Arrow episode 14 review: The Odyssey

Arrow changes tack this week with a flashback-heavy episode. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.14 The Odyssey

There were plenty of Arrow fans, including myself, who were begging for resident girly computer hacker, Felicity Smoak, to become a fully-fledged member of team Oliver, and this week brought two big treats. First, it was revealed that Arrow would be returning for a second go around next season and, second, Felicity will be a regular character when that happens. Then, as a bonus, this week’s episode, The Odyssey, gave us a glimpse of what that would look like. 

As teased by the end of last week’s episode and the promos that followed, Oliver’s attempt at intimidating his mother ended with him being shot. He is then saved by Felicity and transported to Diggle in his Arrow-cave. From here, the episode is split into two halves. There are the conversations between Felicity and Diggle while they care for Ollie, and there’s the extensive island flashbacks happening in his head. This week saw more island action than we’ve had previously, with less of a focus on present-day story. 

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Surprisingly, since it’s the island stuff that’s bored me in the past, this decision works really well and suggests that an entirely flashback-central episode every so often could be a welcome change of pace. There’s no procedural element, for example, and that means there’s no villain for Oliver to take down. Sometimes, within the constraints of standalone structure that networks seem to insist on, it can feel like a distraction from what the writers might really want to do, and The Odyssey plays out more like an episode of Lost than of Smallville. 

That’s partly down to the fact they’re on an island and trying to infiltrate a mysterious organisation’s base camp, but I’m aware that it’s my interpretation rather than the show directly trying to pay homage. As we begin, Slade’s training is starting to manifest in his student, and by the end of the episode Oliver is taking down armed soldiers without too much trouble. There are still miles to go before he becomes the serious, stalwart warrior we know in the present, but it’s nice to see things turning around for him. The biggest difference is in attitude, and I’m sure a few more knockbacks will drive the weakness out of him. 

Another great thing about this week’s adventure is that there’s minimal Laurel/Thea/Tommy/Moira, as Oliver’s friends and family have become a definite source of contention for fans in recent weeks. Other than Moira, they often don’t have anything to do with the story, and their own mundane troubles do little to justify their existence. A nice moment in the episode definitely recalls Lost’s Desmond-centric The Constant, as Oliver manages to phone Laurel from his remote location. Slade ends the call before he can say anything, but if he had we can assume his story would have turned out much differently. 

While Oliver recovers from his gunshot wound (which happens alarmingly quickly), Diggle and Felicity take some time out to debate how far they’re willing to go in service of Oliver’s crusade. Diggle has always known what he’s getting involved with, and has no problem voicing his concerns or drawing the line when he needs to, but Felicity isn’t yet sure that she wants to give up her normal life. You get the sense that she doesn’t really care about righting wrongs or fighting other people’s battles, but can’t resist a challenge all the same. 

She’s never seemed more like Smallville’s Chloe Sullivan than in this episode, as Oliver wakes up to find that his entire computer system has been upgraded and spruced up. She could prove integral to the fight, of course, but she promises only to join them in the search for Walter. As audience members, we know that she’ll get addicted in that time, but it’ll be fun to see exactly how they bring her into the fold. Seeing the three team members together was great, and precisely what a lot of viewers had been asking for. 

Two other significant things happened – Yao Fei’s daughter Shado, who plays a huge part in Oliver’s life in the comics, is introduced, and Deathstroke aka Billy Wintergreen is killed by Slade. What this means for our further exploration of the island, I don’t know, but it’s more than likely that Shado will be popping up in the present-day at a future date. More (potentially) kick-ass ladies on this show are definitely welcome, so I hope we see more of her next week.

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Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Betrayal, here.

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