No one believes anyone else and John Barrowman touches people a lot

By Adam Carlson
Updated January 24, 2013 at 05:45 AM EST
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Jack Rowand/The CW

This week on Arrow, we begin and end with an apology.

First, mine: Your regular recapper was called away to an urgent red carpet emergency, but I’ll do my best in her stead — and in return, I hope you’ll give me a little more credit than Dig gave Oliver this week.

But we haven’t even gotten to the credits! Okay, first thing: We pan up on an armored truck with two bantering security guards inside (they hate each other’s music, but lovably, I imagine). It’s dark and it’s raining and before they — or we — know it, a man in a black mask steps into the road, raises a pretty big gun and fires right at them.

It’s only a smoke grenade launcher, which is little consolation as the men are robbed and relieved of their truck’s contents (mysterious bags all, as if money wouldn’t feel safe in any other kind of container).

Meanwhile: Thea’s turning 18! And wants a car! Her mom isn’t so sure, but Thea plays the younger sibling card and the discussion is tabled for the day.

Meanwhile, hasn’t Oliver’s mom been acting strange? Oliver’s just asking for Thea. No, says Tommy. It’d be weird if she weren’t acting strange, what with her Suddenly Disappearing Spouses. At this exact moment, a news broadcast breaks on the living room TV: It’s footage of the robbery from the night before, and something about it strikes Oliver immediately.

This leads him straight to his hideout for some research and quality quipping time with Dig. On Oliver’s latest request: “You’re finally getting into online dating and need help with your profile?”

Not at all — the robbery footage looks eerily similar to tactics used by some ex-military men who were deployed in Afghanistan. Oliver has been tracking one in particular, a Ted Gaynor.

Dig blanches: Gaynor was his commanding officer. But Oliver, fueled by city-failing righteousness, is unmoved.

“I’m sorry, Dig. Gaynor’s on the list.”

The list (hereafter The List) isn’t enough evidence for Dig, though: Gaynor isn’t rich. Gaynor isn’t evil. Maybe Oliver made a mistake?

“I could be wrong,” he says. “The List isn’t.” Fair enough.

We jump to Tommy doing a lot of yelling and gesturing in what will eventually become a nightclub. Then his phone rings. It’s his dad, looking to clear the air with a dinner invitation. He just wants them “to be close.” Barrowman says it with a hint of a shiver, though, so you know it’s a crazed request.

But Tommy’s fine with it. Can Laurel come, too?

NEXT: A surprising standoff

When we catch up with Oliver, he’s already well into his latest Operation: Arrow, breaking into an office building, subduing two men and cracking down hard on Gaynor as the man pockets a mysterious USB drive (sorry: security fob, which still looks surprisingly similar to a USB drive).

“Ted Gaynor, we’re going to have a conversation,” Arrow says.

Not so fast: Dig shows up, gun drawn. “Put the bow down.”

There’s a moment of tension, which is cut off by Arrow escaping into the night…and then immediately revisited in the next scene, as Dig and Oliver fight it out (with words, for once) back at hideout headquarters.

Dig basically wants to make Oliver realize that not everything he learns from The List can be trusted, while Oliver just wants Dig to learn that he already knows everything, thank you, and he and The List are very happy together.

Fine, Dig says, but at least let him try to prove Gaynor’s innocence. “You owe me that. You owe me at least that.”

The tension must be contagious because it also spoils Thea’s outing with her mother when Moira receives an urgent call from Malcolm, cutting short a promised full day of bonding.

It turns out that Malcolm needs Moira to talk their common conspirator, Carl Ballard, out of trying to gentrify The Glades because it isn’t “part of the plan.” She agrees, on one condition: that she receive proof that Walter is still alive.

A majority of Malcolm’s communication in this scene consists of creepy physical contact, which Thea — spying from a far corner — misinterprets as romantic.

(There’s another snippet of Laurel and Tommy, but it mainly consists of his reluctance and her wheedling. And then he makes a joke about not being able to buy a fence.)

Back at the Big Belly Burger, Dig and Gaynor are reliving the glory days when Gaynor suddenly says something we’ve all been thinking: Dig’s sister-in-law likes him likes him. Didn’t he realize?

Back at the mansion, Oliver works to unlock the security fob — with little luck — before Thea barges in with an urgent personal crisis: Their mother is cheating on their stepfather! In fact, she’s behaving now just like she did before their father mysteriously disappeared.

Oliver doesn’t believe her, but for all the wrong reasons. Thea, in a moment of lucidity that she won’t get back to, calls him out on it: “[Mom]’s a liar and a cheater and you really don’t know her at all.”

Oliver listens attentively and then immediately goes and tells his mother about Thea’s suspicions, which she hand-waves away with some light lying. But what’s this? The scene ends with Oliver’s eye twinkling…with dawning comprehension?

Finally, we arrive at Tommy’s dinner with his dad, with Laurel as co-star and moral support. Everyone is eating sushi and swapping fond memories until Malcolm decides to kill the mood by asking for Tommy’s permission to close his dead mother’s free clinic — a project that meant everything to her. Tommy is devastated and storms out, but only after vowing to stop letting his dad “disappoint him.”

NEXT: Felicity!

Finally, some Felicity. Even she was starting to worry that her days as his “personal computer geek” were over. But not to worry: he’s been competing in a scavenger hunt, see, and he has this security fob and it would be really just great if she could crack it for him.

Oh it has a “military grade cryptographic security protocol”? Well, he promises to give her a bottle of the victory wine. (At these sorts of scavenger hunts, there is always victory wine.)

Dig and Gaynor continue their re-bonding session with a stroll through what appears to be a fancy garage. Dig wants to know about one of Gaynor’s newest employees, an ex-soldier they both knew — or as Gaynor introduced him: Knox from the ‘Stan. Why bring Knox from the ‘Stan onto his security operation?

