ARROW 1.04 ‘An Innocent Man’

Diggle contemplates Oliver’s offer as Arrow and Laurel team up to save a man framed for murder.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "An Innocent Man"

Writers: Moira Kirland & Lana Cho

Director: Vince Misiano

Previously on "Arrow":

Episode 1.03 "Lone Gunmen"

It’s hard not to repeat myself when reviewing “Arrow,” because the writing and the dialog are still horrible and stilted. There are only so many ways you can say that.

For the first half of the episode, “An Innocent Man” gave me hope that this one would be different. I was enjoying the storyline and the characters’ lines weren’t as bad the previous episodes. But then it all went to hell… again.

Full spoilers lie ahead for this episode, so stop reading if you don’t want to know what happened.

Picking up with where we left off last week, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) saves John Diggle (David Ramsey) from a poison laced bullet and brings him to his Arrow lair. Once Diggle sufficiently recovers, Oliver reveals himself to be the Arrow and he gives Diggle the chance to join his crusade against the white collar criminals of Starling City.

Diggle initially refuses, but he eventually comes around to the idea that what Oliver is trying to do is necessary for the city and for himself. There’s also a bit where Oliver implies that the assassin, Deadshot (whom he killed in the previous episode) murdered Diggle’s brother, Andy. At first, I wrote that off as another less than sly reference to “Green Arrow: Year One” writer, Andy Diggle. But then I remembered that Deadshot did have Andy Diggle’s name on his chest, so the show was consistent with that, even if the writers have the name Diggle on the brain.

Amell and Ramsey seem to have better rapport with each other than any of the other actors on “Arrow.” They are just fun to watch, but Diggle’s replacement as Oliver’s bodyguard was pretty amusingly clueless towards his new client.

The beginning of this episode dropped the ball on the events of the previous installment in terms of Oliver’s family believing that he was in danger during Deadshot’s shooting rampage. Only Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) and his sister, Thea Queen (Willa Holland) give him a little crap about not bothering to let them know that he was alright. Oliver’s mom, Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) doesn’t even bring it up.

I could get behind the long burn relationship between Oliver and Laurel if the writers gave the performers anything real to work with. Introducing Oliver’s Arrow persona to Laurel was a good first step, but it annoyingly fell into that comic book trope of Laurel not being able to recognize Oliver in that costume. Yes, that’s a long standing tradition of superhero comics. But when you really know someone as well as Oliver and Laurel supposedly knew each other, you don’t need to see their face to recognize them. 

Similarly, Laurel’s dad, Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) should have recognized Oliver as Arrow immediately. It’s his job to notice things. Instead he falls ass backwards into the truth about Oliver. I swear this guy is really incompetent. Apparently a few words from Laurel is the genesis of Detective Lance’s idea to search through the security footage of Deadshot’s rampage “for anything unusual.” Where did they hire this guy from? Springfield P.D.?

“Arrow” also seems to be stuck in a pattern of sending Oliver up against some generic white collar criminals, even when he’s trying to save an innocent man from being executed for his wife’s murder. So far, Arrow’s corporate foes have been so… boring. And this week’s evil executive also had the most grown worthy line of dialogue of the night when he said that the “execution was being moved up.”

Another frustrating aspect of “Arrow” is that while Laurel kicked ass last week, she was once again unable to fight this week. And in the midst of a prison riot, Laurel and her client ran straight towards the cell blocks. That’s brilliant, Laurel. Really… Brilliant.

Surprisingly, Walter Steele (Colin Salmon) had a good subplot this week as he followed the evidence of his wife’s embezzlement to a warehouse where Moira had the Queen’s Gambit reassembled after the wreck that claimed Oliver’s father and left Oliver trapped on an island for five years. That was a great visual of the ship too.
The island flashbacks with Oliver and Proto-Arrow felt kind of pointless. The scenes seemed to exist only to get Oliver ready to make his first kill, while Arrow’s willingness to kill in the present apparently horrifies Laurel. But if she saw all of that remorselessness that she described in Arrow’s eyes, then she should have recognized Oliver as Arrow there as well.

The cliffhanger for the week was another highlight. Detective Lance may not be a very good cop, but he and his men still arrest Oliver for being the Arrow right after Diggle accepts Oliver’s offer. Since this isn’t a six episode miniseries, it’s a good bet that Oliver will beat the charges and the new dynamic going forward will be Detective Lance trying to prove his discredited theory that Oliver is Arrow.

That could be fun. Honestly, “Arrow” could be a great show if the writing would only improve. But for that to happen, the people in charge have to realize that the writing needs to get better. And I’m not confident in their level of self-awareness at the moment.