Any Arrow episode that opens with a nice shot of a shirtless Diggle is a successful episode in my mind. I mean, come on: those arms!
Sorry, I made myself a promise that for these last four episodes of Arrow Season 1 I would try to curb my gushing over the physical traits of Stephen Amell and David Ramsey and really any other guy on Arrow that make me drool and instead focus on the story, because gear up – it’s about to get really good.
Diggle and Oliver were training in the Arrow Lair, working on Diggle’s strength while biding time until Floyd Lawton – aka Deadshot – made his way back into the country so they could hunt him down for good. Too bad while they were training, Deadshot found his way into the states. Thanks to Felicity hacking ARGUS’s communication logs, the hunt for Deadshot is now afoot! Diggle lost his connection to ARGUS, however, since Lyla decided to do a little digging and found out why Diggle was so interested in Deadshot. Lyla wants to bring Deadshot to justice, but Diggle just wants him in a body bag. Something tells me one person in this equation will not be happy with the outcome, and when Lyla threatens to put Diggle in handcuffs we learn she means business.
Meanwhile, Oliver and Laurel have apparently mended their friendship enough to plan a lunch date, which she promptly cancels since work got crazy. Even though the lunch didn’t actually happen, I’m assuming Tommy won’t like that there were lunch plans at all now that he knows Oliver is the vigilante and Laurel and the vigilante have a working relationship. But so far, Tommy’s keeping his cool and telling Laurel he and Oliver are fine, and he only quit their club because the opportunity to work with his father was just too good to pass up.
Laurel canceled her lunch plans with Ollie to help a family who invested all their savings with a man named Edward Rasmus, who promptly stole it all. I wonder if Rasmus is on The List?
If Rasmus wasn’t on The List before, he sure is now. He hired a Gunn – ahem, I’m sorry, a hired gun (aka J. August Richards, or Gunn on Angel) to kill the family making a case against him. The parents were taken care of quickly but the boy, Taylor, got away out the window after getting a glimpse at his would-be assassin, Mr. Blank.
I have to break my promise already. You guys, Oliver, in a towel, dripping wet, post-shower. This show is killing me. Okay, resume recap! Oliver caught the news about the murdered parents that he had just met the other day, and with that, Edward Rasmus has just earned his spot on The List.
Since the boy’s grandparents wouldn’t be able to come get him for a few days, Laurel decided she would be his temporary guardian until they arrived. Oliver chose the wrong moment to come down and check on Laurel, since Tommy didn’t realize he even knew Laurel’s clients. With the realization that Laurel was planning lunches with Oliver and not telling Tommy, Tommy is starting to look a little peeved at their budding friendship. Trouble in paradise?
Back in the Arrow Lair, Team Arrow finalizes their plans for taking down Deadshot. ARGUS set up a sting operation to arrest Deadshot, but Diggle lets Oliver know he doesn’t want to see Deadshot arrested… and with that, Oliver makes the decision to cross Floyd Lawton’s name off of Diggle’s List.
While Det. Lance is gearing up to help protect Laurel’s home, Roy Harper shows up, but this time he’s at the police station of his own volition. He’s looking for the Hood, and figured he could get some advice from Det. Lance? Nope, turns out he just wanted to steal Lance’s radio!
Who would have thought the guy with the biggest daddy (and mommy) issues would turn out to be the greatest father material? While babysitting the newly-orphaned kid at Laurel's, Tommy proved to everyone that he is going to be such a good dad in the future, talking him through his grief over losing his parents.
This tender moment was so rudely interrupted when Mr. Blank showed up, and thanks a mistake on his fake badge, Laurel knew not to let him in. However, next time make sure your gun’s fully loaded, Laurel! One shot is not enough to take down a highly skilled assassin. Thankfully, the Hood came to the rescue and scared off Mr. Blank. Det. Lance wanted to place all three of them into protective custody, but Tommy understands that the safest chance for Laurel and Taylor to stay alive is close to Oliver, but only grudgingly and he doesn’t reveal the real reason why Oliver is able to protect them the best. Let the world’s most awkward slumber party at the Queen's estate begin!
Thea and Roy’s super cute date is interrupted when the police radio he stole from Det. Lance starts going off with reports of vigilante sightings, and he speeds off on his motorcycle to try and find the Hood. Too bad that Lance set the whole thing up to catch Roy, and he brought him in to the station in the back of a police car. Nice try, Roy.
Just when Oliver was about to go and take out Deadshot, one of Felicity’s alerts on Rasmus started pinging. The embezzler was going to run and booked a ticket to China (the benefits: wontons and no extradition treaty). So now Ollie had to choose: Deadshot or Rasmus. He had only one shot at either, but not both. What’s he going to choose? His loyalty to Diggle, or his newfound friendship with Laurel?
