All season long, the Arrow has struggled to play well with others. And who can blame him? The Arrow’s mission was much simpler when he was a lone wolf with a bow; now the foundry is crowded with leather pants and opinions. This week, Oliver finally seems ready to acknowledge that sometimes even the hero needs saving. Too bad it takes one of his teammates dying to learn that lesson.
“Broken Arrow” picks up where the last episode left off: Roy has been arrested after confessing to being the Arrow. Thanks to some smart lawyering by Laurel, Oliver is released from custody. Laurel is at her best when she’s using the law, and not a baton, as a weapon. Before Oliver leaves the police station, he tries to convince Roy to let Oliver take his place, but Roy declines. He wants to save Oliver and absolve himself of the guilt of killing that police officer while doped up on Mirakuru. (Do you think, at this point, Oliver is like, You do know that I’ve killed so many people on purpose, right? You just killed one guy while on a super drug against your will. But that’s cute that you feel so guilty.)
Lance is beyond frustrated that Oliver’s been released, so he seeks his vengeance in another way — namely, search warrants. First, officers storm Verdant and demand to search the basement. Lance is gleeful as he flips the light switch on in the foundry and takes inventory of the Arrow’s operations. For someone who was kept in the dark so much this season, Lance revels in the exposure. Too bad for Lance that Felicity and Diggle wiped the foundry clean of anyone’s fingerprints but Roy’s. Lance then executes a search warrant on Thea and Oliver’s loft, but comes up empty-handed there, too. Lance’s attempt to flip Thea by making her fear for Roy’s safety also falls short.
Lance isn’t wrong, however, about Roy’s safety in Iron Heights Prison. Team Arrow has put a lot of criminals behind those bars and I don’t have confidence in Iron Heights as an institution, what with the prison breaks (the Dollmaker), prison transfer escapes (Vertigo), and people breaking into prison (Oliver). If anyone has failed Starling City in the last three years, it’s the warden of Iron Heights. So when prisoners start to glare at Roy, I know things aren’t looking good. And after a nifty handcuffed fight sequence, Roy gets shanked. But, hey, it’s just a flesh wound. Whew.
With the foundry compromised by Lance, Team Arrow regroups at Palmer Technology headquarters to figure out how to stop a metahuman named Deathbolt, who shoots weapon-grade plasma from his eyes. (That sentence is why I prefer to see metahuman villains stay in Central City with the Flash; I’m hoping this is a onetime deal for purposes of setting up next year’s new A.T.O.M. spinoff.). Oliver, who needs to lay low, reluctantly agrees to have Ray help take down Deathbolt. The city comes first, after all, even if the love of your life is busy making kissy faces at her new boyfriend while you save it.
This sequence — with Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle teaming up with Ray — was painful but absolutely necessary for Oliver’s character progression. Incapacitated by Lance, Oliver is forced to witness his life unfold through those around him — not only in terms of what’s been ripped away from him (saving the city) but also what he’s chosen to let go (Felicity). When Oliver sees Felicity fret over Ray, who’s out searching for Deathbolt, Oliver asks her, with a naïve curiosity, “Do you get this anxious when I’m out in the field?” (Her tee-hee response: “I honestly can’t think of an answer that doesn’t get me into trouble.”)
Clearly, watching the world spin around him is not enough for Oliver. When he finds out Roy was injured in prison, he storms off to bust Roy out of prison. There’s only one thing that can stop Oliver. Or rather, one person: Felicity. She follows him outside and immediately Oliver’s angry outburst is softened by her presence and words. She correctly guesses that Oliver feels lost without his ability to be the Arrow. When Oliver’s self-doubt starts to creep up, Felicity shuts it down beautifully: “I know who you are. Whether you’re in a suit or under a hood, you’re the man that I … ” [CUE OLIVER PUPPY DOG EYES: Yes? Yes??? The man you what???] Her voice breaking, “You’re the man that I believe in.” So, yes, Felicity finally unequivocally accepts him as both Oliver Queen and the Arrow. So the Oliver-Arrow-Felicity love triangle can now be a threesome, yes? Make it happen, fanfic writers!
