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Arrow 2.19 "The Man Under The Hood" REVIEW

TV REVIEW: The symbol life

Episode 2.19
Writers: Greg Berlanti and Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg and Keto Shimizu
Director: Jesse Warn

THE ONE WHERE: Oliver strikes back against Queen Industries following its takeover by Isabel – and battles to stop Slade from creating a Mirakuru-powered army…

THE VERDICT: It starts strongly, lobbing us straight into an action setpiece: Oliver, Sara and – splendidly – Felicity, ditching masks and superheroics for balaclavas and wire-cutters in a good old fashioned commando raid. The use of the Clock King’s skeleton key is a clever callback, an unobtrusive but credible use of show continuity. And it ends with a marvelously spectacular explosion, just before the title card. Now that’s breathless. The rest of the episode never quite recaptures this dynamism and thrust but then it doesn’t want to. It’s a chance for a breather after last week’s full-throttle blinder.

The title “The Man Under The Hood” promises an episode out to explore Oliver’s psyche – or else a gripping tale of car maintenance - but that’s ultimately something of a misnomer. Yes, we see Oliver struggling to reconcile his personal crusade with his relationship with Thea and dealing with the repercussions of the takeover, along with his guilt over the death of Ivo. But the best scene, the key scene, belongs to Lance, telling Laurel to forget the man and just view the symbol: “It’s the Arrow that matters.” Pay no attention to the man under the hood… It’s a well-judged moment, soulfully played by Paul Blackthorne, whose Lance now seems a perilously vulnerable figure in Iron Heights (that beating made me wince).

Deathstroke is still a vital presence, of course – just watch those bullets bounce off him in pure comic book style - and his hand to hand combat with Oliver is a highlight, another of the show’s finely choreographed and smartly edited fight scenes. Watch and weep, Agents Of SHIELD .

A final word for Willa Holland as Thea, heroically uttering the line “What I am is the daughter of two mass murderers… not one, but two” and managing to make it sound less than halfway preposterous. Now that’s medal-worthy.

TRIVIA: This episode smuggles two more DCU characters into the Arrow canon. The two lab geeks we meet are Cisco Ramon – AKA sonic-powered superhero Vibe – and Caitlin Snow, alias the villainous Killer Frost. Cisco pointedly uses the word “vibe” in this episode while Caitlin, a character with the power to manipulate ice, refers to “her own definition of cool.” We’ll see both of these characters in the Flash TV show.

DID YOU SPOT?: “This equipment belonged to Arthur Light”: a shout-out to DC supervillain Dr Light, a former STAR Labs employee who uses his light-manipulating powers for criminal purposes. First seen in Justice League Of America 12 in 1962 he’s been a member of the Suicide Squad and once engaged Deathstroke to protect him from the JLA – an assignment that precipitated the whole Deathstroke/Green Arrow feud in the comic books.

DID YOU SPOT? 2: That police sketch of the Hood on Laurel’s clippings board is by Mike Grell, writer/artist of the acclaimed Longbow Hunters saga.

Felicity: “That’s swell. Barry’s in a coma and he’s already moved on.”

Arrow is broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 HD

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