Arrow: 306 “Guilty” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
This week’s Arrow comes with some interesting twists, turns and revelations, including a big one about the history of Starling City, without being too reliant on the overarching plot involving Sara’s murder. Whether or not this is a good thing is fairly subjective, but in general I think it is ok to take a break from the big scary events every once in a while.
But all of this aside, there is one moment in the episode which is in contention to be the greatest single moment in all of Arrow’s 50 or so episodes. More on that later.
“Guilty” concerns two major plot strands: firstly, Roy’s guilt over his belief that he may have been the one who killed Sara. He seems to have been having the recurring dreams in which he threw arrows into her gut in what seems like a Mirakuru-induced frenzy, and it is distracting him from his work as a costumed vigilante. We’ve all had days like that, right?
Anyway, he has Felicity run tests on his blood to see if there was any Mirakuru remaining in his system: he also confesses to her that he thinks his dreams are suppressed memories and that he may have been the killer. They check his blood chemistry, and find no traces of the mega-steroid, but Felicity reveals to him certain other pieces of information about Sara’s death that could potentially implicate him. Firstly, the angle that the arrows went into her body suggest that they weren’t fired from a bow, and also that it is possible the last burst of rage could have burned up any remaining Mirakuru in Roy’s system. So Roy decides that he was definitely the killer, and admits guilt to the entirety of Team Arrow, and Laurel, who is understandably pissed off.
However, Oliver doesn’t buy it, and sits down with Roy to get to the root of the issue. He lights a candle and meditates with him, allowing Roy to clear his mind and access suppressed memories: from there, he realises that he didn’t kill Sara, but that the dreams were his subconscious telling him about the cop he killed last season under the influence of Mirakuru. This, unsurprisingly, doesn’t make him feel too much better, and he storms off.
And where did Oliver learn these magic memory techniques, I hear you ask? Back in a Hong Kong flashback, of course! This time Amanda Waller has him tracking one of Chien Na Wei’s couriers, who makes a dead drop but gets away in a scuffle: Oliver is convinced he didn’t see where the drop was made, but Maseo is convinced that he can remember. So Tatsu sits down with him and a candle, and walks him through the meditation methods which he used to help Roy, and remembers where the drop was made, giving him more or less his first completely successful mission for Amanda Waller. It’s a relatively subtle way to tie the two timelines together, although it does mean that the Hong Kong storyline is not really advanced at all, instead serving to advance the Starling City storyline. But the flashbacks have been one of the weaker parts of this season, without a big moment like the island flashbacks have had to really make it pop.
Anyway, the second major plot strand of the episode concerns a series of vigilante attacks on gang members, wherein the victims are hung upside down by their feet and beaten to death like a punching bag. Similarly, they all come with a simple message: the word ‘GUILTY’ written in blood on the floor. Oliver tracks down a gang member and finds him, beaten and hung upside down: unfortunately, this one is found in a gym belonging to none other than Ted Grant.
However, Laurel was out to dinner with Ted at the time of the murder, and she defends him before Oliver takes him out. Oliver, of course, doesn’t trust him and has Felicity track him to an old storage locker, which contains another dead gang member, along with a whole bunch of very incriminating evidence and a very pissed-off Ted.
Naturally, they have a quick scrap, and this is where the greatest moment possibly ever occurs: in order to incapacitate Ted, Oliver stabs an arrow into a boxing glove and creates the BOXING GLOVE ARROW! That’s right, one of the most ridiculous objects in all of comic book history, and they found a way to incorporate it into a show which prides itself on being grounded in reality. Oh Arrow, you never stop finding ways to surprise me.
Anyway, it turns out Ted used to be a vigilante working in the Glades, and he and Oliver are attacked by someone dressed in Ted’s old vigilante gear. He gets away, and Ted is arrested, but Laurel gets him released, even after they talk about a gang member whom Ted supposedly beat to death when he was working as a vigilante. Moments after they leave the police station, however, they are kidnapped by Isaac Stanzler, Ted’s former sidekick who was actually responsible for the murder.
Of course, Oliver and Roy manage to catch up to them and face Stanzler down: even though he tells Roy that he is just another weapon in Oliver’s arsenal, Roy knocks Stanzler unconscious and then makes Oliver agree not to abandon him even after the crazy revelations. When Roy tells Oliver what Stanzler said to him, Oliver says that he has a new codename: Arsenal, one of Roy Harper’s many codenames in the comic books, alongside Speedy and Red Arrow.
Finally, as things wrap up, Stanzler is killed on his way out of the police station by a woman with a bow and arrow. When asked who she is, she responds ‘I’m Cupid, stu…’, and then my head hit the desk with such severity that I blacked out.
Another episode which feels a little like treading water, “Guilty” nonetheless provides some interesting tidbits: Roy solidifying his ‘superhero’ identity, another suspect in Sara’s murder being crossed off the list, and the revelation that Oliver was not the first vigilante to operate in Starling City. Oh, and the episode gets an entire extra mark out of ten because of the BOXING GLOVE ARROW. Seriously, it’s even better than the EARTHQUAKE MACHINE.