The third episode of The CW's "Arrow" featured a couple of big reveals and a big villain, which makes its lackluster feel all the more puzzling and disappointing.
Our dirty corporate executive this week is James Holder, head of the company that put in faulty smoked detectors in low-income housing, resulting in deaths of the downtrodden residents of The Glades (what I assume is the Starling City equivalent to The Narrows in Gotham City). Arrow goes to pay the greedy suit a visit in his high rise apartment to demand justice. However, someone beats him to the punch -- a sniper shoots out the place where Holder's heart should be and sends our hero scrambling with a poison bullet as well. Two guesses on who our gunman is?
That's right, viewers didn't have to wait long for Deadshot to make his presence felt. Queen proclaims that Deadshot has no code of honor, a contract killer who just enjoys the thrill of racking up hits. We see that the hired gun also likes to carry the names of his victims with him as tattoos clutter up his body "Memento"-style.
Meanwhile, Queen is thinking of opening a nightclub or something in The Glades. Casting off any kind of subtlety, Amell's awful voiceover once again rears its ugly head and spells out that the club will be his alibi for his vigilante side-business. Field research leads Queen and Merlyn to attend a popular club, running into Laurel and a misbehaving Thea, who tells her big brother about Laurel and Merlyn's tryst while he was gone. This is one of a couple of subplots I assumed would get dragged out but is quickly paid off this week. Unfortunately, it's not the big reveal it should be, and is quickly interrupted by a beatdown. We get to see the soon-to-be Black Canary show off her fighting chops as she saves the boys' hides, which is good stuff, but then she follows it up with the laughable line, "We finished here? Or are you going to have your boys pound on me next?" Well, if you insist.
With another Deadshot victim taken out, Detective Lance and the police find a common thread: both victims were prospective buyers of Unidac Industries, and they theorize that the others may have targets on their backs as well. Because of his dislike for the Queen family, Lance believes they may be behind the assassinations, killing off their bidding rivals to make things easier when the auction goes down. Evidently the detective has the right idea, just the wrong perpetrator. Our climactic scene is set, as bidders for Unidac are set to meet at the public auction to purchase the company, including Deadshot's employer Warren Patel and everyone Patel wants his assassin to kill. Unable to protect the numerous targets alone, Arrow enlists the help of Lance and the police.
The "you can't do it alone" theme is continued with Arrow's interaction with the police, as well as in the island flashbacks. We carry over the shocker of an ending to last week's episode and meet the mysterious archer. Evidently, the assailant was attempting to protect Queen last week, and thought the best way to do that was to shoot an arrow through his chest, then nurse him back to health. Okay. That's some pretty tough love, but we eventually learn that the two are not alone on the island, not by a longshot.
The other subplot that's quickly cashed in this week involves Ollie's bodyguard Diggle, who in the last episode seemed to hint at knowing more than he does. Diggle's sister-in-law is introduced, letting on a nugget from the bodyguard's past: evidently his brother was killed in a similar line of work, and his widow now expresses concern over Diggle sharing his fate. She has a right to be concerned, as the Deadshot/Arrow showdown results in Queen's bodyguard taking a bullet. The episode rushes what I had assumed would be a long-term storyline, with Diggle discovering Arrow's secret identity in just the show's third episode. I suppose the writers thought it was ridiculous to have Queen constantly coming up with new ways to ditch his protection and vanish into the night, and it's at least a more dramatic reveal than the Laurel/Merlyn affair.
Really, the only good action we get with this episode is the showdown between Arrow and Deadshot. While the fighting is great as always, the payoff leaves a lot to be desired. Given that we saw Deadshot's mask in the pilot on the island, one would presume the two would have 1) a shared past and 2) a long-term feud brewing. The first doesn't appear to be the case if the dialogue the two have is any indication. No hints about a meeting between the two on the island, no real substance to anything the two say other than for Queen to distance himself from the assassin by proclaiming he kills for justice rather than money. And, unless there are other future inheritants to the Deadshot mantle, the second assumption appears to not be happening either, as the assassin is knocked off in pretty underwhelming fashion.
Given the villain this week, I expected much more than what was presented. Deadshot is an exciting villain who should pose a greater threat to our hero, deserved a richer backstory as well as a recurring role like Kelly Hu's China White seems to be getting. Instead, Deadshot's end came with a whimper instead of a bang.
Final Grade: C