Arrow Season 1, Episode 15 ‘Dodger’
Directed by Eagle Egilsson
Written by Beth Schwartz
Airs Wednesdays at 10pm on The CW
With two big conspiracies building in Starling City (the Undertaking) and on the island (everyone double crossing everybody), ‘Dodger’ largely ignores both to tell a stock baddie-of-the-week plot, underlining it with forced romantic moments, and adding more undeveloped characters to further complicate the show’s already convoluted plots.
With all these plot lines up in the air in ‘Dodger’ – Oliver and Diggle going on awkward dates, Thea chasing down Roy Harper, Felicity joining the team – it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the objective of the episode (fighting The Dodger) or the point of the show (telling a story about a conspiracy and the family in the center of it). There’s nothing interesting for us to invest in with the Dodger: he’s another super-villain with no super powers, save for piercing eyes and questionable wit, who puts bombs around people’s necks to have them steal things for him. Plus, he has the laziest back story yet: people call him the Dodger because “he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty”. Seriously?
All the clue-hunting (which there isn’t much of) leads to a badly-orchestrated chase scene, culminating in the stupidest resolution we’ve seen yet – Oliver throws a hand-arrow and pierces Dodger’s medial nerve, disabling his ability to operate the clicker that would detonate the collar around Felicity’s neck (after putting in a four digit code, of course, because it’s 1998). To say it is undercooked is an understatement: Dodger and Arrow don’t exchange more than four or five lines through the entire episode, most of which come from the inexplicable exclamation by Dodger that him and Arrow “are the same people,” for reasons that aren’t really explained or shown at all.
There are some tangible plot movements tacked on the beginning and end of ‘Dodger’, both involving Oliver’s mother, who hires China White to kill Malcolm, because she just can’t be a part of the Undertaking anymore. There are mentions of “the Glades” project again – although no mention of Moira’s husband, who nobody really cares about anymore – but only two scenes are dedicated to Moira’s transformation from quiet desperation to “I’m going to fuck shit up and start assassinating people”, making it quite a leap from the beginning of the episode to the end.
But what’s most frustrating about ‘Dodger’ are the unnecessary distractions: there isn’t a single scene of Oliver with either Moira or Laurel. Instead, he develops a crush on the cop who disappeared for a bunch of episodes. Nobody cares about Diggle dating his dead brother’s wife – Diggle isn’t so much a character at this point, as he is a mouthpiece for providing information and asking obvious questions. Without investing some time in him, or spending some time with the important plots of the show, all of the advancements (romantic or not) in the final third feel completely unearned. Ultimately, the episode posits that Arrow isn’t like Robin Hood. Why? Because he left a shady, bloody guy with a snotty nose to fend for himself on the island?
Arrow‘s been on a downward spiral since The Huntress arc, introducing powerless adversaries for Oliver in the real world, and spending its time on the island making things more complicated just for the sake of it. What began as a promising show has quickly devolved, content with thin characters and cyclic melodramatics. These flaws are front and center in “Dodger”, an episode that throws away anything it tried to establish in the last two episodes, for another sluggish pursuit of a “powerful” bad guy.
– one of the winning lines from Diggle while bringing up his dead brother on his date: “It’s difficult… complicated… there’s not a manual for this”. Nuance, this is not.
– Roy Harper will become a very important character, but right now, he’s just the guy Thea chases down because she’s a rich girl who wants her stolen purse returned.
– Oliver goes on a hunt for the “super herbs”.
– has anyone seen Tommy?
– wait… how the hell did Felicity pull up those traffic cameras using Windows 8? What an operating system!
– hey, Arrow’s working out again! Been a couple weeks since those pecs have been a-twitchin’.
– Felicity: “ok, I’m in provisionally… no, I’m out!!!!… wait, no, I’m back in again…. no wait, save me!!!”
– as if Arrow hadn’t made enough unfavorable comparisons to Nolan’s Batman trilogy, they bring in the shady Asian businessman from The Dark Knight to play… a shady, Asian business man.
– Detective Lance’s professional and personal troubles again take the forefront in the episode…. I’m just kidding. All his character does is snivel, breathe heavily through his nose, and get accused of being a drunk (although we’ve seen him have one drink in fifteen episodes). Who’s excited for the episode when Laurel’s mom comes back (which is happening this season)?