Arrow Review: “Salvation” (Season 1, Episode 18)

The most confusing thing, though, is how the symbol seems to redefine our understanding of the Tempest group. Was this entire cabal assembled simply to do something about the Glades? Malcolm would have his reasons to get involved, but what about Moira, or Robert Queen? It’s likely they too were harmed by a Glades-ian, just as Frank, Moira’s confidant, and fall guy for her assassination plot, almost lost his daughter to the Glades. At this point, it feels like we could use a flashback episode dedicated just to untangling the conspiracy’s history, because it’s rapidly devolved from one of Arrow’s most intriguing elements, to its most confusing.

The heart of “Salvation” is in the right place, building a theme around what it is people are willing to do to atone for a mistake, but the execution is consistently clunky, moving pieces into place, while hoping emotional beats will hit harder than can be reasonably expected. The plan to bring Roy into the Team Arrow fold is moving faster than expected, which is good, because he’s fairly useless on his own. He’s a two-dimensional character, with one dimension being his Gap-model good looks, and the other being an endless stream of reminders that he’s not from a nice neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the disappearance of Sara Lance reopens and closes before the episode is out, the ultimate point of which seems mostly unclear. While Quentin and Dinah Lance are the right kind of unhinged to have their marriage rekindled by collaborating on a corkboard conspiracy web, the whole plotline ends with a sad trombone, as Dinah’s lead turns out to be a dud. It doesn’t matter though; Sara is quite obviously still alive, though that’s the rules of soap opera television telling me so, more than the show laying groundwork for her inevitable return. Dinah exits the picture about as abruptly as she entered, and a more cynical appraisal of her appearance would argue it was devised to keep some of the cast busy for a few episodes, and provide a juicy cliffhanger before the March hiatus.

Even the A-plot was, all in all, a misfire. It’s encouraging to see that Huntress’ rampage came with some fallout, but Savior ends up being just a means for Oliver to see that isolation and vengeance don’t mix, and doesn’t much of an impression. The plot is brimming with contrivances needed to make the killer’s M.O. function with even the slightest bit of plausibility, and like everything else this week, 90% of the story felt like time killing. “Salvation” isn’t so much a breather episode of Arrow as it is a hiccup, and does more table resetting for the finale than actual setting. Malcolm’s once again fit as a fiddle, weeks after being shot twice in the chest; Moira’s back in Malcolm’s good books, but still under his thumb; Laurel-Oliver shipping has begun anew. It’s all a little too familiar, and weeks like this leave you wondering if Arrow’s ever going to find another gear this season, or settle for wheel-spinning its way to a finale.

Stray Thoughts

-Dinah’s “should be home in a flash,” might be the most awkwardly forced DC comics reference yet, but that’s assuming you know that Central City is home to The Flash.

-Look, I know it’s the CW, but can we PLEASE do better than having Moira contemplate the blood on her hands by literally staring at the blood on her hands?

-Great week for fans of Stephen Amell kicking down doors.

-Island Update: A trade for the missile launcher chip goes south, leaving Yao Fei’s daughter on the run with Ollie and Wilson. It doesn’t make total sense, but I like how the handoff turns into a brawl within about four seconds.

-Ab-tastic Workout of the Week: You got to hand it to the director this week, as they managed to save time by combining Oliver’s pull-up routine with most of the episode’s early exposition.