A mother’s betrayal comes closer to the light, a father gets knocked out, a butt-kicking female lead is nevertheless kidnapped, a new arch villain emerges in Starling City and we meet another marooned islander via flashback. It was all in this week’s episode of Arrow, “Betrayal,” during which Oliver Queen finally faces the truth about his mother’s involvement in the citywide criminal conspiracy he’s piecing together.
Things kick off with an introduction to Cyrus Vanch, whom CW viewers will recognize as David Anders from The Vampire Diaries. Both characters have a penchant for cool leather jackets, but Vanch manages even more of a mean streak in the opening scene. We see him released from prison (and later learn he’s a career criminal who was only sprung on a technicality) after which he immediately kills off the attorney he left in charge of his affairs.
Starling City attorney and do-gooder Laurel Lance, whom we know will some day become Black Canary, is none too happy that Vanch has been freed. She has a secret cell phone entrusted to her by her detective father that she uses to ask the Emerald Archer to help return him to prison.
Oliver has problems of his own. Last week, Felicity the IT girl revealed that his mother owns a little book that just so happens to contain the same list of evil businessman given to him by his father. He’s in denial about his mother’s involvement; when he shows her the book, she says it was a list of people who owed his father favors, and then promptly burns it. Nothing suspicious about that, right? Diggle wants to look into it further, but Oliver wants no part of it.
The mission from Laurel is a great excuse to take his mind off his mother, so The Hood (as city residents like to call him) dispenses with a couple of Vanch’s henchmen and leaves an arrow by his pool with one of those cool little recorder devices, which always reminds us of Spider-Man’s spider-trackers. The problem is, Cyrus is as smart as the Green Goblin and discovers it. Oliver does end up with a nice recording of Cyrus’ plans to take out The Hood and become the city’s criminal boss. (wonder what the Dark Archer will have to say about that?)
In a great bit of foreshadowing, Laurel ditches Tommy on a date to meet up with Arrow, who wants to discuss what he’s been learning about Cyrus. In typical vigilante fashion, their meeting takes places on a rooftop. But there’s a big problem: Arrow isn’t the only guy tracking people around town: Detective Lance has been using that cell phone to keep tabs on his daughter’s dalliances with The Hood. The rooftop is the perfect staging ground for a police ambush. Arrow narrowly escapes (knocking out the Detective in the process) and Laurel is super angry.
Speaking of angry, Tommy is none too pleased to hear about all of his girlfriend’s meet-ups with the city’s handsome superhero while she’s venting to him about her dad. Naturally he decides to side with her father when it comes to all things Arrow. He blows off some steam of his own by venting to his best friend about his girlfriend’s crush on The Hood. Too bad his best friend is, well, Oliver. Could the obvious eventual conflict here lead to a new Starling City supervillain? Hmm …
It’s too bad that all of the cops in town aren’t as by-the-book as Detective Lance. Somebody with a badge tips off Cyrus’ girlfriend Vivian about The Hood’s connection to Laurel Lance. It provided a nice opportunity to see her martial-arts moves again (demonstrated last in a nightclub brawl, if memory serves) when Cyrus sent some goons to kidnap her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to fend off all of them. They leave an arrow with a recording from Cyrus intended to let The Hood know who’s boss. Tommy discovers it and takes that device to Laurel’s father, who finally realizes he should trust The Hood more than he should trust some of his guys.
Arrow and Detective Lance team up to rescue Laurel, with the former taking out most of Vanch’s crew while the latter holds his own. Oliver ultimately prevents Detective Lance from shooting Cyrus. Although Arrow kills a bad guy or two (or five), Lance is still a cop and must follow the law. Through it all, Oliver realizes his friendship with Laurel is placing her in danger. It looks like he’ll be keeping his distance now, or at least he’ll try to do so.
It’s hard for a superhero to have friends, let alone close ones. Tommy may get the superficial glory, but in all honesty, Digg is probably Oliver’s real best friend these days (knowing his secret identity helps). Speaking of Dig, he spent the episode refusing to let go of the Moira stuff, and takes an opportunity to fill in for the Queen family’s sick driver to learn more, even though Oliver wanted him to back off.
The effort pays off: He ends up making a recording of Moira and Malcolm Merlyn discussing their involvement in the shipwreck.
For those just joining us, that’s the shipwreck that marooned Oliver on an island for five years, where he learned all about martial arts, archery and survival. In this week’s flashbacks, Oliver encounters an Australian named Slade. The guy says he was hatching a plan with Xao-Fei to get off the island, and considers working with Oliver instead. He then decides better of it and instead tries to kill Ollie. However, the young man’s fighting spirit causes him to change his mind again, so some hand-to-hand combat and weapons training ensues. Slade may seem cool but he also happens to have a Deathstroke mask, which he explains away as something everyone in his special-ops crew wore.
Back in the present, Oliver cann’t deny what he hears on Diggle’s recording. So the next mother-son conversation takes place with one of them in costume (guess which one). “Moira Queen,” The Hood says, pointing an arrow. “You have failed this city.” YES, that was THE END OF THE EPISODE. Next week is gonna be a rager, for sure.