Tonight’s episode is the reason why Arrow just got an early Season 2 pickup. When a show can produce a compelling episode that furthers the plot along in a big way, while having the hour consist of mostly flashbacks? That’s quite an achievement, and one that Arrow pulled off in "Odyssey."
We picked up right where we left off last week, with Arrow confronting Moira Queen in order to finally get some answers. We know that he would never actually hurt his mother, but Moira doesn’t know that and is terrified to be on the pointy end of an arrow. Moira tries to appeal to the Hood’s emotions, begging not to be taken from her children, but then when he promised not to hurt her, she shot him with a gun she kept concealed. Whoa, shot by his own mother! He’s got to believe Diggle – that Moira is evil – now, right? Wrong.
But before he can even process what’s going on with Moira, Oliver’s got to get somewhere safe and take care of that pesky bullet near his heart. Since he’s at Queen Consolidated, the closest thing he has to an ally is… Felicity Smoake, intrepid IT girl! It seems poetic that a day after Emily Bett Rickards gets a promotion to series regular for Season 2, we get a big Felicity episode. I’m jumping for joy, you guys, this was totally deserved.
Oliver pulls a Brooke Davis (still miss you, One Tree Hill!) and hides in the backseat of Felicity’s car, and when she sees Oliver, dressed as the Hood, bleeding, she jumps right into hero-mode – though not without letting loose a few snarky comments, natch. “Everything about you just became so unbelievably clear,” she tells Oliver. After all the bullsh** lines he fed her, I can only imagine that A-ha! moment she had. Felicity drove Oliver to his lair underneath his club – “Something tells me bloodstains are not covered under my lease" – where Diggle used his army training to take out the bullet and keep Oliver’s heart beating. Lucky for everyone, Oliver stored bags of his own blood just for this type of situation. “He stored it for a rainy day and I’d say, right now, it’s pouring,” Diggle said.
While Oliver was out cold, Diggle and Felicity had time to bond, and I have to say I am loving these two together. Now that Felicity is in on Oliver’s secret, Diggle can finally talk out his feelings with someone who isn’t emotionally shut down (ahem, Oliver). When Diggle questioned why Felicity didn’t seem so shocked at Oliver’s reveal, Felicity replied, “I may be blonde, but I’m not that blonde,” citing all the ridiculous tasks and excuses Oliver had been giving her for months. She also proved her worth yet again: when Oliver flat lines, the defibrillator breaks, and Felicity steps in and fixes the wiring on the machine. This girl is going to be quite useful on Team Arrow.
When Oliver finally comes to – “I guess I didn’t die again. Cool.” – he officially offers Felicity the role of techie for Team Arrow. But to his and Diggle’s surprise, she turns it down. She will only help find Walter, not join the team. You see, Felicity doesn’t approve of Arrow’s killing, even though he’s only taking down bad guys. Diggle’s all right with it because he feels like he’s finally doing something good (in the army, his team was tasked with protecting a war lord in Afghanistan, and he didn’t agree with it one bit), but Felicity won’t accept it. So, at least temporarily – well, for now, let's revisit her refusal in a few months – Felicity is on Team Arrow!
One bad thing came out of this ordeal though. Even after being shot Oliver still won’t believe Moira is evil. He didn’t think twice about how quick she was able to pull the trigger on someone, even after that someone promised not to hurt her. He’s still in denial. But hopefully, Diggle will make him see the light sooner or later.
While all that drama was certainly enough to fill an entire episode of Arrow, “Odyssey” was actually mostly flashbacks to the island.
When we last left the island story, Oliver was going to be trained by Slade Wilson to fight so they could take over the airstrip on the island. Then, when a supply plane came in, they could get on it and leave the island for good. In his training with Slade, Oliver learned that guns are not the worst weapon he can use: his body can do more damage, and we learn the origin of the stick fighting he employs with Diggle! We also learn why Slade needs a second man to take over the airstrip: while he can take on the 10 soldiers guarding the airfield, he can’t also take out the tower guard through the bulletproof glass at the same time. That’s where Oliver comes in.
