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Arrow 1x13: Betrayal

Lian Yu
While the flashbacks remain (and still remain) something I rarely like about the show, the introduction of Slade does breathe some life into the island plot. While Yao Fei is an interesting character to speculate about he’s not actually that much of a character, while Slade instantly demands attention and promises to be important to the development we’re promised must happen on the island. He is, as he says, a much harsher judge than Yao Fei; Slade may call him a kid, but he’s not willing to put up with Oliver being a kid anymore.

I will confess that at the time this first aired I couldn’t remember who the character of Slade Wilson was supposed to be but did kind of recall the was a Wilson that was maybe Deadpool, and it’s not like their names or codenames are that separate, so I was slightly confused.

Robin Hood and Maid Marian
Considering I just did a Robin Hood rewatch a few months back, the Maid Marian reference jumped out me. For those who may be reading this and not know that I am a quite a fan of the 2000’s BBC Robin Hood series (I do use the icons fairly regularly), I’m not going to discuss my feelings on that show here as it really isn’t relevant; just know that I never claimed to be a fan of high quality entertainment.

What is relevant is that this episode has a lot to say on the relationship between Laurel and Hood. Before I get to that, I am actually a little bit following who’s writing these episodes, and I notice that the writers credited here are also given credits on ‘An Innocent Man’ and ‘Vendetta’ separately before this; ‘An Innocent Man’ in particular seems relevant to note since this episode is building on the Laurel-Hood relationship that got going there, though ‘Vendetta’ was also the episode that tried to push the idea that Oliver and Laurel had a type of love the never dies, an idea that does seem alive in this episode.

Tommy calls what draws Laurel to the Hood an infatuation, and compares her lying about meeting the vigilante to his and Oliver’s history of bad relationship decisions. While that scene interesting in some ways, I find the one where Tommy basically points out that Laurel’s being a hypocrite a lot more effective. She’s just as much a liar as Quentin; and maybe she feels justified in her lies, but then so does Quentin.

This episode does to some extent seem to call out all those stories where the hero can’t tell their love interest about their secret identity because somehow that will put the love interest in danger (though Flash decided to play that straight for a while). Because that doesn’t make sense, it’s the love interest’s relationship to the heroic identity that’s the problem (if someone finds out the hero’s secret identity, any relationship in danger because of the heroic identity), that’s all that was needed to put Laurel in danger here. Oliver didn’t think about the fact that letting Laurel into his Hood life put her in danger if people found out about that, which is short-sighted of him but at least doesn’t turn into that old superhero trope that I dislike so much. I have always said that Oliver has more reason than most heroes not to tell and warn the people he cares about, because he kills people and is in general a criminal, so it’s a big deal to trust people with that and a burden to carry since they become accomplices.

Vanch
As a plot of the week, the Vanch plot is pretty good. It doesn’t have a lot of far reaching plot relevance, but it does provide good character stuff and is a well handled villain. It also got me thinking that I don’t remember having so many genre name actors in later seasons and years of these show, at least not in episodic roles. We’ve had Ben Browder and David Anders, there’s a couple of BSG actors we’ve seen or will see; while I’ve been impressed with some of the relatively well-known actors they’ve gotten to play regular roles (many of which are on Legends these days) I don’t remember as much of it happening for an episode or two.

Vanch is also a rather scary and intelligent villain (do we ever find out who the source inside the police is, that sees like something we should follow up on). I will always love his willingness to make sure he had enough guards on duty so the Hood would have no arrows left when he got inside the house (was Oliver stunning all of them?).

I probably should have noted this long ago, but the flashbacks have Slade telling Oliver how taking the airfield is a two person job, paralleled with Ollie needing Quentin to back him up to rescue Laurel. Maybe the reason it never really hit me before is that it’s not very effective foreshadowing for next episode when they actually do take the airfield and Slade probably could have just about done it on his own; while here Oliver and Quentin did need each other. Though actually Quentin, you do need to read Vanch his rights.

Investigating an Undertaking
So Oliver and Moira’s scene raises one or two key questions. Seeing as the list was written in invisible ink that had been made visible (why did they do that?) Moira’s cover story seems pretty weak compared to her usual fair. And why doesn’t her choice to burn the book seem more in keeping with her family identity? I think it’s because she doesn’t seem more surprised and reactionary, she just seems troubled and far too controlled to justify burning a book that might (if she didn’t know what it was about) hold some answers to what has happened to her family.

I also love Diggle’s initiative here. It’s something I like about early Digg that gets lost when there’s more people on the team. Not because it changes but because it’s subtle, that while Diggle is helping Oliver on Oliver’s quest, Digg is not just following Oliver. He will pursue things that are important to him and things he thinks Oliver is overlooking, and ordering him around serves no point because that’s not their relationship.

While it is a touch convenient that Malcolm’s voice is not clear on the recording and I don’t like that fact, I admit it may be the lesser of two evils, since Oliver should be able to ID Malcolm’s voice if he heard it clearly and they were keeping that realization for later. This is more about Ollie realizing that the Gambit was sunk deliberately – which I kind of forget he’d never realized before – and a way to get us to the final scene. Because that final scene is a hell of a cliffhanger.


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