With the madcap excitement that surrounded the "Deadpool" movie the release of a marvelous Punisher-heavy trailer for Season 2 of Netflix's "Daredevil," and "Flash" seemingly incapable of doing anything wrong, this was a bad week for "Arrow" to have an episode that was just kind of ... there.
"Code of Silence" is about as forgettable an episode of "Arrow" as you will find. It succeeds at advancing plot lines that have stalled in recent weeks (the Donna-Quentin romance, the Star City mayoral campaign and the existence of Oliver's son), but outside of maybe two scenes, this chapter isn't worth much more than a shrug. The episode's functional, but not terribly entertaining.
Some of that may be simple comic book fatigue, as Ryan Reynolds, Jon Blumenthal and Zoom (the baddest man on two planets) have made it a fun week to be a nerd. But overall this felt like a Season 1 episode, with the writers cobbling together a half-baked weekly villain or villains while they move pieces for later in the season.
Enter the "Demolition Crew," a bunch of Z-list DC villains who serve as a low-rent version of their Marvel cousins the "Wrecking Crew." Both are construction-themed baddies that seem to have walked out of a Saturday morning cartoon, but at least the "Avengers" nemeses have some super powers and a few achievements on their ledger: The Marvel goon squad has knocked out Thor and broken Captain America's jaw ... these guys shoot nail guns and look outclassed by Laurel. Yick.
Their existence at least gives us the tiniest bit of insight into Damien Darhk's plans (he needs control of City Hall, so the mayoral race plotline finally feels like it's part of the show), but otherwise this confederacy of dunces serves little purpose and I'm actually falling asleep typing this sentence, so let's move on.
"Code of Silence" does have some bright spots in the background, most of which focus on young William Queen. The son born of Oliver's youthful infidelity brings us one of the best Thea-Ollie scenes we've had in a while, with little sister getting to play the role of advisor for once. Thea's heartfelt advice about how and why Ollie should keep the boy a secret from Felicity marks a nice character moment for "Speedy," who has been understandably too bogged down by her Lazarus Pit-related struggles to have time for character development this year.
This advice, of course, is going to come back to bite Oliver next week, but in a vacuum, the scene works.
The Donna-Quentin romance actually gets a dramatic beat here as well, with the police captain's white lie to protect Momma Smoak leading to a momentary breakup. Obvious foreshadowing is obvious, given the William situation, but it's still a nice bit of meat for a plot thread that had been otherwise comic relief. Quentin Lance has had a tough life, let's let the man be happy for once.
This entire episode lives in service of the closing scene, as William winds up in Damien Darhk's clutches and the boy's existence is going to become public knowledge next week. Sure I'd like to know how that will effect Felicity's moonstruck marriage feelings and whether or not this increasingly personal line of attack will finally advance Darhk's plot somewhere beyond leering bringer of death and bruises, but that's next week.
For now, well ... I think I'm gonna go watch that "Daredevil" trailer again.
Left in the quiver:
- Felicity's going to walk again! Anyone out there surprised? Nope. This was going to happen, and Curtis is charming and adorable, but man we have mined so little drama out of Felicity's injury, except for that one episode where she saw ghosts. (Note to CW: This is not a request for more ghosts. No more ghosts.)
- The flashbacks weren't much better than the present-day plot, but at least we got a solid action scene between Oliver and Conklin, who is dead now. Because he's a jerk and jerks die in knife fights.
- So I guess Merlyn joined H.I.V.E. after his defeat last week.? Speaking of last week, sorry for the lack of recap but I was on vacation. It's probably better, unless you wanted to read 2,000 words of me whining about how the Oliver-Merlyn rivalry climaxed in a 30-second slap fight and how nothing about the entire episode made sense. Deus Ex Dismemberment is almost as bad as Deus Ex Barry from last season, but at least Nyssa dissolved the League. The legions at Ra's Al Ghul's command are truly interesting in the comics, but "Arrow" has never seemed to know what to do with plots involving the Head of the Demon.
- OK, seriously, we're 15 episodes in and I still have no idea how Damien Darhk's powers work. If he can kill people with his brain through a television screen then why is he wasting his time trying to kill Oliver by employing lesser hit men? This has gone from typical villain hubris to plain stupid. I need some of his powers' limits explained so the plot makes sense.
- Plodding episodes like this have been a problem for nearly two seasons now. The show just can't seem to sustain momentum, not like it did through the back end of Season 1 or from wire to wire in the excellent Deathstroke season. "Arrow" may have come first in the superhero TV revolution, but with the continued evolution of "Flash" and the development of enjoyable series on other channels, it's starting to fall out of that top tier.
@JamesQueallyLAT is disappointed that no one sent him journalism-themed hero names two weeks ago, so now he's turning his back on the people and becoming a newspaper-themed villain. Los Angeles will rue the day it earned the wrath of Papercut. Also follow him for news on Netflix's "Daredevil" next month. But seriously, beware of Papercut. He's a madman.