Felicity leaves Oliver to go hook up to a power plant grid in an attempt to catch Deathbolt. Only Deathbolt catches Felicity instead. Ray suits up as A.T.O.M. to save her, but not without Oliver deciding to use Ray’s technology to link his movements to the A.T.O.M. suit. This turns out great because Oliver can work through some Felicity sexual frustration by using the A.T.O.M. to sucker punch Deathbolt, but the technology ultimately fails, and Ray is left there to fend for himself. Ray doesn’t think he’s strong enough to defeat Deathbolt, but Oliver gives Ray a Coach Taylor-worthy speech about fighting from the heart. It works.
Back at Iron Heights, there’s another foreboding prison scene and I know a shank is ‘a coming. But the Arrow writers love a twist, and this time it’s a guard who guts Ray pretty badly. So badly, that in the very next scene, we learn that Roy died. I wouldn’t say I was too shocked by the death, as there was rampant fan speculation that he was a goner, but I was still surprised at how quickly it all happened. And then unhappened, of course: Just when Oliver is in the foundry beating himself up over Roy’s death, in walks Roy. Surprise! Diggle and Felicity helped Roy plan it all as a way to help Oliver; they even hired an A.R.G.U.S. contractor to knife Roy in a convincing way. I’m feeling pretty good about Roy’s survival at this point, until Oliver points out the obvious: what’s Roy going to do if everyone thinks he’s dead?
The answer: leave town. So while Roy did not exit this Earth for good, it appears that he will no longer be in Starling City. It’s a bittersweet departure in my view. I’ve been enjoying Roy’s newfound confidence and zingers, but the story lines do need to be thinned out for next season and Roy’s story was kind of at a standstill. When saying goodbye to Roy, Oliver seems endearingly humbled at Roy’s sacrifice. As Felicity notes, arm intertwined with Oliver’s, “You’re so focused on the people you love, you forget to see that there are people who love you.” After which, she turns and joins Ray at his car, who sees very clearly that Felicity will never offer Oliver hospital Jell-O.
Last, but not least, Thea, thinking Roy is dead, is in her loft, drowning her sorrows in red wine, when Ra’s Ah Ghul appears. She makes a valiant attempt at fighting Ra’s (especially after half a bottle of wine!), but it’s Ra’s, and so he does what Ra’s does best: throws her into a glass table and runs a blade right through her gut. More than a flesh wound, people, more than a flesh wound.
HONG KONG FLASHBACKS
Tired of running, Oliver goes looking for Waller. He finds her bloody and disheveled, as General Shrieve has been holding her prisoner. It’s not Waller who’s after them. Waller tells Oliver that Shrieve is planning to use the Alpha-Omega virus to wipe out Hong Kong. Oliver steals enough vaccinations to save himself and the Yamashiros but decides instead to try to stop the virus from being disseminated. Tatsu offers her and Maseo’s assistance.
• Felicity’s face when the police knock over the fern she gave Oliver.
• Oliver’s eye roll when Ray mentions he plays squash with the manager of Starling City bank.
• “There’s a decent chance that you and Palmer are related,” Oliver to Felicity, after hearing Ray babble. More zingers from Oliver, please.
• Akio lives to see another day!
• I guess Opal City is where the new spinoff show will be? Maybe Roy will move there?
• “Trust your instinct, not your technology,” Oliver to Ray, who responds, “My instinct IS to trust my technology.” Ray was kind of fun this episode, but maybe because I don’t see him as a threat anymore.
– Oliver’s shoving match with Dig. Has he not seen David Ramsey’s arms? Because they could break a fella.
MISSING THE MARK
• How did Deathbolt know it was the A.T.O.M. on the phone?
• A little heavy-handed with Tatsu repeating the “letting people help” line.
NUMBER OF SHIRTLESS STEPHEN AMELL SCENES: 0 (Does emotionally naked count?)
Come mourn Roy’s departure (or not?) with me on Twitter.