Arrow: Betrayal

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by Noor Alnaqeeb (@nooralnaqeeb)

Spoilers. Season One. Episode Thirteen.

This week, the main themes seemed to be the unraveling of truths and the inability to trust the people you love. I say this because this episode showcased a lot of loved ones walking away from each other. Laurel walked away from her father for betraying her. Tommy walked away from Laurel for lying to him. And Oliver tried to walk away from Diggle for suspecting Moira’s guilt in recent events, but eventually walked away from Moira after hearing about her involvement with his father’s death.

Finally, Oliver has learnt the truth about The Queen’s Gambit and that it was sabotaged with the intention of its destruction. His years on a dangerous island, his father’s death, Laurel losing her sister, it was all attributed to the ship’s sabotage. Oliver wants answers. But Diggle goes looking for them. We are shown that Tommy is definitely in love with Laurel, but as per usual, the damsel in distress has a thing for the tall, dark and hooded man that keeps saving her from the likes of Cyrus Vanch. Detective Lance used Laurel as bait, trying to keep her out of harm’s way, but unintentionally throwing her into another situation where harm was a very real threat. This episode highlighted that every relationship was questioned, double-guessed and cautioned against.

This week’s villain, Vanch, was played by David Anders, a talented actor but another throwaway character. Arrow has once again scratched the surface of interesting relationships and plotlines but disregarded them as fast as they came about. Vanch, the ‘badass’ of the outlaws, was defeated too easily for my liking. So was The Count for last week’s episode for that matter. As was every villain the season has had so far. With countless talented actors lending their characterizations to the plotline of this series, the characters are too thin. The lack of personality and backstory to Starling City’s villains are punctuated with random attempts at action sequences or explosions. Cue a flashback to Arrow’s attack on Vanch’s mansion where a random arrow at a wall exploded. The episode is called Betrayal, but the lack of depth between the characters on the show is a betrayal in itself to the integrity and the believability of the characters. As a short example, Thea was in this episode for five seconds. Why? Because her archetypal persona of the drug addict has been put on hold due to a quick fix – her community service. Yes bigger wheels were in motion, but why wasn’t Thea bouncing around the office helping? Or why wasn’t she at home when Oliver was?

With that aside, another area of the series that needs a major development to occur is the unending flashback to Purgatory. When a previous flashback showed Oliver being betrayed by his mentor, it got interesting and the cliffhanger held us in suspense waiting for the next episode. But then nothing happened. It was just another distraction to the lack of a point. This week, Oliver almost died for the umpteenth time. He also wandered into an episode of Lost and found a plane crash and a military trained lunatic. After an umpteenth fight and a predictable alliance being formed, once more we are in the same place we started – nowhere. Questions unanswered seem to be a trend with Arrow as of late. Yes, we know Moira is part of some deep, dark secret but what is that secret?

Don’t get my rambling rant wrong, I do like the series, but while exhibiting so much potential to be a great show, Arrow needs to up its game a bit and speed up the tempo. One thing they definitely did right this episode was the manipulation of trust the characters have been toying with. Acting beneath the surface in the police department is a mole, attributing to Detective Lance’s temporary trust in Arrow and Laurel’s abduction (which was solved too quickly in my opinion). And although Moira Queen seems to be a family woman with the best intentions in mind, there is something dark underneath the surface. Her guilt and involvement in unlawful matters has finally come to light. Beyond her lies about her husband’s book is the knowledge of the dark corners of Starling City. Beyond the 50th birthday parties she attends is a secret meeting with the other archer. And beyond the wall of said secret meeting, is Diggle listening with a tape recorder. Leading us to a well-done cliffhanger of Oliver having a conversation with his mother that went something like this; “Moira Queen. You have failed this city.” A conversation he seemed fit to carry out with a hood on and an arrow in his hand. Hopefully this conversation isn’t resolved with a few words and a few lies and instead the plot surges forward in a development that no one can see coming.

Side note: I did giggle when Oliver pretended to be furious with Tommy for letting Laurel “work with that crazy person” (the hood). But that’s just me.

Side-side note: Bravo to Laurel Lance for the most hardcore unexpected ass-kickery from a female character who isn’t Sydney Bristow or Olivia Dunham.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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