Dave, Antonio, Gordon, and myself are back to talk more about our rewatching of Arrow in the next Basement Road Show AV Club. It’s like a book club, only your daughter doesn’t bother you to log back in to Minecraft (unless it’s my daughter apparently). In this episode, we cover season 1 episodes 11-15 and discuss Slade Wilson’s introduction, the hammy feel of the Vertigo episode, relational conflict, and love. If you want to catch up with the previous installments, check out Episode 1 and Episode 2.
Danno: There’s a focus on the flashback story in these episodes, which is much needed and extremely enjoyable in my opinion. And Slade Wilson is finally introduced. I think I enjoyed almost every moment with him on screen, but my favorite is the scene where he starts to train Oliver.
Dave: When he gets introduced — finally — it’s excellent because he comes across immediately as really menacing and really capable. And I think my favorite part of this set of episodes is the airfield assault, particularly when Slade and Wintergreen end up going at it. It’s a really cool early action set piece, and it’s probably where the stakes of the flashbacks are raised significantly.
Antonio: I’ll second that motion. I mean, of this batch of episodes, I definitely like episode 14 the most, which is almost entirely just the flashback sequence. The introduction of Slade, the training of Oliver, the airfield assault. Every piece that’s introduced during that episode just raises the stakes and it’s so much better than what we’ve gotten from the flashbacks previously too. And I think that jump in quality is really awesome.
Gordon: Yeah, I would say my favorite part about Slade’s introduction is him constantly berating Oliver all the time.
Dave: It’s so good.
Gordon: It’s like, “Oliver, you ain’t shit. You fucking suck kid and I’m going to have to scramble this shit just to keep us alive. And it’s just really not a good use of my time.”
Dave: Side-note: one part about that that I think helps it work later on though, is when Oliver does start being capable later on and starts doing well. And Slade praises him. It feels really genuine because we’re so used to Slade fucking berating the hell out of him.
Danno: I think that’s where you really start to see how Oliver developed such a thick skin. It’s essentially from his training with Slade and how he doesn’t let him get by with the bare minimum. Out of these five episodes, I personally didn’t care for the Vertigo episode, outside of the developments that happen in the flashbacks. What are some of your thoughts on that?
Gordon: ‘Bout ready to pitch you off a cliff if we were in the same room here, Danno. As a huge fan of the Green Arrow comics, there’s a lot of really cool comic book nods in this episode: Count Vertigo being probably the second or third most important Green Arrow villain right behind the Merlyn. But also, you get a lot of cool nods to Thea’s character, who in the comics has had some issues with drug addiction. We get to see the start of the character development engine where she turns in to “not a total piece of shit”. And I loved the over-the-top nature of the Vertigo thing. Especially in this first season, it reminds you, “Yep, you’re watching a comic book show.” It’s not just like gritty Nolanesque takes on everything.
Danno: And I think — to some extent — that’s what I don’t like about it. It’s very comic booky. It’s very cheesy. There are a lot of really bad lines in that episode. Especially — for me — the one where she’s having the talk with her mom about, “Why didn’t you get mad at me when I said I wish you had died.” And she’s like, “I hope someday you have a daughter and you’ll know why.” Just shoot me with an arrow. [laughs]
Dave: That was terrible. That was such a bad joke, dude.
Danno: I know.
Dave: And I appreciate it. On one hand, I totally get why somebody would not like it because it is very hammy and comic booky. On the other, it’s kind of why I like it. It is probably one of the most comic booky episodes in the entire series. And I appreciate the hell out of it for that reason.
Antonio: I can definitely agree with that because pretty much every episode we’ve seen so far up to that point, the villain or whatever has been a normal person. And then you get the Count, who’s just a caricature of a drug dealer. And the juxtaposition of him being super hammy versus the normal people does make it feel very comic booky like you said.
Danno: Yeah, because you know why they call him the Count, right?
Dave: Oh my god.
Danno: Because he tested his drugs on the homeless people: prostitutes and the like. And they all had two holes in their necks. I’m sorry. It’s so bad.
Dave: Okay, I mean, yeah. That’s pretty bad.
Danno: I will say maybe the episode as a whole is not terrible, but the dialogue in it — I feel — could have been better developed to make it less hammy.
Gordon: Y’all just forgot how to have fun. That’s what this is about.
Danno: That’s usually your job.
Gordon: That is usually my job. The fact that I have to defend the fun of a guy using two-pronged needles or syringes to inject people with a drug and being compared to Count Dracula is pretty fucking wild.
Antonio: I mean, everything else that comes out of it. He’s like, “Oh, good wine is measured in age. Good drugs are measured in how many people it kills.”
Dave: Yeah, it’s not great.
