Ever wonder what would happen if James Gordon developed an Ahab-like obsession to bring down Batman? That concept is explored this week on “Arrow” as Quentin Lance shifts from mourning father to dogged hunter.
It’s difficult to imagine this is the same Lance who was such a staunch ally of the Arrow. However, due to the machinations of Ra’s Al Ghul, Lance discovers the Arrow’s identity, a revelation that sends the once-great cop over the edge. Now he has someone to blame for Sara’s death. But it’s not only the murder of his daughter that transforms Lance, it’s the very idea of masks and vigilantism that Oliver Queen brought to Starling City. Malcolm Merlyn, Slade Wilson and now Ra’s Al Ghul arrived because of Oliver Queen -- or at least that’s how Lance sees it, and as he pursues his prey, Lance is hunting every mask that has harmed his city and family. He’s become a tragic character, a man who should be Queen’s James Gordon but has turned into an enemy every bit as obsessed as Wilson and Merlyn. Hopefully, somehow, Lance will soon see the light again.
For now, however, Lance has become a puppet of Ra’s Al Ghul, who’s using Oliver’s once-loyal friend to show Arrow how just quickly the system will turn on him. But Oliver believes the truth will free Lance from his pain. That’s a lesson Oliver learned long ago, as related in flashback this week. Last episode we were left with the startling revelation that Shado was indeed still alive. Yet, this week, we learn it wasn’t Shado whom Oliver stumbled across while running from Amanda Waller’s men -- it was Shado’s twin sister May.
The twin twist is always a bit of a slippery trope. Done wrong, it’s just about the hackiest thing that could be introduced into a drama. However, “Arrow” plays it pretty straight with May, making this new plot point a moral lesson for Oliver Queen. Meeting May forces Oliver to come clean about the death of her sister and father (remember him?). Oliver thought this news would devastate May, but it set her free from the burden of not knowing her sister’s fate. These lessons carry over into the present, where Oliver hopes he can ease Quentin Lance’s pain.
Alas, Oliver never gets to test his theory, as while he’s in police custody, a green-clad Roy Harper attacks the police convoy and tells the cops he is the Arrow. Once again, Oliver’s greatest asset is the loyalty of his friends, but will more deceit destroy Lance?
Speaking of Roy, Arsenal’s story was on the periphery this week, but considering his actions at the end of the episode, it should be discussed: Roy renews his relationship with Thea, helps Oliver try to stop Maseo, and takes it upon himself to free Oliver. And he isn’t knocked out once. Progress!
Lance’s actions also have a profound effect on his daughter Laurel, who’s stepped into the role of Black Canary very nicely. She’s no longer that uncertain and out-of-control Laurel of old, but instead a confidant champion who puts others before herself. The fact that she so willingly defies her father, even though she’s dealing with her own grief over her sister’s murder, shows just how much Laurel has grown. She and her father are not the only ones still reeling from Sara’s death, however, as Nyssa Al Ghul is still out there, and even helped Team Arrow track down Maseo.
Things look pretty gloomy for Oliver’s crew, but some hope might have arrived in the form of another hero. Last week, we were left with the image of Maseo killing the mayor. Well, this week, we see that one of those arrows also struck Ray Palmer, who’s diagnosed with a brain embolism that might soon kill him. Additionally, surgery may cause severe brain damage to Starling City’s greatest mind. Luckily, Ray has an experimental nanotech treatment, but his doctor refuses to administer it. That’s right, Ray Palmer and nanotech; I think we see where this is going. Felicity retrieves the tech and injects it into Ray, whose embolism shrinks. Hmmm …
All that aside, it’s the deepening of Ray’s romance with Felicity is the true takeaway this week, as he admits he loves her for her genius and her daring. Sadly for Ray, the admission makes Felicity realize she truly loves Oliver and can’t return Ray’s feelings. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I’m still on Team Palmicity. The new nanotech angle may irk some longtime DC Comicsfans, but in truth, Ray Palmer’s origin was never as iconic as The Flash’s or Green Lantern’s, so I really don’t mind the changes. I also kind of like how Felicity is instrumental in this new origin.
We soon may bet the Atom we’re dying to see, but when he arrives, will there be an Arrow in Starling City or will Ra’s Al Ghul have won through his manipulation of Quentin Lance? Ra’s has certainly made a mess of Oliver’s city, but with some heroic, albeit small, reinforcements on the way, Ra’s may have bitten off more than he can chew.