Arrow 2×02 – Identity

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Maybe I bought into the hype, but star Stephen Amell sold this hour as the single “best” episode the show’s ever produced. Let’s be clear: this was a very entertaining hour of Arrow, but it was far from the brilliance this show is capable of.

I’m ecstatic that the writers are building up Arrow’s rogues’ gallery, but they need to be more developed than China White and Bronze Tiger. I’ll forgive the latter who was wasted this week as a mere physical obstacle for Arrow to overcome, but it’s embarrassing that China White continues to be a flop. All the elements are there for one heck of a supervillain, but something about Kelly Hu’s performance and the material she’s being given is a major miss. It doesn’t help that she’s frequently part of the show’s poorest action sequences – that final three-way battle should have been blockbuster-ish, but it ended up being supremely choppy and unfocused. A pity.

However, props must be given as the show is trying its best to craft epic episodes this early in the season. And really, this episode got a lot right. Putting aside the underwhelming villains, Identity saw the introduction of Kevin Alejandro as Oliver Queen’s newest nemesis, Sebastian Blood. I mostly detested Alejandro on True Blood, but he was excellent here. We all know Oliver can handle himself as the vigilante, but seeing him try to tackle the aftermath of the Glades’ destruction as Oliver Queen is remarkably compelling stuff. It provides our hero with a different kind of conflict, as it’s painfully apparent just much how much the public hates Oliver and the Queen family as a whole.

As for the island, we didn’t get too much forward momentum until our trio discovered the mysterious Japanese cave (which is also where Ollie found the rock that Thea gave Roy). I have absolutely no idea where the island adventures will be heading next so there’s a wonderfully unpredictable element to the proceedings. Plus I’m still enjoying Oliver and Shado’s blossoming relationship, and Slade’s obvious jealousy. Here’s hoping these two are alive and well, and will be making appearances in present-day Starling City soon.

I loved Laurel last season but her hate for The Hood is a bit hard to swallow after everything he did for her. Still, I won’t deny that this week’s cliffhanger was pretty darn great. Although I really wanted Oliver to finally reveal to Laurel who he really was – and it looked like he was going to when he started talking about Tommy – having her bring in all the cops was suitably awesome. That final shot of Arrow surrounded by a zillion pointed lasers was perfect (as was the thrilling score). Seriously, how is he going to get out of this one?

Bits & Arrows

– Great new opening voiceover which has been slightly adjusted to suit this season’s throughline.

– Amell is still as impressive as ever with those training montages. He keeps me inspired.

– China White’s one badass moment of the week: halting the truck in the teaser with two swift shots to the men inside. But they really should differentiate her look from Black Canary’s; I wouldn’t be surprised if new viewers assumed they were one and the same.

– Felicity being forced to work as Ollie’s secretary for her cover was downright hilarious. Seriously why does he get to be CEO?

– While I liked Felicity snapping at Oliver and revealing Diggle’s break-up with Carly, I’m not really invested in Diggle’s personal life quite yet.

– Thea continues to be mature and likeable. Great move with firing Roy.

– Some awesome editing with Sebastian’s speech about Oliver not “caring” as we see him getting hooded up to save the truck. Truly the worst timing ever huh?

– Gorgeous cinematography as Oliver and Shado discuss the “darkness within” by the lake.

– Does China White have to lose every fight? And her final words to Oliver about “never being a hero” fell flat to me.

– Felicity getting Ollie coffee at the end was extremely sweet. I love how they turned a running joke into a poignant character moment.

– If Laurel doesn’t learn of Ollie’s identity soon, I hope Roy does. Hopefully now that he’s going to be our hero’s “eyes and ears in the Glades”, that will happen soon.

Some choice lines from this episode that were much too cheesy:
– Your business is going under… permanently.
– You see I was eager to see you dead, and he was eager to kill you.
– That hurt, but it won’t stop me.

Starling Quips

Laurel: He totaled his car playing Hood junior.

Felicity: Did you know I went to MIT? Guess what I majored in? Hint: not the secretarial art.

Diggle: (to Felicity) It could be worse, my secret identity is his black driver.

Diggle: (to Oliver) I’ve been meaning to tell you it really weirds me out the way you refer to yourself in the third person like that.

Diggle: You know I was gonna take care of her before one of your trick arrows got in the way.
Oliver: Couldn’t risk it, where would I be without my black driver?

Diggle: (to Oliver) You know we’re getting dangerously close to hug-territory so I’m gonna fall back.

Arrow: You’re untrained.
Roy: I can fight.
Arrow: You can take a beating; there’s a difference.

Conclusion
While not as epic as I would have liked it to be (the dialogue didn’t help), Identity is an engaging and eventful hour of Arrow.

Nad Rating
B+

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