NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of Arrow are present in this review.
Arrow sadly dipped in quality again after a slight improvement with last week’s Felicity-focused episode, “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak.” With many major characters sitting out this episode, and the big twist with Roy last week predictably amounting to one big fat red herring, “Guilty” felt like it didn’t effectively capitalize on its initial intrigue.
The episode is mainly meant to put Team Arrow on the trail of Ted Grant, as his training with Laurel is now ramping into high gear. This episode confirms Ted’s DC heritage as former vigilante, Wildcat, and predictably, Oliver doesn’t trust the guy, nor his training regiment with Laurel. Oliver still insists that Laurel must not follow in her sister’s footsteps as Starling City’s new Black Canary, but obviously, he’s going to lose that argument, and not even in the long-term.
Likewise, Oliver’s disliking of Ted Grant felt rather forced. Why is he so against Laurel dealing with her grief and anger over Sara’s death? What would he rather Laurel do? More importantly, how is Ted the bad guy for just doing his job and training her in self-defense and discipline? Even Laurel points out that Oliver refused to train her, and Oliver had to have known that Laurel wasn’t just going back to down on the idea after that. He brought the whole situation with Ted on himself, and his character felt like he regressed into simply being a jealous jerk this week.
The episode tries to justify Oliver’s distrust of Ted Grant and his former vigilante ways by having Oliver discover a body strung up in a similar pattern as several others in Ted’s own gym, but surely, he can rub two brain cells together and deduce that Ted is obviously being framed. As Ted even points out, what kind of moron would he have to be to murder someone, and then leave an enormous helping of blatant evidence right in the middle of his place of work, especially given his former vigilante activities in The Glades? It just made Oliver come off as an idiot on top of everything else. There’s clouded judgment, and then there’s just convenient stupidity on account of lazy writing.
Oh, and Oliver has to understand that every time he calls out Ted for taking the law into his own hands, that’s really the pot calling the kettle black. Yes, Diggle brings up the potential issue of Oliver having two sets of rules for his team and for the bad guys, when Roy confesses that he may have killed Sara, but this debate doesn’t go anywhere useful or credible. Again, there’s just no way to side with Oliver’s thinking this week. Hell, even Diggle throwing loyalty to the wind and immediately suggesting that Oliver cut Roy loose after nothing but a theory and circumstantial evidence felt needlessly cold and out-of-character.
More inexplicable is that the episode tries to suggest that Ted abandoned being a vigilante because he beat someone to death in a fit of rage six years ago, long before the events of the show. In reality though, it was actually Ted’s former apprentice, the villain-of-the-week this week, who committed the murder, and why Ted didn’t just come out and say that makes no sense. As promising as the idea behind this conflict was, just about everything felt forced, and the effort to parallel the issue with Ted and his apprentice with Oliver and Roy felt equally forced.
Speaking of Roy, the resolution from his apparent repressed memories of killing Sara last week were equally disappointing. Felicity makes a big deal about hiding forensic evidence that suggests the arrows fired into Sara were not shot from a conventional bow, and did indeed appear to be thrown, and even goes as far as to check yet again that Roy doesn’t have any trace of Mirakuru left in his system. After all is said and done though, Oliver simply has Roy meditate, and confirms that he knew the whole time that Roy wasn’t guilty, and was simply repressing the memory of killing the cop during his Mirakuru rage fit towards the end of Season Two.
Yes, obviously Roy is not Sara’s killer, because he has zero motive, and was clearly dressed wrong in the flashback, considering he was in full Arsenal gear helping Oliver stop the new Count Vertigo during Season Three’s premiere. It was immediately apparent from this cosmetic discrepancy that he didn’t do it, but even so, it felt like the show just raised this conflict, even going as far as to trigger a dramatic outburst from Laurel when Roy confesses his fears, only to have the show then just sweep it under the rug with a lame excuse. It was kind of a decent idea to have Roy sub-consciously struggling with the repressed memory of him killing an innocent cop last season, but again, it didn’t really go anywhere. Roy even went through the tiresome speech of pretending to quit, and then deciding not to quit in the same scene, just because Oliver told him not to. At least the explanation for Roy’s DC moniker of Arsenal comes in this episode, but it’s minor consolation for what’s largely a pretty disappointing (and obvious) red herring regarding Sara’s murder.
Fortunately, there were still a few cool elements in this episode. It was neat to finally see Ted Grant’s Wildcat lair, even if Oliver aptly claims that his is a lot bigger, and even more cool was the great introduction of Amy Gumenick as high-profile Green Arrow villain, Carrie Cutter, a.k.a. Cupid. The show had Cupid show up in the background continually (even if her last background appearance was a little too obvious), keeping a close eye on Team Arrow in true stalker fashion. The episode then ended with Cupid taking out the cops escorting Ted’s former apprentice, then declaring, “I’m Cupid… Stupid!”, before murdering this week’s baddie with another arrow to the heart. Yes, it was a bit of a hokey line, but at least Amy Gumenick’s one spoken line is delivered well, setting up great promise for her proper villain turnout as Cupid next week.
“Guilty” was a promising episode that was routinely let down by just plain sloppy writing. It’s yet another testament to Arrow currently struggling to find proper footing after a good start for Season Three. The Hong Kong flashbacks were back this week, but only served to demonstrate how Oliver learned to meditate (so, in other words, they were pointless), not to mention that Thea, Merlyn and Ray Palmer all sat out this episode. All in all, this week’s offering was just very disappointing, and felt like the show has yet again gained almost no real ground since Sara was killed at the start of the season.
Hopefully, Cupid becoming next week’s Starling City menace at least provides some entertainment as Arrow continues to try and stumble around and find its season arc.
- First look at Ted Grant's Wildcat persona
- Laurel's training continues to amp up
- Cupid's background stalking
- Oliver was frustratingly incompetent this week
- Roy resolution felt obvious and disappointing
- Ted covering for his apprentice was inexplicable and stupid