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'Arrow' recap: 'So It Begins'

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Katie Yu/The CW

Arrow

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-14
seasons:
4
run date:
10/10/12
performer:
Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey
broadcaster:
The CW
genre:
ActionAdventure, Crime

This week, Oliver and the Arrowlettes are faced with — eh, who cares? DOLPH LUNDGREN IS IN THE HOOOOOOOUUUUUSE!

The present:

We open on Green Arrow and Spartan tracking Prometheus. They enter an abandoned warehouse with an alarming number of flaming torches left burning unattended. It gets worse when a dramatic explosion results in the phrase “SO IT BEGINS” being spelled out in fire on the floor. Man, do I love an overly dramatic villain.

At the Arrow Cave, Felicity wants to loop in the Arrowlettes on the Prometheus situation, but Diggle and Oliver are reluctant. They haven’t forgotten Rene spilled the Green Arrow’s identity during his recent torture sesh, after all.

One thing Oliver’s not reluctant to do is sit for an interview with Susan Williams, who brought her cameras this time. Of note in this scene: Thea interrogates Lance about his ongoing sobriety, and Susan encourages Oliver to call her (wink wink). Thea reminds Oliver that Susan can literally ruin his career, but Oliver says he hasn’t done anything yet. Yet? Ye gods, no.

Also, Thea wants Star City to host a music and arts festival to boost tourism and revenue. She offers to call in favors from her nightclub days, while Lance says he knows a guy with a connection to the Rocket Arena.

Now for the upsetting part of the episode: A mom is vacuuming her house and picking up stuffed animals when Prometheus shows up and whips a throwing star into her neck. D.A. Chase (still don’t trust that guy) and Green Arrow are both on the scene investigating when they get a call about another throwing-star murder victim, this time a cab driver.

At the Arrow Cave, John wants Felicity to use her cop squeeze to get their hands on one of the throwing stars for analysis. She counters that Billy doesn’t know she works with the Green Arrow, and what they should actually do is tell the new recruits about Prometheus.

Then — whaddya know? — Felicity swans into SCPD to visit her man, transparently lying that another one of her friends was involved in a crime. Barnacle Bill, who’s no dummy, calls her on her obvious fib, then leaves her alone with one of the bloody throwing stars bagged as evidence on his desk.

And then the news starts reporting on the Throwing Star Killer (least imaginative name ever — what about the Star Slayer? Starman? The Bladed Menace?). This sends the city into a panic, particularly when there are reports he’s on the loose at an outdoor mall. Oliver finally lets Felicity call in the rest of the team to get the situation under control.

Gotta be honest, this scene is ridiculously “There were horses and a man on fire and I killed a guy with a trident” chaotic. It’s a glorified farmers market with tents and tables, and dudes are just shooting guns into the sky, thinking they’re protecting themselves from TSK, who’s out there somewhere. The team evacuates the civilians and stop the good guys with guns. (Oliver does this by shooting an arrow into the muzzle of one of the shooter’s pistols, which is easily the best part of this scene.)

When the team regroups, the Arrowlettes demand to know why they’re just now learning about a serial killer in Star City. “The A team had to make sure the B team was worthy enough of being kept in the loop,” Rene complains. Yeah, that’s not good for team unity.

Felicity’s victimology algorithm (at this point, I demand a new algorithm every week) comes through, and the team realizes the names of the last two victims are anagrams for names on Oliver’s old list. This leads to confession time as Oliver tells the newbies about his dad’s book and the way Oliver used it to punish those who (say it with me now!) failed the city when he returned to life five years ago.

NEXT: Oliver pays another visit to John Diggle

[pagebreak]

The team is shocked to learn Oliver’s a serial killer, having murdered bankers, lawyers, stock brokers, and others during his early vigilante days. “Let me get this straight: You’ve got a ‘to kill’ list, and I’m the out-of-control one?” Rene asks.

Particularly frustrated is Evelyn, since Oliver wouldn’t let her kill to revenge her family’s deaths lest she tarnish the Black Canary’s legacy. But Oliver shuts down the conversation and tells Felicity to get to work anagramming the names of the Star City population to see who needs their protection.

In Thea’s stultifying, never-ending B-plot, she can’t reach Quentin — so she visits his apartment, where she finds bottles of booze, empty takeout containers, and one very drunk deputy mayor. But he didn’t fall off the wagon; he was never on it in the first place.

“You can’t help a man who doesn’t want to be helped,” Quentin says after Thea offers to take him to a meeting. Okay, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is handling its alcoholism story line so much better this season, but I do appreciate the unspoken parallel between Quentin struggling with alcohol the way Laurel did.

