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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Arrow 2x11 - "Blind Spot"

Oh Laurel. What are we gonna do with you? Discredit you, fire you, make your life a living hell. Done, done, and done. "Blind Spot" slammed the door - hard - on (now former) Assistant District Attorney Laurel Lance's attempts to uncover the nefarious truth about Alderman Sebastian Blood, the future Mayor of Starling City. Laurel really got knocked around; for the second time this season she was abducted by a villainous lunatic, this time as bait for the Arrow by the Man in the Skull Mask. When Sebastian got wind that Laurel visited his crazy mother/aunt Maya Resik (sort of like Oscar Bluth was Buster Bluth's father/uncle on Arrested Development) at Saint Walker's, Sebastian dropped by one last time before the Man in the Skull Mask put Maya out of her misery. The rest of "Blind Spot" was a chess game between the real brains behind Blood, Slade Wilson, and the unwitting Laurel, who got checkmated big time.

Thing is, Laurel was actually pretty awesome for most of the episode until Slade outwitted her. "Blind Spot" is some of Katie Cassidy's finest work on the series. Finding things for Laurel to do was a challenge for Arrow's writing team last season, but her recent crusade to get to the truth about Sebastian Blood thrust her right into the thick of the action. Neither Laurel nor Oliver were aware they were hunting the same man, and they both got bamboozled at the same time by Slade by the end. With no legal recourse or political incentive from the District Attorney's office to investigate "Starling's Favorite Son" Sebastian Blood, Laurel turned to the Arrow, like a Lance would, for help. She can be very persuasive standing on a rooftop announcing with conviction that Sebastian Blood killed his own mother and is a lying liar and bad, bad man. (She did sneak in a funny line calling Roy Harper the Arrow's "groupie.") The Arrow never made the mental leap to to connect Blood with his own quest to find the Man in the Skull Mask, but it's Laurel asking for help, something Oliver Queen simply cannot ignore. Maybe Oliver should have listened to Diggle after all; Diggle was quite contrary to everything Oliver wanted to do this episode, poking holes of reason in all of Oliver's assumptions and crossing his arms and frowning as Oliver ignored him repeatedly.

Of course, there's a secret file on Blood that could prove Laurel's theory correct. Of course, it is a hard copy hidden in a Hall of Records, and of course the Arrow has to break in and find a proverbial needle in a haystack. Laurel and Arrow (they could be an old timey vaudeville duo) break into the room and it looks almost like the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. A shocking twist would have been Laurel and Arrow finding the Ark of the Covenant. When the police quickly realize the Starling City Vigilante is in there and send a SWAT Team, Arrow and Laurel pull off one of those cool superhero through-the-window escapes, only to find the Blood file is blank. D'oh! From there, Slade Wilson, who bullies Sebastian Blood a lot more than Max Schreck did when he was masterminding Oswald Cobblepot's Mayoral run in Batman Returns, really put the screws to Laurel. They enlist their loyal acolyte Officer Daily to break into Laurel's apartment and arrest her for possession of a controlled substance. (This means DA Adam Donner was injected with Vertigo on television and now ADA Lance is also a drug addict. Looks real bad for the DA's office.) Laurel pleads with her father to believe her about Blood, but Quentin's a Blood booster and thinks he's a nice guy, and he can't see past Laurel having a problem with addiction that runs in the family.

Oliver gets Laurel home, presumably by being rich enough to post her bail, and somehow, shockingly, manages not to ask her if she's okay. He does manage to get knocked out by the Man in the Skull Mask and when he comes to, sitting up Undertaker style, he finds Laurel has been abducted. Luckily, the Man in the Skull Mask was thoughtful enough to leave graffiti on Laurel's wall telling the Arrow where to find her. And again, credit Laurel for being much tougher than expected and facing down the Man in the Skull Mask until the Arrow arrives to rescue her. Thus begins an awesome superhero vs. super villain smackdown: The Arrow vs. Brother Blood in The Battle of the Voice Modulators. And Brother Blood would have killed the Arrow, too, if Laurel didn't go Dirty Harry on the Man in the Skull Mask, shooting him in the back and emptying the clip! That was amazing. When they relieve the Man of his Skull Mask they find it isn't Sebastian Blood at all! It's Officer Daily! (You might call him the Daily Double if this were Jeopardy!) Oliver can't call it a win, despite Felicity's urging, because a part of him knows it's B.S. But Oliver is too caught up with feeling like a fool for believing Laurel, noting he has a blind spot when it comes to her. But he feels differently now that she is a known drug addict who has been officially shit canned from her job.

Not to put too fine a point to it, but Slade puts the fine point of his sword to Sebastian's men while wearing his full Deathstroke the Terminator costume to tell the audience that yes, indeed, Officer Daily was the Daily Double and not the real Man in the Skull Mask. There's only one Brother Blood, and that's Sebastian Blood, the guy cowering from fear of Slade. Slade is a scary dude.

Since Slade's scenes this week were all in present day Starling, he was noticeably absent from the Island five years ago, having absconded with the Mirakuru to go off and kill Ivo. Oliver and Sara return to the plane to regroup as Sara seriously considers Ivo's offer to turn over Slade and the Mirakuru in exchange for their freedom. Oliver's steadfastly against it because if there's one thing the Island taught him, it's the same lesson Stone Cold Steve Austin holds dear: D.T.A.: Don't Trust Anybody. Sara makes contact with Ivo and we explore the extent of her Stockholm Syndrome as Ivo tries to sweet talk her into coming back and giving him the Mirakuru. But Quentin Lance didn't raise his daughters to be dummies and when Sara calls back to reject Ivo's offer, Ivo turns on her and says only slightly less nice things to her than Walter White did when he called Skyler right before he left for New Hampshire towards the end of Breaking Bad. Well, that tears it, Sara and Oliver are going to find Slade, who might be only slightly less mean to them, what with the Mirakuru making him crazy and all.

Perhaps the most intriguing development of "Blind Spot" is what's going on with Roy Harper, or, as he might be dubbed, MiROYkuru. Roy's always been a sullen, secretive, moody asshole, but he's getting even worse, according to Thea. Oliver even visited him in an alley to check up on him and found him quick to run away from a conversation. Roy does recruit Sin's help, revealing his new Mirakuru-injected super strength to her. When she urges him to tell Thea, he scoffs that it could lead to her getting hurt. Sin correctly chastises him that he doesn't care if she gets hurt, however. Why do people hang out with Roy? Anyway, Roy wants to use his new superpowers to fight crime. Conveniently, there's a serial killer running around, a lawyer who kidnaps prostitutes and carves them up. Roy asks Thea to loan Sin something "slutty" to wear so she can dress like a prostitute, and Thea was hilariously all over it. Soon, Sin is walking the streets and finds herself in the serial killer's car. He takes her to an empty parking garage, showing that whoever wrote this has picked up a prostitute or two in Grand Theft Auto and probably killed her with a samurai sword to get his money back afterwards. But in seconds, Roy is on the scene to savagely toss the lawyer around and beat him to a pulp, smacking Sin in the face inadvertently for good measure. MirROYkuru rears his ugly head. The lawyer is hospitalized and Thea is aghast at what Roy did, so Roy does what he normally does: He tells Thea to "drop it," runs away, and cries. All of this is disturbing enough for Oliver to finally take action: the Arrow visits Roy in their special place, an alley, and makes MiROYkuru an offer he can't refuse: the Arrow will train him.

"When do we start?" asks Roy. How's next week sound? Yes? Great!