Arrow: 118 “Salvation” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
This week’s Arrow sees Oliver confronting some of the less desirable parts of his life, and it actually proves fairly interesting viewing. It also advances the island flashbacks considerably and offers some tantalising hints about the ‘Undertaking’, but nonetheless it never feels like the show is fulfilling its considerable potential.
As the show continues, it seems that the whole thing is centred on the Glades, the rough, crime-filled neighbourhood of Starling City: this week, a mysterious man known only as ‘The Saviour’ is kidnapping people who have wronged the people of the Glades, starting with a crooked property owner who also happens to be on Oliver’s list. The Saviour gets there first, and broadcasts a video of him murdering the man, then quickly sets about kidnapping the District Attorney and making another video giving him ten minutes to come up with a compelling ‘closing argument’ which will save his life. Naturally, Oliver begins a mad dash across the city to try and find him, but fails and Felicity and Diggle are forced to watch as the District Attorney is murdered on camera.
These kidnap-murders are rushed through, but as soon as Captain Cheekbones and Thea’s new squeeze himself, Roy Harper, gets kidnapped, the Saviour slows down and allows more time. Enough time for Thea to get from the scene of the kidnapping to Verdant and Oliver to get from Verdant to Starling City’s disused subway tunnels, where the Saviour is running a single train carriage as his mobile base of operations.
Oliver confronts the Saviour and is forced to confront some unpleasant truths about himself: that the Saviour doesn’t see a difference between the two of them, to the point that he makes some mention of teaming up and working together. To be fair to the Saviour, it’s a valid point: Oliver has killed a number of people in his pursuit of justice. But as the Saviour turns to shoot an escaping Roy, Oliver puts an arrow all the way through his chest. Judging by the melodramatic prolonged death of the Saviour, I get the feeling it’s a kill that is going to haunt Oliver in future episodes. Anyway, Thea and Roy are reunited, Oliver works out that they’re more than just friends, and he has something of a reconciliation with Laurel.
Speaking of whom, Laurel’s parents are working together to try and track down the girl Dinah believed to be Sarah, much to Laurel’s dismay: she believed that Quentin would help Dinah accept Sarah’s death, rather than get sucked in to Dinah’s apparent delusion. She’s so dismayed, in fact, that she puts herself to work trying to disprove Sarah’s apparent reappearance: eventually, she manages to track the girl in the photo down, and introduces a woman who is distinctly not Sarah to her visibly upset parents.
So Dinah leaves Starling City (for Central City, where she will be in a ‘Flash’ – nice reference, Arrow), seemingly believing that Sarah is, in fact, dead and gone. Laurel tells her that she wants to stay in touch, and like that, the original Black Canary is out of our lives once more. I have high hopes for Dinah returning and revealing some kind of secret identity in the future, but who knows where this show is going really?
Evidence of this mentality is clear in Moira’s subplot: she meets with Frank, her co-conspirator in the assassination attempt on Malcolm, and they discuss how to proceed. Frank tells her that he’s moving his family out of the country for the moment, and suggests she does the same, to which she replies that she would ‘do anything for her children’, basically telling Frank that she’s going to betray him. Which she does, and she is forced to watch as Malcolm (disguised in his Dark Archer get-up) delivers three arrows to Frank’s body. She manages to persuade Malcolm not to go after Frank’s family and is left alone in the dark with both literal and metaphorical blood on her hands.
Over on the island, Oliver and Slade meet with Fyers’ men to trade the missile launcher control chip for a boat off the island: naturally, being the ruthless mercenary that he is, Fyers double-crosses them, and threatens to kill Yao Fei’s daughter if they don’t hand the chip over. Unfortunately for Fyers’ men, this decision meant that there were three highly-trained combatants and Oliver to face, and a pretty impressive scrap ensues: Yao Fei’s daughter (I believe her name is Shado) kicks some serious ass and the four of them escape. However, Yao Fei gets shot in the leg and tells them to go on without him, which they do.
As the trio reach the hiding place Oliver secreted the chip in, they discover that the meeting was a distraction, and Fyers had his men combing the forest for the chip the whole time, and now they have a fully-functioning missile launcher and Oliver and Slade have no way off the island. However, Shado reveals that Fyers was never going to let them off the island because of what he has planned for the missile launcher, and presumably all will be revealed next week.
The final sequence of the episode takes place in the Arrowcave, as Oliver spots a pattern in the subway map of the Glades which matches the mysterious symbol in his father’s notebook. He works out that whatever the Undertaking is, it’s all about the Glades, and there the episode ends.
“Salvation” is yet another of those episodes that feels like it is setting things up to be taken down in the finale, and at this stage in the season that’s not really good enough: with only five episodes left before the end of the season, every single episode counts, and this one felt like it didn’t. However, the action in the island flashback and the dingy, atmospheric confrontation with the Saviour elevated it above the worst of the season’s episodes, but it’s still disappointing.