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Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug



Previously, on The Hobbit... a company of thirteen Dwarves, including their once and future king Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellan), and their hired-on burglar Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), set off to find a mountain full of gold and liberate it from the dragon that sleeps beneath it. They didn't quite get there, for this is a very, very long unexpected journey. Our vertically challenged adventurers are still in the midst of their quest as we catch up with them in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the expansive middle chapter of Peter Jackson's expansive, unexpected trilogy. Jackson himself makes a brief cameo at the onset of The Desolation of Smaug, as we witness a flashback in the Prancing Pony of how Gandalf came upon the company of Thorin Oakenshield. Gandalf's primary function in Smaug is to provide set up for events to come; he later abandons the Dwarves for a side mission where he comes face to face - eye to eye literally - with the returning Sauron. We, of course, can't share in Gandalf's shock and dismay, seeing how we found out a decade ago how it all turns out with Sauron. 

Thorin and his Dwarf chums continue to get in all sorts of sticky wickets. They are chased by a skin changing man bear, cocooned and nearly eaten by giant spiders, imprisoned by Elves, hunted by Orcs, and are nearly roasted alive by a dragon. They get out of most of these fine messes thanks to Bilbo, who has with him the One Ring he took from Gollum in the previous film. The One Ring may be slowly corrupting his soul, but it also makes Bilbo invisible and thus makes sneaking around a lot easier. Dwarves literally can't sneak around to save their own lives; even when Bilbo is breaking them out of the Elven hoosegow in the middle of the night, the Dwarves can't keep their voices down. No such thing as an 'indoor voice' for Dwarves. The Dwarves, however, are known quitters who only try things once and then bail. When their lifelong dream of opening the hidden door of their mountain doesn't quite work out as they thought, they quickly give up and sulk off. It is thanks to Bilbo, who actually thinks about stuff, to figure out how to find the keyhole and open the door to the mountain. The grateful Dwarves respond by pushing Bilbo alone into the mountain to face the dragon, all the while telling him how courageous he is as they sit out in the sidelines. 

So it's easy to understand why the Elves hate Dwarves and vice versa. When the Elves save the Dwarves from the giant spiders and take them prisoner, we meet a proud new Elf king, Thranduil (Lee Pace), the father of Legolas (Orlando Bloom). Thorin and Thanduil have a brief negotiation that quickly devolves into the two of them yelling at each other. It's terrific to see Legolas again, and, this being set decades before the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he's more acrobatic and deadly with a bow than ever. Also getting copious amounts of screen time is Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly from Lost), the latest hot lady Elf in the tradition of Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchett. Tauriel inexplicably gets the hots for one of the Dwarves and defies her Elf King to go off and save him from the Orcs, to Legolas' chagrin. Legolas is quick to spring into action and he doesn't quite understand just why he's running across the forest killing Orcs to save Dwarves, but he'll eventually figure everything out; no need to worry about Legolas.

The Desolation of Smaug starts in the middle of something and ends in the middle of something, all the while in fact being the middle of something. The movie consists of a lot things happening that triggers the next thing that happens, while over yonder, other people are finding out about other things that are going to happen that we already know about, but is news to them. Jackson stages a couple of memorable action sequences, the best of which is the Dwarves escaping from and fighting the Orcs in the river rapids while in barrels that would make for a terrific ride in Universal Studios theme parks. The action occasionally pauses for characters to discuss events and grow increasingly forlorn as the odds of their success weigh against them, but these occur in beautifully realized vistas like Thandruil's Elf City, and the stunning city by the lake ruled over by Stephen Fry. Therein, the Dwarves are aided by a smuggler named Bard (Luke Evans), who holds a few secrets tied to that mountain where the dragon rests.

