jedi_of_urth: (harry/hermione dh)
[personal profile] jedi_of_urth posting in [community profile] tori_reviews
Arrow 1x18: Salvation

I dislike the title of this one now that I’m actually paying some attention to such things, even though it is relevant to most of the plot lines. But I defy anyone but the most hardcore fans to see that episode title and guess that it’s this episode, because it doesn’t actually reflect any element of the story.

Lian Yu
Just to change things up, let’s talk about the island first. While it continues to be barely enough material to be worth mentioning, it is a little relevant to future storylines since I’m pretty sure Slade is in love with Shado practically from first sight, or at least her first badassary. It’s also a sort of well done reveal that Shado does speak English, since we hadn’t had any indication of it before, although I’m not sure it should have taken that long to be revealed to the guys once they got away from Fyers. And it kept us from having to go through the weirdness we had with Yao Fei again where his grasp of English was so changeable.

Sara...or not
This is the episode where the fact that that’s not our Sara really becomes a problem. Because at this point in the story we don’t really have in our heads what Sara looks like, we only had one scene with her back in the pilot and a couple of pictures since. We’re told the woman in the picture looks like Sara to the rest of the family, and Quentin and Dinah’s reactions to meeting her do say that she looks like Sara but that she is also distinctly not their daughter and we have to take their word for it, but we have none of the emotional connection to that reaction. And now on rewatch it’s really not effective since we can’t have that reaction, because she looks nothing like Sara to us.

It also means that if I’m right and they did know they would be bringing Sara back next season (which this episode is effective setup for), they hadn’t realized they were going to recast the part. Because if anything this seems to wants to remind us what Sara (approximately) looks like, but it backfires spectacularly when they go on to cast real-Sara.

I also don’t think they carry forward with the characterization for Sara that Dinah proposes. I’m not entirely confounded by that, as it is Dinah’s very of her years-dead daughter, and I’m not even sure it completely agrees with Laurel’s version of Sara discussed a few episodes ago for the same reason. I know Sara was really into Oliver at the time, but that’s not all that motivated her. I’m not saying I don’t think Sara might have said that she was *so* in love with Ollie at the time, I’m just putting it in the questionable pile since it’s clear the episode wasn’t entirely working with the final draft of Sara Lance.

Dinah does come off a little better in this story, and it does work with her characterization in the previous episode, so that’s all good. She probably is the one who left, and saw herself as the bad guy as much as Quentin and Laurel cast her as, though for somewhat different reasons. She couldn’t handle the fact that for them to go on they had to accept what reality was telling them, while for her to go on she had to told tight to her at the time blind faith (only since Oliver came back can it seem a little more grounded) that Sara could somehow survive. And yes she will be proved right next season (Dinah’s only superpower seems to be a mild psychic connection to her children) but I don’t recall it ever being framed as if the others should have followed her blind faith before then.

We also get some insight without explanation into her and Quentin’s relationship that I’d kind of forgotten about but maybe remembered a little since it fits with my headcanon of them; that she and Quentin were never a good match on paper, probably from different classes who disapproved of their relationship, definitely moved in different spheres and approached the world differently (Laurel’s kind of the perfect blend of them, Dinah’s mind and education with Quentin’s penchant for law and justice makes a good lawyer; and since Laurel took after both of them, Sara felt a little left out in the cold becoming a rebel and acting out and always feeling less than Laurel).

I also remember having a very Captain America “I understood that reference” moment the first time seeing the Flash joke at the end of the episode.

But...why Roy?
The villain of the week is somewhat interesting in theory, but doesn’t quite work in practice. We’re told his sympathetic backstory but we don’t know him as a character. The idea that his decision to seek vengeance this way was inspired by the Hood, or at the very least that this playing out some ‘we’re very much alike you and I’ scenario comes too late to make Oliver actually think about anything.

Which is really a shame because the couple of times it’s pointed out during the episode are worth comment. Both the fact that Oliver was going after the same person as their new villain and then when confronting said villain (sorry I forgot to note his name) Oliver tells him that loneliness doesn’t give you the right to kill people which...pot-kettle Ollie.

But pulling Roy into the plot realy doesn’t work. We’re certainly not told that Roy had anything to do with the death of the guy’s wife, which is good for a future hero, but was pretty necessary for this plot. Or if they had gone through with the robbery and Roy had been picked off then, that might have worked. Or if several of his crew had all gotten abducted as a known gang in the Glades. But Roy as a general “gang banger” is really weak. His gun doesn’t even have bullets in it when he goes to shoot the guy (hang an unloaded gun on the wall in act one, it will not go off in act three), which mean the bad guy knows going in that this kid is more ‘on a bad path’ than actual monster even before you get the scene in the subway where Roy goes for self-pity over being defensive. It may be realistic that it doesn’t do anything to change the guy’s mind once they’re in the scene, but it doesn’t explain how they got to that point.

Maybe everyone’s an island
The more memorable thing about this episode is the discussions that Oliver is still very much on his own island, and so are so many of the others. This is hardly the first time this season that the idea of the island as internalized isolation has been touched on, but it’s explicit here and I think it mostly works.

In spite of the fact that it literally wasn’t until this time that I realized that Felicity’s mini-breakdown where she talks about how she’s not seeing anyone and maybe it’s better to be alone, was probably written to reflect Oliver’s attitude rather than just explore Felicity’s state of mind. Felicity is just finding herself on an island, and hearing her say it Oliver determines he’s not going to let her get lost on it the way he has for so long; and if that means he has to come off his own island, maybe it’s time.

Laurel has been on an island dealing with her parents too, it’s not quite clear where she and Tommy stand after last episode and of course she doesn’t go to Oliver (Oliver’s non-reaction to the idea that Sara might be alive and then immediately having it “confirmed” that she’s still dead is debatably a problem long term). So in theory I don’t mind the last scene between Oliver and Laurel, but it doesn’t work; again, it’s so CW with a pop song going on in the background and forcing the designated couple back together (and not making it about both of their feelings about Sara’s death more than anything else) when they haven’t been playing that card much recently.

The last Oliver-Felicity scene is funny only because in the background Digg has assumed the ‘Who do you idiots think you’re fooling?’ pose he will take so many times when those two have moments in seasons to come. Again, I don’t think it’s meant to be shippy now, and I didn’t see it that way first time out (though I think I might have been starting to consider it a little bit) but all I can see now is Diggle’s ‘should I leave the room?’ look

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