The CW’s Arrow The Man Under the Hood TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 2, Episode 19: ‘The Man Under the Hood’ was another transition episode, setting the stage for future fallout. Thanks to a bit of extra leg-work, by Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Sara (Caity Lotz) each had a bit more family matters to deal with (but only one of them was made aware of it).
There were two highlights, to ‘The Man Under the Hood,’ the rest was all soap level melodrama, and a relatively weighty finale reveal. The first highlight was another Deathstroke intrusion into the Arrow Cave. It was supposed to be a theft, but when the residents came home, he decided to make an example of them. Convincingly. The second was an unexpected tie-in to the upcoming Flash series. After an initial Team Arrow attempt at keep-away, Slade took his act to a local S.T.A.R. lab. If the names Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) didn’t register, just be aware that they will be Flash regulars (if not instrumentals). As for Barry… Barry may be in a coma until his show is ready (Flash Forwarders, be grateful for the B list appearance – lousy self-referencing puns, and all).
The island flashback was one drawn out scene, involving a slowly deteriorating Dr. Ivo (Dylan Neal) offering a secret, to taking down Slade, in exchange for a quick, clean death. If this secret seemed like a convenient addition to Arrow‘s present events, blame it on more Oliver guilt. It’s like I said: beyond the highlights, it was just that kind of episode.
The first highlight was considerably better than the second (which, admittedly, was just a whole lot of Easter egg, smeared all over the inside of the TV screen). The bulk of the episode was devoted to interpersonal drama. Even the Flash tie-in added another layer of drama; with Felecity (Emily Bett Rickards) having been made painfully aware of Barry’s soon-to-be series love interest (so it’s back to crushing on Ollie).
The drama has some strategic value to Slade, supposedly, as he managed to get the drop on both Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Thea (Willa Holland), but only to dish dirt on Oliver. While Laurel learned of Oliver’s (and by extension, Sara’s) secret identity, Thea was only told about Oliver keeping their mother’s secret about her real father. While Laurel seemed to gain a long overdue appreciation, for all her loved ones had been doing for her (there was an additional sub-plot, involving what her father may, or may not have known about the vigilante, that I won’t go into, just yet), and kept the bombshell to herself, Thea proved to be a more useful distraction.
Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) has been revealed as the usurper Queen. Given her source character, I’m surprised her presence on Arrow had generated so little excitement, or consideration for season two’s second Big Bad slot. Having effectively robbed a burning house, Rochev now controls Queen Consolidated, as a known ally of Slade. At least, known to Oliver; Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) had pegged her as untrustworthy based on the past indiscretions of her husband. Between them, however, fell the task of salvaging the Queen family assets (since Rochev miraculously managed to junk Queen stock, without starting a shareholder’s revolt), and this was where Thea came in.
Thea had a really hard time letting go of the family secret, and her hard feelings towards the keepers of that secret. So hard, in fact, that she refused to sign off on the provision that could save what was left of the family assets. Kudos to Slade; clearly he knows how to find value in emo dysfunction. Frankly, drama Queen’s finest moment, this episode, was pulling a Batman disappearance on Oliver, when duty called (shame on Oliver).
There may be a few viewers ready to defend Thea, citing a need for her to bottom out, then confront her demons. The problem is, we’ve already been through all that with Laurel. Is the need to play up Arrow’s melodramatic angle really so strong, that Laurel’s place, as the series emo-kid, had to be fully refilled? As it seems that Roy (Colton Haynes) is scheduled for another round of Roy’d rage, I can only hope they bottom/ burn out together, and in a single episode’s worth of emo disaster inspired recovery, so the show can move on already. At least Laurel had a broken home to escape from, and a lucrative career to lean on. Thea needs to have a faster learning curve. Okay, I need Thea to have a faster learning curve.
Speaking of Roy: Slade’s master plan was to create a small army of super convicts, by way of a mass Mirakuru blood transfusion. The good news, for Team Arrow, was that such an operation would leave Slade both on their radar, and literally drained of his strength – which, after the beating they took at the Arrow Cave, was a necessary component to any end game. The fact that this plan made no account for there being more than one source of Mirakuru blood, however, was a little troubling. Apparently, team Slade had caught up to Roy, after he had his own hissy fit storm out.
The end game had to change, once that oversight became clear, and while Team Arrow managed to get the better of Team Slade (decisively, in the case of one member), and escape with Roy, it was a pyrrhic victory. The finale reveal left Team Slade stronger than ever. Whether the resurrection of the one team member actually makes it better, remains to be seen; I’m still having trouble with Mirakuru Slade.
As great as it has been to see Deathstroke kick ass in live action, Mirakuru Slade has become a monster – the power has really gone to his head. It’s bad enough that he’s been referring to himself as invincible, he’s now acting on it – taking needless chances that resulted in the Arrow making off with Roy (not according to plan). Bane like power I can deal with; the God complex is wearing thin.
Don’t get me wrong, I am really looking forward to the grand finale smackdown. I’m just a little wary of having to go through more emo/ psycho drama to get there.