Arrow Review: “Home Invasion” (Season 1, Episode 20)


Arrow Review: “Home Invasion” (Season 1, Episode 20)

In my recap for the last episode of Arrow –a mostly insane, drug-fuelled trip to crazy town that earned the two week hiatus which followed- I mentioned that we’re in the phase of the season where sidebar loose ends need to get tied up, and preparations for the big finish have to begin. At the time, I had assumed these final four weeks of episodes would see the show’s serial, season-long plots all coming to bare. Seems we needed one more week before getting down to brass tax, because after all the spring-cleaning accomplished with “Unfinished Business,” the latest episode, “Home Invasion,” was all about setting the table for what’s to come. Considering where things stand after tonight, and that next week looks to be the big Undertaking episode, I’m hopeful we’ve got three weeks of real deal, go-for-broke Arrow ahead of us.

Which is really great, because while “Home Invasion” rallies hard to a strong finish, a good half of the episode is a reminder that we could all use a a break from “case of the week” Arrow. It’s not that the plot itself is all that uninteresting: saddling Laurel with the newly-orphaned son of a pair of high-profile witnesses creates ready-made drama, and former Angel star J. August Richards adds plenty of pizzazz to his heavy, Mr. Blank. Richards really is terrific, and makes a far better case for a returning role than most of the show’s canon villains (his departure in a police body bag, however, makes that seem unlikely), but the real issue here is that the business-as-usual stuff stumbles in setting up a number of important payoffs, and major cliffhangers, which are far more engaging than the episode’s buildup.

It’s hard to classify where exactly the Digg vs. Deadshot plotline fits in with the rest of the episode. Despite the tense opening crosscutting between the two enemies working on their skills (I particularly liked the quickcuts showing a sniper bullet in flight), the double D showdown is left hanging on an ellipse, and a question mark. Their big stairwell tussle establishes that Lawton knows who Diggle is, so if anything, this should give him more of a reason to put down the hulking, ex-Special Forces thorn in his side. But he doesn’t, because the show would never do that, so Deadshot has to give an excuse about how he won’t kill Diggle because there’s no one paying him to do it.

A sniper with an unusual code of conduct? It’s not unheard of, but Deadshot stopping himself on a technicality seems to ignore the three people he just shot and killed two minutes ago. Diggle’s contact at ARGUS, Lila, sets a trap for Lawton obvious enough for even a guy with one eye to see coming, so why would he bother killing anyone? It’s possible we’ll learn later that he was paid to kill the ARGUS agents, thus justifying his little rule, but there’s no indication of it this episode. Unfortunately, the big shootout itself doesn’t justify the inconsistency, as it gets botched in the editing room. Lilah barely moving on the ground, covering her side, implies she’s been shot, but we don’t see that happen, so either there’s a missing POV shot (literally) from Lawton, or Digg tackling Lilah to the ground was nearly fatal.

Putting Digg in a position to fight Lawton alone is something of a problem as well. Oliver having to choose whether to keep his word and help Digg, or bail at the last second to apprehend the suit who put a hit on the orphan, is a good source of conflict. But couldn’t he, or Felicity, at least have given Digg a heads up? A text would do (“Srry 2 ditch, baddie bout 2 GTFO of town. gl, ttyl”), and hell, Felicity could have probably just piped into Digg’s ARGUS headset for a quick chat if she wanted, since hacking their highly secure servers didn’t seem all that difficult. Then there’s stuff like Laurel having a moment of badass defending herself with a shotgun -followed by a reminder that this is Laurel, so of course she jams the gun-, or the wildly expository (possibly illegally so) newscast meant to introduce Oliver to the week’s corporate baddie (who’s name, Edward Rasmus, even sounds tired), that leave “Home Invasion” in near shambles by the halfway point.

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