Arrow: 104 “An Innocent Man” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
This week, Arrow returned to the formula established in the first two episodes of the season, with limited success. From the evidence available in this early stage of the season, it seems as though Arrow will be more enjoyable and a more rewarding viewing experience when it feels more comic book-esque, as it did last week. When it conforms to the premise that it has set up for itself, it runs the risk of feeling somewhat repetitive.
“An Innocent Man” begins where we left off last week, with Oliver revealing his secret identity to Diggle, and we can safely say that Diggle doesn’t react too positively. After dodging a few punches, Oliver asks Diggle to ‘join him’, claiming that they are both soldiers, which seems to be a rather bold claim, seeing as Diggle was a real soldier and seems at least a little damaged by it. Anyway, Diggle refuses, and leaves the secret hideout, accusing Oliver of being a murderer: an accusation that no one, not even Oliver, can really argue with.
We soon learn that Diggle has tendered his resignation as Oliver’s bodyguard, and he has been assigned a new and far more naïve one. This provides some decent light moments throughout the episode, as Oliver repeatedly gives him the slip, be it on a motorbike or through the window of a restaurant toilet, and reminds us that Arrow can still have some fun even against the dark, tortured backdrop.
The bulk of the episode is taken up with a rather uninteresting plot involving Declan, a death row inmate presumably wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder, and his connection to Jason Brodeur, one of the men on Oliver’s list. Once this plot is established through Oliver seeing a news report about Declan’s plight, it consists almost entirely of Oliver obtaining evidence through illegal means including his most sinister interrogation method yet, in which he handcuffs a man to a railway track as a train is rapidly approaching; and subsequently handing the evidence off to Laurel, who is able to use it against Brodeur.
There is a slight variation to the formula this week, however, in that Brodeur seems genuinely scared by Laurel’s legal threats, and it is his right hand man who appears to be the brains behind this particular operation. It is to this episode’s credit that the villain is not actually all that villainous, instead just being a criminal desperately attempting to cover his tracks.
Speaking of which, the eventual manner in which he attempts to divert attention away is one of the most heavy-handed plans in the show’s short history: he orchestrates a mass prison riot in an attempt to murder Declan without suspicion. Unfortunately, Laurel happens to be in the prison at the time, and when Oliver finds this out he dashes to the scene, eschewing his usual attire for a stolen prison guard’s uniform and a balaclava, which somehow makes him stand out more than his costume would have done.
The entire prison riot sequence was disappointingly brief: it could have provided a big, tense set piece for the episode, but it is squandered in a single scene which added very little to the plot. However, it did provide an interesting moment which is likely to cause considerable tension between Laurel and the Hood, as she witnesses him beating a man senseless, albeit one who was attacking her. This makes Laurel take her dad’s side on the subject of the Hood, that he is a dangerous vigilante and not to be trusted, something which Oliver overhears.
So while the main plot wraps up, Diggle spends an inordinate amount of time at his sister-in-law’s restaurant, generally acting slightly mopey and indecisive about Oliver’s request. He believes that Oliver’s goal is right for Starling City, but that manner in which he is going about it is wrong: and his feelings become even more confused when Oliver confides in him about his father’s list. However, he inevitably agrees to join Oliver’s cause, but his reasons for doing so are actually fairly interesting: he wants to be there to remind Oliver of ‘who he is’, and to stop him from getting lost in his personal war against the corrupt. Diggle seems a good match for Oliver: he is similarly concerned with the plight of Starling City, but at the same time he displays much more nobility and concern for human life, and I am interested to see where the partnership goes.
The subplots for this episode are surprisingly interesting: the main one concerns Walter’s investigations into a missing $2.6 million from the company’s accounts, which make Moira nervous. She attempts to convince Walter that it went into a failed investment, which Walter obviously doesn’t believe. He then gets Felicity Smoak, the adorably blunt IT technician from last week’s episode, to look into it, and she finds that it went to set up a dodgy account called ‘Tempest’ which has just purchased a warehouse in the city: Walter then goes to the warehouse and finds the wreckage of the yacht her husband and son were lost on. This is likely to set up some interesting tension between Walter and Moira, but mostly it is refreshing to see a high-powered guy with an English accent in an American show who isn’t a bad guy.
Similarly, the island flashbacks were pretty interesting this week, as the mysterious archer who shot and then saved Oliver in previous weeks offers him food, in the shape of a live bird. He repeatedly speaks a word in a foreign language (presumably Mandarin), and tries to convince Oliver to kill and eat the bird. Eventually, after Oliver does so, it turns out that the word the man was saying meant ‘survive’, and that Oliver would have to do things he didn’t like in order to survive on the island, particularly killing things.
However, the big moments of the episode came at the end, as Detective Lance bursts into the Queen house to arrest Oliver on suspicion of being the Hood, thanks to some handy video evidence he managed to find. Not only that, but Moira meets with the shadowy figure from last week in an attempt to protect herself and the rest of their sinister cabal of rich guys, and he turns out to be none other than John Barrowman.
A far less enjoyable tale than last week’s episode, but one which sets up some interesting plot threads for the future. I’m particularly intrigued by the idea of John Barrowman playing a villain, and Walter’s inevitable clash with Moira over the boat.