Arrow 1.15 “Dodger” REVIEW

Episode 1.15
Writer: Beth Schwartz
Director: Eagle Egilsson

THE ONE WHERE: Oliver sets a trap for gentleman thief the Dodger while preparing to re-enter the dating scene alongside an equally rusty Diggle. Elsewhere, Moira enlists the lethal China White for a little assassination on the side…

THE VERDICT: An entertaining episode that balances action demands with some surprisingly affecting character stuff. There’s a reality to Diggle’s bungled date with Carly that sets it aside from the occasionally sham emotions of the show’s soapier moments – of course it helps that David Ramsey is such a bloody good actor and still, without contest, the soulful heart of the series. Elsewhere we have two reasonably impressive setpieces that inject some welcome adrenalin into the episode, from the cops busting the meet-up between Dodger and his fence, shooting up shelves of objets d’art in the process, to Oliver commandeering a motorbike to chase down the Villain of the Week (the crash helmet may be a surrogate mask, but it’s notable how little his hooded alter-ego comes into play in this story). As The Dodger, Battlestar Galactica’s ever-brilliant James Callis makes a fine villain, suave, cheeky and chilling in equal measure. Oliver’s characterisation remains troubling – his abandonment of the bloodied man on the island is meant to be cold and shocking, of course, but even in the present he’s a bit of a problematic figure, lapsing into an impassive, smug-faced bully in his dealings with Felicity. Something tells me this particular character arc still has a way to go.

TRIVIA: Roy Harper is the original secret identity of Speedy, Green Arrow’s Robin-a-like kid sidekick in the comic books. First seen in More Fun Comics 73 in 1941, he won infamy with a controversial junkie storyline in the pages of Green Lantern & Green Arrow in 1971 (AKA Less Fun Comics…).

HMM: Is Roy Harper being set up as a potential aide-de-justice for Oliver? We witness an impressive display of parkour skills that could easily transfer to the fight against crime – and in terms of personal dynamics there’s plenty of mileage in a clash between Roy’s streetwise, underprivileged background and Oliver’s mansioned lifestyle. It’s hard to imagine him going by the name Speedy, though, given that’s already been established as Thea’s nickname. He later went by the aliases Red Arrow and Arsenal in the comics – maybe the show will repurpose one of those?

TRIVIA 2: Dodger also hails from the pages of the DCU. First seen in 2008’s Green Arrow & Black Canary 7, he’s established as a larcenist trading in high-end merchandise. Based in London, he’s noticeably more of a geezer than James Callis’ urbane interpretation.

DID YOU SPOT: As ever, a number of sly nods to comic world creatives: Norris Cemetery is a tribute to Golden Age artist Paul Norris, who illustrated the very first Aquaman story (in the same comic that introduced Green Arrow) while fence Carl Derenick is named for modern day artist Tom Derenick

BEST LINES:
Lance: “Roy William Harper Jr. Where’s Senior?”
Roy: “Norris Cemetery.”
Lance: “I’m sorry to hear that.”
Roy: “You and an army of bookies.”

Read all our Arrow reviews.

Arrow airs in the UK on Sky1