Entertainment Magazine

TV Review: Arrow, “Time of Death” (S2/EP14) – Oliver & His Women

Posted on the 27 February 2014 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

To read our other Arrow episode reviews please go here.

Time of Death

  • Airdate: 2/26/2014
  • Director: Nick Copus (Dresden Files, 4400, Nikita, Alphas)
  • Writer(s): Wendy Mericle (Arrow, Everwood, Eli Stone) & Beth Schwartz (Arrow, Brothers & Sisters)

It was 3 weeks ago that Arrow effectively gave us another mid-season finale, in which a crap-ton went down, not all of it great, but when Nyssa and Arrow’s fight scene is so awesome you learn to cope.  Maybe it was too soon to put Oliver and Sara together as a couple, and maybe Oliver’s rejection of his mother was overplayed.  Plus, how much longer will Laurel stay on her downward spiral?  All of these questions loomed large over “Time of Death,” which played out the storylines started in “Heir to the Demon” while also giving Felicity a crisis of confidence and delivering an interesting new villain who we are sure to see again.

Let’s break it down:

THE MAIN PLOT -

The Clock King Unnerves Felicity -

There’s this guy (Robert Knepper) called the Clock King – he’s the type of badass who quotes War & Peace before gutting you, but mostly operates remotely, using precision-based timing to dictate the actions of paid goons.  He has a terminal disease, but so does his sister.  So, he’s stealing money to save her, and a stolen technology which allows him to break into any bank vault is making that fairly easy.  Team Arrow is on the case, except Clock King is better at computer hacking than Felicity, first hacking their com signal and then later causing the computers in the Arrow Cave to self-destruct.  Poor Felicity was already down on herself with Sara suddenly on the team.  So, to prove her worth she not only sets up a trap using Queen Consolidated cash as per Oliver’s instructions she also sets herself up at a computer on site where the money is located to better combat the Clock King’s actions.

Time of Death

If that doesn’t look familiar to you it’s because  this shot didn’t make it to the final episode

The rest of Team Arrow shows up just in time, Diggle off to stop a gas leak caused by the Clock King, Arrow taking out the henchman, and Sara and Felicity, actually, mostly Felicity taking down the Clock King.  Felicity gets a flesh wound from a stray bullet as a result, but also later a nice talk while a bit loopy from pain pills with Oliver in which he confirms she’ll always be his gal Friday.

The Awkward Lance Family Reunion -

Laurel dodges out of Oliver’s “Glad you’re not dead!” cocktail party for Sara, but she later agrees to have a Lance family dinner at her place.  Unfortunately, the dinner party is a disaster.  Dinah (Alex Kingston) makes it clear to Quentin she is not moving back from Central City.  In fact, she has taken a lover back home.  Sara didn’t help, bringing Oliver for emotional support, which Laurel takes maybe 5 minutes to totally see through, picking up on their “We’re boning again” vibe.

Time of Death

All it takes is one “I’m here for you” glance from Oliver to Sara for Laurel to instantly put it together, justifiably exclaiming, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Laurel storms out of her own apartment, Oliver runs after her, the camera gets all shaky for some reason, and Laurel calls Oliver out on reuniting with Sara so quickly.  Oliver turns it all back on her, arguing all she does lately is blame others for her problems.  By the end, Oliver’s, “Go on!  Run off and get drunk – see if I care!  I’ll even pay for your drinks!’ tough love works, and Laurel and Sara hug it out at Verdant, where Sara totally works as a bartender now because of course she does.  Laurel even shows up at one of her dad’s AA (or whatever) meetings.

Meanwhile, Back On the Island… -

Just when Oliver, Slade, and Sara need a new way to get onto Ivo’s boat a freakin’ random airplane is shot down over the island.  Sara sends her boys away for medical supplies for the barely-alive pilot.  He survives just long enough to tell Sara a sob story about his dead-from-cancer wife and soon-to-be-orphaned daughter.  She agrees to find and look after his daughter because what the hell else are you going to say to a dying stranger?  However, Sara actually meant it.  The daughter in question turns out to be Sin, who was clearly not just some random girl Sara saved on the streets of Starling City.  Oh, also, Sara and her two boys are going to use supplies from the plane to somehow get onto Ivo’s boat.