Everything, of course, builds up to Bilbo penetrating the ancient Dwarf city of gold and coming face to face with the dragon Smaug, who talks! Why Smaug, you're so well-spoken. Where did you study? Who was your professor at university? Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) is easily these films' most magnificent CGI creation, and meeting him was worth the wait. (Freeman's Bilbo conversing with Cumberbatch's Smaug is also a fun Sherlock and Watson reunion.) For a dragon who has waded like Scrooge McDuck and dozed in incomprehensible wealth beneath a mountain for centuries, Smaug is shockingly up to date on current events. Smaug knew who Thorin Oakenshield was and what he's been up to and seemed well-prepared to meet this incoming invasion of "filthy Dwarves" trying to take back what Smaug rightfully stole and now owns. Smaug is Game of Thrones' Daenerys Targaryen's dream dragon: not just a mighty, fire-breathing bad ass, but he's rich and a provocative conversationalist. Smaug is also the dragon version of Goldfinger or Goldmember; boy, does he love gold. Smaug literally gets stopped in his tracks and forgets to kill Thorin because he got so distracted by staring at the giant golden statue of a Dwarf King he never knew was there. The Desolation of Smaug abruptly stops as Smaug takes wing to murder all of the new characters we met in this movie with fire and blood. But still, Smaug, you're a fine fellow. It was a pleasure speaking with you. See you next year, perhaps over a spot of tea?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Arrow 2x9 - "Three Ghosts"

"Three Ghosts," two deaths, one amazing reveal of a Big Bad One-Eyed Wolf, and the birth of a new superhero unexpectedly happening here and not in his own pilot -- Arrow's midseason finale was an evergreen giving tree of nerdy goodness. Considering his prominence in last week's "The Scientist," it's somewhat surprising how Barry Allen disappeared for much of the episode, shifting the focus squarely on square-jawed Oliver once more. Barry heroically saved Oliver's life from mirakuru poisoning by ingeniously using rat poison to thin the maple syrup his blood was curdling into. Rat Poison: The Cure for the Common Mirakuru. I guess Oliver thought Barry would choke in his big hero moment, judging from how he choked Barry when he came to and then yelled at Felicity for giving away his secret. (Later, Oliver de-hoods himself in places where his identity could easily be seen by others, like right after landing on the ground after repelling from a rooftop meeting with Quentin Lance.) "Never meet your heroes," Felicity wisely advised Barry as Oliver was summoned back to Stately Queen Manor by mother Queen's text message.

Barry's main purpose for the rest of the episode was to wait around for the results of Oliver's blood analysis. He used that idle time to flirt with Felicity and dig around her actual feelings for Oliver Queen, "a billionaire by day who saves the city by night." "Sounds like you want to date him," quips Felicity in the zinger of the night. ("Lighting my menorah" on Christmas is a close second from Ms. Smoak.) Barry also congratulated himself for his accurate guesses last week about why the Vigilante wears green and that he has partners. "He likes to be called the Arrow now," Diggle points out, which is news to me since I believe that's the first time Team Arrow acknowledged what everyone else has been calling Oliver's nom-de-hood for weeks. Barry finally returns to Central City without fanfare, but leaving behind a Christmas present for Oliver: a mask! Finally. One made of micro fibers that will perfectly conform to his facial structure and won't block his vision. The greasepaint/guyliner the Arrow wears is now gone in a flash.

During his quest to find the super powered brute Cyrus Gold, who is a fan of the poem about the seven stages of life that begins "Solomon Grundy was born on a Monday..." Oliver, the Ebenezer Scrooge of Starling City, is visited by the three ghosts of the episode's title.  All of these ghosts represent Oliver's survivor's guilt, as diagnosed by war veteran Diggle. The first ghost was Shado, who visited him in Stately Queen Manor and urged him to live a real life, lest all his loved ones die. (Thea overhead Oliver talking in the hall but conveniently didn't hear him talk about wearing the hood to honor Shado and Yeo Fei's memories.) The second ghost was of Slade Wilson, who dropped by the Arrow Cave (after making a cameo during a rooftop exposition moment between the Vigilante and Quentin Lance). Ghost Slade tore Oliver a new one for being a weakling and a coward before he attacked Oliver and tore up the Arrow Cave. But since it was just a ghost, it was really hallucinating Oliver who was flinging himself through the glass display cases for his Arrow gear. Or was it...? The final ghost was by far the best and most unexpected ghost: during his climactic battle with Cyrus Gold after confronting the masked Brother Blood for the first time, Oliver was defeated until the ghost of Tommy Merlyn(!) appeared to forgive Oliver, tell him he's really a hero, and urged him to get up and fight the way the ghost of Mickey did for Rocky Balboa. That was the best. What a great surprise to see Colin Donnell again. Tommy Merlyn is magic and a happy Christmas miracle (or mirakuru) from Arrow to us.

