Entertainment Magazine

TV Review: Arrow, “The Man Under the Hood” (S2/EP19) – What Goes Up…

Posted on the 17 April 2014 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

To read our other Arrow episode reviews please go here.

The Man Under the Hood

  •  Airdate: 4/16/2014
  • Director: Guy Bee (Supernatural, Criminal Minds, recently directed Arrow‘s “Deathstroke”)
  • Writer(s): Andrew Kreisberg (Arrow‘s co-creator) & Keto Shimizu (The Cape, Being Human, recently wrote Arrow‘s “Blast Radius” & “Suicide Squad”)

Some episodes of TV are stuck being one of those necessary, but less than thrilling in-between pieces having to move chess pieces or keep the plates spinning to set up cooler stuff later.  Yeah, “The Man Under the Hood” was one of those episodes.


Team Arrow Vs. Team Slade -

At Felicity’s suggestion, Team Arrow blows up the Queen Consolidated warehouse with the ginormous centrifuge introduced way back in Barry Allens’ first episode.  Why?  Because Slade needs it to mass produce the mirakuru from his blood.  Slade’s reaction?  He ambushes the team at the Arrow Cave, easily taking each one of them out

The Man Under the Hood

Well, not really Felicity who hides until Slade leaves

Slade was really just there to steal the Clock King’s master key so he can break into the STAR Labs facility to steal their centrifuge since Oliver blew his up.  He gets some resistance from Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) before leaving with what came for.  Oliver decides the centrifuge will require so much of Slade’s blood it’ll weaken him meaning it’d be a great time to swoop in to kill him.  Big twist: Roy is actually the one powering the machine!  Oliver and Diggle take Roy and get the hotel out of there, though not before Diggle kills Isabel Rochev.  No worries – Slade just revives her with mirakuru.

Thea Merlyn -

Thea’s still mad at the world, really, realizing that her lifelong crush on Tommy Merlyn means she was crushing on her half-brother.  Oliver’s awful sorry, but he really needs her to cosign a legal document preserving whatever Queen assets they can before Isabel gets to them.  Speaking of which, Oliver confronts Isabel at Queen Consolidated only to find out she and his father were lovers planning to run away together until one day Thea fell off her horse and Robert remembered just how much he loved his family.  Also, he apparently always knew Thea wasn’t his daughter.  Oliver thinks that’s awesome, but Thea accurately deduces it really means that the one person she thought hadn’t lied to her, Robert, was just as guilty as Moira. Epic fail, Oliver.

Laurel’s Choice -

Laurel has resorted to TV’s beloved big wall of crazy, pinning a collage of pictures and newspaper clippings about the Arrow to a wall as a way for the writers to quickly communicate that she has looked into Slade’s claim about Oliver being Arrow and stumbled across overwhelming evidence.  So, what will she do with this evidence?  First: find out who else knows.  Not her dad.  Second: figure out who the Canary is.  Oh, duh, it’s her sister.  Third: confront Oliver.  Can’t.  Right as she’s about to do so Sara calls to let her know their dad got beat up in prison.  So, she runs to Quentin’s side, and right as she’s about to tell him Oliver is Arrow he cuts her off, claiming he doesn’t want to know because as soon as he does then Arrow becomes an actual person, not a symbol.  He can’t imagine what the Arrow’s life must be like, living in the shadows, never thanked for his efforts.  Laurel agrees.  After she throws around her knew take-charge lawyer mode to get Quentin out of prison, she heads to Verdant to give Oliver a hug because he’s important to her.

Meanwhile, Back on the Island… -

Basically, Ivo’s going to get tortured, then he says, “But, wait, I can help you stop Slade!”  He apparently has a cure which can reverse the mirakuru, but it’s back on the boat.  In exchange for the key to the safe containing the cure, he wants a mercy killing since his severed hand has created a nasty infection leaving him in a very bad way.  While Sara can’t bring herself to kill him as promised Oliver quickly puts 3 bullets into the guy.  Goodbye, Dr. Ivo.