THE REVIEW

I’m a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel fan, and I couldn’t get Joss Whedon off my mind while watching “Time of Death.”   Basically, on a Whedon show if  a character or couple can’t stop smiling (Tara/Willow, Fred/Wesley) the’re heading for heartbreak because that way drama lies.

Quentin

Well, no one’s smile was bigger at the start of “Time of Death” than poor Quentin Lance. He somehow still has no idea Oliver is Arrow (maybe he suspects but wants to maintain his plausible deniability), was oblivious to Laurel’s drug abuse, and didn’t find anything about Sebastian Blood particularly suspicious.  So, him totally misreading the “signs” with Dinah was just the latest in a line of, “Maybe they were right to demote you down from Detective.”  However, he was just so happy.  He made peace with Oliver, even having an adorable, awkward  ”manly men struggle to discuss their emotions” silence after their handshake.  He talked Laurel into giving Sara a second chance, and he even allowed himself to believe his ex-wife was coming back to him because she held his hand at a party.

Time of Death

To be fair to Quentin, CW’s “Time of Death” pics indicate a deleted scene in which Dinah kisses him on the cheek, although quite possibly after the dinner party based upon his somber expression

Either way, you could just see the heartbreak coming.  The fact that it came over a family dinner is an interesting parallel to the more bucolic family gathering we witnessed in the flashbacks of “Heir to the Demon,” making me guess these two episodes probably marathon exceptionally well together.  Quentin’s motive of simply wanting his family back together is pure and believable.

In fact, “Time of Death” is very much so an episode about family, most specifically about how Sara’s return impacts her own family as well as what her inclusion means for the nuclear family of Team Arrow.  There’s also the disintegration of Oliver’s family, a villain whose motivations are purely family-based, and a flashback meant to (perhaps unnecessarily) provide a more familial context to Sara and Sin’s relationship, which prior to this point one might have guessed came with potential lesbian implications ala Selena Kyle (Ann Hathaway) and Jen (Juno Temple) in The Dark Knight Rises.

Felicity  

Sara’s impact on Team Arrow, specifically on Felicity, was a very Joss Whedon kind of storyline since his shows increasingly involved fun explorations of individual roles in team dynamics.  Xander (Nichols Brendan) had to hilariously determine what exactly he offered as the least special member of the Scoobies in Buffy‘s “The Zeppo,” and Fred (Amy Acker) struggled to see exactly what need Team Angel had of her skillset in Angel‘s “Fredless.”  Of course, those particular episodes subverted genre conventions and doled out a liberal amount of levity to best communicate the character’s journey.  That’s not the kind of thing Arrow does, nor is “Time of Death” on the same level as those episodes.  However, here we had Felicity unsure of her place on the team, somewhat as a method for the writers to re-delineate the team member roles now that they have a new member in Sara.  As it turns out, Sara brings with her some brains, not just brawn, and Felicity can actually be useful as something other than bait when placed in the field.

Of course, there was pandering.  The moment of Oliver holding Felicity’s face and saying, “You’ll always be me girl, Felicity” will surely light up Tumblr for the foreseeable future.  However, forget that.  The real important moment came earlier when Diggle implied Felicity might be struggling seeing Oliver with Sara only for her to respond, “This isn’t about them being together.  This is about me.”  I believed her, and I think her later conversation with Oliver might have, in its pandering nature, slightly betrayed this purer expression of self-doubt.  They had picked just the right villain at just the right time to shatter Felicity’s confidence, not dissimilar to last season’s copycat vigilante and his underground, masked video signals that fooled Felicity.

Time of Death

I actually liked the symmetry of beginning the episode with the three field agent-y types comparing scars, Jaws-style, and Felicity ending by getting her first scar.

Felicity putting herself into the field without any backup might have been a bit much, a mere attention-grabbing act break that might not pass the, “Would Felicity actually do that?” test.  However, I was ecstatic once all of Team Arrow (sans Roy, who I guess is just a part-timer?) was gathered together  at the same physical location, each member assigned a separate task and functioning as a team.  They even remembered to use Diggle this time, too.

