This week "Arrow" tackled the timely issues of gun control and gun violence in the "Star Trek: The Original Series"-inspired title "Spectre of the Gun." The episode diverged from "Arrow's" typical format in two ways: first, Oliver spent most of the episode as Mayor and not the Green Arrow, second, the flashbacks didn't feature Oliver at all, they featured Rene and his family. Rene's flashbacks uniquely mirrored the current events of the episode, which put the gun control debate front and center. While "Arrow" could have chosen a side on the issues, it cleverly allowed for the vocalization of both points of view -- smartly acknowledging that the issues are not something easily solved in 42 minutes of television. "Spectre of the Gun" also re-introduced Thea Queen, who had been absent for the last few weeks. The episode also featured the reappearance of the Vigilante, who killed a man right in front of the Green Arrow in the name of justice. Prometheus was missing from the episode again, but Felicity did get a lead on the location of his mother. Unfortunately, Felicity used the Pandora/Helix hack to locate her, despite saying she was done with the hackers last week.
Gun Control vs. Gun Violence
The episode opened with an attack on the Star City Mayor's office. While Oliver thought he was the target, he was surprised to see the shooter not aim at him. Instead, the shooter fired upon office assistants and members of Oliver's staff. While the shooter was not identified right away, Felicity did get a match on the gun that was used in the shooting. This put the Green Arrow on the track of a Bertinelli thug, whom the Vigilante killed, even though he confessed his innocence in the shooting. The team then discovered the true identity of the shooter: James Edlund. Edlund's family was killed in a mall shooting after Star City failed to pass a city-wide gun registry bill. The team also found a diorama that suggested the shooting at the Mayor's office was just practice in shooting the real target: Star City's Hospital.
Oliver confronted Edlund and talked him down from harming anyone else. While Oliver couldn't promise Edlund that the gun registry would go forward, he did tell Edlund that his family would not die in vain and that Star City would address the greater gun violence issues. These events created a canvas for Team Arrow to hotly debate gun control issues. While Curtis and Quentin were both in favor of stricter gun laws, Rene was not. Felicity found herself playing referee between everyone, until Curtis aptly called out the importance for debate in civic life. His line about people being afraid to politic about politics was really the heart of the episode. It served as a poignant look at not just one issue, but every issue, and the rising American fear of being so politically correct that we cease to make any significant changes on either side of the issue.
Rene's Backstory Revealed
Edlund's shooting also neatly provided an opportunity to tell Wild Dog's origin story. The flashbacks showed a series of events over one tragic night in Rene's life. While Rene was on his way to a hockey game with his daughter, he and his wife got into a fight over guns and drugs. Rene wanted to take his gun to the game, to protect his daughter. His wife wanted to take drugs, despite being sober for an undisclosed period of time. When Rene got home, his wife was being held at gunpoint by her drug dealer. Rene went to reach for his gun, but it was in his safe. By the time he unlocked his safe, it was too late. The drug dealer had killed his wife. After her death, he spiraled into alcoholism and depression. His daughter was put into foster care and he was all alone. When he saw the Green Arrow kill Damien Darhk on television, he decided to put on the hockey mask and jersey he wore the night his wife died and become a vigilante.
Rene told Curtis in present day that if he had had his gun on him when he got home that night, his wife would still be alive. The scene with Rene's gun in his safe drew an interesting picture of parents who lock their guns up to keep them out of reach from their children. But, as Rene experienced, what's the good of a weapon locked up that you can't use if someone breaches your home? This was a great example of a gun owner in favor of gun rights. Because of Rene's position on guns and his experience with a gun-related death at home, Oliver worked with him to draw up fair but justified restrictions on guns in Star City. The episode didn't disclose exactly what those gun laws were, but showing that two opposing parties could agree on something as contentiously debated as the Second Amendment was brilliant way to arc this episode.
Dinah & Diggle Bond
The episode concluded with Dinah agreeing to take the lease on the studio apartment and accepting a job at the Star Police Department. Her new found lease on life came from a series of intimate and honest conversions with Diggle about her readjusting to civilian life. After three years on the run, Dinah admitted that she didn't know what normal meant anymore. Diggle understood that life, he knew what it was like to be afraid of normal. Diggle encouraged her to start small, so she moved into a new place and got a job. Dinah also met Quentin this week, who humorously noted that Team Arrow was still being vigorous in its recruiting practices. He didn't note her name was Dinah and he may not know she was being groomed to become the new Canary. "Arrow" may address that in future episodes, especially since Dinah is going to be a cop at the SCPD, just like Quentin used to be. Could she also step into the role of daughter and Canary? We'll see.
Next week on “Arrow,” China White and Cupid stage a prison break with the help of former Star City Police Sergeant Liza Warner. The Green Arrow will also be captured and held responsible for the death of Detective Billy Malone.
CHINA WHITE, CUPID AND LIZA WARNER BREAK OUT OF PRISON — China White (guest star Kelly Hu), Cupid (guest star Amy Gumenick) and Liza Warner (guest star Rutina Wesley) break out of Iron Heights and head to Star City for revenge. Oliver (Stephen Amell) tries to bring in the newly formed girl gang but the ACU intervenes mid-fight. To his surprise, they are there to arrest the Green Arrow for the murder of Detective Malone. Meanwhile, Lance (Paul Blackthorne) feels responsible for the prison break after Warner tells him she heard about him working with Damien Darhk. Mary Lambert directed the episode written by Barbara Bloom & Jenny Lynn.
Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, "Arrow" airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Willa Holland and more.