Arrow, Ep. 1.05: “Damaged” excels in action, but stalls in plot advancement

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Arrow, Season 1, Episode 5: “Damaged”
Directed by Michael Schultz
Written by Wendy Mericle and Ben Sokolowsi
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm ET on The CW

This week on Arrow, Ollie (Stephen Amell) goes on trial for his vigilante actions and asks Laurel (Katie Cassidy) to represent him as his attorney and prove his innocence. Meanwhile Walter confronts Moira about her secrets. Among other things, this week’s episode offered more island flashbacks and a famous DC villain, the master assassin Deathstroke ( Slade Wilson), makes his first official appearance.

The best part of the episode was Oliver’s time spent on the island. We learn a great deal about how Oliver acquired his scars and we now know his mentor is a wanted man, on the run from the mysterious Edward Fyers. The series has already introduced quite a number of villains in the fold, but Deathstroke is an important step forward in integrating the full scope of the season one’s plot. So much was explained and many news questions arose. There’s still plenty we don’t know about Fyers’ motives nor his relationship to Ollie’s mentor Yao Fei. Not only are these flashbacks growing more interesting each and every week, but they are becoming far more integral to connecting everyone and everything back to Starling City.

The fight scene between Yao Fei (Byron Mann) and Deathstroke (Jeffrey Robinson) was fantastic and and the best action sequence the show has offered us so far. Director Michael Schultz avoids cheap quick cuts and lets the action unfold with a well choreographed martial arts fight. It is far too early to formulate a real opinion about Deathstroke but unlike many of the other foes we have seen, Deathstroke actually comes across as a real threat to Arrow and company. He certainly made quite the impression  and since Slade Wilson managed to survive the episode, fans can look forward for further appearances from the assassin.

It was rather surprising last week, that the writers might reveal Ollie’s secret identity so early in the game. Anyone who thought it seemed a little too good to be true was right; as it turns out, Ollie’s apparent security camera cameo was intentional. Although why he would do this seems ridiculous since his master plan will no doubt shine an even bigger spotlight on his already over publicized image, and thus lead more people to further suspect he is indeed the hooded vigilante. After all, would anyone put much belief in one polygraph test and a few eye witness accounts?

Stephen Amell continues to prove a perfect choice as the lead. His performance this week in particular, showcases the actor’s range – allowing him to play three very different versions of Oliver Queen: a younger more innocent version seen on the island, the playboy billionaire he pretends to be, and the hard edged vigilante who stalks the streets at night, taking out the city’s most corrupt criminals.

Far more than being a sidekick or even a supporting player, Diggle once again shines bright as he helps Oliver track down the arms dealers. Diggle is going to be an important catalyst in keeping Oliver in check and here he quickly points out, that people are not reacting the way that Oliver had anticipated they would. He also serves up the episode’s best line when he says, “If you think this is what prison is like, you are in for a big surprise”.

“Damaged” benefited from having a pair of new writers on board (Wendy Mericle and Ben Sokolowski), and while the plot hasn’t advanced greatly, the quality of dialogue dramatically improved. In particular, the scenes between Laurel and Oliver were both well scripted and played out. Laurel is quickly becoming a fan favourite – her character is tough, smart, and believable – and Katie Cassidy and Stephen Amell share some genuine onscreen chemistry. Perhaps their tween-like romance won’t be so bad after all.

– Ricky D

Extended thoughts:

I’m interested to see is Laurel and Thea will eventually suit up as Black Canary and Speedy, or if the writers are purposely making us believe this because they have other plans.

Edward Fyers in the comic, is less of an enemy to Oliver Queen, and more a begrudging ally. It was an interesting role-reversal on the part of the writers.

 

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