“Arrow” Recap: Mommy Dearest

Previously on Arrow…


His name is Oliver Queen, and he’s just the sexiest damn sociopath you’ll never want to meet in a dark alley. For five years, he was marooned on Magical Ninja island where he was trained to be a ruthless, righteous servant of arrow-slinging justice.

After his return home to Starling City, Oliver took on the guise of a hooded vigilante known to police as The Hood. He’s been having a grand old time, murdering thugs and making the lives of the rich and evil miserable. His father gave him this List of Doom, and everyone on it has crimes to pay for.

This episode starts off with Julian Sark getting out of prison, which means Sydney had better be careful. Okay, no, it’s not Sark. And yes, the inestimable David Anders has played several awesome roles since Alias—like Dr. Whale on Once Upon A Time. But he will always be Julian Sark to me—sexy, wonderful, bastardly genius spy.

Anyway, Sark Cyrus Vanch (is anyone named Cyrus not a psychopath?) pays his lawyer a visit. And he’s all “hey, you kind of let me go to jail, and that’s not what I paid you for” and the lawyer is all “Yeah, I had other stuff going on” and Cyrus is like, “Yeah, I get that. Hey, I just totally killed you!”


David always gives such good evil.

At the Arrow Cave, Diggle and Oliver are having a little chat about last week’s startling plot twist—the gift of a fresh copy of the List of Doom that came from Walter via Felicity Smoak. Digg is of the mind that since Walter allegedly got it from Moira that maybe Mommy Dearest is in the muck too.

Oliver is not happy with that accusation. “Dude, she’s my mom. Moms aren’t like that.”

Digg is somehow not swayed by this rock-solid defense. He suggests that since Moira is still chilling at home and Walter has gone missing, the bad seed here just might be mom and not step-dad.

Oliver is like, “Well, you’re mean. I’m going to ignore you and have a flashback now.”


And we travel back to the halcyon days of Magical Ninja Island. After having narrowly escaped the clutches of the evil Commando Army who seem to be in charge on MNI, Oliver heads to a place marked on his map by Yao Fei. Because the guy who turned on you and now works for the enemy and then used an ancient Chinese Vulcan death pinch on you is totally the guy you want to put your faith in.

Anyway, Oliver’s destination turns out to be the wreckage of a plane that, thankfully, is not Oceanic Airlines Flight 815. Though I am sure there is already a burgeoning crossover fandom between >Lost and >Arrow.

Inside, Oliver encounters yet another friendly island resident, played by Manu Bennett. And, well, whoever the casting director is for this show, it seems they have a type. A type I like.

Oliver’s newest playmate is going to totally kill him until Oliver mentions Yao Fei. That saves his life and merits a few intensely seductive looks from the guy pointing a sword at him. The show then tastefully cuts to another scene. They’re keeping things PG folks!

But moving to a scene with my least favorite character on the show, Inept Inspector Lance, is not just a splash of cold water. It’s like getting a swirly in a truck stop toilet. Ugh, I hate this character. I’ve long since given up any hope for redemption with him.

By contrast, his scene mate instantly becomes my favorite cop on the show. Lieutenant Frank is Lance’s superior and he has this nutty idea that Lance should focus on some police matters and not his own personal crusade.


Lance whines and insists he is just about to nail The Hood, to which Frank replies that he doesn’t really care. The Hood is doing all these really good things, so maybe he can take a spot lower down on Starling City’s most wanted.

Of course, Lance will not put aside his vendetta. And now I hate him even more. I was hoping there was maybe some pressure from higher up, pushing him to go after The Hood. But no, it’s just Lance and his petty “only the cops get to mete out justice” obsession. He even spouts some self-righteous crap about how he doesn’t want to live in a city where The Hood is considered a hero.


Oliver confronts his mother with her copy of the List of Doom, saying Walter gave it to him. Well, give how bad most of Oliver’s lies are, this one wasn’t too awful. Simple and plausible, just the way a good lie needs to be.

Moira understands that. Lies are totally her thing. She insists the book is Oliver’s father’s and she has no idea what it is or what it means. I see a look in Oliver’s eyes I take to mean he doesn’t believe her. But I overestimate him.

Moira tosses the book in the fire and tells Oliver to leave it alone. And that seems to be good enough for him.


Meanwhile, Laurel gets the news that Cyrus got his walking papers. Being the fierce defender of the helpless that she is, she wants to find a way to put him back in his cage. And that means she has to call the Hood Phone. Everyone should have their local sexy vigilante on speed dial—especially if he makes house calls.

In the Arrow cave, Oliver is telling Digg that everything is cool. His mom told him she had nothing to do with the List so there was nothing to worry about. Digg is not as impressed with the “evidence” Oliver puts forward. He suggests that if it were anyone else, Oliver would be “hooding up” and going to pay Moira a visit.

Oliver pouts. I swear he has the cutest pout whenever he knows Digg is right but can’t bring himself to admit it.

He is saved from having the conversation by Laurel’s phone call. And he’s totally happy to focus on something non-mom-related. Digg totally calls him on it, too, which brings about another pout.

