By Justin Carter
Recent comparisons between Arrow and Batman are inevitable and fairly on the mark. One could make the argument that Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg simply planned a show for Batman, then slapped Green Arrow onto it once DC didn’t give their stamp of approval. Not helping the case is just how ‘Batman’ our titular hero Oliver Queen has been as of late; getting tangled up with the League of Assassins, brooding about the place, and being incredibly emotionally repressed. Since growing into a killer on Lian Yu at the end of season one, he’s had to bury his emotions deep down in order to survive and push on. Even the crossover episode with the Flash brought this point home further with Oliver saying “I’m as emotionally healthy as you are.” It’s easy to see why things like Laurel taking up Sara’s mantle as Black Canary and the team moving on after his death irk him so much: he’s spent more time in recent memory helping others than he has being helped himself.
This week’s episode, “Broken Arrow,” puts Oliver in a position where he has to let people help him. This isn’t new; Felicity saved his life following a gunshot wound in season one, and both Barry and Tommy’s ghost helped in season two. What makes things different here is that Oliver is truly helpless to do anything to save Roy, and any move he makes will put the spotlight right back on him as the Arrow. His own stubbornness is a greater threat to him here than a bullet or some hallucinations, and the show does a good job of balancing the plots of Roy and Ray to counter and support Oliver’s anxiety.
The arrival of a metahuman with the ability to shoot plasma from his eyes means Ray is donning the ATOM suit again and getting his ass kicked. Just the idea of Ray stepping into his arena to check out this metahuman, combined with Rayas chipper attitude at this “team up” already gets on Oliver’s nerves, and the beating doesn’t help. Ray really does feel like the Tony Stark of this universe in that he relies on technology to the point where he may as well just wear the suit all the time. Having Deathbolt (he and Cisco name him at the end of the episode) take him down a peg and force he and Oliver to work together via neural uplink does a good job of humbling him. If the season were more of this, of Oliver inspiring Ray and the two of them becoming allies who want to save the city, it would be appreciated. Certainly more preferable than the rivalry they have over Felicity, at least.
Roy, on the other hand, ends up proving himself again as a hero and a clever thinker when you get right down to it. He’s able to hold his own against some of the thugs the Arrow has put in jail, handcuffed no less. That he ends up getting killed by something as simple as a knife feels weirdly ironic and shows that for all the training these characters have, anything can end them. Thankfully, it ends up being a trick and Roy is revealed to be alive. Turning himself in as the Arrow and faking his death was a ploy to throw people off of Oliver’s scent, and the only thing left for him to do now is leave Starling City. It’s a shame that Colton Haynes has to leave the series, but he’s already confirmed for another appearance close to the season finale, so that’s something. Until then, we will miss you Roy Harper, you red wearing parkour archer.
Thea, however, won’t be missing him for a while. But in her defense, she has a lot to deal with, since Ra’s just shows up and stabs her at the very end of the episode. Starting to sense a trend with tail end of season episodes focusing on Roy and then ending with a female Queen getting stabbed. Maybe it’s best that Roy leaves Starling…
- Oliver: “You and Palmer may be related.” It sounds like a dig, but Felicity and Ray are eerily similar, and in the show’s defense, it wouldn’t be the first time they had two characters with interest in each other end up being related.
- Cisco shows up at the end of the episode to name Deathbolt alongside Ray and also to hint that superpowered humans have been around since before the particle accelerator explosion. Interesting….
- For those wondering why Felicity and Ray would show up on Flash this week happy as can be when Arrow was certainly not all smiles: the Flash episode was supposed to match up with the previous Arrow installment (they show up to Central City, come back to Starling, Ray gets the arrow in his chest). Some scheduling issue occurred, and I know some people were confused.
- I call real bullshit on Roy not parkouring out of Starling City. The parkour is in his blood, man.