The CW‘s Arrow Crucible TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 2, Episode 4: “Crucible” opened with Oliver (Stephen Amell) undergoing just such a process. The Hood, pre-occupied with taking out some well armed gang bangers, made Oliver late for another elite function. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) worked damage control until he arrived; but from there, he had to traverse a veritable cross-fire from Laurel (Katie Cassidy), Blood (Kevin Alejandro), and Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau). As it turned out, the subject of gun proliferation in The Glades came up, with Blood providing a name for The Hood’s latest pain. The leader of the gang, that The Hood had earlier tangled with, went by The Mayor (Clé Bennett). He fancied himself the new, sole authority in The Glades, and had a large cache of military grade M4 Carbines to back up that assertion.
Either Sebastian Blood has been an instigator or a genuine prophet, because he has become a regular town crier for The Hood. They always seem to have the same issue over The Glades, at the same time, with Blood serving as an informant to The Hood, and partner/ foil to Oliver. Given the character’s roots, I’m prepared to say instigator. The Mayor, by declaring himself a former nobody reinvented by the quake, may have introduced a Lost/ TWD styled before-and-after plot device. This could prove useful to the introduction of future characters, and the continued development of the recently introduced crop. A quick note to anyone serving a callous killer, menacing with an assault rifle: never take responsibility for someone else’s screw up.
Some simple sleuthing from Felicity connected Black Canary (Caity Lotz) to Laurel, allowing The Hood to trap her long enough to get some answers. Welcome back Sara Lance. Laurel’s sister, declared dead after the sinking of The Gambit, had been drawn back to Starling City to check on her family, post quake. Not only did she survive the sinking, she had a castaway survival story all her own. She had also figured out the Hood’s identity before she even got there. Oliver’s own castaway story must have really done a number on him – how else to explain him not recognizing her face or voice? Yes, there was a wig and eye mask in place. As striking as her features were to me, however, a former lover should be able to pick her out of a crowd at a costume ball. She escaped from Oliver, of course; and while Oliver struggled to explain his fore knowledge of her survival to his cohorts, Sara reaffirmed her somewhat feminist agenda to Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus). Clearly there is meant to be a back story behind this Wonder Woman element added to the Canary.
Speaking of back stories: flashback Oliver, last seen as a captive aboard a cargo ship, was briefly interrogated by the Captain (Jimmy Jean-Louis) then shot. The occupant of the adjacent cell called it a test of survival, so Oliver went about removing the bullet. It almost seemed stereotypical to have a line like “living is not for the weak” come from a Russian; but reasonable, given the character behind Oliver’s fellow prisoner. When Oliver remained tight lipped about the crew’s objective (the Imperial Japanese grave site), he was turned over to an interrogation specialist.
In the present, Diggs (David Ramsey) looked up a fellow vet, for a lead on the Mayor’s gun running, while the D.A. took Laurel out to dinner. Both Diggs and Laurel were given not-so-subtle come-ons. Laurel was later pulled over on a D.U.I., leading to another confrontation with her father, Quentin (Paul Blackthorne). Apparently, Laurel was on the verge of trading catharses – her Hood crusade for alcoholism – and being just as bratty about it. Diggs’ lead allowed The Hood to crash the Mayor’s HQ and secure most of the guns, but the Mayor escaped.
Oliver had sold Blood on a cash-for-guns drive, but clashed with Rochev over funding and corporate rank. At the drive, Oliver and Blood had a meeting of the minds, over the Nietzschean paradigms of the crucible concept, while agreeing to keep the city from having to face that dynamic. Nearby, Thea (Willa Holland) was needling Roy (Colton Haynes) about his gun toting past (even as he was turning them all in), when Sin interrupted. Clearly the two did not have enough drama, this episode; but I did appreciate Sin referring to Roy as “Abercrombie.”
The Mayor rolled in, to reassert his authority, and a gun fight ensued. Oliver saved Blood (calling out the Mayor made Blood his principal target); but cops and civilians alike were gunned down – including Sin.
While having bystanders cut down in the cross-fire kept things real enough, once Blood was clear it became a direct exchange between the cops and the Mayor’s men. All the civilians seen hit seemed to run right into the line of fire. Almost looked silly. To Thea’s credit, she thought better of Roy for tending to Sin and staying by her hospital bed.
With a new convoy of higher powered weapons due in, The Hood gave Canary a shot at pay-back. The ability of rogue military elements to seize truck loads of weapons, to smuggle into a disaster zone, again makes Starling City seem beyond any Federal oversight. The Mayor did not even try to shoot a wide open Canary, once the fighting started. The fight choreography, itself, was well done; but arrow vs grenade, and a brief trading of weapons – between Hood and Canary – were highlights.
The Mayor was subdued by Black Canary, but The Hood talked her into sparing his life. Between that concession, and Sara seemingly agreeing to join Oliver in a pact of silence (over their castaway past), it would seem they were now formal partners. Blood and Oliver were also on better terms. Oliver suggested Blood run for Mayor, but Alderman Blood demurred, noting that “there’s more than one way to save a city.” Later, “Brother Blood” gave some idea of what that comment meant. With police assistance, Blood used a serum to make a terminally failed experiment out of the Mayor – part of an ongoing process, it seemed.
I was relieved that they finally unmasked Blood (so to speak). Even if viewers were largely unaware of his source identity, I doubt Arrow could have kept the whole wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing ruse going all that long (especially with a name like Blood – as with Victor Von Doom, it sort of points out the villain in the cast). Moreover, that serum of his may hold the key to the empowerment of present/ future characters; but I may be getting ahead of myself, again.
The intrepid efforts of the Scooby Gang, Diggs and Felicity, remain essential. The problem is Arrow continues to outsource the detective aspect of Green Arrow in much the same way Christopher Nolan dumbed down Batman (Alfred did the profiling, Lucius Fox did the science).
The constant allusions to Oliver and Sara’s past, after The Gambit’s sinking, left little doubt as to what awaited Oliver back on the freighter. The promise of what comes later, however, League of Assassins and all, really made up for it.
“Crucible” could have said something about our larger, ongoing gun debate; but chose to keep things local, focused and easily dealt with. Arrow has a lot of fictional ground to cover, and seems to be picking up the pace; so I guess it can be forgiven for not dwelling on real world issues.