Oliver chose Rasmus! But what does that mean for Diggle and Deadshot? During the ARGUS operation, after a false alarm, Diggle and Lyla find out the hard way that Deadshot didn’t take the bait. Deadshot killed four ARGUS agents, and when Diggle went after him, the only reason Deadshot didn’t kill him was because no one was paying him. That’s quite an interesting philosophy to have but Diggle doesn’t care about Deadshot’s philosophy. He’s pissed Oliver wasn’t there to have his back like a real partner would. Diggle correctly assumed that Oliver made a choice: Laurel, instead of his partner. Clearly, Diggle abides by the Bro’s Before Ho’s life philosophy, while Oliver puts his lady friends in higher priority.
Rasmus ended up confessing his crimes to the police – he really had no choice in the matter – so Laurel, Taylor, and Tommy are free to go home, but they decide to stay the rest of the night at the Queens anyway. It’s a good thing they did, since Mr. Blank kills Rasmus and plans on killing Taylor since they’ve seen his face.
While Rasmus was getting murdered in the room next to him, Det. Lance tried to scare straight Roy and Thea with the corpse of a guy the vigilante killed, and we also learn the police have recovered 26 bodies from the vigilante’s one-man war on crime. Is this the actual number of bodies Oliver has killed since returning from the island, or just what the police have discovered? Because in all honestly, 26 seems kind of low. Unfortunately for Lance, his tactics don’t work and Thea agrees to help Roy find the Hood so Roy can make something of his life like the vigilante did.
Ollie and Laurel have a moment outside Taylor’s door since they think they’re out of danger. Laurel confides in Oliver, admitting she actually does see the changes in Ollie since he got back from the island. During an ill-timed hug, Tommy overhears and oversees the moment. Ouch, poor Tommy is having a terrible day: he had to admit his ex-best friend is the safest bet for his girlfriend, he had to hide with Taylor while Oliver scared off Mr. Blank, and then Laurel wanted to stay at Oliver’s even after the danger passed. I’m not sure Tommy will be able to take much more pain.
Time to put all the feelings on hold: Mr. Blank arrived at the Queen estate. Even though he loves the interior design of the house – such pain, loss, and regret in the wood paneling – he doesn’t hesitate to start shooting up the place, killing two guards before finding Oliver.
After an amazing fight scene – where you got to see Oliver Queen’s real, unrestricted, unmasked face in one of those rare moments where he doesn’t hide his true self – Oliver kills Mr. Blank with a fire poker and blames it on the security guard who Mr. Blank shot. Tommy backs up his statement to the police, but during a conversation with Oliver after, he realized that if Laurel ever knew the truth about Oliver she would choose him over Tommy. This leads Tommy to make what he probably thinks is a good, mature decision, but in hindsight is only going to speed up his downfall and descent into darkness: he broke up with her!
And as if Arrow wasn’t already breaking my heart enough, Diggle decides to rip it open even further and quit Team Arrow! I don't even know how to process all of these depressing turns.
And in this week’s island storyline of the week, Shado attempted to teach Ollie how to shoot a bow and arrow. There was sexual tension galore, and Slade was clearly jealous. There’s even a quick island makeout between Ollie and Shado! But he broke it off before it went anywhere else because of Laurel. And just when we thought Team Island was making progress into getting off the island, Yao Fei lead Fyers’ men to the airplane hideout!
Did Yao Fei really sell out Team Island? Did Diggle really quit Team Arrow? Will Tommy really go to the dark side with his father? We'll find out next week, but until then, enjoy some of the best quotes from tonight's "Home Invasion:"
Oliver: Feeling better?Diggle: I’ll feel better once we end Deadshot.
Felicity: I decrypted their communication logs. Which means I just hacked a federal agency. Which kind of makes me a cyber terrorist, which is bad because I really don’t see myself fitting in at Guantanamo Bay.Oliver: Don’t worry, Felicity, they don’t send blondes there.Felicity: I dye it, actually. I keep your secret!
Oliver: I wear a hood and I put arrows into criminals. So when it comes to complexity, I grade on a curve.
Det. Lance: You look after them, all right?Tommy: I spend most nights at your daughter’s anyways. There was probably a better time to tell you that.Det. Lance: Probably not.
Thea: Do you have a police radio in your pocket?Roy: No I’m just happy to see you.
Felicity: So you’re sniping a sniper. Kind of ironic, don’t you think? Yeah, me neither.
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @SydneyBucksbaum
More:'Arrow' Recap: Vertigo - and The Count - Return'Arrow' Recap: 'Salvation' Comes at a High Price'Arrow' Recap: A Nightclub Debut and a Psychotic Ex-Girlfriend
From Our Partners50 Worst Celeb Mugshot Fails (vh1)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
Follow Thomas Leupp on Twitter.
Follow Hollywood.com on Twitter.