Arrow: 116 “Dead To Rights” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
This week’s Arrow dealt with a lot of issues surrounding Tommy and his father, and offered a few genuine surprises along the way. However, the main thing I took away from the episode is that people simply refused to stay dead this week.
Unlike other weeks, I’ll begin with the island flashback of the episode: it’s a brief visit to Lian Yu this week, but a rather entertaining one. First off, we see Oliver struggling to do even a single pull-up, a nice indicator of how much his time on the island changed him, even if this example is just of a physical change. Slade then shows Oliver up by effortlessly executing half a dozen, telling him that he might as well work out as he has nothing better to do until the next supply plane comes along. Oliver, however, finds a busted radio and focuses himself on fixing it while Slade goes out and earns man-points for hunting, killing and carrying a deer back to their base.
He finally gets it working, but Slade soon works out that they can hear transmissions from aircraft near the island, but they can’t broadcast a message themselves, and continues his streak of being a manly man by hitting the radio in frustration. However, after a fiddle with the radio, they discover that they can tune in to the radio frequency Fyers and his men are using, and the flashbacks end with the pair of them heading out on the rampage. It’s a nice set-up for what promises to be another action-packed island flashback next time, as well as another mention of Fyers’ benefactor (who I’m tempted to guess is Malcolm Merlyn, but that seems a little too obvious, not to mention incredibly convenient).
Back in the present, Oliver takes down an assassin newly arrived in Starling City (named Guillermo Barrera, the true identity of the DC Comics supervillain Brutale) and takes his phone back to Felicity, who is being taught self-defence by Diggle after her ordeal last week, to decipher it and work out who the target is. Oliver heads out to meet McKenna for a double date with Tommy and Laurel (because that worked out great last time) for Tommy’s birthday, although they are interrupted when Malcolm turns up with a present and an apology for Tommy, as well as an invitation to an event where Malcolm is receiving a humanitarian award. Tommy rejects his attempt to make up, to which Malcolm responds by telling Tommy that he has done everything to make Tommy happy, which does nothing to cool Tommy’s attitude towards him.
Meanwhile, in the terrifyingly-named ‘Bludhaven Apartments’ (presumably named after the city of Bludhaven, home to DC Comics hero Nightwing), China White approaches a mysterious assassin to take out Malcolm: an assassin who turns out to be none other than Floyd Lawton, also known as Deadshot, the man Oliver shot through the eye with an arrow way back in episode three. He looked pretty dead last time we saw him, and thus Deadshot gets the dubious honour of being the first reanimated corpse of the episode: the only damage appears to be the loss of one of his eyes, soon rectified by China White handing over his semi-bionic eye.
Back at the Arrowcave, Felicity has cracked Brutale’s phone and discovered a Chinese restaurant which is also a front for the Triad. As any good investigator would, Oliver takes his best friend there for a birthday lunch, and takes a quick break from the meal to beat some guys up in the back room, utilising shadows and the detrimental effects of hot sauce on the human eye to conceal his identity. He discovers that the hit is going down the next day, but is still left in the dark as to the target, and also convinces Tommy to reconcile with his father: so all in all, a pretty productive lunch!
So Tommy decides to go to the humanitarian award presentation and make amends with his dad. At the event, Malcolm makes nice with Moira, who makes pleasantries with the man she has put a hit out on like the ice queen the character has always wanted to be, and then makes a speech about how his wife was the real humanitarian, and if the people who attacked her had known her they’d have walked her back to her car instead of mugging and killing her, which seems like an odd speech.
As the attack goes down, Malcolm heads to his penthouse with Tommy, killing his way through a few mercenaries and showing Tommy his stash of Black Arrow gear. He is then promptly shot multiple times in the chest by Deadshot, and although he is wearing a bulletproof vest, he is poisoned by Deadshot’s trademark curare and blacks out. Fortunately, Felicity had decrypted the phone and worked out who the target was, and Oliver turns up, fights China White for the third time this season, and tells Tommy that Malcolm needs a blood transfusion to survive long enough to reach the hospital, and encourages him to trust in the Hood by revealing his secret identity to him.
The blood transfusion works, but Tommy makes it pretty clear that he no longer trusts his old friend and walks off. Inside the hospital room, meanwhile, Malcolm enlists Moira’s help to find the person who ordered the hit and deal with them, thus landing her in quite the pickle, although I’m betting she pins it on the Chinese guy introduced last week.
Oliver’s day then gets a little worse as he has to tell Diggle that Deadshot is still alive. Handily, Felicity is there to ask what the significance of this reveal is to which Oliver replies that Deadshot killed Diggle’s brother: this is handy because it was a point introduced so long ago that I’d entirely forgotten about it.
Finally, as Laurel is heading out of the door to see Tommy, her mother turns up after calling her earlier in the episode and tells her that she believes Sarah is still alive, making her the final resurrected cadaver of the episode. However, the main point of excitement for this reveal is that finally, Captain Jack Harkness and River Song are together, as Laurel’s mother is played by none other than Alex Kingston!
Some convenience-plotting aside, this was actually a pretty decent episode, with some plot points introduced which bode well for the remainder of the season. It was also refreshing to see a slightly more sensitive, less evil-genius side of Malcolm, and his reconciliation with Tommy is bound to have some adverse effects to Oliver’s crusade.