Oh Arrow, with one green hand you give and with the other you take away.
Following an episode of trope codifying and water treading, ‘Lone Gunmen’ begins to advance the plot in earnest – wayward sister Thea (Willa Holland) gets all belligerent about her brother’s interference in her personal life and blurts out that Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Tommy (Colin Donnell) got it on while Oliver (Stephen Amell) was opening the hatches on the island from Lost.
Dogged bodyguard Diggle (David Ramsey) also gets rashly inducted into the mysteries of Queen’s crime-fighting double existence in an apparently shocking ending, although it’s not that shocking given how many knowing looks the veteran marine had been fixing Oliver with. It’s basically so obvious that he was going to find out soon that it doesn’t even constitute a spoiler – instead it’s a great relief that this particular dynamic, the one in danger of growing stale the quickest, is stepped up. It’s another nod to Batman Begins too, keeping the Nolan influences at the heart of the show to the point where it’s a genuine surprise not having Green Hoodie helpfully growl in someone’s face “DON’T PANIC, YOU’VE BEEN POISONED.”
The hunt-down-name-on-list formula is subverted nice and early too, when sharpshooting bad ass
Deathstroke Deadpool Deadshot (Michael Rowe), who tattoos the names of his victims on his body (the eagle eyed will notice the names of various producers as well as Green Arrow: Year One writer Andy Diggle), snatches the prey right out from under Oliver’s nose with an bullet through the chest. There’s a couple of new supporting characters, sort of allies to Oli’s lies and Russian language abilities (referenced as early as the pilot and only now expanded upon), but potential antagonists too – only time will tell as to whether we’ll see more of ‘Lone Gunmen’s murderously avuncular Russian mob boss and his leg-breaking ‘mechanic’.
It’s the actual confrontation between Arrow and by far one of the coolest and most eagerly anticipated black hats to appear in the show – beloved by fans for his appearances in Arkham City, the Batman: Gotham Knight anime, and the Suicide Squad and Secret Six comic-books that gave him far more depth and sympathy than a c-list Batman foe is normally afforded – that misfires so catastrophically. There’s a perfunctory bit of moral handwringing that is only half a dozen words more complex than Deadshot going “We’re the same” and Oliver replying “No we’re not! SHUT UP!” and a final battle with such unimpressive, static choreography that you’re left wondering whether Stephen Amell broke his leg during one of the parkour numbers that are wheeled out with all the regularity of a chorus line in a Fifties musical, and they’ve just propped him up against a pillar in the futile hope you won’t notice.
The outcome of that climatic boss battle too, is definitely no way to treat such a hyped first appearance from a much loved character. Starting strongly, ‘Lone Gunmen’ (man, surely?) fast tracks you so breathlessly to resolution that it feels like a two-part episode cut short at the last minute.