The CW‘s Arrow Identity TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 2, Episode 2: Identity pretty much served as a follow up to the season premiere. If the parallel narratives of “City of Heroes” tackled the theme of what differentiates a hero from a vigilante, then “Identity” addressed what that difference can mean to those unsure of which side of the divide they may be on. For the likes of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), this meant reconciling doing what they thought was right, with doing what was necessary; the need to act outside the law as a form of heroism with being responsible friends, relatives, lovers, and citizens.
FEMA trucks, taking medical supplies to an emergency clinic in The Glades, have been repeatedly intercepted and hijacked. Roy attempted to foil one such hijacking but is forced to crash, getting arrested while the hijackers escaped. In flashback, back on the island, Slade (Manu Bennett) had become concerned over Oliver having killed Shado’s (Celina Jade) abductors in the last episode. He advised her to provide Oliver with some sort of outlet for the poisonous psycho-emotional baggage that was sure to arise.
It was around these two developments that “Identity’s” story revolved. Roy’s arrest brought to the fore Oliver’s need to either curb Roy’s vigilante impulse or put it to good use. At the same time, it made clear the fact that Laurel (Katie Cassidy) was serious about targeting The Hood. Worse still, the hijackings had left relief efforts to The Glades on the brink of collapse, which allowed Alderman Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro) to gain populist support directly at Oliver’s expense. Flashbacks to the island, meanwhile, provided some insight on the hows and whys of Oliver going about dealing with those future issues.
With Thea (Willa Holland) once again shouldering much of the Roy issue, Oliver set about juggling his civic responsibilities to the people of The Glades, as the head of Queen Consolidated, while protecting the FEMA runs and repairing relations with Laurel as The Hood. He was not particularly successful at any of these.
The hijackers turned out to be Triad, including China White (Kelly Hu) and new baddie, Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White). Noting The Hood’s softer edge, they were spoiling for a fight but the action was broken up by police more interested in The Hood. Oliver was wounded by the cops before making his escape. This forced an audience with Laurel, who wanted nothing more than his exposure and arrest. His outreach to Blood resulted in a major fund raiser for The Glades. This was to put Oliver Queen as the face of improving conditions in the area but The Hood’s preoccupations kept Oliver from attending, and Blood took the opportunity to further act as a demagogue against him.
Sick with worry, Thea had presented an ultimatum to Roy in the form of a severance check and a Japanese inscribed charm stone; with those, he was to choose either her or his crusade. The other players in both of Oliver’s stories, Diggs (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), in the present, and Shado, five years back, made subtle, yet important contributions. Felicity, unhappy with her standing in the group, let slip that Diggs’ personal life had suffered, due to his preoccupation with Deadshot (Michael Rowe); while Shado’s brand of “therapy” prompted Slade to warn Oliver about relationships as distractions. Realizing that he had been overly preoccupied, Oliver composed himself, and reconsidered his priorities.
David Ramsey Stephen Amell Arrow Indentity
With Diggs and Felicity’s help, The Hood settled accounts with China White and Bronze Tiger, then made Roy an offer that would keep him out of trouble while still making a difference. That offer informed Roy’s decision, regarding Thea’s ultimatum. Having turned his fortunes around, apparently by reconciling with his new outlook, The Hood made a second attempt to make peace with Laurel.
There, his streak of good fortune came to jarring stop.
“Identity” was a good follow up to “City of Heroes,” but a touch uneven. The island backstory brought some context to the current events. Between Shado bringing him back from a murderer’s malaise and Slade insisting he not lose his edge to affection, we got some idea of Oliver’s power of impulse control. A map, recovered from one of Oliver’s victims, set the trio on a quest to find out what the island’s newly arrived hostiles were after; but (save for providing the origin of the charm that would be passed from Oliver, to Thea, to Roy) this week’s backstory provided no real counterweight to the current one.
The fact that there was no kind of Federal response to FEMA trucks being routinely hijacked and federal employees regularly killed, highlighted an old DCU problem of superhero stomping grounds as self-contained bubbles. Bronze Tiger needled The Hood about not taking any kill shots but opted to make multiple nuisance cuts, instead of landing any killing blows of his own. I found Lauren’s motives behind wanting to bring The Hood down to be almost ridiculously absolutist and single-minded; but I don’t know enough about her mindset, or the nature of her relationship with Tommy (or The Hood, for that matter). I would say Blood turning a crowd ugly and violent, against Oliver, was entirely too easy; but then, there is Ted Cruz and the Tea Party….
On the other hand, the interactions between Oliver, Diggs, and Felicity struck something of a Tony, Rhodie, Pepper vibe – that might have been a good thing. Roy’s character -dramatic mood swings aside – seemed more thoughtful this time around. The narrow age gap still precludes any real mentor-apprentice relationship with Oliver, but there was a big brother dynamic on display. Thea also came across as more measured in dealing with her problem, which, when lined up with the individual issues faced by Oliver, Diggs and Felicity, made the episode more about impulse control – and minding the people of your surroundings – as much as anything else.
That theme of impulse control was left at odds with the episode’s conclusion, however; a conclusion that would have been that much more thrilling had it not been a result of seeming carelessness (if not impulsive stupidity). It did leave us with a good reason to stick around, though, for what, I hope, will be something of a redemption.