Arrow Episode 5 - Damaged (2012): TV Recap
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I realized this episode that Stephen Amell does a really nice job of differentiating his shipwrecked Oliver and his Arrow persona. He’s got the normal voice down pat, a little stronger, a little harsher when he’s talking to Diggle. Lost in a jungle with only a mysterious Chinese man to help him, though, Oliver sounds more like an “aw-gee-shucks” Paul Rudd. In the first flashback scene, the Chinese man hits a badly CGIed rabbit with an arrow, then offers to let Oliver have a shot at a much larger, more immobile target: a tree. He lines up his first ever shot and misses wide right. The Chinese man is not impressed. “You will die badly.” Oliver heads out to retrieve dinner, but is accosted by a group of masked goons and thrown in a pit. This does not bode well for Oliver.
Back in the present, we pick up where last episode ended: Oliver is in police custody, and Detective Lance has charged him with being a masked vigilante. His mother and Walter break up the interrogation, because he doesn’t have his lawyer. The only person he wants representing him, though, is Laurel. He claims she will do it because she was raised to do the right thing, including defending an innocent man. This sounds nice, but it’s really not. Oliver knows he’s not innocent, so he’s using Laurel’s principles for his own gain, fooling her into misrepresenting the truth in court. He is intentionally undermining what she believes in, just like last episode when he impressed her with Arrow’s illicit means of gathering evidence. “Fortunately for you with the legal case, there’s no way you’re this vigilante,” Laurel says. “Because he’s actually trying to make a difference. We both know that’s not really your style.”
Oliver is fitted with an ankle bracelet to make sure he stays at home, which seems to put a damper on his ability to fight injustice, but this is all part of Oliver’s plan. He knows that the timing of his reappearance and the debut of the hooded vigilante is suspicious, and someone would eventually make the connection. He tells Diggle he intentionally got caught by the security camera to get this out of the way. While he is stuck at home, he wants Diggle to track Leo Meuller, the next name on the list, who is planning to sell machine guns to Starling City gangs. How is Dig supposed to track him? Oliver sends him to the arrowcave for some equipment. “You know us billionaire vigilantes. We do love our toys.” That is a very thinly veiled reference to the similarity between Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne, perhaps even a shout out to 1989’s Batman (“Where does he get those wonderful toys?”).
Oliver suggests taking a polygraph test to prove to Detective Lance that he is emphatically not running around town in a green hood, even though he is. A brief flashback gives us cause for concern. Edward Fyers, the leader of the masked goons wants to know where Ollie’s Chinese savior is, but Ollie claims he thought he was alone on the island. “You’re a poor liar,” Edward says. Enter Deathstroke, ready to torture the information out of Oliver!
During the polygraph test, Oliver convincingly passes, even when he’s directly asked if he’s the vigilante. Intercut flashback scenes reveal why, as Deathstroke tortures him without getting Oliver to reveal the whereabouts of the Chinese man. If you can withstand that, you probably aren’t going to have any pulse fluctuations over some little white lies. Detective Lance still isn’t convinced, though, so he doesn’t drop the charges.
Oliver has a foolproof plan to finally extricate himself from his legal woes. While he’s throwing a jailhouse-themed rave at his house, he sends Diggle to break up Leo Meuller’s arms deal while wearing the hood. This is a classic diversion, like having Robin dress up as Batman and be seen at the same time as Bruce Wayne. When Oliver has hundreds of people witnessing him at the party and some of those gun thugs witness to Arrow at their gun deal, Lance will have to realize he was wrong.
During the party, Laurel swings by the house to apologize for her father’s behavior. They go up to Oliver’s bedroom to talk. “Wow,” she says. “I can’t remember the last time that I’ve been in this room.”
“I can. Halloween 2005. We were getting ready for Tommy’s party.”
“Ah, yes, I wore those horrible fishnets.”
