Arrow Season 1 Review “Damaged”

Arrow Episode 5 Damaged (1)

In this week’s episode of Arrow, we got a much better look at exactly how Ollie had been emotionally and physically “Damaged” by his time on the island. We had known for a while that he wasn’t alone on that island, and now we’re seeing exactly what contributed to Oliver Queen becoming the Arrow.

Instead of collecting the meal that the-man-with-the-arrows-who-has-yet-to-be-named sent him out to collect, Ollie got himself kidnapped by an army of masked men led by Edward Fyers. Fyers’ men had been looking for the-man-with-the-arrows-who-has-yet-to-be-named, and had captured Ollie specifically to get information on him. Given Ollie’s weakling state, I was surprised that he didn’t tell Fyers that he had been living with the man on the island, but that was all he knew. Instead, Ollie held his tongue through some awful torture at the hands of a masked man known as Deathstroke.

Deathstroke was menacing, but he didn’t say much and Ollie wasn’t much of a challenge for him at this point. Still the fight scene between the-man-with-the-arrows-who-has-yet-to-be-named and Deathstroke might be one of the coolest fight scenes we’ve seen in the series so far. They were evenly matched in hand to hand combat and the-man-with-the-arrows-who-has-yet-to-be-named didn’t so much defeat Deathstroke as much as he narrowly escaped with Oliver in tow. This sequence made me look forward to future fight scenes with the-man-with-the-arrows-who-has-yet-to-be-named and for future scenes with Ollie fighting Deathstroke after he’s been fully transformed into the Arrow.

In the present, Ollie had told Laurel, “Do you want to know why I don’t want to talk about what happened to me there? Because if people knew, if you knew, you’d see me differently. Not as some vigilante guy, but as damaged.” With all the deliberate lies that Oliver told in this episode, it was difficult to tell if he was being sincere when he gave Laurel that line. I have no doubt that there was some truth in it, and that his emotions were real, but the truth behind Oliver’s secrecy isn’t as simple as his fear of being considered a damaged person by the people that once loved him. He later told Dig that he simply told Laurel what she needed to hear. I’m not sure if Ollie told Laurel or Dig the bigger lie in this case.

I realize that Ollie needed to take steps to protect his secret identity, but I struggled with the amount of lying he did to manipulate his loved ones into helping him circumvent the justice system. It’s one thing for him to claim to be an “innocent man” when he knows that he’s guilty of everything that Detective Lance is accusing him of. I was even OK with Dig (who knows the whole truth about Ollie’s secret identity and is making a well informed decision) willingly helping Ollie with his master plan. But, deliberately getting Laurel involved and being dishonest with her knowing that she would face her father and the courts to defend his lies, made me feel sorry for her. I’m not a huge Laurel fan, but if, or rather, when the truth gets out, she’s going to feel like a complete idiot again for trusting and publicly defending Ollie in another major lie.

Ollie specifically requested that Laurel be his attorney because he suspected that she was the only one that could get Detective Lance to reconsider his stance on Ollie. Dig’s night out in the Arrow costume ended up being enough to get Detective Lance off Ollie’s back, so intentionally pitting Laurel against her father seemed like a particularly shady move. It offered Ollie an opportunity to throw both Laurel and Detective Lance off his trail by bluffing his way through a polygraph test. There was real emotion mixed in with all his lies, but all that deception didn’t help to make Ollie seem like a hero tonight and I’m not completely convinced that he did the right thing.

The mystery behind Moira’s involvement with The Well Dressed Man got more intriguing tonight. T.W.D.M. didn’t even try to hide the fact that he sent the hit man for Oliver, or that he took out Walter’s head of security after Walter had sent him to try and relocate the Queen’s Gambit. I was particularly struck by Moira’s choice of words when she confronted T.W.D.M. in his office. She tells him, “I’ve been a good soldier…” before continuing with her threat to destroy him if anyone in her family is harmed. It indicates that they aren’t exactly equal partners in whatever their scheme is and that she has been taking some kind of marching orders from him. I’m dying to find out what their arrangement is and how it was struck up in the first place.

Even with all his lies, I like that Arrow has continued to develop Ollie as a damaged hero. He’s got a mission to right his family’s wrongs and we saw tonight that he was serious when he said that “the mission comes first.” For the sake of the mission, he’s willing to manipulate and lie to his family and friends. I hope Oliver keeps Dig’s warning in mind and remembers that Dig is the one person left that he should never lie to. As Oliver becomes more consumed by his mission, Dig’s role as Ollie’s rational, moral compass becomes vital in ensuring that Ollie doesn’t become another monster roaming the streets of Starling City.