Arrow Season 1, Episode 20 ‘Home Invasion’
Directed by Ken Fink
Written by Ben Sokolowski & Beth Schwartz
Airs Wednesday nights at 8pm on The CW
‘Home Invasion’ is one of the most ridiculous episodes of Arrow yet – and somehow it manages to be one of the more grounded episodes, at least in terms of a few (quickly glazed over) character beats. With twenty episodes of Arrow under my belt, it’s becoming clear that the flaws in Arrow episodes that became trends over the season, are now just part of every episode’s blueprint, idiotic plot lines and character interactions that are feeding into each other in sillier and sillier ways.
The biggest of these, of course, is Tommy. Just when the writers get a grip on the most basic concepts of who Tommy is, they’re throwing him into the wind for the sake of dramatic tension. Why does he break up with Laurel in the episode? Probably for the dumbest fucking reason I’ve ever heard a couple break up: because he thinks her ex-boyfriend is still in love with her, and when (if she ever musters up the intelligence to figure it out) she finds out, she MIGHT choose Oliver over him. Forget that Oliver got her sister killed, constantly cheated on her, and hasn’t done anything to express his feelings to her since his return; Tommy gets a mere whiff of potential competition when they schedule a lunch and share a hug, and he’s out of the relationship, moving out of her apartment minutes later.
Give me a fucking break. I understand why they’re doing this: the whole idea is to isolate Tommy with his father, who is going to groom him into being the evil prince (I look forward to Tommy justifying his father’s murdering as a means to end in a future episode, since it’s so unforgivable to him now). Having him in a relationship with Laurel would complicate that, so their relationship is thrown away faster than it began, all because Tommy’s a little wimpy bitch.
The other huge logical gap sucking life out of the episode is the presence of the unexplained assassin, who kills about a dozen people, one of them (who some might recognize as Junior’s lieutenant Mikey Palmice on The Sopranos) by squeezing his wrist to create an air bubble that would kill him in 15 seconds (this is a superhero show, but C’MON). Apparently he knows the Hood (asking him what happened on the island… that, or he reads the tabloids and recognizes Oliver), and makes it seem like his true mission is to kill the Hood – but we never learn anything about who he is, why he’s interested in killing Edward Rasmus, or the people who were suing him for the money he stole. Is there a point to this? It definitely doesn’t seem like it – and even if it’s revealed why in later episodes, the double homicide that was the catalyst for the episode doesn’t carry a single bit of weight, rendered useless by the idiocy going on around it. The assassin talks like he’s insane and might have a personality (his poorly written speech to himself about the Queen house being full of “regret”), and a minute later, he’s dead, after presenting no physical threat whatsoever to an unarmed Oliver.
There are a few interesting elements to the episode, but they are weighed down by dumb things like Tommy dumping his girlfriend because he’s mad at Oliver (but not being honest with her as to why), and the whole “Oliver can’t shoot arrows but has sexual chemistry with every girl who comes in contact with him” time on the island was just another waste of time so Yao Fei could provide another “twist” and get everybody captured again (what is that, eight or nine times this season?).
Diggle leaving the group does hold some real dramatic weight: Oliver did choose to take out the corrupt businessman over Deadshot, and got a bunch of people killed in the process (although Deadshot reveals that it’s actually Diggle’s fault they got killed, because he made himself so obvious). But there’s no argument or debate over it: Diggle gets mad, tells Oliver they’re reading from “different books”, and bounces. This should represent a major turning point in their relationship, but something tells me it won’t be long before Diggle forgets how the white man did him wrong and brings his big muscles back to help out.
I like that – and I also enjoyed the scene where Quentin points out how dangerous the Hood is, taking him downstairs where the 26 bodies the Hood has racked up since his arrival reflect on the vigilante’s sense of morality. He points out to Roy “He saved you today, but what makes you think he’ll do the same tomorrow?” (I’m paraphrasing). It has no effect on Harper at all (he “feels like” him and Arrow’s lives are connected, some magic intuition I’m sure will be proved right very soon), but Quentin pointing out the fact he kills a shit ton of people was a rare moment of Arrow paying attention to what it’s doing, realizing that the Hood isn’t quite as ‘good’ as a person as we think.
Now, I have no faith whatsoever in the writers to do justice by those last two story lines: it all screams of obvious build-up to the finale, which after only showing three episodes in the last two months (terrible programming on The CW’s part), will hit our television screens three weeks from now. There’s way too much going on for any of it to be brought to any sort of resolution in three episodes (like what the fuck happened to Moira’s husband – which she hasn’t seemed to care about for the last 6 or 7 episodes, at least), and given the way Arrow handles its story arcs, it’s going to take a lot more convoluted, under cooked storytelling to do so.
– another decision that made NO logical sense: after a man murders a family of people, Quentin thinks its totally cool for the orphan to stay at Laurel’s. For a man that tells the world about his concern for his daughter all the time, letting her go home (with only two police watching her house) with a child a murderer is hunting down is a stupid idea, even for a bad cop like him.
– Tommy’s working for his dad… but he apparently never actually has to be at work.
– Deadshot kills a handful of people trying to arrest him – except Diggle, because he’s not getting paid to. So he murders a bunch of people for free, then lets the one person who proves to be a danger to him live? Dumbest criminal ever!
– The Shadow/Tommy attraction scene was one of the stupidest, most contrived things this show’s tried to do so far. Why would she be so attracted to a wimpy American who couldn’t even hit a tree with a bow?
– Oliver is supposed to spend four more years on this island? The writers are clearly out of ideas on what to do here – how they extend this another season is beyond me. There’s no thematic connections or parallels being drawn between the island and the present anymore: it’s all just a bunch of time-wasting at this point. Just train him and get him the hell out of there already!
– Felicity finds Oliver sniping a sniper to be ironic. Plus her blonde hair is a dye job (WOW what a surprise).
– this is an actual line the well-spoken assassin says on the phone: “I’m sorry sir… there’s been a variable.” That’s just bad, bad writing.