Because, Gaynor says, times are tough and if he didn’t give his ex-soldier friends jobs, they might (gasp) turn into bank robbers.

It’s unfortunate that Dig doesn’t catch the irony, because Felicity soon cracks the security fob and calls up Oliver to let him know what she found: a whole directory of information on how to implement a robbery ring. She recommends that they take it to the police, but Oliver is not feeling that at all and asks her instead to just forward him the information directly and he’ll “personally” turn it over to the cops.

Best moment of the night so far? After hanging up with him, Felicity mutters to herself, “So no wine then?”

With unlocked fob in hand, Arrow is able to intercept and foil another armored truck robbery. In the process, he injures one of the robbers — suddenly named “Blake,” once his colleagues start shouting out, “Blake’s hit! Blake’s hit!” — and wraps up in time to make it to Thea’s glowstick-heavy birthday party, where he spares a second to bond with his sister.

But then Thea’s Friends Who Give Her Drugs show up and give Thea drugs while Oliver and Dig go off in a corner and conspire. New plan: Dig will investigate the operation under the assumption that Knox from the ‘Stan is the ringleader while Oliver stays behind and ignores the fact that his sister appears to be a recreational drug addict.

Retreating to her room for the moment, Thea spots her mom in the middle of another intimate moment with Malcolm, complete with another round of creepy touching. Moira was actually there to see proof that Walter is still alive, but Thea doesn’t want to hear about it and angrily declares, “I wish it’d been you that was on that boat.”

Back at Gaynor’s fancy garage, Dig discovers blood in one of the vans, as well as detachable logos on the side of the vehicle. Not enough evidence for a jury, but it convinces Dig — which is good timing, because Knox from the ‘Stan steps right out of the shadows, gun raised. It’s a double case of mistaken identity: Dig automatically assumes that he’s found his guy, while Knox from the ‘Stan now thinks that Dig is the one who hacked into their system.

“He didn’t think you’d be very cooperative,” Knox from the ‘Stan says with a gun at Dig’s back.

“Who?”

NEXT: An unsurprising revelation

Yes, that’s right: Gaynor is guilty.

Anyway, he also steps out of the shadows to enlist Dig in his “mission,” which includes but is not limited to giving his band of military men purpose and drive after being hired to babysit rich halfwits. Really, this means stealing things.

Dig initially resists, until Gaynor’s men drag in his sister-in-law. If Dig doesn’t help them on their last job, they both die.

This all seems pretty dire until we quickly realize that Oliver is listening in from the bug that he slipped into Dig’s pocket. Arrow to the rescue!

Armed Robbery Attempt/Quality Action Scene No. 3 quickly falls apart, first when Dig refuses to actually fire on the truck, second when Dig then fires on Gaynor and his men and third when Arrow shows up and starts killing people. (Knox from the ‘Stan goes first, with a crunch of the neck.)

Last left alive is Gaynor, who Dig follows into an alley, threatening to shoot him if he doesn’t stop running. Gaynor doesn’t believe he’ll do it — a dilemma that is quickly rendered irrelevant when Arrow shoots him instead.

“You’re late,” Dig says once it’s over.

“You knew about the bug?” Arrow asks. (Of course he did.) But it wasn’t because Oliver didn’t trust Dig; it was just that Oliver didn’t trust them.

And then he’s gone, leaving Dig to handle the approaching cop cars, a dead body and his traumatized (but relieved) sister-in-law.

Cut to: Thea joyriding in her new car, high out of her mind, just trying to head-dance to her music.

She goes straight into a ditch.

Oliver and Moira rush straight to the hospital to find that Thea is fine, just a little “headachey” (which is crazy: the wreck seemed to involve a very slammed head) and in no mood to talk to her mother.

Our last Laurel-and-Tommy moment of the evening sees them bonding over his dead mother, who Tommy doesn’t much remember, even though her death drove his father away from him for good. We learn this as the camera does a Dutch-angled zoom-in on Malcolm staring at an old family photo. Reassuring.

Also reassuring: how quickly Dig got away from the cops (apparently he just told them a modified version of the truth). This leaves plenty of time for him and Oliver to re-bond after their blow-up earlier. Oliver apologizes for his behavior and admits to trusting few people…but that he does trust Dig, his “partner.”

To prove it, he turns over The List, allowing Dig to cross out Gaynor’s name himself.

It’s a nice moment with which both actors do nice things — and a cleansing counterpoint to their fight, which suffered seriously from Stephen Amell trying to act both growly and indignant.

Later, Oliver checks Thea out of the hospital, and they’ve just begun to argue about how evil their mother is or isn’t when a cop appears. Turns out, Thea was driving while under the influence of “vertigo,” a drug which looks to be much more important next week.

Last: the flashback! I’ve lumped them all together here because 1) each scene was rather brief and 2) the whole sequence of them added little to the episode’s momentum. Anyhow, we pick up with Oliver back on the island in full military garb and on the prowl before realizing, in a nifty turn, that he’s trying to infiltrate the island’s military group instead of hunt them. This goes south rather quickly, which leads to Oliver’s re-imprisonment and the reveal (shock, gasp) that his mentor is actually alive — and working for the enemy.

It was the night’s one good twist, though not its only good moment, I thought. Still, the week lagged while trying to give each player something to do.

What did you think of the episode: too confrontation-heavy or just right?

Episode Recaps

Arrow

Billionaire Oliver Queen — under the vigilante persona of Arrow — tries to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.
type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 8
rating
  • TV-14
genre
creator
  • Marc Guggenheim
  • Andrew Kreisberg
  • Greg Berlanti
network
  • The CW
stream service

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