Laurel

Time of Death

Awkward

It was contrived that Oliver would actually agree to attend that dinner party, but Amell did play pretty much every second (beginning with his “I think I should stay here” at the Arrow Cave) as if Oliver thought it was a bad idea.  As much as other elements of the episode brought to mind Joss Whedon for me, the hallway argument between Laurel and Oliver was its own thing (maybe a Buffy/Angel argument?).  I imagine it will be a point of great debate among the more ardent Laurel supporters, as Oliver and Sara are mostly absolved of any wrong-doing (at least in the present), and Laurel is denied the rather justified right to anger and resentment over her ex-boyfriend and sister apparently dating within one week of her return.  My honest initial reaction was to wonder why they had filmed it with a slight shaky-cam, almost like they were trying just a little to hard to emphasize how important it was.  After that, I allowed myself to be blown away by the performances, particularly Amell who has to in that moment pay off his frustration, anger, and loneliness built up in relation to Laurel over the past 14 episodes, challenging her to become someone worthy of chasing after again.

To me, Laurel’s closing speech with Sara almost seemed like an apology to the audience, claiming, “So, when I saw [Sara] so beautiful and so alive I realized that I’m not those things, not anymore.  So, please, don’t hate me.”  Come to think of it, that last bit will probably become a popular .gif.  Her sentiment runs counter to how I had read her reaction to Sara in “Heir to the Demon,” where it seemed like she was finally working through the anger she felt toward Sara over her betrayal as well as wondering where the hell Sara had been all this time.  In fact, I am surprised that we’ve yet to see Dinah or Laurel ask that of her.  However, if this is to be the end of Laurel’s downward spiral then I’m willing to go with it.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Similar to “Heir to the Demon” before it, there was a lot going on in “Time of Death,” so much so that they clearly didn’t have enough screen time to contain all of it.  However, unlike jam-packed, plot-advancing episodes this was mostly about pausing a moment to re-assess the show’s 3 central families: the Queens, the Lances, and Team Arrow.  It managed to do so rather successfully while ending on a killer cliffhanger which would seem to place all of Oliver’s families into immediate danger.  Even Slade Wilson popping up at Queen Manor was Whedon-esque, ala Glory appearing at Buffy’s house in season 5 Buffy.

THE NOTES

1. Comic Book 101: The Clock King

Clock4

The Clock King as we know him first appeared as William Tockman, a Green Arrow enemy.  His origin story was pretty much identical to what was depicted in “Time of Death.”  If they follow the comics his terminal disease will end up a misdiagnosis, and he will eventually join the Suicide Squad.  In fact, beyond his initial appearance, most of the Clock King’s time in the comics has involved going from one team of characters to another, even a brief run as a good guy.  A second, new Clock King was recently introduced in 2008 with a supernatural ability to always see 4 seconds into the future.  Tockman was just a normal, crazy dude who loved clocks.  On Batman: TAS, the Clock King’s real name was Temple Fugate, and he had an entirely different, more mundane “dude just loves being on time” origin story.  Check out the Justice League Unlimited episode “Task Force X” (available on Netflix) in which Fugate is a member of the Suicide Squad forced to infiltrate the Justice League’s spaced-based Watchtower.

2. Comic Book Easter Egg: Kord Industries.

The Clock King steals the “Skeleton Key” from Kord Industries.  In the comics, Ted Kord, better known by his superhero identity, Blue Beetle, inherited Kord Industries from his father, and it was eventually made a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises.  Kord Industries was previously referenced earlier this season of Arrow in Barry Allen’s first episode (“The Scientist”).

3. For some reason, when Oliver told Thea, “Being a CEO doesn’t leave me a lot of free time,” I had a mental image of workaholic Isabel Rochev back at Queen Consolidated awaiting a permanently tardy Oliver for a meeting in a rather spacious conference room while poor Felicity offered up yet more lies to cover for him.

4.  Exactly how strange must Roy and Thea think Sin is to find her, “I love when people come back from the dead.  It juices my zombie fetish,” a perfectly suitable explanation for running up and hugging an apparent complete stranger like Sara?  Thea’s totally-willing-to-go-with-it response of “Huh” amused me.  I can’t lie.

5. “He doesn’t know there are two of us” – - So, had Oliver turned off his mic when he said that after the Clock King hacked their com signal?  Because my first reaction to him telling Canary, “He doesn’t know there are two of us” was to think, “Well, now he does.”

6. How awkward must it have been for all involved when Oliver returned to that apartment after Laurel left, Dinah perhaps politely asking Sara and Oliver, “So, you two are dating now?  That’s nice,” as Quentin glares a hole through Oliver’s head.

What did you think?  Like “Time of Death”?  Hate it?  Love it? 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.

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