Arrow: 105 “Damaged” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
“Damaged” was an interesting episode, and a good one in many respects. However, for me, and I imagine plenty more comic book fans besides, there was one huge disappointment in amongst the development of a number of characters and relationships, a disappointment which sullied my enjoyment of the episode as a whole.
But more on that later: the episode starts where it left off last week, with Oliver being taken into police custody on suspicion of being the Hood. Detective Lance is, as ever, figuratively foaming at the mouth with his hatred of Oliver, to the point that it seems borderline inappropriate for him to interviewing Oliver as a suspect. But he has enough evidence to justify his position, and it doesn’t take long for Oliver to request Laurel as his attorney, thus adding to the extraordinary conflict of interests in the case. These things are unimportant in Arrow-land, however, and Oliver is swiftly placed under house arrest: a fate made more bearable by the combination of living in an enormous mansion, and being able to throw a party with plenty of guests.
Shortly after being placed under house arrest, to avoid having to make an insanity plea Oliver agrees to a polygraph test, during which a number of island-based secrets come out, particularly the fact that he was tortured while he was stranded. This elicits some sympathy from Laurel and a very brief reprieve from Detective Lance, until Oliver cleverly avoids answering the question ‘Have you killed anybody?’ by telling the pair of them that he killed Sarah when he took her on his father’s yacht. The polygraph scene was pleasingly tense, and
Speaking of the yacht, after getting his head of security to move the wreckage of the Queen’s Gambit to a more secure location and the subsequent ‘mysterious’ death of the head of security, Walter confronts Moira about the warehouse. During the following conversation, she seems to show genuine remorse about both using company funds to salvage the boat, and about lying to Walter, and essentially reveals to him that she’s working for the Inner Circle of Rich Dudes, albeit not in so many words. Eventually, Moira reports back to John Barrowman (who is apparently credited as ‘the Well-Dressed Man’), and threatens to ‘burn his world to ashes’ if he attempts to hurt her family, and Walter leaves on a business trip for an indefinite period of time, his trust in Moira clearly shaken. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Colin Salmon’s performance in the last couple of episodes, and Walter is probably the most likeable character on the entire show: he seems to be a genuinely trustworthy man, trying to do what is best for his family and his company in the face of a corrupt, immoral city.
Laurel, on the other hand, is really starting to irritate me. She is incredibly inconsistent as a character, fawning over Oliver one second and rejecting him in favour of Tommy the next, and this episode is no different. For example, in one scene she tells Moira that she can’t take Oliver on as a client because it would be unprofessional and generally a bad idea. Moments later, however, Laurel swans into the courtroom to take Oliver on as a client without a second’s hesitation. The presence of a scene, or even a single shot between these two showing Laurel wrestling with the moral implications of taking on Oliver’s case would have made it feel smoother, but the way the scenes sit together make Laurel’s actions and decisions seem utterly irrational.
Shortly before his crass, prison-themed house party, Oliver reveals to Dig that he always intended to get arrested, due to the unusual timing between his arrival back in Starling City and the first appearance of the Hood. He somehow manages to persuade Dig to disguise himself as the Hood and disrupt an arms deal to draw suspicion away from him, which Dig does and thus Oliver’s innocence is proved.
Whilst it is unlikely that this will completely detract Detective Lance from his personal vendetta against the Queen family, it should give Oliver some breathing room for a couple of weeks and allow him to do his thing with slightly more freedom. It should also allow the formula of the Starling City-based portions of the show to change up slightly, which is bound to be a good thing.
Interspersed with the legal goings-on is the continuing saga of the island, which we learn this episode is called ‘Purgatory’, making Oliver’s time on the island a pretty heavy-handed allegory: that he must stay there to atone for his sins before coming out on the other side a better person.
The first steps on this journey are seen in this episode, as he goes out hunting with the mysterious archer from last week, who attempts to teach him how to use a bow without much success, and says that Oliver will ‘die badly’ on the island. It’s not long before Oliver is kidnapped by the masked men seen briefly at the end of episode 3, and taken to a paramilitary camp and brought in front of a man named Edward Fyers. After my comments last week concerning Walter being a ‘good’ Englishman, it was only a matter of time before we got a good old fashioned English baddy, and Fyers is that baddy. He seems interested in the mysterious archer, to the point that he decides to torture Oliver in an attempt to find him, and this is where the big disappointment comes, in the form of a man in an orange and black mask.
Fans of DC Comics, or any number of DC-based cartoons including Teen Titans, will be familiar with Deathstroke the Terminator, a mercenary and assassin, not to mention an incredibly popular character. He is a complex figure who is by turns a vengeful warrior and a murderous sociopath, and is known for wearing an orange and black mask. But the character seen in “Damaged” was far from this well-liked character, a mute henchman who tortures Oliver for a while before getting incapacitated by the archer as he rescues Oliver. It was a waste of a great character, and the only saving grace for his appearance is that he was only incapacitated and not killed, allowing for his return later in the season, or so I hope.
A solid episode with plenty of nice character moments and some satisfyingly violent combat sequences, somewhat let down by the disappointing appearance of a much-liked character and some annoying bits of characterisation. Even so, the island sequences are becoming more intriguing, and the episode offered a welcome change to the show’s dynamic.