Oliver blames himself for events in the present and five years ago on the Island that resulted in tragic deaths. In his questionable mental state, since there was nothing wrong with his blood work and his hallucinations were all psychosomatic, the Arrow asked Officer Lance to take on Cyrus Gold for him. Lance gets his old partner played by Roger Cross to help him go after Gold for old time's sake. I'm not sure we ever learned his full name before; it's Lucas Hilton. The team of Lance and Hilton had the misfortune of adding Brother Blood's man Officer Daily to their unit. Via Daily, Gold knew the cops were coming and slaughters them, murdering Hilton in cold blood while Lance is grievously injured and hospitalized. RIP Detective Lucas Hilton, we hardly knew ye.

As for five years ago on Lian Yu, Anthony Ivo procures himself his long-awaited box of 70 year old mirakuru and takes Sara, Shado and Oliver prisoner literally over Slade's dead body. When Sara pleads for their lives, Ivo forces Oliver to choose whether Ivo will execute Shado or Sara. Oliver couldn't choose between these two hot girls he boned within the last year, and how could he? We waited for Slade to miraculously revive, his blood coursing with super soldier mirakuru, to save Oliver and the girls. But it doesn't happen, or doesn't happen soon enough, and KABLAMMO! This is how Shado dies! Cap popped in the head by Ivo. Shado died on the Island like her father. Slade does revive and delivers serious deathstrokes to Ivo's band of pirates, but he is far too late to save his beloved Shado. "WHY?" Slade demands in agony. Sara, thinking quickly to save her and Oliver's lives from Slade's fury, smartly puts it all on Ivo and throws him under the bus.

The wheels of Arrow's supporting cast who are unaware of the word 'mirakuru' (until Roy Harper discovered the word) kept turning. Oliver finds Roy with the arrow he placed in Roy's leg the night before in agony on Thea's bed, and Oliver tried his best to act surprised. Since he put the arrow there, the least Oliver could do (his words) was remove the arrow, and then awkwardly make excuses for why the Vigilante might have felt the need to do such a thing to innocent young Mr. Harper. Thea and Sin take the Case of Sin's Dead Friend and The Mysterious Blood Bank to Laurel, who used her Assistant District Attorney powers to look into the case and came up empty, except for a lead on psych tests all donors at the Blood Bank underwent. Laurel then went on a strange date with Sebastian Blood (he asked her if she was okay once, she ran away because her father was in the ICU. He asked her a second time, he got a hug. Note: Always ask Laurel if she's okay twice an episode.) In the hospital, Laurel had another touching scene with her father. Katie Cassidy's best scenes are always opposite Paul Blackthorne. The Lances bring out the best in each other.

Meanwhile, injured Roy decides to hobble into the psychologist's office and curiously found people dousing it with gas cans to set it on fire. As he tried to escape to the safety of a dark alley, Roy is clotheslined by Solomon Grundy and soon finds himself tied to a chair in the lair of Brother Blood. Too late to stop Blood from sticking Roy with something pointy, the Arrow Merlyn's up and destroys the centrifuge, injuring Cyrus Gold and chemically deforming him to now resemble the comic book zombie version of Solomon Grundy. Oliver de-hoods again as he tries to resuscitate Roy, who's bleeding from a different orifice than usual, his eyes. But the mirakuru didn't kill Roy, like it didn't kill Slade. Next thing Roy knows, he's safe in Thea's bed, free to not explain to her where he's been, and he's perfectly clean and blood-free. Did Oliver give him a sponge bath in Thea's bed? Why was that scene left on the cutting room floor? But now Roy has mirakuru super strength. In Oliver's words, Team Arrow will need to keep a close eye on him.

