Arrow Episode 21 - The Undertaking (2013): TV Recap
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Oliver tracks down a criminal accountant who is trying to send laundered money to offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands. Though the accountant is way more scared of his employers than he is of the vigilante, and therefore refuses to give up any information, Oliver still makes his terrorizing trip to the office worthwhile. He gives Felicity the laptop he stole and tells her to return all the money to the people who got fleeced (even though I’m pretty sure the crooks could protect their accounts from a different computer). The high-tech encryption will take a few days to crack.
Later, Laurel sits at the Verdant bar, depressing in the daylight, and has a cup of Oliver’s awful coffee, which he warns you should never order at a bar. She explains how Tommy broke up with her last episode, and he makes a novel suggestion: talk to him! That, he claims, was something they should have done those many years ago. Felicity comes up from the basement, awkwardly interrupting the conversation as Felicity often does, urgently saying she has to show Oliver something in a way that makes Laurel suspicious. Who is the hot blonde coming out of your basement, Oliver? Uh, she’s here to fix the Internet. No, not suspicious at all. Felicity’s computer cracking has uncovered a $2 million dollar payment made on the same day Walter disappeared. Once fully unraveled, this clue could put them on the trail to bringing Walter home!
By tracking the money, Felicity and Oliver discover the man who kidnapped Walter, Dominic Alonzo, also runs an underground casino. Since the casino has a private army, they will need to access the casino computer without tripping any alarms. To do this, Felicity will go undercover as a card counter, planning to get caught so she can be escorted into Alonzo’s office and plant a bug on his computer. Felicity, without Oliver’s knowledge, goes to ask Diggle for help. Since Diggle quit the team, he is apparently waiting for Oliver to come to him and apologize (which Oliver isn’t planning to do, because he thinks he is in the right) for ditching him when he was trying to finish a personal vendetta. Both men are being extremely petty here. Walter’s life is on the line, and Oliver can’t swallow his pride enough to apologize and bring his team back up to full strength? Diggle knows that they are close to tracking down Walter, and instead of putting his grudge on hold for a few days to help out, he’d rather pout on his couch with a beer, waiting for an apology? Oliver and Diggle both look less than heroic in this moment, as they can’t put their individual grievances aside to help an innocent man.
Laurel, taking Oliver’s advice, visits Tommy at work to talk things out. Foreshadowing his villainous turn, Laurel notes, “Wow, you really look like your father.” Laurel doesn’t want their relationship to end the way it did, where she feels like Tommy is lying to her, so he tells her the truth: He thinks she belongs with Oliver because he’s still in love with her. Regardless of the fact that that shouldn’t matter if he loves Laurel and she loves him, Tommy is still hung up on the fact that he thinks Laurel would immediately fall into Oliver’s arms if she knew that he was secretly dressing up in leather every night and murdering people. Tommy obviously has a self-esteem issue.
Oliver sends a dolled-up Felicity into the underground casino with the assurance that he’s right outside if she needs him. As she makes her way to the blackjack table, noting the number of gun-toting guards Oliver will inevitably encounter, she makes a classic Felicity mouth blunder. “It feels weird having you inside me… and by you, I mean your voice, and by me, I mean my ear. I’m going to stop talking now.”
Moira and Malcolm meet to discuss the impending conclusion of the Undertaking. Malcolm gives Moira the good news that the Markov device is on its way to Starling City. For DC fans, the obvious implication here is that this device (named after characters who have earth-manipulation powers) will cause an earthquake and destroy the Glades.
After a single blackjack (Which is not really the way counting cards works, especially heads up with the dealer. Speaking of which, why wasn’t anyone else at the table getting cards? Has the director never played blackjack before?), Felicity is identified as a cheat and is taken to Alonzo’s office. He uses a really stupid conversation about the origin of the term “86ed” to try to scare Felicity, but fails to sound menacing at all. He makes a mistake, though, by saying that cheats often use partners. Alonzo destroys Felicity’s earpiece, which spurs Oliver into action. “You’ve going to be really upset when you meet my partner,” she warns. Oliver smashes his way through the casino, and instead of waiting for the computer bug to work its magic, he throws Alonzo up against the wall and asks him directly about Walter’s whereabouts. Once Alonzo turned him over, he heard a gunshot, so he tells Oliver that Walter is dead. Distraught by this news, and with all the casino employees knocked out, Oliver stupidly removes his hood. Are you telling me there’s no possibility that there’s a security camera in a casino office?
Oliver interrupts Thea and Moira during an online shopping session to tell them Walter is dead. He claims to have gotten this news through one of Diggle’s buddies in the FBI. Thea is understandably saddened by the news, but Moira becomes enraged and storms off, perhaps cluing in Oliver that something’s not right.
Moira immediately heads to Merlyn’s office to accuse him of killing Walter. “We had a deal!” she screams. Malcolm calmly calls for the camera to be turned on in Walter’s cell to prove he’s still alive. In his best soothing tones, he explains, “We have an agreement. Walter will stay in my custody until the Undertaking is complete. We’re both in this together.” Meanwhile, the camera pans to show an arrow with a listening device embedded in the wall outside the office and Oliver sitting on a rooftop across the street, suddenly aware of his mother’s involvement in the plot to kidnap Walter. Now he knows Diggle was right to suspect her, and he was wrong to keep Diggle from pursuing that lead.
