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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Arrow 2x12 - "Tremors"

"Tremors" does indeed create major, no-turning-back-now upheavals in the Arrow universe. As promised, the Arrow took on the Mirakuru-powered Roy Harper as his student and protege. It didn't go as well as he'd hoped. They say there's no such thing as a bad student, only bad teacher. Wait, who said that? I think it was Mr. Miyagi. In this case, both applies. Roy is a terrible student; he's impatient, angry, ungrateful. A lot like Daniel LaRusso was, except Roy can punch through a wall, a talent the Arrow would sorely need by episode's end. On the other hand, while Miyagi cleverly used Daniel and his karate training to get some household chores done, the Arrow didn't delve into metaphor or impart much in the way of sage wisdom when assigning Roy tasks like slapping water. He just droned on about learning control in his droning, modulated voice. So one can understand Roy's frustration. Also, there are drugs in his system driving him crazy. It just seems like Oliver didn't think this whole project through - what he was mainly thinking about was the guilt he feels over Slade Wilson five years ago.

"Who's Slade Wilson?" Diggle and Felicity ask. Funny they don't know that story. We, the audience, have watched it unfold every week for a season and a half, but Oliver's never mentioned his old buddy Slade to his trusted confidantes until now. Oliver launched into an Obi-Wan Kenobi-like quasi-explanation that Slade once suffered from the same Mirakuru poisoning Roy now has, and that he tried to help Slade, but it all ended up with him putting an arrow in Slade's eye. Five years ago, on Lian Yu, Sara and Oliver tracked Slade from the plane to the cave to Fyers' rocket launcher, after skipping the hatch, the three-toed statue, and the Black Rock. The Mirakuru-crazed Slade decided to use these leftover rockets to blow up the freighter and kill Ivo and his men once and for all as revenge for killing Shado. Oliver would like very much to tell Slade that Shado was killed because he was forced by Ivo to choose between Sara and Shado, but Sara talked him out of mentioning that to his insane, gun-pointing-in-Oliver's-face buddy. Point is, Oliver Queen, you have failed Slade Wilson (according to your finely sharpened guilt complex), and Oliver can't fail Roy Harper in the same way. Plus there's Thea to think about.

Ah, Thea. The heartbeat of all subplots. The common thread woven into ancillary character's motivations. Thea doesn't do much these days beside run Verdant, worry about Roy, and give her mom attagirls, but she's so very important to everyone. Moira was asked out to dinner by the very welcome-whenever-he-appears Walter Steele and laughed when Walter and his political partner were very serious in pitching Moira to run for Mayor against Sebastian Blood. What a race that would be: Who do you go for, Starling City? Blood or Queen? Moira can't fathom how someone just tried and acquitted for her role in an Undertaking that destroyed part of the city and killed 503 people could run for Mayor of that very city, but Thea, a newly registered voter, sold her mom on the idea of redemption. There are, apparently, many in Starling (43% - just shy of Mitt Romney's 2012 estimates) who think Moira was merely protecting her family from crazed, murderous billionaire Malcolm Merlyn. And the Queen name is still the most visible in Starling. Mayor Moira Queen, eh? It's not as unlikely as Kansas State Senator Martha Kent on Smallville.

Meanwhile, Oliver needs his new protege Roy's help in fighting an new/old foe, Benjamin Turner, the Bronze Tiger, newly liberated from Iron Heights prison. Cue Felicity scoffing at Turner's codename because "tigers aren't bronze." No, but see, then we get into how casually racist comic book creators were for decades where many African-American characters had to have a qualifier in their name like "Black Panther" or "Black Lightning" to help remind the reader that the character was black, but that's neither here nor there. The Bronze Tiger was hired for ten million American dollars by someone named Armitage to break into Malcolm Merlyn's mansion to steal -- a prototype earthquake machine! Malcolm had another one! Armitage plans to sell it to a buyer in Markovia, a DC Universe Eastern European nation famous for spawning Geo-Force of the Outsiders and the traitorous Terra of the New Teen Titans. (Incidentally, Dr. Brion Markov - the alias of Geo-Force - was the name of the scientist who invented the Unidac earthquake machine. Malcolm Merlyn murdered him last season.) "Do you have one of your hoodies?" is the Arrow's call to action. "You're kidding, right?" responded Roy. And so the Arrow and his boy wonder blundered into Stately Merlyn Mansion, past a framed photo of dearly departed Tommy Merlyn, and battled the Bronze Tiger, but were unable to stop Turner and his men from stealing the Unidac device because the Arrow had to stop #RoydRage from beating a henchman to death.