To keep Arrow's grateful fanbase warm until January, Arrow unloads a quiver-full of endings Return of the King-style. The Arrow gets his mask. Felicity gets a promise that if she ever decided to walk away from Oliver, Barry would light her menorah. Roy finds his leg mirakuru-ly healed from his arrow wound. But here are the important endings: Brother Blood reports to his benefactor and by his smoky New Zealand accent we know right away the man pulling Blood's strings is none other than Slade Wilson himself! Not only is Slade in Starling City and has been for some time, but he seems to be a wealthy tycoon. Slade makes his intentions clear, to corrupt and destroy every aspect of his "friend" Oliver Queen's life and loved ones until there's nothing left, and then "I'll put an arrow in his eye!"

And if that weren't enough to leave us foaming at the mouth until January, lightning strikes! Barry Allen returns to his lab in Central City during a lightning storm, naturally, where he watches STAR Labs finally turn on their particle accelerator, only to watch it explode, blaze into the sky, and then send a bolt of lightning into Barry's lab to strike Barry! Thus is born the Flash.

Arrow. A superhero mirakuru on television.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1x10 - "The Bridge"

They say you shouldn't burn bridges, but Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does just that, in a good way. "The Bridge," an ante-upping, slam-bang midseason finale, at long last follows up on the story threads woven in the pilot as the Agents once again are hot on the trail of the terrorist group Centipede, last seen in "The Girl in the Flower Dress" back in episode 5. In Skye's words, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been playing whack-a-mole with Centipede since their encounter with the ill-fated, would-be superhero Scorch; forcing Centipede on the run as S.H.I.E.L.D. locates and shuts down their bases of operation. Centipede's Extremis-powered super soldiers are also being jeopardized by being constantly on the run. Thanks to experiments on Scorch, the Extremis has stabilized so the soldiers no longer explode, but there are continuing issues with their technology. We also learn Centipede is responsible for the eye implant technology we saw in "Eye Spy." It's all connected! And it's about to get even more connected, like the dots and four.

Centipede's Extremis soldiers bust Edison Po out of prison. Who is Edison Po? He's the guy we saw in the tag at the end of "The Girl with the Flower Dress." He also seems to be a foodie who really likes his steak. More pertinent, he's both a killer and some sort of tactical expert with direct ties to Centipede's mysterious leader the Clairvoyant, acting as the Clairvoyant's mouth piece. Both Skye and May voice their opinion that they'll need some serious backup from S.H.I.E.L.D. if they're taking on superpowered Extremis soldiers. Instead of a squad of Agents, S.H.I.E.L.D., an organization that must be pinching pennies since their giant island fortress the Triskelion houses multiple flying helicarriers (and those don't come cheap), sends Coulson's group one man: enter M.I.K.E. P.E.T.E.R.S.O.N., Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (I won't be typing that again).

Peterson, played with wit and pathos by the J. August Richards, is of course, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first case together and the reason Skye is on the plane. Coulson directly recruits Peterson from the S.H.I.E.L.D. version of Quantico where Peterson has been busy failing to beat Captain America's record for pushing a tractor across a football field. When Coulson tells Mike to "suit up," it turns out he was referring to an actual business suit, which Richards sports with style and aplomb. Meanwhile, Fitz-Simmons, the owners of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Men's Warehouse, apparently (you're gonna like the way you look, they guarantee it), cook up a superhero-esque black uniform for Mike. This after Simmons flirts with him awkwardly. It seems like Fitz-Simmons have been watching Will Smith's Hancock on the Bus because the suit they give Peterson looks a lot like that. May and Skye, both good at math, apparently, again voice the opinion that perhaps they need more backup against Centipede. Mike Peterson has Extremis powers, the Centipede soliders have Extremis powers. 1 < More than 1 = Math. Coulson says, "Hey, the budget of this show is out of my hands" (in effect). Mike's the best (also only special guest star) they've got.