It seems somewhat odd that both Arrow and Agents of SHIELD would deliver such similar episodes in the same week, but Arrow‘s “The Man Under the Hood,” like SHIELD‘s “Providence,” was about honoring the magnitude of the most recent episode’s game-changing twists by taking a moment to breath and let the characters process everything.  It is the type of episode which I would sit through during a binge watching session and happily move on to the next episode, not immediately motivated to analyze what just went down but instead intrigued as to just how exactly the story will play out.

“Deathstroke” left some threads immediately begging to be answered: Why is Isabel working with Slade, and so opposed to the Queen family? Will Thea forgive Oliver for lying to her?  How will Laurel react to discovering Oliver is the Arrow?  Will anyone really miss Roy?

So, “Man Under the Hood” is obligated to hit all those points.  Isabel – she’s a jilted lover of Robert Queen’s; Thea – she’s going to need more time to ever forgive any of them; Laurel – aw, shucks, Oliver’s life must suck so hard.  I’ll go hug him.  Roy – his faith in anything has been destroyed meaning he doesn’t volunteer to be Slade’s guinea pig, but he doesn’t exactly fight it either.

Isabel‘s explanation can’t be a surprise for those familiar with her character from the comics, and even for those who aren’t I don’t know that “jilted lover” is really that compelling.  In general, Arrow consistently struggles with its villain by giving them motivations that are seriously not proportionate to their evil plans.  Everything Isabel has done seems disproportionate to her kind of basic back story.  The same goes for Malcolm blowing up an entire section of a city to avenge a dead wife. and Slade devoting everything he is or ever will be to destroying Oliver Queen as payback for the death of a girl who was real nice to him that one time.

Isabel's new BFF

Isabel’s new BFF

As Arrow‘s consistently out-of-the-loop character, Thea can often feel like one of the the show’s least essential parts.  The Malcolm Merlyn dad reveal, as monumentally stupid and ill-advised as it was, likely resulted from a writer’s room pitch, “How can we keep Thea involved without her finding out about Oliver’s secret?  Oh, just give them another secret to keep from her” (To be fair, many argue they were planting the seeds for this story line as far back as last season).  “Man Under the Hood” was finally her opportunity to take some ownership over the story, but with Roy gone it is a bit jarring how her primary connection to the rest of the cast is still just through Oliver and Moira (Sara technically works for her as a Verdant bartender, but how often have they ever been on-screen together?).  I actually kind of miss the days when she worked for Laurel at the old law firm.  The crucial legal document Thea needed to co-sign with Oliver and Moira was a perfectly economical way to draw her into the competing story line involving Isabel’s takeover of Queen Consolidated.  However, since “Man Under the Hood” is a transitional episode the end result is that Thea ends it just as she began it: mad as hell at her family.

Speaking of anger, how should Laurel react to discovering that Oliver, with whom she has serious trust issues, has been lying to her for the past 2 years?  There’s no perfect way to handle this portion of the standard vigilante story line, as sometimes when the girl finds out about the secret identity she’s thrilled (Spider-Man 2) whereas others she’s angry over all the lies and having been made a fool (Psych…eh, kind of).  Sure, Laurel can be thankful for all the times Oliver saved her life as the Arrow, but how many of those times was she put into danger in the first place because of him?  Plus, what of her sister?  Suddenly, Oliver and Sara’s seemingly rushed recent reunion would make sense to her, but that is still her little sister that Oliver is if not putting directly into danger then at least enabling her dangerous behavior.  Should she really be happy about that?

Sara could have easily died right there

Sara could have easily died right there

“The Man Under the Hood” lets Laurel go through all of those motions, though I wouldn’t say she ever seemed exactly angry about any of it.  With the scenario of her dad in prison for concealing Arrow’s identity, and her suddenly able to help out they seemed like they make be primed to take a more severe approach.  What I didn’t expect was a compromise solution where she makes some threats, and gets her dad out of prison, none of it with having to betray Oliver.  It seems fairly lazy that Quentin would be arrested for obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting at the end of one episode, and then released by the end of the next episode because Laurel makes some threats.  However, it’s their way of showing just what kind of asset Laurel can be for Team Arrow now that she is helping from the sidelines.

As for Roy, while it was a nice surprise to see him at the center of the machine, it seems clear he will be the focal point next week whereas he’s basically just a cameo in “Man Under the Hood.”

