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Arrow, like many network shows, has the unenviable task of serving up a full traditional television order of 22 episodes. Which means that, occasionally, the show will have to ratchet back the major action sequences and focus more on character building. “Guilty” was one of those times. And you know what? It actually worked pretty darn well.
I’m not super into the DC history behind the various comic characters that dot the Arrow universe, but even I knew that Ted “Wildcat” Grant wasn’t meant to be a bad guy within the series (I have also been told by father, repeatedly, that Ray “Atom” Palmer isn’t a villain either, even if the show keeps hinting that there’s something not completely good about him). With that in mind, I assume I was in the majority in not thinking for a second that Wildcat had anything to do with the bodies that kept piling up around him.
But, even without the belief that Ted might be something other than a wizened old fighter (who is actually not old at all- a major departure from his comic alter-ego), the show navigated the true introduction of the character incredibly well. A show like Arrow already has a number of characters it must service each week (notably, Thea and Malcolm were missing this week, as was Ray Palmer), so adding another one to the ranks is always a risk. But Wildcat fits perfectly into the world of Starling City. And I can certainly see him become a mentor to Oliver as well as Laurel, as Oliver certainly seems to need someone to help him balance out his over the top need to protect those around him and his commitment to the city.
I can understand that Oliver feels the need to keep those he loves safe. After all, he’s suffered more loss than someone his age should ever have to deal with. But that doesn’t mean he has the right or the duty to tell the people in his life what they can and can’t do. Now, I’m not a Laurel fan, but I’m getting sick of hearing Oliver constantly tell her that she can’t do things. Warning her against going up untrained against a known violent individual? Yeah, I’ll give him that. That was just stupidity on Laurel’s part. But telling her she can’t train at Wildcat’s gym because Oliver believes him to be a killer (and because there’s a shady element that frequents the gym)? That’s not really his place. That’s Captain Lance’s place. Her father has every right to tell her not to do those things. Her ex-boyfriend? Not so much. I know it’s a bit nit-picky, but if the show wants us to start taking Laurel seriously as the heir-apparent to the Black Canary mantle, Oliver needs to start taking her desire to train and become a fighter seriously as well.
Speaking of Laurel, “Guilty” gave us a deeper look into her character. While Katie Cassidy is still struggling with the new layers within the character (a struggle that is enhanced all the more when she’s working with J.R. Ramirez (Wildcat), who was stellar this week), I’m enjoying this stronger Laurel. While Laurel is still far too stubborn for her own good and Cassidy is lacking the emotional range for the character, I will say that Cassidy is doing a great job with Laurel’s new physicality. I actually believe she’s been putting in the time and energy needed to begin transforming into Canary. Although, if the show decides in a few weeks that Laurel is ready to become Canary and she suddenly boasts a rather flawless fighting ability (a la Roy, who should not be as good as he is at this point), I’ll be pretty disappointed.
Finally, the last “twist” of the episode was one that I certainly agree with, but also one I really thought was useless in the grand scheme of things. I’m thrilled that Roy didn’t kill Sara, under mind control, Mirakuru or otherwise, but I have a bone to pick with the writers on their revelation. Sure, I can buy that Roy had a faulty memory that appeared in a dream. Makes sense. But how did he know that Sara’s last words were “What are you doing here?” And how did he know exactly where she was standing? He knew the exactly sequence of her death when no one would have known it except the killer. So, either Roy did kill her, or the writers screwed this one up.
— Is it just me, but are “normal” villains of the week lame now that we have both Malcolm and Ra’s on the chess board? I’d much rather spend time with them than deal with Wildcat’s ex-partner.
— Would it have been so hard for Laurel to not crash the car into the other cars?
— You know who else needs to step up his game? Colton Haynes (Roy). I need to see more than two facial expressions (blank and in pain). Some of this is due to the writing (nothing good ever seems to happen to Roy, after all), but on a show with a number of charismatic actors, Haynes really stands out a bland.