Oliver almost bites the dust in both the present and the past

By Nuzhat Naoreen
February 14, 2013 at 04:00 AM EST
Jack Rowand/The CW
S1 E14
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To promote tonight’s episode of Arrow, the CW released the kind of cinematic trailer usually reserved for big-budget summer flicks. In retrospect, that probably should have been the first giveaway that “The Odyssey” was going to be a cut above the rest.

While the series has been ramping up the emotional drama as of late, it hasn’t always hit the right notes. Tonight, however, it was right on target.

Now grab some popcorn and let’s dig in…

We pick up right where we left off, with Arrow storming into Moira’s office to accuse her of “failing this city.” He asks her if she knows anything about Walter’s disappearance, but Moira swears she has no idea where he is. I guess that’s not technically a lie? Before Oliver can get answers about the undertaking though, a frightened Moira starts begging for her life. She grabs a family photo and tells Arrow she has a son and a daughter who need her. Obviously, this turns Arrow to putty, and he immediately lowers his weapon. The only problem? While he moves his crossbow away from Moira, she grabs her gun and fires straight at him. Turns out, Oliver isn’t the only one with good aim in the family. Moira lodges a bullet right into Arrow’s chest. Luckily, he manages to get away before security shows up, but not without leaving a huge pool of blood behind him. (Side note: I was all prepared to make a snarky comment about the cops not running a DNA test on his blood, but that’s dealt with later in the episode. You win this one, writers).

Of all the cars in all the world… Arrow drags himself into Felicity’s vehicle. To her credit, she manages to keep her cool when she finds a random man in a green hood bleeding in her backseat. But isn’t that why we love her? (Speaking of, can we take a second to celebrate the fact that Emily Bett Rickards has been promoted to a series regular in season 2? Finally, more Felicity!) To gain Felicity’s trust, Arrow removes his hood and reveals his true identity. I certainly wasn’t expecting this reveal to happen so soon, but I’m very glad it did. Bonus points for Felicity’s reaction: “Everything about you just became so incredibly clear.” With the introductions out of the way, Oliver makes Felicity promise to take him to his father’s old factory.

NEXT: Slade reminds Oliver he’s no better than a Girl Scout…again…

Felicity proves to be a woman of her word. At the factory, she and Diggle work together to patch up Oliver. Turns out, Oliver and Diggle were well-prepared for the worst. Not only do they have hospital equipment on hand, they also have stored bags of Oliver’s blood. As Diggle works to get the bullet out of Oliver, Felicity tries to keep herself from throwing up. Meanwhile, Oliver takes us back to the island. Here’s the interesting thing about this episode. While the series usually spends more time in the present, this episode is predominately set in the past…and it works. Though I’m not always intrigued by the flashbacks on Arrow, tonight’s were completely absorbing.

In the flashback, Slade is teaching Oliver to fight with a bamboo stick. The purpose? A supply plane is slated to land on the island in 10 days, and Slade is determined to get on it. For that to happen though, he needs Oliver to help him take down Edward’s goons. So far, though, Slade is not impressed. “I know Girl Scouts who have more fight than you,” he tells Oliver. Hey, didn’t he already use that joke last week?

After some more combat lessons, Oliver and Slade talk about their grand escape. Oliver thinks they should send some sort of signal to Yao Fei, but Slade refuses to take the risk. Instead, he tells Oliver to focus on the mission. And focus he should, because if Oliver fails to take down the guard stationed in the air traffic control tower, the entire mission could fall apart.

The night before the mission, Oliver dreams about waking up in bed with Laurel. He apologizes to her for sleeping with her sister, and she responds with a foreboding question, “Did it hurt, Ollie?” she says. “Did what hurt?” he asks. “When they killed you,” she responds. Then, blood begins to ooze out of his forehead. Freaky. You would think Oliver would decide to stay in after a dream like that, but instead he heads off into the wilderness with Slade.

They don’t get far, though, because Oliver accidentally steps on a mine (oh, Ollie!). Slade tries to help him but when he spots Edward’s men approaching he makes a run for it, leaving Oliver to fend for himself.

