Watching Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) get caught on security cameras and therefore hauled off in handcuffs at the end of last week’s Arrow seemed like an amateur move, right? The guy built a high-tech lair, full of the latest toys in technology in like a day after returning from that island, and yet he didn’t think to cover his face when saving Laurel (Katie Cassidy) from a prison blackout? Well, no, of course he did. In fact, as “Damaged” very quickly shows off, getting prematurely caught was all part of his plan. After all, he returns home and days later the vigilante shows up in Starling City, so better to acknowledge the suspicion than try to hide from it, right?
“Damaged” proves that Oliver has much more of a master plan than a simple mission of crossing names off a list when he orchestrates his capture, and of course, his release from accusations of being “The Hood.” Along the way, he manages to take a few steps toward rebuilding with his loved ones, too, and he does it all while throwing one hell of a prison-themed party.
Click here and here for a photo preview of “Damaged.”
- THE ISLAND CHANGED OLIVER QUICKER THAN EXPECTED. Though all signs pointed to an immature, selfish kid washing up on the shore of that island, “Damaged” shows a side of Oliver back then that was nobler than that. He didn’t sell people out just for his own gain—even when it seemed like he should have.
- OLIVER MAKES SOME STARTLING ADMISSIONS. When administering a polygraph on the accused vigilante, Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) gets a little more personal than professionalism should allow. Still reeling from his daughter’s death and how it tore apart his family, he needles at Oliver’s own past in the five years he, too, was presumed dead. Rather than simply try to “beat” the test, Oliver owns up to how he got his scars and some of his guilt of past actions.
- WALTER HAS A PLAN OF HIS OWN. After Walter (Colin Salmon) found the remains of the elder Queen’s boat in a Starling City warehouse, he enlists the help of one of his employees to help him secretly look into the hows and whys. It seems he may trust Moira (Susanna Thompson) even less than we do.
- LAUREL WARMS TO OLIVER AND ASKS FOR AN INTIMATE MOMENT. Laurel may be fighting her feelings for Oliver, but she certainly shows her cards in this episode when she constantly refers to him with an affectionate nickname (“Ollie”) and indulges his reminiscing over happier times. Her willingness to understand more about what happened to him, though, bodes very well for their future—even if she’s still too oblivious to believe he could possibly be trying to do something positive, like the vigilante.
- DIGGLE IS MORE READY TO JOIN OLIVER THAN WE EXPECTED. We know to be a bodyguard you have to be in some kind of shape, and we know Diggle (David Ramsey) has a past in war, but we expected he would need some specific training—both physical and with the gadgets before he was fully ready to join Oliver in his mission. In “Damaged” he proves just how much he is capable of in a “sink or swim” situation.
- MOIRA SHOWS HER OWN STRENGTH. Now we know where Oliver gets it. When the Well-Dressed Man (John Barrowman) believes Oliver is targeting his associates, he has a way of stopping him, but Moira steps in. And she does so again later when veiled threats are made against her family or anyone who gets too close to the truth in general. She stands up to him and throws a threat right back in her face. And we believe she can get the job done. A mother’s love and all that, sure, but moreover, she clearly has secrets that she’ll do anything to protect, too.
But the real question “Damaged” begins to raise is just whether or not Oliver’s PTSD is invoking sociopathic tendencies in the man. Sure, he may have good intentions, and he may have his own code, which doesn’t allow him to just aim his bow and arrow to at the heart to kill anyone and everyone, but he lies so seemingly easily to even those he cares about most. He doesn’t blink; he doesn’t stutter; he doesn’t even take a breath before he does it. He has adopted it as a method of survival, but there are little glimmers of enjoyment in there, too—mostly when he’s pulling something over someone who can stand in his way, like requesting to take a polygraph to convince Detective Lance he’s not who he thinks he is (who he very much actually is). That trait may be how Oliver is truly “Damaged” the most because when his mission is complete, he will certainly find he can’t just snap out of it; each lie upon lie he builds takes him further and further away from any kind of normal life.
But honestly, that kind of damage is exactly why we love him. So maybe we’re a little bit “Damaged,” too.
Arrow airs on The CW on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. “Damaged” airs on November 7th 2012.
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