Arrow Review: “Lone Gunmen” (Season 1, Episode 3)

Oliver Queen is a murderer. Sure, he only seems to target bad guys and their bodyguards (who we assume are just as evil by proxy), and yes, doing so has thus far served the city pretty well, but any way you slice it, he’s still a killer. Despite how much time Detective Lance spends unnecessarily antagonizing the Armani-wearing persona of Oliver Queen, his mad-on for the hooded Oliver that’s been offing CEOs is pretty well justified.

After all, homicide is homicide, so it makes sense that Green Arrow’s reputation around Starling City thus far is that of a nutcase. Seeing as most of the people we spend time with in Arrow are white collar elites or the criminals that work for them, it’ll probably be some time before public opinion starts to turn in his favour.

Our opinion of him isn’t nearly as messy as it could be though, and episode three, “Lone Gunmen,” may be planting the seeds for a more ambiguous examination of Oliver’s calling and methods. No, unfortunately this week doesn’t feature Green Arrow facing off against a trio of conspiracy theorists; the villain de jour is Deadshot (who I mistook for female in last week’s preview), a hired gun who tattoos the names of his victims into his skin, because maybe he’s really into Memento or something. Deadshot kill steals Oliver’s target in the cold open, a businessman who profits off of arson in The Glades, Starling City’s economically depressed district that still sounds nicer than 90% of most gated communities.

Like last week’s episode, “Lone Gunmen” gets in a bit of fan service by adding a named DC comics character to the villain roster, but it gets more mileage out of Deadshot than it did China White, who sorta just hung around  in background of “Honor Thy Father” until her fight scene with Ollie. While China White presented a physical challenge, Deadshot provides more of a logistical one: when you’re going up against a sniper who can pinpoint targets from over 100 yards away, your bow and arrow might feel a little inadequate by comparison.

Episode three has a nice noire feel to it -ignoring the parkour-, with Oliver engaging full-on gumshoe mode in order to track down Deadshot, who’s been making short work of some of the suits trying to buy the Unidex Corporation. There’s some CSI-ing of bullet fragments found at the crime scene, and Oliver nearly dies of poisoning from the special sauce Deadshot coats his bullets with (curare being the equivalent of double-tap as writer code for “professional assassin”), but the most intriguing development involves Oliver making contact with a Russian mafioso.

The scene raises some interesting questions, with Oliver’s chest tattoo marking him as a Bratva, (a member of the Russian mob), something we’ll hopefully learn more about later, along with an explanation for his fluency in Russian other than “his maid speaks it”. Once his background checks out with the capo, he gets information on Deadshot’s location, as well as an ominous warning as to the repercussions that come with betraying the mob. Ollie’s rumble with the cuckoo in apartment 52 is cut short when Deadshot bolts out the window of, leaving behind a bullet-riddled computer that points toward the assassin’s next target.

In typical fashion, recovering the data requires Oliver make a pitstop at the IT department of Queen Industries, where he and newcomer Felicity Smoak trade some nerdy banter. Okay, it’s the CW’s version of nerdy, which is to say Emily Bett Rickards would look like a model the second she takes off those horn-rimmed glasses and lets her hair down, but she’s already gunning for Digg’s coveted spot as most valuable secondary player. A quirky tech-specialist is just as shop-worn as the other crime genre tropes the episode relies on, but Rickards is a likeable presence, and it’s always nice to see Oliver interacting with someone who isn’t pulling down $50 million a year, or planning to steal Halloween candy from the local orphanage.

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