Arrow Ep 1.18 ‘Salvation’ takes a long time to go nowhere

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Arrow Season 1, Episode 18 ‘Salvation’
Directed by Nick Copus
Written by Drew Z. Greenberg & Wendy Mericle
Airs Wednesday nights at 8pm ET on the CW

As Arrow heads into the final act of its first season, it continues to bring up more questions, being vague about everything for the sake of artificial dramatic tension. And when ‘Salvation’ does get to a good story beat or moment, it just shrugs its shoulders, refusing to layers its characters in any meaningful fashion.

I’m talking about the latest person to challenge Oliver Queen’s idea of justice, a 42-year old former transportation worker turned hacker/homicidal vigilante. He’s broadcasting videos on every media device in Starling City, and is broadcasting live murders, which the police apparently have no interest in (seriously, the police are never involved in anything during the episode). He outsmarts Felicity when she tries to hack him – which leads to a signature Emotional Moment – but eventually, the Hood hunts him down after he kidnaps Roy Harper (he goes from slum lord, to Assistant District Attorney, to some punk 18-year old, in a typical Arrow contrivance) and puts an arrow through his midsection.

But there’s a moment when The Saviour (as the widowed transportation worker named himself in chat rooms) asks the Hood what’s so different about them – they both kill people in cold blood for their idea of ‘protecting the city’, even though both are really doing it in the name of vengeance for someone they love. Does the Hood even allude to this? Nope. He just stares blankly at The Saviour while he rants on about how they’re the same thing. There’s not even any tension in the moment: the Hood just stares and yells “It’s different!” without ever explaining how it is different.

It’s like the writers just put down their pencils and said “Fuck… we’ve got this kick-ass scene in a subway car, it’s all these tight shots, full of shadows and red lights… let’s just do NOTHING with it.” The setting, the set design, the situation: it all provided an opportunity for the Hood to actually be a complex character for once, and at least try to justify what he does. Even if it’s unintentionally the stupidest, shittiest reason it could possibly be, it’s better than him saying nothing at all. This is the THIRD time now it’s happened, and the writer’s have gone absolutely nowhere with it every time… for a show that tries to present Oliver’s morality as a core component on the show, they’re doing an absolutely terrible job at it.

This internal transformation into the dark vigilante isn’t being helped, either: the flashback scenes meant to exemplify the changes he went through on that island have been lost under this pointless pissing contest with an evil general who’s got a plan for some automated missile launcher… that we don’t find out about until later, even though someone specifically says they know what it is. The most frustrating thing on a drama is when they turn little pieces of information into big reveals: it makes everything on the island feel desperate and completely void of creativity. There’s all this activity going on this island, but none of it is doing anything to deepen Oliver’s character (or make Slade a character), and those flashbacks are just becoming large chunks of wasted space in every episode.

If you think about it, there really isn’t much of a point to ‘Salvation’ at all, except the inexplicable love connection that developed between Thea and Roy in the span of five minutes (seriously… some of the worst fake crying I’ve watched in awhile). The whole point of the episode is to get to the moment where Malcolm dons his hood and kills Frank, who Moira set up to cover her ass about trying to kill her boss. Another perfectly good story opportunity wasted: if we’d seen Moira set him up, we could actually see her struggling with the monster that she’s become. Instead, she just cries because she has blood on her hands, and now realizes that she let someone die.

The episode certainly doesn’t earn it’s title, ‘Salvation’ has no thematic connection to anything in the episode except some translated phrase Laurel’s mom hears the girl she thought was Sarah say. The episode really should be called ‘Damp Tissue’: there’s so much damn crying over spilled milk, it becomes a joke by the time Laurel and Quentin are crying because their mother is crying over their daughter who is probably (but not totally confirmed, again) dead. Oliver almost cries because someone tells him he’s leading a lonely life (and therefore, starts feeling lonely and basically asks his best friend’s girlfriend out to dinner). Thea cries because she’s just so attracted to Roy and doesn’t want to see him die. Roy’s crying because he’s got a gun in his face. Moira’s crying because she got blood on her good coat and fresh manicure. Felicity almost cries, but uses her loud voice. Need I continue?