Speaking of alcohol, the Arrowlettes have gathered to drink Rory’s family-recipe schnapps and complain about their boss. He doesn’t tell them things, his secrecy has gotten worse since John showed up, and now he’s a serial killer. Evelyn, especially, isn’t sure how she’ll do in the field with this distrust lingering in her mind.

And now we come to the second installment of John Diggle, talk therapist. Oliver’s upset about his team’s horrified reaction to the reveal of his murdery past. John tries to make him see their surprise is a sign of how far Oliver’s come.

Oliver points out that not so long ago, he killed Damien Darhk and Church’s men, but John shuts that down. “I know the difference between a good kill and one made out of rage.” It’s different than when Oliver was killing as a first resort, and as John points out, the old Oliver would never have stopped to wonder if he was on the wrong path.

Anyway, Felicity comes through with a list of possible anagram targets, and the team splits up to cover them individually. When Artemis is in place on a subway car to protect her target, Felicity tries to get her to open up about her feelings on Oliver. Weird timing, Fi. Artemis apparently agrees with me and shuts off her coms — which, of course, is when Prometheus shows up to kill a subway employee.

Artemis and Prometheus fight as Felicity worries about Artemis’ radio silence. She dispatches Green Arrow, who arrives in time to save the day. Prometheus escapes and leaves behind a bomb on the subway car, so Oliver clips a cable to everyone’s belts and shoots a parachute arrow through a hole in the roof to float him, Artemis, and the subway guy out of there.

Having saved her life, Oliver patches things up with Evelyn and promises Mayor Queen is placing the anagram targets into witness protection. He also swears he’ll keep the newbies informed in the future. They both apologize, he promises to be better, and she promises to be patient with him.

Speaking of patience, Felicity returns to the scene of her evidence-stealing crime and admits to Billy that she works for the Green Arrow and stole the throwing star. Billy is immediately, shockingly…understanding about it all, and tells her it’s cool because she’s doing it to save the city.

“Wow, that went a lot better than I expected,” she mutters. But then Billy hits her with questions about the Green Arrow: “Do you know where he lives? Is his face all scarred or something? Is that why he wears a hood?” Oh, Billy, if only you knew just how much she knows about what’s under the hood.

And we close in the present with the music festival, which Thea has somehow pulled off in, like, a day. She covers for Quentin’s absence and the Arrowlettes skip off to listen to music. Felicity shows up with news: The alloy on the throwing stars has dozens of different genetic markers and…blah blah blah, science. Long story short: “I think that Prometheus has gotten his hands on the various arrows that you’ve used over the past four years and melted them down and fashioned weapons out of them.”

This leads them both to the same conclusion: Prometheus has access to SCPD lockup. We then cut to Quentin Lance, waking up in his apartment with a wicked cut on his arm and a clean throwing star on his coffee table.

NEXT: Flashback: Five years ago

[pagebreak]

Now to the best part of this week’s episode: Anatoly’s teaching Oliver, who failed high-school chemistry twice, how to build a bomb. He also promises Oliver will learn other useful skills, like metal welding. I love that Bratva doubles as a trade school! Although, not a very good one, since Oliver accidentally detonates his practice bomb in the bar.

Their lessons are cut short when machine-gun fire cuts through the bar, and Anatoly tells Oliver that Kovar’s just declared war on Bratva. And since Kovar’s opening a casino, Oliver’s going to play a rich American investor to gain access and blow up the place.

Next thing we know, Oliver and his wig are in an ugly suit, playing an idiot investor panting after girls and games of craps in the proposed casino location. He’s also got a bomb stashed under a layer of cash in his briefcase. “You play…what’s American term, douche?…very well,” Oliver’s Bratva assistant tells him as they start to plant the bomb.

And then, enter! The! Lundgren! Oliver and his buddy are captured and tied to chairs as Kovar starts telling them a parable about a turnip. I don’t know; it’s all very Russian, and Kovar’s ominously taking off his jacket and bow tie as he’s telling the story, clearly about to mess some fools up. He holds a drink and cigarette in one hand as he nonchalantly snaps Oliver’s partner’s neck. And then we learn Kovar knows all about Oliver Queen: “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”

And with that, I’m officially more interested in the Bratva storyline than anything else this season. Also, Dolph Lundgren remains terrifyingly imposing even 31 years after he killed Apollo Creed.

Thoughts for your quiver:

  • Okay, no way is Quentin running around as Prometheus. That’s the least convincing red herring in the history of red herrings.
  • I’m softening on Billy, but still hate Susan with the fire of a thousand burning “SO IT BEGINS” on warehouse floors, although that’s mostly because of her unethical journalism.
  • Who’s down to try Rory’s family-recipe schnapps? Strong and a little sweet is just my style. (Insert Oliver Queen jokes here.)
  • Which arrow was better: parachute arrow, or arrow-in-gun muzzle?

Episode grade: C+

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