TV REVIEW: ARROW Season 2, Episode 4 – “Crucible”

Arrow Season 2 Four episodes into Arrow season 2 and one mystery is closed out: the identity of the Canary. Not surprising to most, I imagine, but well-played. This could easily have been stretched to breaking point by the writers. So what else happens this week, and is the trend of strong episodes continuing? Read on to find out what I think!

 

 

 

Synopsis (From TV.com):

A new crime lord, the Mayor, arrives in Starling City and starts bring in illegal guns. When Oliver tires to counter with a Cash for Guns event, Black Canary’s friend Sin is hurt and the female heroine sets out for revenge. Meanwhile, Diggle links up with an old friend and DA Donner asks Laurel out on a date.

The real focus of this episode the identity and motivations of the Canary. Who is she and why has she come to Starling City? While this plot strand develops, Oliver Queen and company attempt to reduce the number of guns in the Glades. An interesting mix into which is thrown a Laurel who can’t deal with what’s happened and, like her father before her, turns to the bottle for escape.

While I like where the series is going with the Canary character, I found some of Caity Lotz’s scenes to be a bit…hammy. Mainly those when she was out of costume (I mean in her civvies, get that mind out of the gutter, friend reader!). I’m not sure why, but something didn’t seem quite right with these scenes. It may be that I was distracted by a strange upside down pout that seemed to prevail (seriously, I couldn’t take my eyes off it) or it could have been the direction…but definitely something. Hmm. Maybe I’m being overly picky and trying to find fault with a show I love. The dangers of posting reviews.

Speaking of the Canary, I’m still liking this version on the whole. I’d almost like to start seeing some flashbacks from her point of view. Starting before her first re-union with Oliver on the island (well, at that time), which is hinted at, and moving through her initiation with the League of Assassins. Or Shadows. Or whatever name they’re being given in Arrow. Maybe there’s an opportunity for a web series there?

This week’s villain was…suitable. Though I have to say, he came out of nowhere. A small time hood suddenly becomes big time and styles himself “Mayor.” I think what stood out for me most was that The Mayor was really there for plot purposes and was really undeveloped compared to pretty much every other opponent Oliver has faced thus far, all of whom had some back story. Additionally, other than him being the “in” for the guns, there was nothing about him that led me to believe that one or more of his thugs wouldn’t turn on him and take over the operation. The guy equips all his men with military grade weapons, yet when he guns down a lieutenant for little reason other than to show that he’s “a bad man,” not one of his cronies thinks they should do something about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned what I considered to be flat acting from Stephen Amell when playing non-flashback, civilian Oliver. In hindsight, that was unfair – even with the proviso I gave. I think this is the year they’re thawing him out. Making him able to care for others properly and open up to them at the same time. This aspect (if it is indeed the intention) is really well-played by Amell. Weirdly, I can relate. A few years ago I was pretty emotionally numb due to…circumstances. It took me a long time to be able to open up to anyone and realise I could still be there for others without shutting myself down. In this manner (and my shared fondness for archery), I find Oliver to be very relatable.

More good stuff this week comes from Roy, Thea and Sin. There’s an initial jealousy from Thea towards the new girl, which plays out over the course of their two or three encounters. Roy’s inability to fully inform Thea of how he knows Sin doesn’t help. When he’s saved the girl and there’s a final meetup in hospital, Thea clearly realises there’s no reason for jealousy. A few brief, but informing scenes.

The episode ends with a reveal that, while predictable, works for the series and it looks like another second string villain from the comics will be re-imagined over the course of this series. I’ll be honest though, for about half a second, I thought Slade might be making an appearance at this stage as an antagonist for our intrepid vigilante. Still hoping to see him again outside of the “flashback” situation, as I think he’s a great character who could offer a real threat to Ollie and become to him what Deadshot has to Diggle.

Overall, this episode was a mixed bag for me. The introduction of Laurel’s drink problem seemed off, somehow. I hope they manage to create more interest in the character – perhaps this is a step in the right direction. Coupled with some flat Canary scenes, I think this has been my least favourite episode thus far. Yet it’s not bad. Arrow is a show that manages to balance action with personal interest really well on the whole, and this episode isn’t really an exception.

 

Rating: 3 /5
Reviewer: Wedgedoc

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