This Arrow review contains spoilers.
“Guilty” opens with a double, even a triple whammy. It’s your expected solid Arrow opening action sequence. That’s good. It’s got more than one vigilante in full costume working the action, so that makes it even better. But when it’s Green Arrow and Arsenal just straight up out on the town fighting crime, and it’s not immediately a case that calls back to larger, season-heavy plots, well, that’s a “superhero patrol” if I’ve ever seen one, and we hit the DC Comics trifecta within minutes.
“Guilty” doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of those first few minutes, but it’s a solid episode. It certainly does more right than it does wrong. But I’m still waiting for Arrow to show me what this season is really about, or even to hit the high points we saw in the first couple of episodes.
For one thing, this is handily the most time we’ve spent with Ted Grant. In fact, if they want to do a “Secret Origin of Ted Grant” episode flashing back to his vigilante days, I’d be okay with that. I like the idea that he’s a former vigilante. It’s a subtle nod to the fact that the comic book Ted “Wildcat” Grant was part of a previous generation of superheroes. This Ted still looks spry enough to give it another go at some point, though.
Ted is the subject of a frame-up. This means we get lots of that crack Starling City PD and legal system at work in this one. Ted is a suspect, arrested, and freed in what seriously couldn’t have been more than an hour or two of “Arrow-time.” No wonder that city has problems. If I ever decide to become a criminal, that’s where I’d start up. Hell, some of that ridiculous logic rubbed off on Ollie tonight, too. Why else would he just immediately point his bow at Ted and accuse him of murder?
You know who didn’t suck this week? Laurel! Huzzah! Yes, there were some heavy-handed moments, particularly in her little speech at the end to Ted, but this week, I could buy her as a “vigilante in training.” The thing is, this “in training” bit had better last until at least April, otherwise I’m gonna howl about it. The fact that they’re already releasing images of Laurel in full Black Canary gear makes me wonder just how fast they’re moving this along.
Speaking of things Laurel wears, I would totally rock that Wildcat Gym hoodie. In fact, get me that Wildcat Gym hoodie and let me wear it over the STAR Labs shirt from The Flash, and I will wear it everywhere. I want my entire wardrobe to be made up of things for places and brands that only exist in superhero fiction. I know. I need professional help.
More instances of Laurel not being annoying this week included the “did you know you were training with a vigilante” exchange with Ollie. The“we used to date” was a nice punchline, too.
I guess my biggest problem with “Guilty” is how they hit us over the head with the “don’t abandon your sidekick” moral. We meet Isaac Stanzler and learn his story, and in the process the team learns about the “guilt” Roy is carrying around. For a few minutes, I thought there might have been a sinister undertone to Ollie’s “we’ll deal with it” regarding if Roy killed Sara. You’ll deal with it? How does one deal with the murderer of your ex, especially when that murder hasn’t been reported to anyone? With cement shoes?
That wasn’t the case, though. There’s nothing at all wrong with this narrative, and the show has done a good job keeping the “troubled Roy Harper” characteristics from the comics (and Young Justice!) alive in interesting ways. But maybe if we had Roy suspecting himself of the murder for a few episodes, if we had actual reason to suspect his guilt, if there was some tension about how Oliver might react if Roy actually did it…then meeting Isaac Stanzler and seeing how he turned out might have meant something. But as it played out here? A little weak.
Who Killed Sara Lance?
So, it was all too clear from the start that there was no way that Roy did the deed. But it now raises the matter of Felicity’s forensics reports. Is it actually possible that some mirakuru-enhanced individual flung those arrows at Sara? Obviously, this points the finger at someone like Slade Wilson, but even disguised, the voice we heard didn’t seem right for this.
Unless, of course, this whole potentially brainwashed thing with Thea is really much worse than we thought it was. She supposedly has a serious alibi on Corto Maltese. But just because she doesn’t remember a trip to Starling City doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, I suppose.
I think I’m stumped.
Meanwhile…On an Island…
The flashback sequences have just felt extraordinarily lightweight this season. I understand what the purpose is, but so far, there just isn’t much to them. They feel like an afterthought, like the show is obligated to fill in these blanks in Oliver’s history. That’s fine, but I wish they’d get on with it, because right now, it just isn’t happening.
I’m still glad to not be on that other island anymore, though.
DC Universe Watchtower
– If you need a really quick way to get familiar with Ted Grant/Wildcat, I’ve got you covered.
– Not only did we get a boxing glove arrow this week, something that I’m pretty sure Stephen Amell swore we would never get.
– 9th and Hasen is a reference to Irwin Hasen, artist on a number of Golden Age DC Comics character (including the original Green Lantern and the Flash), and co-creator of (you guessed it) Wildcat! He’s still around. He’s 96 and just got a lifetime achievement Eisner Award. Irwin Hasen is a treasure.
– I’m pretty sure Ted Grant was never consistently depicted as a southpaw in the comics, but as a lefty myself, I’d like to think he is.
– Hey, Arsenal actually gets a name this week!
I feel like there were lots of others that I missed. They threw lots of names at us, but nothing rang any bells. Then again, I suppose an episode that not only focuses on Wildcat training Black Canary, but also subtly nods to there being an earlier generation of heroes in this universe (hey, even the Justice Society episode of Smallville was pretty good), offers plenty right there on the surface, right? But if I missed any, you know what to do!