Just when you think he’s the bad guy though, Slade re-emerges and takes down all the guards. One of them lands on the mine, allowing Oliver to step away without exploding to bits.

Meanwhile, Edward tells Yao Fei that the incoming supply flight will have a shipment of 25 compound bows (and suddenly the origin story starts to come together more clearly). He wants Yao Fei to teach his men archery. Before Yao Fei leaves, Edward asks him if he’s still steadfast in his commitment to the cause…”for her sake.” Ahh, no wonder Yao Fei has been making nice with his former enemy, there is a “her” at stake.

Meanwhile, Oliver tells Slade he wants to go back and make things right with Laurel. Slade — never one to water things down — gives him a harsh reality check. “If you think you can sleep with your girlfriend’s sister and still make it right, you’re dumber than I thought, and believe me when I tell you that’s saying something.” Turns out, Slade takes the whole loyalty thing personally. He explains that the man who tortured Oliver on the island earlier was actually his partner. They were both sent to the island to rescue Yao Fei, but they were captured by Edward, who gave them an ultimatum: Join or die. Slade refused to join Edward’s mission, but his friend, who is apparently named Billy Wintergreen, decided to switch alliances. The moral of the story? “Everybody is in this life for themselves.” Fair enough.

NEXT: Oliver flatlines…

In the present, Diggle sutures up Oliver’s gunshot wound, while Felicity fidgets as per usual. Diggle wants to know why she isn’t more shocked after the whole “Oliver is Arrow reveal” (hey, I’m still shocked it was actually revealed to her!), and she explains that the signs have been there all along. After all, “I may be blonde, but I’m not that blonde,” she says.

Back on the island, Oliver manages to sneak into the flight tower, but the guard easily gets the drop on him.

It’s a tense moment, so tense in fact that Oliver’s heart actually stops in the present, which prompts Diggle to grab a defibrillator to charge him back into action. “You didn’t say ‘clear,'” Felicity points out. Someone’s been watching one too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. When the defibrillator fails, Felicity re-works the wires, and thanks to her, Oliver’s heart starts beating again. Romantic pun obviously intended.

In the flashback, Slade rescues Oliver yet again. After he takes down the flight tower controller, Slade gives Oliver a gun and heads back out to handle the rest of the guards. It’s not long before Oliver realizes there’s a phone in the flight tower, so he does the one thing he probably shouldn’t do: He calls Laurel. As he listens to her voice he seems to be on the brink of totally breaking down, and my heart kind of turns to mush. This may be my second-favorite Oliver-Laurel scene (their ice cream date earlier in the season is obviously #1). Just as Oliver is about to say something, Slade comes in and pulls the phone away. Slade warns Oliver that the calls could be monitored — but he doesn’t have much time to lecture him because the supply flight is on its way in. Of course, there’s a catch. Isn’t there always? The pilot won’t land the flight unless Slade is able to finish his challenge code, which starts with: “Of all creatures that breathe and move upon the earth…”

Slade is totally clueless, and honestly, so am I, but Oliver (yes, Oliver!), knows the answer. It’s a line from The Odyssey, a.k.a. the only book Oliver paid attention to in college. I have a hard time believing Oliver paid attention to anything — other than girls — in college, but I’ll let this one slide. Oliver tells Slade that the line they want to hear is, “Nothing is bred weaker than man.” It works. Turns out Ollie isn’t so useless after all. He tells Slade that The Odyssey is all about a guy who is trying to get home. Fitting, no?

Slade assures Oliver that they’ll be off the island soon, though before they go he has one more thing to cross off his list. Slade wants to call an airstrike on the island so he can destroy Edward and his men. Oliver isn’t exactly on board with that idea, though. He refuses to leave Yao Fei to die, so he decides to be selfless for once in his life and try to rescue his friend. Slade lets him know that the plane leaves in three hours — with or without Oliver.