Before, during, and after encountering Centipede, our Agents deal with a lot of personal stuff, all to the angry scowls of May, who would like to focus 100% on the mission and reacts with fury at everyone trying to weave subplots into the episode. May doesn't want Ward making goo goo eyes at her while sparring or taking hits for her during combat in the field (despite Ward explaining the latter was entirely tactical), and she does NOT want to deal with Skye's continuing search for her birth mother. May really lays into Skye, forcing her into her bunk and making her cry. Coulson is torn throughout the episode about which of the Agents under his charge to give calm, fatherly advice to. For once, he leaves Skye be and chooses the fellas: Coulson and Ward driving Lola on an undercover mission have an interesting conversation about Coulson's love life and the toll his dying took on that girl in Portland who plays the cello he told Tony Stark and Pepper Potts about in The Avengers. (We also learn the Avengers still think Coulson is dead.) Coulson also takes the time to counsel Peterson about his son Ace and why Mike hasn't seen his son since the events in the pilot. Skye does the same, since she and Peterson have that "We were the focus of the pilot" connection. We realize that Peterson is kind of unique on this show: an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who actually has family he cares about and a personal life. Most S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents seem to lack that, including significant others.

It seems like Peterson is the person Centipede actually wants to capture. Turns out when Ward shot Peterson in the pilot, the tech in whatever Fitz-Simmons armed the gun with was what stabilized Peterson's Extremis so he could control it. Going right for his Achilles Heel in that way Spider-Man always dreads, hence the secret identity, Centipede kidnaps Peterson's son and arranges a trade on a bridge for Peterson. But man oh man, did S.H.I.E.L.D. get played: Turns out Centipede didn't want Peterson -- it was Coulson they wanted all along! And Peterson helped set Coulson up to save his son. Once Coulson understood, he took the betrayal rather calmly. Poor Mike Peterson, a guy who tries to do good but is forced into moral compromises that betrays his friends. He'll never be like the Heroes of New York Avengers action figures he bought his son. While Mike does retrieve Ace and leaves him safely with Skye, Mike attempts to save Coulson from Centipede and is blown up in the process, sparing him the indignity of being imprisoned by S.H.I.E.L.D. or worse yet, being forced to wear an Internet Nanny Bracelet of Treason like Skye. Centipede, with Coulson taken prisoner by Raina, the Girl in the Flower Dress, and Edison Po (they of the creepy finger-touching interaction), escape via helicopter and open fire on Ward, injuring him, as Skye screams in terror and May looks on, helpless and scowlier than ever.

Why did Centipede want Coulson all along? Because they, like everyone watching at home, want to know exactly what happened the day after Coulson died. Kudos to Centipede, then, for not sitting around waiting for answers and going out and doing something about getting some. That sort of makes Centipede heroes, I suppose. But not really. They're very Big Bads. Thus ends the first half (more or less) of season one of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in rather intriguing The Empire Strikes Back-esque fashion.

Looking very much forward to Return of the Coulson in January.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Live Tweeting the 2013 WWE Slammy Awards

The WWE's annual award show tradition, the Slammys, was last night. Watch my mood sink from jovial to dissension as the show continued for three grueling, crock-of-shit hours.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Arrow 2x8 - "The Scientist"

