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.
– 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.