NEXT: Oliver faces Deathstroke…

Meanwhile, back in Starling City, Felicity wants to know whether Diggle is bothered by all the people who have died because of Arrow. Diggle tells her he questioned his identity while stationed in Afghanistan (Side note: I think the series’ subtle political commentary is quite intriguing…and daring), but that since he’s teamed up with Oliver, he feels good about himself again. As for all that collateral damage? Well, there are always casualties when you fight a war. Ugh, Felicity, can’t you just join the team already?!

On the island, Oliver learns that Yao Fei isn’t exactly keen on escaping. When Edward catches them talking, Yao Fei knocks Oliver out to prove his allegiance.

Edward decides it’s time to get rid of Oliver so he plans a public execution. He gets Deathstroke to do the honors. As Deathstroke prepares to make his move, Oliver reminds him of his past and his real name, Billy Wintergreen. Thankfully, it doesn’t work, because how cheesy would that be? After suffering quite a few severe blows, Oliver goes all McQueen on Deathstroke and tells him he’ll triple whatever Edward is paying him. Again, his approach fails. Just when it seems like the game is over though, Slade swoops in with a whole lot of explosives.

He and Deathstroke go head-to-head to settle their long-overdue score and I’ve got to say it’s a pretty epic fight. Slade manages to get the best of his former pal as he stabs him in the eye with a knife, but he doesn’t leave the scene without injury. Just as he’s about to walk away, Edward shoots his shoulder.

Luckily, Oliver manages to be useful yet again. (This must be some kind of record). He helps Slade get back to the abandoned plane where they’ve set up camp, and takes the bullet out of his arm. Slade is impressed — especially because Oliver managed to remove the bullet without throwing up. It’s a moment nicely reminiscent of the Diggle and Felicity scene from earlier. Cue one of the best lines of the night as the irony of the situation sets in on Oliver, who can’t contain his laughter: “I’m trapped on an island and my only friend is named Wilson…so.”

Slade (whose last name is Wilson in case anyone didn’t get that joke!) already has a new plan in mind. He wants to find out who’s funding Edward’s mission. Of course, Oliver will be with him for the ride, but this time as a partner and not a liability.

Meanwhile, Edward gets a call from a mysterious man who wants to know what went down on the island. He’s clearly the money-man behind it all. After reassuring the caller, Edward meets with Yao Fei. He gives him five minutes with a prisoner, who we learn is Yao Fei’s daughter. As the two embrace, the camera pans to a mysterious tattoo on her back. We find out later in the episode that Oliver has the same tattoo.

Finally, we’re back in the present — and this time for good. Oliver wakes up with a smart-ass comment, “I guess I didn’t die. Again. Cool.”

As he figures out how to convince his family that his gunshot wound is in fact a really big hickey, Felicity hacks into the crime lab database to make sure the sample of blood the cops collected at Queen Corps Consolidated doesn’t get tested. She also upgrades his entire system.

Oliver is obviously impressed. He wants Felicity to join the team, but she refuses. Well, sort of. She’s willing to help Oliver rescue Walter but then she wants to go back to being boring IT girl. (We’ll see about that, Ms. Season 2 Regular!).

Later, Diggle tells Oliver he’s worried about putting Felicity in danger, but Oliver insists they can protect her. This of course leads to “the talk” about Moira. Diggle still thinks Moira is involved in something shady, but Oliver is convinced of her innocence. Oliver tells Diggle that Moira is completely off-limits…well, at least until they find out more information. Diggle leaves Oliver with something to think about: Is he defending Moira because he believes she’s innocent or because he doesn’t want to believe he’s guilty? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Back at home, Oliver reunites with his mother who tells him that she was sure Arrow was going to kill her. Oliver promises he will never allow Arrow to bother her again. Let’s see if he can keep that promise.

All right, that was quite an action-packed episode. Did you love it as much as I did? Share your thoughts below.

Episode Recaps

Billionaire Oliver Queen — under the vigilante persona of Arrow — tries to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.
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  • 8
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  • 10/10/12
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