above with the half white, half black skull mask? Never really been in to GA but am loving this series.

deathstroke

Oh I thought he convinced her he wasn't the Hood, when he said something like, I can't sleep at night, I hardly eat anything and I can barely sign my name let alone fire arrows. Or have I misunderstood you or the scene... O.o

I don't think we were lead to believe such a large amount of scar tissue was the result of that scene. 20% is ALOT of skin, plus those scars were from different sources fire etc and we only saw the knife.

Deathstroke was cool though!

A bit of a pleasent surprise this series is turning out to be.

Yeah I didn't think Laurel knew for sure that he was the Hood, just that she was still suspicious. This is easily the best episode thus far. I liked the attention to detail, such as when Oliver used the same tumble kick thing the Chinese bowman used in the island flashback.

agreed, best episode yet - this show sure is entertaining!

Yep this episode is the sign off for me. Don't know if it's the series or this blog... lol "unexpected twist". Anybody capable of even slightly thinking forward could see the whole getting caught thing was a ruse... as if a secret identity reveal would occur at episode 5.
Now lets assume you're as thick as the author here and didn't figure it out right away, are you seriously telling me that when the terms house arrest and ankle bracelet were mentioned in conjunction with letting the ex-body guard in on his identity last week didn't give it away.

Again NO SUBTLETY

Right up there with Laurey's over dramatic, completely predictable walk in during the court room scene... are we 12? Stupid, lame and pathetic. Oh and we love each other but can't be together hogwash... we all know it's happening.

Again great police work with the polygraph... not that the questions weren't stupid enough but of course Laurey alone noticed the tell all flutter. LAME

And of course the author's fascination with Ollie's loose cannon approach which is clearly defined and understood by anyone with an I.Q over 60 continues to bemuse me.

Heck even the stuff on the island has taken a twist for the worst. Are we to believe that the cripply scarred Ollie a) has loyalty to bow man that shot him and wouldn't give him up in exchange for t/f home b) managed to carry Ollie from a military'ish base w/o getting caught... Breath breath blah blah blah

The only saving grace for this show has been mum's little mystery which whilst not revealed is as I suspected, is heading down the path of she's being black-mailed or something and remains a good character. I did rather enjoy the drama with her husband... possibly the only 2 decent characters in the show (+ the bodyguard too I guess).
Me thinks all the clues will give it away in 2-4 episodes tops.

Not going on any further I would say:
3.5/10 for acting
4/10 for story
0/10 for directing

An overall 1 for the series which is one more Caroline Preece deserves for her cough cough reviews.

Compare these to the guy that reviews Breaking Bad and you see the difference between analysis and reviewing what you see

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