Arrow episode 18 review: Salvation

Arrow delivers an almost-perfect episode with Salvation. Here's Caroline's impressed review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.18 Salvation

Now this is what an episode of Arrow should look like. Packed with action and spot-on character beats, the show seems to have finally nailed down its tone and delivered an almost-perfect episode for us to enjoy. It feeds off a tried and tested superhero storyline – a wannabe vigilante takes the hero’s mantra and completely misunderstands it – and plays it out with a couple of little twists. It also gets Thea and Roy involved in the A-plot for the first time in ages, and brings some new sides out of other supporting players.

Starting with Team Arrow, then, the trio of Oliver, Diggle and Felicity is still working really nicely. While it annoys me on principle when it’s the female character who wants to talk about their feelings all of the time, she’s at least capable enough to genuinely help on missions, and her naivety can be explained by the fact that she’s the newest, and least war-torn member of the team. Freaked out by the fact that her inability to solve a puzzle inadvertently led to a man’s death, she laments the fact that she’ll probably never be able to tell someone about her work day, but Ollie later assures her that he’s there if she needs to talk.

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And isolation was the big theme this week, as Diggle warns Oliver that he’s been spending more time in the hood than usual. With two sidekicks now hanging out in the Hood Cave, it is a little disconcerting for Oliver to still be shunning human contact whenever it’s not strictly necessary and, but the end of the episode, he’s reaching out to more people. The awkward scene between him and Laurel outside of the club was brilliantly acted and written, with Laurel’s investigation into Sarah’s death and Oliver’s reluctance to make any new connections hanging over them like a big, uncomfortable cloud.

Thea and Roy are still on their ‘forbidden romance’ trip, with Thea even asking Laurel for advice on dating a bad boy. I’m really glad that the mission of the week got the two of them involved as they’ve been on the periphery for too long and Roy has too much potential to be sitting on the sidelines for much longer. Now that Oliver knows of his relationship with Thea, how long is it until he’s getting involved with Team Arrow? Fans want him to suit up as Red Arrow right away, of course, but I wonder which direction the show is planning to go with him. A regular for season two, we know he’s not going anywhere.

The most emotional, but least productive, storyline this week was the search for Sarah. Laurel, hoping her dad would have convinced Dinah that she was inventing fantasies, does some digging and finds the lookalike living in the United States. Is it just me or was it a mean trick to play on her parents, confirming to them that their daughter is, in fact, dead right there in public? I’m still not convinced that Sarah is gone for good, since the show wouldn’t have introduced the prospect of her being alive if they weren’t going to use it, but for now the storyline simply served to bring the Lances back together.

I haven’t talked about the action on the island for a few weeks simply because nothing much has been going on, and I’m starting to think that the weekly flashback structure is demanding too much of the story. I realise that we have five years of island time to get through, but there doesn’t seem to be enough to go around from week to week. This episode wasn’t too bad, as we finally meet Shado, and I guess her inclusion will liven things up a little. We see she’s a capable fighter and can definitely hold her own, so it’ll be fun to have a kick-ass female on the show.

Next week’s episode sees the second returning villain (after Helena) to test Oliver’s principles, as a new version of Vertigo lands on the streets of Starling City. I’ll see you there!

Read Caroline’s review of last week’s episode, The Huntress Returns, here.

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