Felicity tries to give Oliver her condolences in the arrowcave, but Oliver reveals that Walter is still alive. He has her trace Merlyn’s phone records to find out where he called to have the camera turned on. He has Felicity pull up satellite images showing extremely heavy security guarding a tenement complex. The weakest link in the security is the single guard on the roof, but there’s no nearby buildings and to get up there, you’d have to “jump off something,” according to Felicity. “I’ve got something,” Oliver retorts. He parachutes in, but the method of his arrival isn’t revealed. Does he have an arrowplane? An arrowcopter? Who’s flying him in? Wouldn’t that require an extra person in the alliance, unless Felicity somehow knows how to fly planes and avoid detection in the sky? What is supposed to be a cool entrance only raises more questions as Oliver goes on a rampage through the tenement’s guards, and ultimately frees Walter.
With Walter in the hospital recovering, Oliver, Moira, and Thea are there to support him. Felicity appears with flowers, and Moira has a similar reaction to Laurel’s earlier in the episode. Who is this hot blonde showing up in my husband hospital room? Oliver covers for her, saying she’s his friend. Walter does not help the situation by saying, “Mine, too.” Now that Walter’s back, her sole reason for supporting Oliver now finished, does this mean Felicity is ready to retire from the arrowgang?
Outside the hospital room, Merlyn shows up to pay his respects and find out any information he can. Can Walter identify his captors? No, but Oliver promises they will get what’s coming to them. Laurel interrupts to tell Oliver about the conversation she had with Tommy. She wants him to tell Tommy that they are over and Oliver doesn’t love her so they can get back on track, but Oliver surprises her. “I can’t do that. Because it wouldn’t be true. And I have enough lies in my life already.” Way to go, Oliver. You can’t tell one more little lie to help out your best bud? You realize this is going to turn him into your mortal enemy, don’t you?
Oliver visits Diggle to apologize. “You were right and I was wrong.” “About Deadshot?” Diggle asks, missing the point completely. Yeah, yeah, but more importantly, about Moira Queen. She and Merlyn are planning something terrible, and Oliver needs help to stop it.
Thankfully, what that something terrible is is finally clear to the viewers. For the first time, the show’s flashbacks don’t focus on Oliver’s survival on the island; they focus on the motivations that led to Robert Queen’s murder. At the Queen household, before Robert’s death, Malcolm makes an impassioned speech about leveling the Glades to the bedrock before rebuilding it, to make the city safer. Everyone in the room has lost something to the Glades (Malcolm’s wife was murdered there, and Frank Chen’s daughter was raped), and the Glades can’t be saved without destroying them first. To get away with it, Malcolm thinks they can hide the destruction behind a natural disaster. Unidac Industries is only five years away from a prototype (the Markov earthquake machine!), but it’s worth the wait, right?
Malcolm’s twisted view of the future of the Glades is shaped by his guilt over his wife’s murder. As she was dying, she tried to call Malcolm, but he was busy and turned his phone off. Now he has voice messages of his wife’s last breaths that he listens to over and over again. That certainly has pushed Malcolm over the edge a little. But why does Robert get involved? His wife wasn’t murdered. What has the Glades taken from him?
Robert confesses the plan to Moira, who is shocked. But Robert shocks her even more by revealing his motivation for joining Merlyn. A Glades councilman approached Robert for a bribe, which led to a fight. During the scuffle, the councilman fell and died. “The Undertaking is my penance,” Robert claims. Except that this makes no sense! Even Moira is confused by the logic. How can murdering thousands of people make up for one murder (which would probably become manslaughter or even less with the lawyers he could afford)? Moira convinces Robert that he needs to stop this from happening.
Robert talks to Frank Chen about stopping Malcolm’s plan. Merlyn started buying up property in the Glades, but if they could buy the remaining two-thirds of the Glades, Malcolm would have to abandon his plan. Chen plans to fly to China to gather capital, and Robert decides to take the Queen’s Gambit to China so they won’t make Malcolm suspicious.
Meanwhile, pre-island Oliver has a very serious conversation with Laurel: she wants them to move in together. This is totally not what Oliver is interested in doing, but he swallows his feelings instead of talking them out. This is the point at which a little open communication might have changed everything for him.
As Robert prepares to board the Queen’s Gambit for its ill-fated last voyage, Moira tries to convince him not to go. As Oliver shows up with his bags packed, she is even less excited, but Robert implores her to “Let the kid take the boat out with the old man.” As she acquiesces and Oliver promises to be a good boy while he’s gone, Laurel shows up to say goodbye to Oliver in person. He quickly pulls out his phone to tell Sarah to circle the block a few times so she doesn’t run into her sister. After a quick goodbye smooch, Laurel then hands Oliver a photo of herself, “In case you get you get lonely.”
As the ship heads out to sea, Malcolm makes a call to see is “it’s done.” Frank Chen assures him that the bomb has been planted, and that the ship’s course takes them through the path of a storm. Of course Frank Chen is behind this! This makes me feel less bad about Moira getting him killed, because if she hadn’t turned him in into Malcolm, he probably would have turned her in. Malcolm is pleased with Chen’s work, because now no one will suspect anything other than “an act of God,” perfect practice for Merlyn’s Undertaking.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm Eastern on CW. The Undertaking originally aired 5/1/13.