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Arrow 1.21 "The Undertaking" REVIEW

TV REVIEW: Follow the money

Episode 1.21
Writers: Lana Cho & Jake Coburn
Director: Michael Schultz

THE ONE WHERE: Oliver follows a lead to Walter’s whereabouts, Felicity goes undercover at a casino and we learn more about the events that led to Robert Queen’s death…

THE VERDICT: No flashbacks to Wig Island this week. Instead we’re treated to some much needed backstory on Robert Queen’s involvement with Malcolm Merlyn and the Starling City cabal targeted by The List. Given that we’re a mere episode away from the season finale this feels like a welcome expansion of Arrow ’s core mystery, even if the “village must be destroyed before it can be saved” mandate is all too obviously riffing on the League Of Shadows’ plot in Batman Begins . Still, it’s compelling stuff, exposing allegiances and betrayals, and Malcolm’s memories of his wife’s death (nicely played by Barrowman) give a convincingly sympathetic spin to a previously thin character. The final shot of the Markov Device rumbling towards Starling City delivers a decent, high-stakes cliffhanger, heavy with anticipation for the season wrap-up.

Felicity gets a chance to shine in Dig's absence - shame she's not allowed to do more, really. Her undercover mission into the casino begins promisingly but rather fizzles out. Ms Smoak is one of the show's assets and deserves to be more than just a conscience to Oliver or a flustered goof machine.

A word for director Michael Schultz, who’s particularly good with the action scenes. There’s a bravura sequence where Oliver enters the casino, arrows and bullets flying and gambling chips shattering in the melee. And Oliver’s infiltration of the tenement building brings us another effectively fast-cut fight scene, this time set to a squelchy techno pulse.

STAR TURN: Jamey Sheridan impresses as the quietly tormented Robert Queen. It’s an unshowy but credible performance. And there’s more than a hint of the classic comic book Green Arrow about him, don’t you think?

DID YOU SPOT?: There’s a throwaway reference to a fundraiser by Ted Kord. In DC continuity that’s the secret identity of the Silver Age Blue Beetle. He was voiced by none other than Wil Wheaton in the Batman: The Brave And The Bold episode “Fall Of The Blue Beetle”.

DID YOU SPOT? 2: Malcolm mentions the Markov Device. Brion Markov is the alias of seismically-inclined superhero Geo-Force, a former member of the Justice League and Batman’s Outsiders.

DID YOU SPOT? 3: Oliver’s college pals Ray and Jean are a nod to Ray Palmer, alias fellow JLA charter member The Atom, and his wife.

Felicity: “It feels really good having you inside me. And by you I mean your voice, and by me I mean my ear. I need to stop talking. Right now.”

Read all our Arrow reviews.

Arrow airs in the UK on Sky1

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Nick Setchfield
Nick Setchfield

Nick Setchfield is the Editor-at-Large for SFX Magazine, writing features, reviews, interviews, and more for the monthly issues. However, he is also a freelance journalist and author with Titan Books. His original novels are called The War in the Dark, and The Spider Dance. He's also written a book on James Bond called Mission Statements.