Arrow 1.04 – "An Innocent Man"


This week, Arrow continued with Oliver’s quest to strike names off the list his father gave him.  In “An Innocent Man”, the story centers around Peter Declan, a man wrongfully accused of murdering his wife, Camille, who threatened to blow the whistle on some toxic dumping by Jason Brodeur, another of the names in Oliver’s little book.

Oliver asks Diggle to join him in his need to “atone” for the sins of his father.  Well, that’s your superhero motivation right there.  And I think it’s interesting that most superheroes have difficult relationships with their parents – particularly as in this episode, we discover that Moira Queen isn’t all she appears to be, not even to her husband, Walter.

Offering Diggle the opportunity to right the wrongs done to his family – he cites the unsolved murder of Diggle’s brother – there’s a back and forth about the justification of vigilantism.  And Diggle later justifies it to himself even if, at the start of the episode, he calls Oliver a “murderer”.  I think this character is a great moral center to the show, however, and in the scene where he agonizes over joining Oliver with his sister-in-law, we find out that Diggle really is a good guy, who has fought for his country in the belief that if he does good things for people, then he leaves a place better than he found it.  I think that, especially with Green Arrow being a tortured soul and all, who is prepared to kill in order to reach his end goal, that Diggle is going to be a rather nice complement to Oliver, and I was happy when he finally accepted the offer to join Green Arrow.

Oliver tells Diggle that he “doesn’t need saving”, but Diggle tells him that he’s “not signing on to be a sidekick”.  Well…okay, Digs, but you DO know that all superheroes need one, right?  But hey, I’m not complaining about seeing your handsome face on my screen every week because you’re hot and you clearly have some unresolved man!pain.  And you all know how I’m a sucker for THAT.

Diggle says that Oliver needs someone and that he’s fighting a war, but doesn’t know what a war does to someone.  “It scrapes off little pieces of your soul”, he tells Oliver.  But I have to ask, how many tortured souls does this show intend to have?  I get that Oliver needs the brakes applying sometimes and clearly Diggle’s there to do that, but in a show that’s basically about someone who’s broken and needs fixing, I’m not entirely sure a scarred veteran is the one to show him the way.  But Diggle has principles; he’s a good guy and wants to do the right thing.  It’s kind of hard to see how that will fit with Oliver’s methods, particularly as, this week, he chains a man to some train tracks in order to get information, only freeing him with seconds to spare before the train speeds by.

I think the theme of this week was “survival”.  I really like Stephen Amell when he’s on the island; he has this whole “whiny brat” voice going on that’s really quite appealing in terms of characterization.  And we see through flashbacks that he needs to kill a bird before he can eat – he needs to kill an innocent in order to survive.  In fact, his mentor tells him that he needs to forget about Laurel or he won’t survive the island.  And again, the show does quite a nice job of giving us the information we need to make connections between the Oliver Queen who WAS and the Green Arrow who IS.  Without laboring the point, the show tells us that Oliver has, in fact, left behind any and all remorse about taking a life – his flashback self apologizes to the bird before he kills it – and is, as Diggle suggests, somewhat empty inside.

Oliver’s relationship with Laurel is also progressed quite nicely in this episode.  She calls him “self centered” and that she “made peace with your selfishness a long time ago”.  You know, I find Laurel really pious sometimes and I know that she’s probably intentionally written that way, but when she’s all up in Oliver’s face and telling him that “I care about the lives of other people, Oliver.  Maybe you should try it sometime”, I kind of want to smack her a little.  Or a lot.

But being a hero is hard.  It has to be, or more people would do it, right?  And when Thea, who overhears Laurel and Oliver’s conversation, suggests that Ollie show Laurel who he really is.  “Be yourself”, she tells him, although this is after she’s pointed out in no uncertain terms just how crappy he was before he was marooned on the island.

However, Ollie does just that.  He appears to Lauren in Green Arrow guise and asks for her help in proving that Declan is innocent.  He says that he knows she’d “do anything to save the life of an innocent man”.  I can’t help feeling like Laurel’s crushing hardcore on Green Arrow and she even defends him to her father, Detective Vance (whom I have named Grumpy Cop).

But Brodeur’s bodyguard arranges a prison break while Laurel is visiting Declan and it’s only Green Arrow’s intervention that saves them.  However, Laurel is attacked and Green Arrow goes to town on her would-be attacker.  Later, Laurel confesses to Grumpy Cop that Green Arrow is a killer, showing no remorse.  Well…make your mind up, girlie.  You either like him or you don’t!

