What began as a fun spotlight on the Atom ended in one of the most shocking finales in the show’s history as “Arrow” took a tremendously dark turn.
Tuesday on “The Flash,” we experienced some fun action with Ray Palmer as the Atom, which continued last night in at least the first half of “Broken Arrow” as he had his first solo super-brawl with the newly introduced villain Deathbolt. Between the Big-Eyed Bandit and Deathbolt, the two series are delving deep into the DC Comics archives to find some new foes. Played by the wonderfully sinister Doug Jones, Deathbolt is an imposing force, a plot-driven villain whose sole purpose is to provide a foil for the neophyte Ray Palmer, who must face him without the help of the Arrow.
Oliver Queen has his own issues to deal with, as Captain Lance severely disrupts Team Arrow’s operations. Lance’s Ahab complex has grown exponentially, and the bitter former ally is nowhere near satisfied with the arrest of Roy Harper last week. It’s almost as if Captain Lance has become this season’s secondary villain as he’s grown increasingly obsessed. If so, this villain is truly tragic, as Lance’s descent is fueled by the death of daughter Sara.
Speaking of Roy, “Broken Arrow” probably serves as the greatest spotlight yet on the character. It displays his selflessness, his loyalty to Oliver and his physical and mental toughness as he has to survive in a prison filled with inmates he helped to put behind bars. One of the episode’s best action sequences takes place when a handcuffed Roy has to defend himself against a group of vengeful thugs. I’ve made light of Roy’s propensity for getting knocked out this season, but Oliver’s partner certainly proves his fighting chops this week.
While Roy holds his own, Oliver has to find trust in his friends in order to survive all of his challenges this week. We have the continuing threat of Ra’s Al Ghul, the obsessive pursuit by Quentin Lance and the arrival of the metahuman Deathbolt to Starling City. One of Oliver’s few character flaws is his inability to rely on anyone but himself. That’s on display this week as Oliver is loath to let Ray Palmer fly solo to take down Deathbolt. In fact, after Ray gets his tail handed to him by the villain, Oliver takes control of the Atom armor with Ray inside to stop the new menace. It’s an awesome scene, as Oliver goes all “Pacific Rim,” using Ray as a puppet to kick some Deathbolt butt. But when the connection is broken, Ray has to go it alone, taking down Deathbolt and scoring his first win against a supervillain.
We’re even treated to Ray delivering Deathbolt to Cisco and the STAR Labs prison in Central City, where a rather interesting revelation takes place: Deathbolt wasn’t in Central City but rather Opal City at the time of the particle accelerator accident. It seems there’s another metahuman source, and it will be up to Ray to find it. Could this be the lead-in to the “Arrow”/”Flash” spinoff series? And does the mention of Opal City mean Starman is in our future?
Right now, however, our focus is Starling City, where Ray’s handling of Deathbolt proved to Ollie he can rely on others to handle problems. But after Roy is stabbed in prison, Oliver sees the price his allies pay for his actions. Roy is willing to sacrifice everything to help Oliver, and Queen doesn’t know how to handle this idealism in others. He’s wracked with guilt over Roy’s apparent murder until Felicity and Diggle reveal that Roy is alive, his death faked to provide Captain Lance with a body so he’ll stop hounding Oliver in his pursuit of the Arrow. To be free, Oliver had place his trust in his friends.
That sentiment is echoed in this week’s flashback, as Oliver has to rely on Tatsu and Maseo in order to save Hong Kong from General Shrieve. (Remember Mark Singer’s friendly military character? Yeah, not so friendly.) It’s revealed that Shrieve got his hands on the Alpha virus and plans to use it to wipe out Hong Kong. He has an antidote and wants to disrupt Chinese military operations by creating a disaster on Asian soil. Oliver and his ninja pals steal the antidote and Oliver plans to go against Shrieve alone. But like his friends in the present, Tatsu and Maseo won’t allow Ollie to go it alone. One wonders what kind of tragedy befell Oliver’s earlier crew for him to have such trust issues in the present.
“Broken Arrow” concludes with Oliver, Diggle, Felicity and Ray bidding farewell to Roy Harper, who departs Starling City to maintain the charade of his death. Roy’s ultimate act of loyalty is leaving Thea and his old life behind, allowing Oliver to continue operating in his beloved city. It seems as if the death of Roy would have broken Oliver, but the fact that Roy is alive and appears to invigorate the Arrow.
So if the loss of Roy could have destroyed Oliver, what would the death of Thea Queen do? That question looms large this week, as the last thing we see in “Broken Arrow” is Ra’s Al Ghul gutting Thea in her apartment as a message to Ollie. The ultimate gauntlet has been dropped, and we’re left with the image of Thea’s lifeless body.