“I thought you looked good.” Ha! Classic reference for the comics fans out there. This is the type of line Smallville threw out all the time, a little nugget that’s not out of place for people coming to the show without any comics background, but a little foreshadowing for the people familiar with the characters. But now, Laurel really needs to see Oliver’s scars. Why? I think it was because Stephen Amell needed an excuse to take his shirt off this episode. (The obvious abs double from the torture scene wasn’t cutting it.) “How did you survive this,” Laurel asks. “There were times when I wanted to die. In the end, there was something I wanted more.” Oliver gets the kiss he’s been waiting for for so long, but Laurel pulls away, realizing that she is absolutely against getting together with Oliver.
In the next flashback, the Chinese man bests Deathstroke an action-packed battle, and rescues Oliver from the torture tent. Although the sword-versus-bow battle was good, the way Deathstroke could be defeated so easily makes me wonder if Deathstroke is meant to be one of the most skilled fighters in the Arrow Universe, or if this Chinese man (who is definitely going to teach Oliver how to shoot a bow and fight) is going to turn out to be an even better killing machine.
Walter had asked his head of security to move the hulk of the Queen’s Gambit until he could figure out what to do with it, but a suspicious car crash killed him before he could move it. Walter confronted Moira, revealing that he knows about the ship, and she warns him that he’s out of his depth here, that it’s not safe. Though I originally thought Walter was in on this with Moira, it’s pretty clear that she is the bad guy here, and Walter is collateral damage. Every time Oliver gets angry at Walter, he’s barking up the wrong tree.
Now that Oliver has been fingered as the vigilante, an assassin shows up at his party. Oliver fends him off long enough for Detective Lance to burst into the room and shoot the would-be killer. And he’s got some good news: Oliver’s no longer a suspect. Diggle, dressed as Robin Hood, broke up the arms deal. He didn’t shoot any arrows, but the approximation was close enough for the witnesses.
Lance assumes the assassin was sent by someone with a grudge against the hooded vigilante, but Moira knows the truth. He was sent by the man protecting the people on the list. She barges into his office and makes some weird claims: Though she has done everything asked of her so far, and apparently knew that her husband’s yacht was sabotaged, she threatens to “burn your world to ashes” if anyone in her family is put in harm’s way again. Where was this outrage over Robert’s death? Why didn’t she fight to save his life?
Laurel heads back to the house to tell Oliver that there was a problem with his polygraph test that no one noticed except her. Detective Lance asked if Oliver had ever been to Iron Heights, the prison he saved Laurel from last episode. He said no, and passed. Laurel saw a slight flutter on that question though, knowing Oliver had been to Iron Heights before… on an 8th grade field trip. “If you lied on one, you could have lied on others.” With his secret identity in peril again, Oliver goes defensive, playing up how emotionally and physically scarred he is from his time on the island. “Do you want to know why I don’t talk about what happened to me there? Because if people knew, if you knew, you’d see me differently. And not as some vigilante guy, but as damaged.” He can’t eat, he can’t sleep, he can barely sign his name, let alone aim a bow and arrow. This seems to be enough to convince Laurel, for now.
Diggle wonders if Oliver’s plan to distance himself from the vigilante actually went down as planned. “You didn’t count on so many people having questions, doubting you. You didn’t think about what happens when you lie. Especially when you lie to the ones you love the most. When you were stuck on that island, plotting your grand plan to save the city, I don’t think you stopped to consider the effect it would have on the people in your life, or how it might hurt them.” Thea considers the arrowhead Oliver gave her as a souvenir, wondering if he is telling the truth. Walter heads out on a “business trip” for an undetermined length of time, eager to get away from his lying wife. Detective Lance, devastated by not sticking Oliver with the vigilante charge, is drunk in a bar, and Laurel has to come carry him home.
“You’re wrong. I think about it all the time. And just to be clear, not being able to tell my family the truth, it doesn’t hurt anyone worse than it hurts me.” Oliver bottles up his pain and focuses it on Leo Mueller, swooping in to stop his second attempt at selling his machine guns, and murdering yet another person on his father’s list. With Oliver cleared of all charges, it looks like he is free to terrorize Starling City’s evildoers once again.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm Eastern on CW. Damaged originally aired on 11/7/12.