If there’s one thing Arrow is good at, it’s hitting the ground running. This week’s episode comes after a brief hiatus due to the Olympics, but it was definitely worth the wait. Packed full of great action, character moments and teases for what’s to come, “Time of Death” was another winner for The CW’s hit show.
The episode opens with a great introduction to the villain of the week, William Tockman, AKA The Clock King. Tockman is played by Heroes alum Robert Knepper, who brings a great deal of depth and grit to the potentially cheesy character who’s faced off with Green Arrow in the comics since his debut in 1960. The writers managed to update him for the grounded, realistic approach taken in the show, while keeping the majority of the character’s origin story intact.
“Time of Death” opens with Tockman maneuvering two hired guns through Kord Enterprises (yet another Blue Beetle reference! I’m sure I’m not the only one who got a big smile on his face), in pursuit of a “skeleton key” code breaking device that would allow him to open any bank vault in the world.
Knepper plays the role with wonderful subtlety, straying away from the over-the-top, mustache-twirling villain trope that other actors may have fallen victim to (Seth Gabel’s Count Vertigo, I’m looking at you). Tockman is immediately shown to be calculating, brilliant, and ruthless, planning the heist to the millisecond and then later brutally killing one of the men for disobeying his instructions. The opening scene alone secures him a spot amongst Arrow’s best villains.
Set against the time-sensitive crime caper are several character-centric stories, mostly focusing on Felicity’s misgivings about feeling left out now that Sarah is back and an active part of Team Arrow, and the Lance family’s attempt to move on now that they know she’s alive.
There’s a great scene that shows Diggle, Oliver and Sarah sparring in the Arrow Cave that leads to them comparing scars, while Felicity sheepishly reflects on the fact that she doesn’t have any. What the episode does well is show us how the team dynamic has been changed now that Black Canary is in the mix, without diving too hard into exploring the crush that Felicity may have on Oliver. Over the course of the season Felicity has been given little to do outside of being the computer whiz, so it’s great to see the writers give her some depth and a few chances to shine this week.
The stuff with the Lance family is a bit less balanced, mainly because they haven’t quite found out what to do with Laurel this season. She continues to be the worst thing about this show, though she definitely improves by leaps and bounds in “Time of Death.”
Thankfully, the more melodramatic elements don’t last long, as the episode goes back and forth between the Lance family reunion and the Clock King’s schemes. During a “welcome back from the dead party” for Sarah at the Queen mansion, Detective Lance is called away. There’s a great moment where Oliver and Sarah sneak out after receiving the same call; an effective tried-and-true superhero trope that worked well here. The three of them meet up in an alley which later gives way to a motorcycle chase. Black Canary gets to do some great ass-kicking after she and Oliver split up so that he can stop a bus before it collides with a train. To me, this was one of the best moments of the season as it’s great to see Oliver acting like a superhero and not just a vigilante, taking a break from beating criminals to a pulp in order to actually save a few lives.