One thing that bothered me was just how Laurel was able to get in touch with Green Arrow.  They had several conversations on a rooftop after he asks her to help Declan and I just couldn’t figure out how those were arranged.  I mean, at least in Gotham City they’ve got the bat signal, right?

But it’s in these conversations that Ollie is able to open up to Laurel and I must admit, I do like the dichotomy of how his honesty comes when he’s wearing a mask.  It reminds me of Smallville, when The Blur used to contact Lois and they would have these heartfelt conversations with one another.  I wonder how Laurel’s going to feel when/if she finds out that Green Arrow is Ollie.  Suitably shamed, I hope, considering they were a couple and yet she looks him right in the eye and doesn’t recognize him.

But she doubts his motivation – “if what you’re doing isn’t wrong then why are you hiding your face with a hood?”  It’s almost as though she wants full disclosure, really, but in an odd way DOESN’T want it.  And I can’t help feeling that, in this episode, Laurel romanticizes Green Arrow into the hero she WANTS him to be, but sees his truest self when he’s whaling on the guy in prison.  It’s actually a little disturbing that this girl whose father is a hardened cop, and who is a lawyer, exposed to the seamy side of life on more than one occasion, is capable of being dreamy about a vigilante.  And I think that she wants him to address the lies and corruption in Starling City without really wanting to acknowledge what he has to enact in order to do that.

But this is Green Arrow’s curse, isn’t it?  He’s not the sort of clean-cut, boy-next-door hero that Clark Kent it.  He’s a troubled, possibly borderline psychotic man who will do whatever it takes to bring about justice.  And while I think it’s easy for Laurel to wish away those foibles and flaws, I’m not entirely sure I bought her about-face in this episode, particularly when it comes to the rights and wrongs of being a vigilante.  Green Arrow is good when he’s helping her, but bad when he’s beating up a guy who ATTACKED her?  Yeah.  I don’t buy that much.  You can’t have it both ways, Laurel.

The subplot this week involved money missing from Queen industries, which we subsequently found out that Moira took to “invest in a startup business”.  Or, at least, that’s what she tells Walter.  Susannah Thompson is awesome, you know?  She’s so smooth and we all KNOW she can play evil, so I’m probably more invested in her relationship with Ollie than anyone else’s.  And for a guy who already has some crushing parental issues, I wonder how he’s going to feel when he finds out that one of his greatest enemies is his mother.

Walter engages the help of Felicity Smoak (yay!  I LOVE her!) and finds out that not only did Moira lie to him about the money, but that it was used to purchase a warehouse in Starling City.  On further investigation, Walter discovers that the warehouse holds the remains of Queen’s Gambit, the boat that was supposed to be at the bottom of the ocean.  Oh dear.  Because there’s nothing worse than finding out your wife has lied to you and is possibly a murderer.  Poor Walter.  Watch your back, honey!  WATCH YOUR BACK!  I have to admit, though, I thought Walter was one of the bad guys until now.  Turns out I was wrong.  I fear for him.

Sidenote: Colin Salmon got voted off the UK version of “Dancing With The Stars” last week so I’m hoping this means we see MUCH more of Walter in the show.  I shall miss your waltzes, Colin.  Yes, I will.

Moira, that conniving wench, meets a rich, handsome man in a car.  Wait a minute…that’s Dame John Barrowman!  Oh, I love him too, even though I probably shouldn’t.  He’s literally a national treasure over here, you know.  He tells Moira that the Green Arrow isn’t just targeting rich people in Starling City, but that he’s targeting people from “the list”.  Oh dear.  That doesn’t bode well for anyone, much less Moira, who’s clearly part of the problem and not the solution.  I’m actually quite excited to see how it turns out – all these men that the Green Arrow is taking down one by one and it turns out his MOTHER is involved right at the top.

At the end of the episode, Detective Vance (Grumpy Cop!) turns up at the Queen family home to arrest Oliver.  He’s been caught on camera with his Green Arrow outfit and Vance accuses him of a variety of misdemeanors, including MURDER.  Oooh.

I like this show so far.  It’s easy to watch and the characters are fairly likeable in fits and starts.  But I’m mostly intrigued by Moira and Dame John Barrowman’s involvement in taking control of Starling City and Robert Queen’s death.  I could do without the annoying voiceover at the start of the episode (I hope that doesn’t last throughout the season) but I do find Stephen Amell entirely watchable.  And he didn’t even take his shirt off this week!

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