Arrow, you've been back for .02 seconds, and already you've made me the happiest girl in the world. If you know me at all, you know the words I'm about to type... THE SALMON LADDER IS BACK.
Thank you, everyone and anyone who had a hand in tonight's episode. The rest of the plot could have been Oliver sitting in a boring business meeting for the entire episode, and I still would have been content. THE SALMON LADDER IS BACK. Please have this in every episode forever. Please. Ok, let's get back to the actual story, shall we?
So while it seemed like we were just getting our usual shots of Oliver working out and honing his archery skills, something seemed... off. Yes, Oliver had lost his groove. It seems like though Oliver has recovered from his Dark Archer beatdown physically, he's still not all there mentally. Oliver is off his game. Crap.
In other, non-Arrow-related news, Walter is still kidnapped missing, and six weeks have passed. Everyone is assuming the worst. Even Oliver has that look, that we-are-all-thinking-the-same-thing-Walter-is-dead-but-no-one-wants-to-be-the-first-one-to-say-it look. Am I the only one that remembers that Oliver was missing and presumed dead for five whole years, and he came aback alive! Clearly, everyone's attention spans suck. Gotta hand it to Moira, though: she sure can act. She knows exactly where Walter is, and that he'll be returned in six months. But why? And where is he being held in the interim?
Meanwhile, in our villain of the week storyline, we finally got to meet Firefly. It seems as if someone has been sneaking into fires and offing certain firefighters that all were present at some big disastrous fire years ago. One of the victims: Laurel's coworker's brother. After some digging they find out these are no accidents, and so Laurel steals the phone Arrow gave to her dad last episode, and solicits his help. Too bad Arrow's on hiatus. Even Starling City is noticing his absence, and they're upset about it. And so begins the journey from vigilante to hero.
Now that Laurel has a direct line to Arrow, the story is starting to seem a little... familiar. Is this not how Lois Lane and the Blur started their love affair on Smallville? Yes, yes it is. A certain phone that can't be traced, a voice disguiser, the vigilante helping the girl he loves even though she doesn't know the masked man and her ex are one and the same... Yeah, it's Smallville all over again. But hey, we aren't complaining! We loved that show for a reason.
Though it takes some coaxing (and some pouting! Let's have Stephen Amell pout some more on this show. That was a beautiful sight), poking, prodding, and all around dragging him kicking and screaming, Diggle finally gets Oliver to Arrow-up, and take down the rogue firefighter. Turns out Firefly was in the disastrous fire years ago, and his captain ordered everyone to abandon the lost cause, and he got stuck in the fire, badly burned and presumed dead. I still don't understand why Firefly decided going after his fellow firefighters was the right course of action. I understand seeking revenge on the man who left you to die, but the other guys didn't do anything wrong! When Arrow finally cornered him, Firefly set himself on fire, unable to face life.
With the Firefly out of commission, Laurel offers the phone back to her dad, but he tells her to keep it. If Arrow keeps saving her, then Det. Lance is okay with their connection... oh wait, JUST KIDDING. He had a tech guy install something or other in the phone so now he can listen in on their conversations. I guess he still hasn't lightened up on the whole vigilante thing.
Back to the Walter storyline, Moira finally decides to take his spot as CEO of Queen Consolidated, and Thea is a little surprised at how quickly she changed her mind. I guess Moira isn't as good as an actor as she thought: she was moping around, mourning Walter, and then just like that she seemed fine and ready for action. If Thea is the first person to figure out Moira's behind everything, I will be so impressed. It's about time she was given an actual storyline that didn't involve whining!
But the superstar of tonight's midseason premiere: Diggle. He stopped at nothing to get Oliver back in his green hood, trying everything from physically fighting him to analyzing why Oliver was in a funk. The best point he had: Oliver is stronger now than he was on the island, because he has something to lose, aka something to fight for - his family and loved ones. He's less reckless, and more meaningful in his actions. And finally, Diggle got through. Oliver hooded up, with a smile on his face, brandishing his father's list to Diggle: it's time to go hunting. He's baaaaaack!
[Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW]
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The age-old debate over fate vs. free will has been and always will be a tough theme to crack in any medium but with the benefits of modern filmmaking technology the theory can be explored in ways that Philip K. Dick never imagined. However when one relies too heavily on spectacle to tell a story a piece of cerebral science fiction can quickly become just another action extravaganza. In this day and age there’s a fine line between the two; The Matrix walked that tightrope with style and grace while Next never found its footing in the first place. Fortunately the precious work of novelist Dick has for the most part been treated with respect by Hollywood (the aforementioned Nic Cage dud notwithstanding) but that doesn’t necessarily mean movies based on his stories are completely faithful to his vision.
Case in point: George Nolfi’s directorial debut The Adjustment Bureau an adaptation of Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.” The film stars Matt Damon as David Norris a successful businessman and rising political candidate who after a chance encounter with the girl of his dreams (Emily Blunt) loses a crucial election. He happens to run into her on a Manhattan bus the following week before finding his office swarming with masked men who are “adjusting” everyone inside. Richardson (John Slattery) the man in charge captures Norris who unsuccessfully flees the scene after seeing behind “a curtain he wasn’t even supposed to know existed” as the enigmatic figure puts it. From that point on Norris must live with the knowledge that he (and we for that matter) is not in control of his own life. Rather the choices he makes fit perfectly into “The Plan” that’s been written by “the Chairman”.
In relation to my earlier statement I have to say that Nolfi’s picture looks stunning but his natural urban aesthetic doesn’t overpower the story. Sleek contemporary production design and elegant costumes characterize the high-concept story and the wraithlike agents who shape our destinies. Topically we’re dealing with some heavy material but Nolfi and editor Jay Rabinowitz move the action along at a brisk pace that keeps you engaged and entertained without having to try. The film is properly proportioned as a chase thriller romantic adventure and sci-fi fantasy and thankfully no component overshadows another.
Setting the film in the world of politics and big business helps make its larger-than-life revelations a bit more accessible (as do appearances from Michael Bloomberg Jon Stewart and Chuck Scarborough) while providing sub-text about the corruption involved in elections and campaigns (there are conspicuous shades of The Manchurian Candidate in the movie) but the writer-director often tries too hard for broad appeal. For a film with existential implications as severe as they are here the dialogue is at times hokey and superficial. Dick’s source material is far more abstract and Nolfi for the sake of commercial success panders to the palette of soccer moms and mallrats.
What’s worse is his unwarranted exposition of the Bureau a shadowy organization whose major allure is anonymity. Some secrets are best kept and less can be so much more when crafting a mysterious atmosphere; Nolfi reaches that level of magnetic curiosity but squanders it as he reveals the truth about the Bureau and its grand scheme. On the other hand he brushes over the technical lingo between agents Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) McCrady (Anthony Ruivivar) and others without explanation perhaps hoping that the ambiguous terminology will fool you into thinking that his script is smarter than it really is.
Even though Nolfi’s allegorical conclusions are uncomfortably ham-fisted the chemistry between Damon and Blunt alone is enough to enchant you; this is one highly watchable cinematic pairing that should be revisited as soon as possible. Their innocent relationship blossoms organically and together they make it seem as natural on screen as it is for their star-crossed characters. Even if you have a hard time believing in higher powers or manipulative Orwellian forces you’ll have faith in David and Elise’s fated relationship one of the most captivating couplings I’ve seen on the big-screen in some time.