It’s probably best to start off with a fairly massive spoiler warning, since there are a couple of significant twists in this episode. Still here? Okay then. But if you’re still reading this without having watched Broken Arrow, on your own head be it.
This week’s episode picks up immediately where last week’s left off, with Roy being arrested and Oliver being mysteriously set free, despite, um, his full confession and his secret identity being plastered all over the media. Laurel pops up briefly to dazzle both the audience and Detective Captain Lance with legalese (this is also the only time Laurel appears all episode), but the upshot is that Oliver’s free to go.
With him unable to appear in public as the Arrow, now would be a really inconvenient time for a super-villain to show up, wouldn’t it? But this being Arrow, that’s what happens, in the form of Deathbolt (Doug Jones, looking commendably creepy), a bank-robbing meta-human with the ability to shoot energy beams from his eyes. Oliver’s solution is to call Barry / The Flash, but Felicity’s just come back from a guest spot in Central City, so she knows he’s a little busy right now. Instead, she volunteers Ray for superhero duty and Ray is only too happy to help. (Their “high five” moment with the robotic suit was a brilliant throwaway gag and a welcome note of humour in an otherwise fairly dark episode.)
Unfortunately, this is only Ray’s third outing as The Atom and, like Laurel before him, he’s rather prone to getting his shiny metal ass kicked. After his first encounter with Deathbolt ends up with him getting zapped, Oliver gives him a pep talk where he basically says his bow and arrow are just his tools – he’s the real weapon. Rather than fight training like Laurel and Thea, Ray’s response is to just tinker with the suit again, but he comes up with a compromise involving the neural network (introduced with the high five gag) that allows Oliver to do the fighting for him while standing at Felicity’s computer terminal. Basically, like a punch-up-style video game.
All things considered, this is a pretty smart way to have Oliver still do his share of the week’s heroics, especially given that Ray is the only one who puts on a superhero suit all episode. The fighting sequence is a little ridiculous and a tad reminiscent of Hugh Jackman’s fighting robot movie Real Steel, but it gets the job done, with Ray having to find his own inner hero (via a voice assist from Oliver) once the neural network goes down. The set-up also gives us the episode’s best line, when Oliver, after hearing Ray’s excited babbling, turns to Felicity: “There’s a good chance you two could be related.”
The coda to the main story is possibly one of the most significant moments of the whole episode and leaves a dangling mystery that we suspect is going to get picked up next season, probably with Marc Singer’s character (General Shrieve, the leader of the Creature Commandos in the comics) as the main villain. Ray takes Deathbolt to Central City to throw him in Star Labs’ highly unconstitutional meta-human jail and Cisco informs him that Deathbolt was not actually in Central City at the time of the particle accelerator explosion, which means that someone or something else is out there making super-powered bad guys. Interesting.
The other main focus of tonight’s episode is, of course, Roy (Roy!) and how often do we get a chance to say that? Almost never, that’s how often. And, as it turns out, Roy won’t ever get to be the focus of an episode again, because he leaves this week, although not quite in the way the episode initially makes you think. Anyway, Roy convinces Oliver that he’s in the right place, and that he’s still torturing himself about killing the police officer while under Mirakuru. He even confesses his part in that murder to Detective Captain Lance, but Lance is so caught up in his hatred for Oliver that he brushes over it.
Naturally, everyone is worried about Roy being in jail surrounded by the Arrow’s enemies, who, of course, all think he’s the Arrow. And it looks like they’re right to be worried, as Roy is attacked almost immediately, but he fights off a group of huge thugs while wearing handcuffs. (Roy = badass.) It has to be said, it’s a pretty spectacular fight sequence, even if you can occasionally see the stunt man, like old episodes of Star Trek.
Naturally, news of Roy’s attack reaches Team Arrow. With Thea upset, Oliver vows to break him out of jail (and you know he could do it, too) but Diggle and Felicity talk him out of it, whereupon Roy gets stabbed in jail and dies.
Except he doesn’t die, as it turns out that Roy, Diggle and Felicity came up with a plan whereby Roy would fake his own death and get out of jail. For some reason, they neglected to tell Oliver about this – perhaps they didn’t trust his acting skills to pull off enough grief when Roy “died”? At any rate, it does feel like Oliver’s just desserts for keeping so many secrets for so long. Unfortunately, with Roy now “dead”, it’s still the end for him in the show, as he can’t be seen in public in Starling City anymore without giving away his ruse – so he leaves, without even getting to say goodbye to Thea. Bit harsh, Roy.
We confess, we didn’t see the Roy fake-out coming, so well done, Arrow. In fact, it turns out that Roy’s death is only misdirection for the show’s real cliff-hanger, where Ra’s al Ghul shows up and runs a sword through Thea. Admittedly, although it is a great moment, this would have slightly more impact if Ra’s hadn’t basically revealed what he was up to: his line about Oliver having to beg him to become Ra’s al Ghul suggests that Team Arrow will be making a trip to the Lazarus Pits (okay, okay, “healing pool”) next week, with a dead or barely alive Thea in tow. Great ending, though, all the same.
Last week, we speculated as to whether or not Detective Captain Lance would find the Arrow Cave and this week, lo and behold, he storms right in and opens it up, only to find that Felicity, etc, wiped everyone’s fingerprints except Roy’s (it’s probably best not to ask just how they did that). It’s hard not to enjoy Lance laughing at the fact that they have their costumes on display. It’s also hard to see a future for Lance that doesn’t end in a heart attack, but the writers are obviously trying to keep him around, if his warning from his colleague that he might be taking this whole Arrow obsession thing a bit too far is anything to go by. At any rate, we hope he stays, as Paul Blackthorne is easily one of the best actors on the show.
Meanwhile, in Flashback City, almost nothing happened. Again. Oliver discovered that it was General Shrieve (who doesn’t appear) who attacked him – not Amanda Waller, whom Shrieve had apparently been holding captive or something. So Oliver, Maseo and Tatsu vowed to stop Shrieve from, we don’t know, discrediting China by blowing up a city or something. To be honest, it wasn’t all that clear. But the main takeaway was yet another clumsy restating of the episode’s main theme, that Oliver has to learn how to let others help him, something that we saw played out in both the Ray and Roy plots.
All in all, Broken Arrow is a solid and enjoyable episode, which sets up a nice run into the final four episodes of the season and gives Roy a fittingly heroic send-off. Colton Haynes is apparently due to make at least one more appearance in the series, but we, for one, will miss his parkour-loving ways and soulful expressions.
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Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.