Last week saw Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) lose his company, his family falling apart, Team Arrow showing severe strain, and Deathstroke (Manu Bennett) putting plans into place to get his own army. So, safe to say, it’s time for Ollie, to quote Clerks, to either shit or get off the pot.
This episode sees the Emerald Archer start to fight back. Desperate to save Queen Consolidated and to make peace with troubled sister Thea (Willa Holland), Oliver’s life doesn’t get any easier as secrets are revealed about father Robert’s past. And then there is another tussle with the very badass Deathstroke, leading to Slade using the ever-familiar “I taught you how to fight” line as he belittles his enemy. But that isn’t all we get from Slade Wilson, for he also heads to S.T.A.R. Labs to claim some rather important bits and bobs. It’s there that he bumps into Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes). These pair are set to become important players in the Arrow spin-off show, The Flash, and this episode brings several nods to the world of the Scarlet Speedster.
With the biggest jaw-dropper of last week’s Deathstroke episode being the climactic reveal from Slade Wilson to Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) that the Arrow was Oliver Queen, this plot point is also furthered here. With Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) now incarcerated in Iron Heights for working with the Arrow, Laurel sees this as her opportunity to reveal the Arrow’s alias and give her father freedom. Thing is, it appears that Quentin may be giving her second thoughts when he explains why the Arrow needs to remain nameless and faceless. As ever, Blackthorne is fantastic as the grizzled cop who now finds himself being bizarre bed partners with the Emerald Archer. And also as ever, Katie Cassidy struggles to come across as anything but forced, false and flawed in her performance. It seems that regardless of how many times the character of Laurel is giving some development and change of focus, she ultimately reverts back to bland and boring at the drop of a hat. Here’s hoping that the change in dynamic with various parties now that she knows Ollie’s secret breathes some fresh life into this character.
As well as all of this, The Man Under the Hood brings us further developments in the story of Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau), and it appears that it could very well be the end of the road for Anthony Ivo (Dylan Neal). And it’s in the episode’s island moments with Ivo that we get an interesting reveal about Slade Wilson and the mirakuru serum; the same serum that Wilson is now using to engineer his own army of super-soldiers in the modern-day Starling City. This all leads to a great showdown towards the episode's end, as the Arrow takes the attack to Slade.
The Man Under the Hood is yet another stellar outing for the Arrow and company. There’s a great early fight between Slade Wilson and Team Arrow, there’s some nice attention to continuity in the story of Thea Queen, there’s several seeds sown for The Flash, and there are a few moments that will genuinely grab you by surprise. Plus there’s another mention of Bludhaven, which is always good to tease the fanboy community with. One day, Dick. One day.
All in all, it’s full steam ahead as Season 2 of Arrow heads into its final four episodes. Here’s hoping that this excellent season gets the send-off it deserves.
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