Arrow frustrates me so much, I could cry: there’s a foundation for two solid story lines in ‘Salvation’, but instead, we get five story lines that rush to conclusions and force character emotions for the sake of juvenile dramatics. But hey, now we know the Glades are important! … Oh, wait, we found that out in episode 3.

Other thoughts/observations:

– Tommy is… not really doing much of anything.

– It’s been a month, so Malcolm’s fully healed from multiple bullet wounds, of course. No PT needed for this guy.

– the beginning of the episode suggests Laurel is upset at hints that her mother and father are reconciling (or at least being a little touchy)… but then her mom leaves after breaking down, so all is forgotten. We don’t even see Quentin say goodbye to her.

– speaking of Laurel, in EVERY SINGLE EPISODE, someone will talk to her, she’ll ignore them, then they’ll walk away only to have her chase after them. These are the kind of cheap surface dramatics the show utilizes way, way too often.

– Yao magically unties himself after choking that dude with his feet.

– there’s 7 billion people in the world, but Laurel tracks down the girl from the picture in the city with a phone call.

– “This is the thing with what we do” is an actual line that came out of Oliver Queen’s mouth in this episode, while trying to explain what his more murderous responsibilities are all about. WOW that is poorly written.

– Laurel’s mom has to go home to Central City (wink, wink), she should be there in a Flash (wink, wink).

– what bad guy gives up his own identity on live television? Idiot.

– I need to state this again: at the end of the episode, Oliver subtly hits on Laurel. Scum-bag.

– offshore accounts are ALWAYS a good, vague thing to have around.


— Randy

  1. Greg says

    The only thing more enjoyable than watching Arrow for me is watching people like you, who are obviously out of touch, try to write reviews.
    We get it. You hate the show. Your taste is too superior to like the soap opera elements mixing in with your superhero story, because the comics themselves are SOOOOOOOOO mature (lol, they really aren’t, and haven’t been since Grell or before Grell.) You hate all the women on this show, but especially Thea for … acting like a 17 year old teenager acts. Yet, despite the fact that the show isn’t living up to the EVER SO HIGH expectations set by the comic, you kep reviewing it. Why?

    1. Randy says

      First of all, I would never deem my taste ‘superior’ to anyone’s – it’s simply different than yours. You’re assuming that I believe I hold some moral or ethical high ground because I’m a critic – which is a ridiculous notion. Critics don’t think they are better than anyone – we just want to talk intelligently about the things we love. For me, that’s television.

      I write reviews of the show because I see a lot of promise in what they’re trying to set up; the execution is often poorly done, and that is frustrating. I’m not “trying” to write reviews – I’m writing the most honest, thoughtful critiques of this show on the internet, which seems to bring fanboy trolls out of the woodwork on a regular basis.

      As for the women on this show – Felicity and the Huntress are interesting characters, and so is Laurel (in concept. ALL the characters on this show are being severely underwritten, male or female, forced to act on emotions and beliefs that are never established beyond dialogue (telling instead of showing). I mock Thea’s crying because it’s silly she’d be bawling over some guy she knew for all of a week, only to suddenly fall for him. I expect soapy elements from a comic book adaptation (especially one on the CW), but there’s better ways to do it.

      And when it comes to the material in the comics, I could care less. I never judge anything by its source material – in doing so, I would be being unfair to the creators and writers trying to make something unique (I would never compare Game of Thrones to the book). So those ‘super high expectations’ you think I have don’t exist (I never really read Green Arrow when I was younger, anyway, though I did read plenty of comic books). I don’t even know who Grell is – and since I’m writing about the TV SHOW, it’s irrelevant.

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