“Arrow” introduces another classic DC villain, or several of them, as the Royal Flush Gang come to Starling City. Here, they are bank robbers who execute jobs (and off-duty cops) with precision, as opposed to the comic versions, where they all had various powers and flew around on giant playing cards. Ollie and Diggle spar both with what look like metal escrima sticks and over Ollie’s philosophy, as Diggle urges him to take down the gang instead of focusing exclusively on the list his father left to him. This is something I hope will continue, Diggle making Ollie think about what he’s doing. Maybe he’ll even stop killing people eventually if Diggle proves to be a good influence.
After some family drama about a social engagement with the Bowens, some friends of Moria’s, Ollie rushes to Starling General Hospital to find out Diggle is pushing him. Diggle lied about one of the names on Ollie’s list attempting suicide, and lured Oliver here to meet the wife of the off duty cop shot during the Royal Flush Gang’s robbery, after promising the wife that Oliver would pay for the officer’s upgraded medical care. The cop was shot when he tried to intervene and a civilian begged him not to, shrieking she didn't want to die. Diggle had already mentioned they do three jobs per city, and so would strike again in Starling before moving on. Diggle is clearly guilting Ollie into going after the gang, and it’s clearly working.
Oliver digs in with some questionable detective work (where did they get height measurements for a high school class?), and a break in at police HQ before clashing with the Gang at their next job. He does use some trick arrows again (yay!) in an odd three way fight between himself, the Gang, and the police in the tunnels beneath the city. Everyone gets away, setting us up for the third robbery later. In a clever twist, the “civilian” who gave away who the cop was in the first robbery proves to be part of the Gang, which Oliver and Diggle has learned is a family, not just a robbery crew.
As Oliver investigates, he learns that the Restons, the family behind the Royal Flush Gang, are actually a legacy of his father’s as well. The Restons, and many others, lost their jobs, pensions, and didn’t even get their severance pay because Robert Queen closed the factory and outsourced the jobs. So, while not on the “list,” they are something to clear up from his father’s less than sterling behavior. Oliver tries to appeal to Derrick Reston’s better nature, but the resentment against the Queens runs too deep. Being a pragmatist, Oliver uses the opportunity to plant a bug on Reston.
The sub-plot of rogue Tommy Merlin trying to impress Laurel by helping her charity law firm get more funding runs into the main plot finally, as Oliver attends the party, briefly. He is there long enough to get a major guilt trip from his mother about his disappearances lately. In what I guess is a sub-sub plot, sister Thea seems interested in Tommy, and is far from happy to learn how serious he is about Laurel.
The last fight has good and bad points. The father, Derrick, ends up getting killed trying to protect his son from a bank guard. Kyle did something smart after seeing “that Hood guy” before, he brought a plexi-glass shield like the riot shields cops use. That was a really nice idea, and deflected Ollie’s arrows fine. Ollie proved less than smart twice, once by continuing to shoot arrows into it after seeing it didn’t work, and again by still relying on normal arrows. This would have been a GREAT time to use some kind of gas or flare.
Back at the party, poor drunken Thea makes a fool of herself. First she hurls herself at Tommy, then stumbles over a waiter on the way out to throw up in the alley. Diggle gives Ollie a pep talk about the death of Derrick and Oliver’s attempts to help the city as Arrow. Oliver and his mother almost have a nice heart to heart, but his secrets get in the way. He does end up taking her out for a burger and they do share a nice moment, I think at Diggs’ sister’s place, but I’m not sure.
That ending was marred by one thought for me. They have this nice scene, where’s Thea? It’s no wonder the girl is a mess, everyone seems to forget about her unless she’s doing something really stupid. It would have been nice to bring her out for burgers, too.
I think this is one of the show’s best episodes so far. I like a lot of what they did here. Oliver doing something besides just the list was nice, and Diggle making him re-examine his plans was great. It’s a little too bad, in my book, that the gang ended up being tied to Robert Queen; I was hoping this would be a more clear start of Ollie as hero rather than man on one narrow mission. The action continues to be nicely done, the fights are great. I liked that they have Oliver continue to drop out of date references, like “Snap” and not knowing who Dr. Oz is, prompting Thea to plead “For all of our sakes, start reading Us Weekly.” Even if it was product placement, it was amusing.
Another thing I liked will take some explaining. I’m sure the actor was simply elsewhere or something, but, while I like Detective Lance, it was nice for him not to be on the show this week. A lot of these shows seem to fall into the trap of “is this the only cop in the city?” Of course, the downside here is that Lance didn’t see Arrow doing something good and actually going a whole episode without killing someone, but can’t win them all. The one death this episode was from the bank guard, not Oliver.
A few nice Easter Eggs here, as well. The Gang previously operated in Keystone City, home of the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. Tommy offers to whisk Laurel off to Coast City, base of operations for Green Lantern Hal Jordan. And the crisis that hits Laurel’s law firm is when their big contributor bails out, a company called Stagg Enterprises. Simon Stagg is a criminal billionaire who was responsible for the creation of the hero Metamorpho.
Even in what I thought was a great episode, there were a few bits that didn’t work. It seemed like Thea was being called by her nickname, “Speedy” a lot this week, and it felt forced. I, and others, have wondered if her party girl ways are going to be bring her to rock bottom before she gets recruited into Oliver’s cause somehow, as “Speedy” is the name of Green Arrow’s sidekick in the comics. Why the Restons turned to crime and then adopted the card theme of the Royal Flush Gang was never explained, aside from the father playing cards in a bar in one scene. Some background for the theme would have been nice.
I touched on Arrow continuing to shoot arrows at the shield even after it was shown to not work. What also bothered me there was the shield itself; it seemed to come from out of nowhere, just suddenly on the robber’s arm, without him being shown bringing it in.
Despite these few picks, I think it was a well done episode and I’m hoping the show continues to improve like this. I’d like to see a good show live up to the potential of the characters and become great. I’m looking forward, I think, to the upcoming Huntress appearance.
But for God’s sake, cut poor Thea a break. Even slimeball Tommy is being given some depth, all Thea seems to do is feel alone and isolated. Give her something.
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