Barry Allen. An unassuming yet earth-shattering (in a different way from the Undertaking) name introduced into the Arrow television universe. Here he is, played by Grant Gustin in all his boyish (pointed out several times by gruff, square-jawed and manly Oliver) and nerdy charm. He's always late for trains, "not good on his feet," reads Scientist Showcase magazine (issue number 4, no doubt), doesn't seem to have the same hots for Felicity (in the Roy Harper way) that she does for him, he worships the Starling City Vigilante, and he's not what he says he is. Posing as a CSI scientist from Central City, Allen is indeed a scientist, but merely an assistant looking for answers to his mother's murder and his father's wrongful imprisonment for that murder. We're now in brand new Barry Allen territory here, with a tragic past where one senses the guiding hand of DC Comics' chief creative Geoff Johns. 11 year old Barry was attacked in his home by "a blur," in which he saw a man (was it this guy?). His mother was killed and his father was blamed for the crime. (Allen could unwittingly be talking about the Red Tornado for all we know.) Now, Barry Allen has come to Starling searching for answers, and though he does not yet don the scarlet of the speedster he will soon become, the Arrow universe will never be the same.

The best gag in the episode was the wink wink to the Flash's comic book origin: Barry Allen, standing in front of a window during a lightning storm, complaining to Felicity about how the chemicals in the Queen Consolidated lab are dangerously shelved. While the presence of the future Flash is the harbinger of the introduction of superpowers into what has up til now been a gritty and 'realistic' Arrow universe, it turns out superpowers are already here and beat the Flash to the party. Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle are called in to investigate a mysterious break in at the Queen Consolidated Applied Sciences warehouse. None of them appreciated Detective Lance's crack about Queen Consolidated having another earthquake machine lying around. A huge, muscular brute who looked kind of like Bane but is probably the yet-unnamed Solomon Grundy (brother Cyrus, as Brother Blood called him last week) bashed his way in, murdered security, and walked off with a centrifuge. (Cue a lot of exposition about what a centrifuge is plus a shout out to Kord Industries.) While Felicity is taken by the nerdy science talkin' ways of young Mr. Allen, Oliver knows way, way more than he's letting on and is being his typical withholding-vital-information-from-his-team self.

In the most direct collision of events five years ago on Lian Yu affecting events in present day yet, it turns out the centrifuge theft is part of an overall scheme to manufacture more mirakuru ("miracle," someone always helpfully adds.) Mirakuru is the super soldier serum hidden on the errant Japanese World War II sub somewhere on Lian Yu, which five years ago-Oliver, five years ago-Sara, Shado and dying on his feet-Slade are able to locate. Despite Professor Ivo and his merry band of pirates hot on their heels, our Island heroes have time to play 'catch up on personal relationships' games where Shado learns Oliver slept with Sara, the sister of the girl Oliver says he's in love with and can produce a photo of at the drop of a hat, while Slade confesses his own feelings towards Shado. Our Island heroes find the mirakuru in the sub even faster than they found the sub itself, and despite lacking a necessary sedative and never questioning whether a 70 year old serum would even be potent, the options are watch Slade die a slow death or inject him with mirakuru and watch him die quickly with bloody eyes. Or it could cure him and make him super. It didn't, at least not as far as we saw before Ivo and the pirates burst in pointing guns at everyone.

All of these things Oliver remembers like it was yesterday, or one scene ago, but he kept it all to himself until after a mack truck confrontation with Solomon Grundy (no one calls him that) where the Arrow (who doesn't call himself that yet) got his clock cleaned. Outmatched and finally feeling like sharing with his loyal helpers, Oliver clues Diggle and Felicity in on the events five years ago and why the word 'mirakuru' is suddenly so important and dangerous. "Why couldn't you have been marooned on Aruba?" asks Felicity. I know, right? Or Tahiti. I hear it's a magical place. When Felicity, with a lot of assistance from Barry (who accurately deduced the methodology of the Vigilante - not just why he wears green but how he must have help from someone brilliant in computer science), located the A.R.G.U.S. warehouse where Grundy must have hidden the centrifuge, the Arrow goes in half-cocked and again gets his clock cleaned. Though admittedly, Oliver was doing pretty well for himself in the fight, until Grundy tossed him around like a pile of garbage and Oliver ended up with syringes of mirakuru stuck in his leg. The only person who can save Oliver now is Barry Allen. Rather than ask him, Diggle and Felicity did it the Oliver way: they drugged him with a poisoned dart until he awoke in the Arrow Cave to see the billionaire playboy who didn't like him very much unconscious on a slab wearing the green leather of the Vigilante Barry so admires. It's now up to Barry Allen to save his fellow future Justice Leaguer. And he'd better do it fast.