Thanks to Felicity's sleuthing skills, Team Arrow learned where the exchange for the Unidac would be made, and the Arrow brought Roy yet again. This was after #RoydRage expressed his displeasure at the Arrow's coaching style by hurling him across the room and through a table. Not even Obi-Wan Kenobi put up with that kind of abuse from his padawan Anakin. Well, except when Anakin went full on dark side and they lightsaber dueled for what seemed like forever on the volcano planet. Out of ideas for ways to motivate the crazy strong, crazy angry, crazy Roy, the Arrow name drops Thea - Roy's beloved girlfriend whose arm he almost broke during #RoydRage when she refused to follow his instructions to leave town for no particular reason. Together, the Arrow and Roy again get the drop on Bronze Tiger and Armitage, foiling the sale of the Unidac.

When the Arrow's explosive tip arrows aren't enough to penetrate the crate the newly activated Unidac machine is in, the Arrow realized he has only one recourse and he unmasks! (Later, Oliver admitted to Diggle and Felicity he wasn't really thinking of the consequences. No kidding.) The unmasking of the Arrow literally stopped #RoydRage from beating Bronze Tiger to death via his patented move: mount a man and then punch him in the face over and over. Roy might as well have echoed Felicity's famous words when she saw the true face of the Arrow: "Oliver. Suddenly, everything about you is incredibly clear." You see, all Roy really wanted was the Arrow's trust in him, and now that he knows the Vigilante is the hero he worshiped who saved his life and later shot him with an arrow ("Forgiven, by the way.") is also the older brother of his girlfriend, this knowledge curbed Roy's #RoydRage. But at the moment, Oliver really needs Roy to channel that #RoydRage for the greatest good, and punch that crate! Punch it, Roy does, and another explosive arrow put an end to the threat of a second earthquake machine. Unless, you know, Malcolm has another one stashed somewhere. Finally, Roy Harper is welcomed into the warm bosom of the "Secret Society" called Team Arrow - "We don't call it that," says Oliver. "I do, sometimes!" retorts Felicity.  "How many people know your identity?" Roy wonders. "Too many." says Oliver. Yep, those numbers add up. Roy meets the two most important ones, Felicity and Diggle, and gets a season pass to the ultra exclusive Arrow Cave, right below where Roy works. Convenient. And now, #RoydRage is as much Diggle and Felicity's problem as Oliver's.

Speaking of problems, Laurel doesn't have one. Why does everyone keep insisting she does? Now unemployed, Laurel's father Quentin tried to trick Laurel into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but Laurel quickly took way more than twelve steps in the opposite direction. However, Laurel does have a problem: she's unhireable, pending disciplanary action from the bar. Laurel could be legally disbarred. So, she heads straight to the hottest bar in town, Verdant, you know, the one run by her ex-boyfriend's eighteen year old little sister who was herself a drunk and substance abuser. I have to admit, Drunk Laurel is my favorite Laurel, dropping truth bombs on the disapproving Queens on either side of her. Plus Laurel said the cleverest thing she's ever said: "Sure, bar me from your bar. That's today's theme, right? Disbarment." Her wordplay is really witty when she's smashed. Give that girl some olives. Oliver sees as much of this as he can stand and since he doesn't need to ask Laurel this week if she's okay, he puts a mysterious phone call in. Later, when Laurel stumbles him to her apartment - the scene of numerous home invasions and at least two of her kidnappings - to collapse next to her couch, she's visited by a ghost. But it's not a ghost - it's Sara! The Canary came home!

Finally, someone else gets a mysterious visitor back in Iron Heights when the clickety clacking of five inch heels brings the highly-classified Amanda Waller to the cell of Benjamin Turner. She's here to recruit him for a Squad. (A Suicide Squad, she doesn't say, because that's a horrible pitch. But that's what it is.)