Synopsis: Diggle’s former Afghanistan military-serving buddy doesn’t like cake but he does like forming a group called the Blackhawks who don’t play hockey but rather rob armored cars, creating a dilemma for Arrow – aka Oliver – does he argue with Diggle over how to handle this awkward situation or worry about sister Thea taking drugs and crashing her convertible car she got as a birthday present? Decisions, decisions…Details: Here’s a hypothetical – if you are the driver of an armored delivery vehicle and you happen to find yourself driving – inexplicably – down a lonely highway in the middle of the night and you are suddenly confronted with a masked man standing in the middle of the road pointing a grenade launcher at you, might your first inclination be to immediately use whatever advanced technology representation of a communication device you undoubtedly have in your vehicle [this being 2013 and all] to call HQ or the police or 007 [as long as we’re being unrealistic]? Sure it would! But not in the movies or television – so, instead, we have, right off the bat, an expectation to believe that a pair of armored truck drivers are unable to communicate with anybody when faced with the decidedly adverse condition of somebody pointing a grenade launcher at you. This is not a preferred way to begin an episode.
Needless to say, the drivers are easily subdued and the truck is robbed by a small gang of ex-military commandos who call themselves the Blackhawks [obviously somebody on the “Arrow” writing team was missing the hockey season] and we find out that the leader of the Blackhawks is the Criminal of the Week and a man named Ted Gaynor [played by Ben Browder, you may know him from “Farscape”]. Much to the dismay of Diggle the Sidekick, Gaynor used to be Diggle’s superior when they were both in Afghanistan.
Here, we are briefly interrupted by Flashback #1 which shows Oliver attempting to melt in with the prison island guards after having assumed the identity of a prison island guard killed in a fall in the prior flashback.
Back on the farm, Dark Archer/Malcolm Merlyn [or Eddie Haskell’s dad] wants to kiss and make up with Eddie Jr. [aka Tommy Merlyn] and figures paying for a dinner for Junior and Laurel and then announcing that he wants to cut off funding for his dead mother’s clinic might be a good way to go about this. Turns out, it’s not – who knew? – which leads to more father/son angst and, regrettably, more scenes of Laurel comforting poor Eddie, Jr. [which means less action scenes overall]
Arrow tells Diggle the Sidekick that he intends to have a “meeting” with Ted Gaynor to try and convince the bad guy that he really shouldn’t be robbing armored trucks with armed bands of men because this tends to create a bad feeling in the community and a general distrust of men with masks and hoodies. But Diggle crashes Arrow’s “meeting” and the pair engage in the subsequent and predictable lover’s quarrel where Arrow/Oliver agrees to allow Diggle to go solo in an attempt to prove the innocence of his former military buddy.
Flashback #2 intervenes about here and shows Oliver passing a test in his ruse as a disguised prison island guard before we move on to back-to-back time-wasting scenes involving Thea, Moira, Laurel and Eddie Haskell [aka Tommy Merlyn] where all that gets accomplished is more inane emotional theatrics, preening and advancement of ridiculous storylines which really serves only as a reason for the viewer to either go to the bathroom or get more beer from the fridge.
We appear to be getting back to some potential action sequences with Diggle meeting with Ted in his sister’s diner where we discover that Ted doesn’t like cake – which immediately makes Diggle wary and suspicious because – who doesn’t like cake, right!?
The, we switch over to an eavesdropping Thea who misinterprets her mother Moira’s clandestine meeting with Malcolm/Eddie Sr. as a romantical episode and blabs to Oliver the equivalent of seeing Mom and Eddie Sr. sitting in a tree and k-i-s-s-i-n-g. We only mention a scene involving Thea because it appeared – however briefly – that her character would possibly get more substance to it than a bratty teenager. But alas, no, instead it leads to Oliver confronting Moira and Moira denying anything between her and Eddie, Sr. and blaming Ollie’s dad as a womanizer. Nice.
We are definitely ready for flashback #3 at this point, but it is not ready for us, as it only depicts the predictable outcome of the prison island chief tricking Oliver and exposing his clumsy disguise. Who didn’t see that coming from a mile away?
After a throwaway scene involving Laurel and Eddie Jr, the long-absent IT specialist Felicity Smoak re-enters the fray as Oliver asks her to, you know, figure out what’s on this military USB drive doohickey and there will be a bottle of wine in it for you. Yes, put your job and possibly life on the line for a bottle of wine from the billionaire playboy – sounds good! [Here’s where Smoak’s line should have been an “Archer”-esque “yeah, I’ll get right on that.”]
After another throwaway Laurel/Eddie Jr. scene, we move on to Felicity figuring out the Blackhawks’ plan, allowing Arrow to thwart the next attempt but resulting in no wine for Smoak from the cheapskate billionaire.
Diggle gets caught checking out the armored car robberies and – surprise, surprise – finds out his old military buddy is the mastermind. As a reward for his sleuthiness, Ted gives Diggle the option of either joining his merry band of mischief makers or dying along with his sister-in-law, who he kidnapped from the diner [Here, we would have written the line “This is about the cake, isn’t it?” – such opportunities missed…]. Arrow had planted a bug on Diggle earlier while they were at Thea’s birthday party and is, therefore, able to intervene, kill Ted and save the day when things go horribly wrong in the final armed car robbery attempt.
Thea has been given drugs by her friends at her birthday party and after witnessing what she thinks is another Moira/Eddie Sr. hook-up, decides to take them and then take her new convertible out for a spin – literally. This puts her in the hospital where her drug use gets outed.
Arrow and Diggle kiss and make up and the episode ends with Flashback #4 showing that Oliver’s island caveman savior friend is actually – in reality – one of the island prison guards. Cue heavy orchestra music here… da da duh!
The Poop and Skinny: The lack of a reference to Mrs. Arrow [aka Helena the Huntress], who seems to still be on vacation in the Bahamas or Bermuda or some other tropical locale where she can relax and only kill tourists – is even more perplexing during the “Previously on Arrow…” opening segments which, one would think, are supposed to give brief visual shout-outs to the previous episode’s main scenes but instead give a mish-mash of scenes from previous episodes and the general storyline. So it’s not really “previously on Arrow”, it’s more like, a superficial scene collage of the general storyline and some past episodes which, in turn, seem to mean that Mrs. Arrow was a one-night stand or has disappeared off the face of the planet. Either way, no big loss to the storyline, such as it is – but making the series’ reality even more difficult to swallow than it already is with a wealthy costumed guy who likes to shoot arrows at people and things.
If Mrs. Arrow continues to be absent, we expect Felicity Smoak to be the next heir apparent to the Queen throne as either a fling or possibly extended relationship that will get predictably awkward due to the fact that Smoak is a lowly, wineless IT specialist.