So Oliver goes to investigate Cyrus, who has taken up residence in his dead lawyer’s house. And I am pleased to see Oliver back to his old tricks. For way too long now they’ve been having this kinder, gentler vigilante who doesn’t kill people. And what I like about Arrow is that they don’t shy away from a body count. It marks this as a very different kind of show from Smallville.


Anyway, he slaughters a dozen or so security dudes and then rather clumsily launches a spy arrow to record Cyrus’ conversation. I think this is some sort of ploy, but it’s not. He’s just off his game because Digg is harshing his mellow.

Afterwards, he meets with Laurel. Unfortunately, it’s a trap. Fortunately, it’s a trap set by Inept Inspector Lance so it fails spectacularly. I chortle and gleefully look forward to Lieutenant Frank demanding his shield for the failure.

Added bonus, Oliver conks him on the head! Oh, he so had that coming!

Laurel is not happy about being used as bait. And for once, Katie Cassidy is on fire. She just tears him apart for his duplicity. And when he makes some feeble attempt to defend his despicable actions, she grabs a fist-full of salt and rubs it into the wound. She accuses him of using the Hood as a focus for his anger over his wife leaving him and as an excuse for his drinking and all sorts of things.

You. Go. Girl.


I still hate Lance, but I love having him in this episode because he gets ripped on so much.

His ineptitude is the gift that keeps on giving. As a result of his screw-up, Cyrus learns that the Hood has a thing for Laurel. According to his Evil Villain Playbook, in order to defeat the Super Hero one must kidnap their girlfriend.

Laurel doesn’t really do the “damsel in distress” routine, though. She kicks the crap out of Cyrus’ goons when they try to grab her. I love it when they let her kick ass. I’m actually loving her in this episode, which is a shock to my system.

Cyrus admires her spunk. But he still needs a hostage, so he tazers her, which is serious foul-play. But it’s just the sort of think Sark would do. Fisticuffs are for barbarians, after all.


Digg has decided to do his own investigation into Moira’s activities—without permission, of course. Oliver is pissy about it, but because Digg is awesome he tells Oliver he really doesn’t care and the sullen glare won’t stop him.

His investigation leads him to overhear a conversation between Mr. Merlyn and Moira, and it’s pretty damning. Digg gets dirt on her machinations, on the Queen’s Gambit and something called “The Undertaking.”

Oliver is furious that his patented Pouty Face of Glowering did not keep Digg from pursuing his investigation. But because Oliver is awesome in his own way, he reluctantly listens to the recording Digg made.

Stephan Amell plays this scene beautifully. Gone is the cold, detached vigilante. Gone is the rational defender of justice. He comes unglued, shaking his head and trying to process the idea that his mother is not who he thinks she is.


His dissolution into mindless rage is pre-empted by a call from Lance. The detective has realized there are spies in the cop shop, so he has to ask The Hood for help getting Laurel back.

Oliver explains that Cyrus is secure inside a heavily fortified house and he can’t possibly get in there alone. And I am forced to wonder how this house can be so much better defended than the maximum security prison he waltzed into a few months ago. But hey, we’ll just go with it.

Meanwhile, five years in the past, Oliver impresses his captor by dislocating his shoulder and punching him in the face. Our stubbly new player on the scene introduces himself as Slade Wilson.

He needs to take an airfield and he needs Oliver’s help. To that end, he has to turn Oliver into a fighter. So he grabs a loin cloth and some oil and tells Oliver to put them on. Well, no, okay, he only does that in my imagination. But he does tell him to grab a weapon.

But in the case where the weapons are held is Deathstroke’s mask! What the heck?


Slade says that no, there’s another guy with the same mask who used to be his partner. I am so thoroughly confused now. Entertained, but confused. I really hope the writers have this all down in some sort of flow chart and aren’t just making it up as they go along.

The epic climax of our little tale comes as Cyrus is explaining to Laurel how utterly inconceivable it is that The Hood could breach his defenses. And as he describes each of the layers of his mighty defenses, we see Oliver wiping them out.

I guess this fortress wasn’t so impregnable after all.

Lance has accompanied him and he is about to ventilate Cyrus when Oliver stops him and says, “tsk, tsk, I’m the heartless killer, remember?”


The day is saved. Cyrus is back in jail. Laurel is safe. She doesn’t forgive dad, though, which I think is the smart thing to do. Maybe this will snap him out of his crazy.

Nah, who am I kidding?

Oliver retreats to the Arrow Cave and listens to the recording Digg made over and over again like it’s the latest Lady Gaga album. When Digg asks him what he’s going to do, he says with deceptive calm, “I’m going to go have another talk with my mother.”

Only this time, he goes as The Hood. He subdues her guards. He shoots her favorite lamp. He scatters the papers her secretary spent two hours collating.

And he takes aim at her and says, “Moira Queen, you have failed this city!”


Holy EFFING Hell!!!! This show is killing me with its ever-escalating drama. Every time it does something like this, I wonder how they can hope to top it. And yet they keep doing it.

Are you guys loving this as much as I am?