Michael Courtney / The CW

Arrow Looks For Its Missing Piece

As Oliver takes a break from the plot to go recruiting, does the show stay true to its roots?

Is it just me, or is Arrow getting nicer? You've got Oliver Queen, who's spent the last four and a half seasons scowling at anyone he meets, actually taking advice from his team to go meet a potential Black Canary in another city. And even Wild Dog, who's mostly been defined as a pistol-packing jerk, is taking time to reflect on whether he's been too mean to people. He and Curtis are turning out to be a pairing that can be relied on to turn in one or two great scenes per episode.

In fact, Felicity -- who's never been the darkest character -- got to lighten up even farther as she got back in touch with her hacktivist roots by meeting a character who can only be described as "Also Felicity." Arrow used to be a grim, gritty place where everything you love dies, and now it's established that pretty much everyone on the Dark Web is a perky, enthusiastic woman with perfect hair.

In fact, for a while it seemed like the thing that was most emblematic of the Arrow of previous seasons was how many times people ate Big Belly Burger. Or it might have just seemed that way because I skipped lunch, and every other scene had Wild Dog knocking back a five-patty monstrosity.

The niceness must be rubbing off on me, because I found myself invested in the flashback storyline for the first time in quite some time. Talia's a lot of fun, and I like that she wouldn't explain how she could have been Yao Fe's teacher. She's stuck doing some of the heavy lifting to set up Season 1, but she somehow makes Oliver's father's book of lists seem interesting. I wouldn't mind at all spending more time with her convincing Oliver that using a bow and arrow makes more sense than a pistol.

But, fictional fast food restaurants aside, how Arrow-y was Arrow?

Arrow-ish Element Present?
Trick Arrow Oliver busts out a knockdown arrow, which would appear to hit people on the head just hard enough to make them fall over and wait for him to come talk to them. It's okay. He got a lot more mileage out of his zipline arrow, which let him dangle from a helicopter while kicking people in the head and somehow shooting more arrows at the same time.
Oliver Queen: A Jerk Nah, Oliver's a pretty great guy in this episode. Even Wild Dog is turning into a surprisingly empathetic character. Where are the jerk characters of yesteryear?
Comic book reference Dinah Drake was the name of the original comic book Black Canary, although she later had her name changed to be Dinah Drake Lance. So this is as down-the-middle a comic book reference as you can get, really.
Someone walks into the Arrowlair without warning Nope! There are enough people with legitimate access to the lair these days that we don't need new people barging in every week.
Flashback scenes mirror the present day In both flashback and current-day storylines, Oliver spends a lot of time arguing with a woman. Okay, that's a little flimsy. But on the other hand, the flashback also has a scene where Talia teaches Oliver the line about becoming not just someone else, but some...THING else. That mirrors the opening credits! Shut up, I'm counting it.
Things get gory Some blood, I guess? Tina starts out tied to a chair and seems to be about to be tortured, but that never actually happens.
The Only Hospital Room In Town No major injuries means no hospital room.
Someone gets kidnapped After careful consideration, I don't think I can count Tina (starts out as a captive of an evil drug dealer) or Oliver (who stopped being a captive in the flashbacks right at the end of the last episode).
Someone goes shirtless Well, it's cold out.
3 / 9
Final Score
Second chances for a better tomorrow
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