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The Undertaking

Arrow – The Undertaking – Season 1, Episode 21

Synopsis: With the help of Felicity, Oliver/Arrow tracks down Walter’s abductor and, eventually, Walter – then learns of Malcolm Merlyn’s involvement in the kidnap plot as well as his future plans for Starling City [cue dramatic music here].

Walter Steele meets Robert Queen [Oliver's dad] before dad takes the slow boat to China.

Walter Steele meets Robert Queen [Oliver's dad] before dad takes the slow boat to China.

Details: Arrow begins the episode by roughing up accountant Harold Backman – the bean counter is far too lippy with Arrow to make the scene believable, but this show has never been about believability – and securing his laptop, then passing it off to Felicity in an effort to track down the location of the missing Walter Steele, Moira’s second [as far as we know] husband and successor husband to Oliver’s own pop.

Following up on last week’s array of generally worthless island-based flashbacks, the show’s creators go a different direction with the flashback m.o. this week as they begin to detail the backstory behind Oliver’s dad’s disappearance. This is at least somewhat more interesting than the island punch-and-brawls that were proliferating seeming to the point of epidemic. Toward this end, we see Moira’s first meeting with Walter while she is still married to Robert [Oliver’s dad] and a high-level meeting of Starling City mucky-mucks that includes Eddie Haskell, Sr./Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer and Frank Chen as they plan some rehab for the economically flailing Starling City.

Oliver is talking to Laurel at the club when Felicity busts in on the action with news that she has discovered the name of the hired baddie behind Walter’s kidnapping – feared Venezuelan salsa dancer Dominic Alonzo – who once killed three women in one night with the rapid-fire motion of his dancing feet. Well, okay, no, but that’s what it should have been. Somewhat predictably – and definitely snooze-inducing – he is actually a small-time casino operator instead. Since Oliver is well-known in town and his presence would tend to be alarming and Diggle is still nursing his grudge against Oliver back in his apartment, Felicity volunteers to be the guinea big for “Operation Casino Royale” [our name for it].

OCR requires Felicity to get all gussied up, orchestrate her ability to count cards and win a big blackjack hand until – cue dramatic music here – her card-countingness is detected and she’s hauled to the prinicipal’s office by the casino’s hall monitors. There, Principal Alonzo has obviously figured out that she is a card counter and as such, has an accomplice. When he rips out her ear bud mic that had relayed info to an Arrow-in-waiting, Arrow springs into action and rather easily infiltrates the Alonzo Emporium of Cards where he pins Alonzo to the wall and forces him to spill the beans on Walter’s kidnapping – but Alonzo lies like a Persian rug and say Walter is dead.

Flashback #2 has Eddie Haskell, Sr./Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer recounting the death of his wife to try and convince Robert to get on board with his dastardly plan for Starling City – which involves using a device to create earthquakes under specific buildings in the Glades and then buying up all the property at cheap prices from the landowners.

Felicity, obviously not thrilled with her brief role in OCR, tries to recruit Diggle to bury the hatchet with Oliver and rejoin the group so they can resume fighting crime in Starling City together – plus get better group rates for hotels on Expedia.

Eddie Haskell, Jr./Tommy Merlyn rejects Laurel’s attempt to reconcile [who cares – whatever] then we move on to Eddie Sr. toasting Moira to their supposedly dead spouses before we get back to Oliver breaking the bad news to Moira about Walter.

As you can imagine, Moira does not take this news well, nor does she take it sitting down – bolting the room and heading directly to Eddie Sr.’s office where she confronts him with the news of Walter’s death. But news of Walter’s death have been somewhat exaggerated and Eddie Sr. proves this by whipping out his laptop and showing an alive Walter in his cell. Somewhat bewildering though, is the lack of follow-up by Eddie Sr. on this scene. A person who is obviously observant of every detail in nefarious plans might also ask where Moira got this mistaken notion of her husband being dead. Plot details, plot schmetails – who needs ‘em?

The fourth flashback brings us Robert hooking up with Frank Chen to circumvent Eddie Sr.’s dastardly Starling City plan by buying up more property than Eddie Sr. can – and thereby preventing Eddie Sr. from controlling the Glades. Seems like a better way would have been to simply have Frank Chen mistakenly send Eddie Sr. to North Korea on a business trip – problem solved – but we have to go the convoluted, contrived plot way again. Sigh.

While Eddie Sr. was proving to Moira that Walter was still alive, little did he know that Oliver had implanted one of his special “listening arrows” in his office and was able to hear everything they said – now confirming that his mom is in cahoots with Eddie Sr., who is the brains of the operation.

Once he knows that Walter is sequestered in a supposedly dilapidated building in – where else, Bludhaven – Arrow launches an all-out one-man assault in video game style on the building and its guards, then locates and liberates Walter.

In the grand episode wrapup, everybody is happy Walter is safe not walking around in his hospital gown, Oliver has a brief chat with Eddie Sr. in his patented “I-know-who-you-really-are snarly tone of voice before breaking it to Laurel that he can’t help her with Tommy because he still loves her and finally sucking it up and apologizing to Diggle so they can re-team and go after Eddie Sr. and Moira.

With that episode in the books, stay tuned next week as the writers openly taunt you with the mysteriously titled “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” episode.

The Poop and Skinny: One of the main elements missing with “Arrow” are some good titles for the episodes. We are smitten by the much-beloved, too-abrupt “Police Squad!” method of approaching episode seriousness by heaping on an extra meaningless title – neither of which have anything to do with the episode. So, in the case of the boringly titled “The Undertaking” [zzzz….seriously, it put us to sleep before we got to the “d” in undertaking] it should have been something like “The Dealer Takes Five [A Change of Travel Plans”]

The writers each receive an extra cookie in their lunchboxes next week for their decision to have Oliver, behind the bar at his club, remark to Laurel – “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” – the classic line from Humphrey Bogart from the equally classic 1942 film “Casablanca”.

Felicity enters Diggle’s apartment where Diggle’s not doin’ nothing, offers her a beer [the choice of drink of the disillusioned sidekick] and then finds out Felicity doesn’t like beer as she leaves a nearly full beer behind in his apartment. We believe this is a definite party foul.

Snapdragon? Really? For your ultra-secret illegal casino password? Like that couldn’t easily be figured out by just about anybody. Don’t they know you have to have a capital letter, some numerals and a punctuation mark in passwords today? What a bunch of buffoons – no wonder their casino is illegal.

Burning question for the next episode of “Arrow” – Will this be the only episode without a police presence or will there, mercifully, be more?

As always – it is important to remember that, at any juncture where the situation appears to be dire for Arrow/Oliver and his very life may be in danger – there would be no more show [and therefore no more money to be made] if he were to die. You continue to be welcome.

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