No self-respecting young socialite is complete without an ankle tag and spell under house arrest. Like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton before him, Oliver Queen finds himself having a spot of bother with the law.
While the outlook seems grim for Ollie and his fledgling crime-fighting career, it's actually all part of the plan – superhero Green Arrow arrives in Starling City just as Oliver Queen re-emerges, looking considerably more fraught and muscular. Coincidence? Not even master tactician Bruce Wayne managed to pull that one off (little wonder Bane found it so easy to guess the Dark Knight's secret identity). The cunning plan is topped off with the help of good egg Dig, who dons the hood for the evening while Ollie parties hard before his adoring public.
As Ollie takes a little time off, he finds himself reconnecting with Dinah and baiting her increasingly angry dad. Emotions run high as Dinah takes on the case for the defence. Under duress of lie detector (again, all part of his plan) he admits that (a) he wasn't alone on The Island (b) he was brutally tortured, and (c) feels responsible for Detective Lance's (other) daughter's death. Mostly redeemed in Dinah's eyes, it seems that even her dad is beginning to have begrudging second thoughts. There's a lot of work to be done there, though.
Considering that Queen barely appears in his Green Arrow guise (save for quickly battering some arms dealers at the end) it's surprising that Damaged should be the best episode of the series so far. There's hardly even any action. What there is, however, is time to make you actually care about the characters. Griping Detective Lance is finally given something to do in his scenes with Ollie, and we can't exactly blame him for not being a big Queen fan (not the band. Everyone loves Queen. It's a personal philosophy, but I never trust anyone who says they don't like the mighty Queen). Definitely a big Queen fan is Dinah, who succumbs to the sexual tension in a passionate embrace with her client/ex boyfriend. The ladies go mad for a man with that dark, tortured look.
While the show's characters are at their most sympathetic, there's also room for some of Arrow's now-trademark winks towards the comic books. “Have you ever been to Iron Heights prison?” Detective Lance asks Ollie during interrogation. I missed it last week (too busy fanboying over the Bludhaven reference) but Iron Heights is the name of another famous DC Universe jail. I doubt we'll be getting to see its more famous residents anytime soon (Gorilla Grodd doesn't exactly fit in with the whole grim n' gritty motif) but it's still a lovely wink. There's also mention of Dinah wearing fishnet tights one Halloween, which I enjoyed.
Best of all, Deathstroke makes his first proper appearance, during one of the Island flashbacks. There's a brief but very fun fight between him and Ollie's Island Pei Mei; a tantalising glimpse of which there will hopefully be more to come. There's also some more John Barrowman (unleashing a hitman upon Ollie) and Colin Salmon digging deeper into the mystery of his stepson's return. Ominous. Green Arrow is barely in this episode of Arrow, but there's a lot going on all the same.
Damaged is a superior episode of a surprisingly decent television series. As its baby hero is just finding his feet in Starling City, so is Arrow. Now, less gloomy pondering and more Colin Salmon and John Barrowman, and we'll be well away.