Oliver was in rare form in this episode, in that he was incompetent and pig-headed in an almost catastrophic level. Beyond his misadventures as the Arrow, Oliver insisted on bringing Moira back to sit in on high level Queen Consolidated board meetings. This didn't sit well with Isabel Rochev, who once more uttered her trademark line, "Mr. Queen, may I have a word with you?" Do Oliver's butt cheeks clench every time Isabel asks to have a word with him? Isabel was right when she pointed out acquitted but still publicly disgraced Moira Queen has no place in Queen Consolidated, but Oliver is such a mama's boy that he wouldn't hear of Starling City not loving his mommy dearest the way he does. Oliver decides the first swanky party of season 2 at Stately Queen Manor is just what Moira needs, only to find hardly anyone showed (not even Walter Steele,) even though Oliver looked very dashing in his tuxedo and Thea looked amazing in her evening clothes. Meanwhile, Oliver felt pangs of jealousy for the first time when another rooster seemed to be strutting around Felicity's hen house;  he instructed Diggle to dig through all of his Who's Who issues to get the lowdown on Barry Allen. His angry confrontation with Barry, calling him a liar liar pants on fire, blew up in his face when Barry emotionally narrated his Tragic Past Which Is Necessary For A Superhero's Origin. Even Felicity was super pissed at him, though Oliver smoothed it over by inviting Barry to be her prom date at Moira's disastrous party.

Oliver's penchant for withholding came from his loving mother, who is back to her old tricks of lying to her children's faces. The resurrected Malcolm Merlyn is now making a habit of climbing through Stately Queen Manor's windows and making threats. He wants his daughter Thea "prepared" for him, whatever that means. But loose lips sink ships and Malcolm is too keen to blab details about why he left Starling City and abandoned young Tommy after his affair with Moira 20 years ago. When Malcolm told her he went to Nanda Parbat, it gave Moira the idea to ask a Mysterious Man to send Ra's Al-Ghul a message. (How does one send Ra's a message? Do the League of Assassins have a Twitter or Tumblr?) It turns out Malcolm is not popular with the League of Assassins, who, despite having the word 'Assassins' right in their company name, have some sort of code of honor that somehow doesn't include murdering 503 people with an earthquake machine. (Though the Ra's Al-Ghul of Batman Begins would have been all for it.) Thanks to Moira, Ra's Al-Ghul now knows Malcolm Merlyn is alive and wants to kill him. Merlyn Daddy-Daughter Day will have to wait for another time.

The girl who is unwittingly Thea Merlyn, meanwhile, gave Roy her approval to resume his crime fighting ways in the Glades. To Roy's chagrin, Thea insists on tagging along and being the Scooby to his Shaggy when the Canary's girl friday Sin contacted him to help her look into a missing friend. Their investigation ends up intersecting with Oliver's investigation into the centrifuge and draws the attention of one of the Starling City cops who is secretly a henchman for Brother Blood. When Roy leaves an arrow out to call on his good friend the Vigilante, Roy and the Arrow get into a bizarre spur of the moment argument that hilariously ended with the Arrow putting an arrow in Roy's leg. You could say that's the end of their bromance, but a bromance tends to be a two way street and Oliver never really liked that kid to begin with. Maybe Roy can ask Laurel to help him sue the Vigilante.

P.S. Loved the joke where Barry asked Oliver if he knows anything about how to break someone's neck. Oh, you Justice Leaguers and your neck snapping...