Of course, all of this likely does “Man Under the Hood” a slight disservice since because unlike a great many transitional episodes of geek TV this was a pretty darn action-packed hour, starting with a literal bang and featuring Slade beating the crap out of Team Arrow in the Arrow Cave before the first commercial break has even arrived.  I can’t help but feel that moment might have had more impact had it not been so featured in the promos as well as not so reminiscent of Oliver’s fight with ghost Slade Wilson in the mid-season finale “Three Ghosts.”

Plus, while there was time for some character development there was also time for Arrow‘s new past-time: pretty darn stupid plotting, and out-of-nowhere nonsensical twists.  Part of the pitfall of so thoroughly building Slade up as an unstoppable machine is that it can be kind of hard to believe this machine would actually need a master key to break into STAR Labs (couldn’t he just punch a door in?).  Plus, what the heck is his plan with that new army, anyway?  More critically, WTF do you mean there is a cure for mirakaru that Oliver and Sara have known about this whole time?  A cure?  Fine. Vampire Diaries just devoted an entire season to that kind of thing.  But Oliver knew about and JUST now opened up about it?  I get it – this is yet another reason why he feels so guilty about everything with Slade.  You know what, though?  You didn’t need another reason for him to feel guilty (where’s ghost Shado now anyway?), and this show sure as heck did not need to add yet another thing to the list of things present-day Oliver has lied about in relation to his days on the island.


Arrow is a show which at this point is, come on, pretty darn silly.  This episode’s climax featured a man strapped to a centrifuge distributing his super-powered blood to give ex-cons super powers to be used for purposes unknown is fairly silly stuff compared to what this show was up to a year ago.  Add on top of that Oliver yet again being an unreliable narrator and Isabel Rochev revived like Bride to Slade’s Frankenstein and Arrow is a show not really fit for analysis but instead a bowl of popcorn, sitting back, and having fun with the craziness (or turning away and lamenting the death of the older version of the show you prefer).  Bubbling underneath all of that are characters we like, and “The Man Under the Hood” spent time with some of the weaker links, either historically (Thea) or recently (Laurel).  The result was a transitional episode which lost some of the electric momentum of “Deathstroke,” and featured a rather poorly shoe-horned in introduction for two Flash characters.  “Deathstroke” made me forget all of my complaints about the current season; “Man Under the Hood” reminded me of some of them.


1. Am I the only who really misses Sin?  She was like a punk rock Felicity.

2. Was the editing making it perfectly clear that Laurel remembers Oliver’s scars, realizes Sara’s looks just like those, and bada-bing, bada-boom, Sara’s totally Canary totally necessary?

3. So, they are totally setting Felicity up for a cross-over episode to Flash early on its hypothetical first season, what with her promise to come visit soon.

4. If you had no idea that Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) are characters meant to appear in the Flash spin-off, is there any way you could watch their introductory scene in the STAR warehouse and not think, “Who the hell are these people?  And why should I care about them?”  It is always a challenge to work in characters meant for a spin-off, but your best option is to introduce them alongside characters we already know who can deem them important by extension.  Plus, back when they introduced Barry Allen and gave him his own signature character theme, a far lighter and bouncier one than heard anywhere else on the Arrow soundtrack, it was jarring.  Well, they did the same thing again with the music underscoring Snow and Cisco’s introduction, and it was again very obviously like something out of a different show.

5. Stephen Amell non-verbal acting moment #1 – Oliver’s face when he learns Isabel Rochev was one of Robert’s mistresses?  Instant ick.  Yep, that’s right buddy – you had sex with a woman who also had sex with your dad.  Getting closer and closer to living in some kind of Greek play.

6. Stephen Amell non-verbal acting moment #2 – Oliver’s face when he clearly thinks he has said something so profound as to win his sister back only to have her essentially throw back, “You know that means Robert was lying to me my entire life, too, right?”  The look on his face was the perfect representation of, “Damn, I seriously did not see that coming.  I’ve got to start thinking these things through a little more.”

Well, I’ve said enough.  What did you think of this episode?  Let us know in the comments section.

All of the pictures used in the above review, unless otherwise noted, came from CWTV.com © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


  • Arrow Review: The Man Under the Hood (screencrush.com)


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