While Slade is training Oliver, we also learn a little more about Deathstroke, a.k.a. Slade’s old partner. His name is Billy Wintergreen, and he’s the godfather to Slade’s son, Joe. Yet that wasn’t enough to stop Billy from joining up with Fires and his men when they got caught trying to rescue Yao Fei. As we suspected last week after learning about Slade’s MIA partner, Billy is the one in the mask that tortured Oliver months ago.
We also learn why Yao Fei was working for Fires even when Oliver tried to save him. Turns out, Fires has Yao Fei’s daughter as hostage and is blackmailing him. Interestingly enough, Yao Fei’s daughter has the same tattoo on her shoulder that Oliver has in present day. This might be completely wrong, but CONSPIRACY THEORY TIME: Yao Fei’s daughter is China White! Also, not as surprising, Fires is just a mercenary for hire. Who’s the big bad on the other end of the phone, paying Fires and giving him orders?
The night before Oliver and Slade take the airstrip, they bond a bit over a campfire (after Slade comically lets Ollie struggle rubbing sticks together for two hours before brandishing his lighter… I am really liking this guy). When Oliver reveals that his girlfriend Laurel won’t be the happiest to see him return home safely – since he slept with Laurel’s sister and is the reason she died – he also says he’s going to make it right. That prompts Slade to smack him with some tough love: “Do you think you can sleep with your girlfriend’s sister and make it right? You must be dumber than I thought, and that’s saying something.” We’ve all been rooting for Oliver and Laurel to get back together (Tommy Merlyn be damned) but have we all forgotten just how rotten Oliver was back in the day? I’m rethinking my position here… Team Tommy Merlyn for the win!
When Slade and Oliver make their move on the airstrip, Oliver almost fails in his one task: killing the guard in the tower. Thankfully, Slade’s an overachiever and killed his 10 men and Ollie’s one. Now that he had the tower to himself, Oliver tried to call Laurel from the phone… and shockingly enough, the call went through!
This was just heart wrenching. That phone call. Wow. Oliver couldn’t even form words when he heard Laurel’s voice. He broke down, but before he could say anything Slade broke the phone. Smart call, since Fires could have heard everything, but still. How different would everything have been if Oliver had been able to let Laurel know he was still alive and on that island? Would he have ever become Arrow, or would he have been rescued too soon? Would that have been better or worse, since he would have still known about the evil in Starling City, but had no way to fix it?
Before the supply plane landed they radioed ahead to confirm the identity of the tower guard with a code. Slade had an “oh, sh**” moment, eyes wide, thinking that their plan was officially screwed. But lucky for him, the code was a quote from the one book Oliver actually read in college: The Odyssey (poetically enough, a story about a long journey home). Oliver gave the correct response – Nothing is bred that is weaker than man – and the plan was still in motion. That is, until Slade revealed he was going to call an air strike on the island as soon as they were gone so he could blow Fires and his men “straight back to hell.” But Oliver couldn’t let Yao Fei die, even though he was working with Fires.
Not knowing that Yao Fei was being blackmailed, Oliver tried to get him to leave with him and Slade. Fires discovered Oliver in Yao Fei’s tent, and ordered Deathstroke to execute Oliver. Oliver tried to taunt him with his real name, but he knew it was the end: he was going to die. Until Slade came back for him!
In an awesome Deathstroke vs. Deathstroke battle, Slade killed Billy – straight through the eye no less, just like how Arrow got Deadshot – but Fires managed to get a shot off Slade. Oliver helped get the bullet of Slade’s arm, but they ended up missing their plane off the island. Slade isn’t as concerned that they won’t survive anymore, though: after seeing the way Oliver got Slade to safety, he knows he can be trained even more. Was that a look of pride I saw, Slade? Yes, yes it was! And we’re seeing some bromance form between them as Oliver even got in a snarky comment: “I’m trapped on an island and my only friend is named Wilson.” Castaway reference! Anyone got a volleyball lying around?
Now, since this is only six months after Oliver was shipwrecked, we still have four and a half years unaccounted for in the island story. And as Yao Fei said, archery takes years to master, and Oliver is still more terrified party boy than arrow-wielding vigilante, so we have a long way to go. And since Slade isn’t an archer, we’ve got to assume Oliver will come back to Yao Fei at some point for archery training. Is it just me, or does it seem like the more island story we get, the more we still have to learn?
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @SydneyBucksbaum
[Photo Credit: The CW]
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