Danno: A lot of character development happens in these episodes, specifically in regard to relationships. And my personal favorites are the conflicts between Oliver and Diggle that in these episodes are less physical and more emotional than some of the episodes prior; and the relationship between Laurel and her father, especially in episode 13, where Lance chooses his hatred for the vigilante essentially over his daughter and her safety to some extent. I felt that those conflicts in the relationships were done so well. What do you guys think?
Antonio: In regards to the conflicts between Oliver and Diggle, my big complaint, my big gripe about it is just how goddamn blind Oliver is to the potential that his mom might not be a saint. Robert told him that he’s a bad person. He gave him a book that’s full of just bad people. The evidence is stacking. Even Thea says, “Hey, I think mom’s cheating on Walter.” There’s just this list of evidence that just keeps stacking up. And the one time that Oliver actually says, “Okay, maybe I need to do something about it,” just, “Oh, I’m going to hold up a picture of my kids.” And now everything’s okay. What?!
Gordon: I love that too because then she shoots him. She puts him out of commission for a little bit. And then afterwards, he’s like, “No, we’re going to chill out on this.” She shot you! She’s a sociopath. She baited you in with the sob story about her kids and then fucking shot you.
Dave: See, here’s the thing. I don’t know if I really see that a sociopathic. I see that as somebody who’s presented with a — you know — she’s looking at a person who’s killed a lot of people up to this point. She’s using her guile to try to get out of that situation. Don’t get me wrong, I think Moira is — in a lot of ways — sociopathic, but I think that particular situation is more her doing what she has to do. That’s how I saw it.
Gordon: She is cold hard.
Dave: Definitely cold! She is colder than shit for sure.
Gordon: I think the other thing that I want to call out here is I love the Laurel and Quentin relationship as it develops. If for no other reason than Quentin is really, really good. Paul Blackthorne as an actor is so good at playing a guy that you just always want to punch in the face at all times. It’s really easy to hate Quentin in these early episodes even though I think he’s got a good motivation and good backstory. It really adds to the character.
Dave: He’s a sympathetic character that — even though he’s sympathetic — he plays it angry. He’s so angry and vindictive that it plays against him. And it works so, so well.
Danno: And it’s an emotional note too that you get at the end of episode 13. When Laurel’s about to storm off, he stops her. After he’s put her life in danger in order to try and capture the vigilante. And he’s like, “Laurel, the phone.” He wants the phone back so that he can further track the vigilante. He’s choosing his pursuit of the vigilante over his daughter at that point. You can see he’s conflicted of it because — as Gordon said — he’s a great actor. But he still choosing that and that just hit me. So now that we’re done with that, let’s talk about love. Love is definitely in the air with episode 15, where we see Diggle finally asking out his former sister-in-law Carly. And Oliver asks out Detective McKenna Hall. Personally, I didn’t care for the relationship between Oliver and McKenna. It just didn’t seem to fit for me. Their date was even more of a sham than Diggle and Carly’s. What do you guys think?
Dave: I agree. The whole relationship just kind of felt forced or contrived. It didn’t really feel organic at all. It felt like something that they made happen more to advance a certain plot point than an actual organic relationship.
Gordon: Yeah, it’s one of those things where McKenna Hall gets introduced and immediately their on a date. You can just tell that this character isn’t going to be around for a very long time.
Dave: Yeah, exactly.
Gordon: What are we doing here? I don’t get it. Especially in the first couple seasons, Oliver spends a lot of time fucking around. But it’s just a waste of time.
Antonio: McKenna is introduced and then twelve seconds later, they’re making bedroom eyes at each other. All we really know about her before she goes on a date with Oliver is she’s attractive because she’s an actress on a CW show (so of course she is), and she’s a cop. And that’s it. It’s like, “Hey, we’re going to be in a relationship.” Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Diggle and Carly’s thing was done much better especially with the meta-knowledge of future things.
Antonio: But you know, the Oliver and McKenna thing was definitely very contrived.
Danno: This has been the Basement Road Show AV Club. Join us next time as we’ll be watching Arrow season 1 episodes 16 through 20.
Antonio: Vice. Major Crimes. Vigilante Task Force. Is McKenna just basically cop Felicity?
Danno: All right now. If we’re going to talk about Felicity, okay. Guys. I have to say. How does Felicity know how to do everything as an IT person? I mean, she gets asked by Oliver to run a spectroanalysis on some liquid to find out where the water came from. What IT person knows how to do this? I used to work in IT. I never handled water at all other than to put it in my body. She knows how to fix a defibrillator because, “Wires are wires” and she’s been building computers since she seven. What?! No, that’s not how machines work! How?!
Antonio: But she looks good doing it though.
Arrow is a television series developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp. The series premiered in the United States on The CW on October 10, 2012. Arrow follows billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who spent five years shipwrecked on Lian Yu, a mysterious island in the North China Sea, before returning home to fight crime and corruption.