Arrow: 212 “Tremors” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
Now this is more like it: after a couple of weeks simmering, Arrow has come back up to the boil with an episode packed full of action, fun moments and some more great fan service, not to mention the return of one of my favourite things from last season. No prizes for guessing what that might be, particularly if you’ve been following my reviews for a while.
The action begins as a mysterious benefactor helps Ben Turner, aka the Bronze Tiger (China White’s associate from episode 2 of this season, with the Wolverine claws) to break out of prison in a decidedly graphic manner involving a man pulling Turner’s claw-blades out of his own body. We later learn that this benefactor was a man named Milo Armitage, who pays Turner $10 million to steal a prototype of (say it with me) the EARTHQUAKE MACHINE! That’s right, my favourite plot device and ridiculous weapon makes a comeback in fairly spectacular style, and instantly “Tremors” surpasses the previous two episodes in my eyes.
Elsewhere, Oliver is training Roy with the same techniques Shado used for him back on the island: namely, slapping a bowl of water to develop control and restraint, two things which Roy is in both desperate need and very short supply of. Understandably for someone with a newfound berserker-like short temper, Roy isn’t particularly keen on these exercises and wants to beat up some more bad guys: it’s only when Oliver reminds him that last time that happened a man ended up in critical condition that Roy reluctantly returns to the training.
However, Felicity interrupts the training session by telling Oliver that the architect of Malcolm Merlyn’s mansion has been found dead with ‘claw marks’ on him, and Oliver decides to head over to the house with Roy in tow. There’s a nice exchange between the two wherein Oliver asks Roy ‘do you have one of your hoodies?’ and Roy replies ‘do you seriously have to ask?’, highlighting the somewhat pointed costume choice for the character, considering his comic book origins.
Anyway, Oliver and Roy soon arrive at Merlyn’s house, which has apparently become a haunted mansion complete with creeping vines and overgrown gardens in the six months or so since he apparently died, and encounter Turner and his lone henchman about to steal the earthquake machine (EARTHQUAKE MACHINE! I’ve missed doing that…). While Oliver and Turner have an acrobatic spinning kick-filled fight, Roy takes a different tack with the henchman by yanking him out of the truck and beating him half to death, and in stopping Roy, Oliver lets Turner get away.
So Oliver goes back to the Arrowcave with angry-face to vent to Felicity and Diggle, while Thea confronts Roy, who tells her to leave the city, so enthusiastically that he grabs her with his super-strength and hurts her, after which he gets freaked out and runs away. Oliver tells Roy that keeping their activities secret are the only way to keep people safe, which Roy takes violent, Hulk-like exception to and heads off to try and save the city on his own.
Meanwhile, Turner’s meeting with Armitage is interrupted by the Arrow and Roy: the interruption doesn’t go down too well with Armitage, who activates the earthquake machine (EARTHQUAKE MACHINE!) and is subsequently knocked out by Oliver. As it turns out, the only thing which can distract Roy from punching Turner in the head is Oliver revealing his secret identity to him and reminding him that Thea is the most important thing, at which point Roy punches a hole through the contained holding the machine and allows Oliver to stop the device from going off.
Interestingly, Roy doesn’t completely freak out about this revelation and is welcomed into Team Arrow, while Turner is locked back up and visited by Amanda Waller who offers him an opportunity to commute his prison sentence: all he needs to do is join a ‘squad’ she’s putting together. While this wording may not mean much to the uninitiated, fans of DC Comics will know that this ‘squad’ is none other than the ‘Suicide Squad’, a group of supervillains coerced into working for the government as deniable black-ops assets, so it’s a fair bet that we’ll be seeing the ‘Bronze Tiger’ again soon.
Elsewhere, Laurel finds out she is likely to be disbarred for her addiction, and goes even further off the deep end, but this is a relatively minor part of the episode, with the exception of her getting spiked at Verdant and coming home to find Sara standing over her. Moira, on the other hand, is visited by the ever-charming Walter Steele, her ex-husband, who tells her that she is a prominent choice to run against Sebastian Blood in the mayoral election, and that she will have full backing from the Starling National Bank, where Walter now works. Apparently there are a lot of people in Starling who would gladly support her candidacy if she ran, which she eventually agrees to: I foresee this not going down too well over in the Blood camp, which means that Moira may well be butting heads with Slade in the near future.
Finally, on the island, Oliver and Sara work out that Slade is planning to blow up Ivo’s freighter with Fyers’ leftover anti-aircraft weapon from last season, and Oliver seems determined to tell Slade that Shado’s death is his fault. Sara tells him this isn’t a good idea, considering the mirakuru in Slade’s system and his current mental state, and Oliver clearly takes this advice on board as he talks Slade down using the memory of Shado and her love for him as encouragement: finally, Oliver decides that they’re going to take the freighter from Ivo as a means of getting home. It’s a strange moment because we know for a fact that it’s not going to work, and from dialogue in previous episodes we also know that Oliver watches both Sara and Slade apparently die in the process, so I believe we’re in for a few traumatic visits to the island in future episodes.
A big step up from the last couple of episodes, “Tremors” brings back the bonkers comic book quality that was always Arrow’s strong point: while there were a lot of elements that, like the previous two episodes, were clearly building up to something happening in the future of the show, the main action of the episode was satisfying enough that it stood up on its own. On the downside, I imagine we’ve finally bid a fond farewell to the earthquake machine (EARTHQUAKE MACHINE!), as having three of them out in the world is more than enough.
Goodbye, earthquake machine.