There are some episodes of shows that get people talking. “1159″ is one of those. While it’s become a huge cliche, it’s true that Arrow will never be the same again. It’s also true that, to an extent, history repeats itself. But we’ll get there. I warn you now, there are spoilers in this review because they’re kind of integral to what happens.
The episode opens with Andy Diggle prowling through his brother’s apartment in the dark. The lights come on just as Andy opens the gun safe and takes a weapon out. Andy claims that HIVE is after him, and contacted him in the form of some guy with “perfect teeth and a missing hand,” which is enough for Diggle to recognize Malcolm Merlyn. He wants Andy to hijack a special shipment, and Andy is scared.
Team Arrow meets about this, and Oliver makes another revelation. Thea gets in a great line about Oliver’s tendency to keep secrets. Oliver tells them that the idol Darhk has been using to fuel his magic powers is from Lian Yu, also known as “That Damn Island.” There’s also some debate about using Andy as a double agent to get more information about HIVE. Diggle thinks this is the way to go, and Oliver is less than enthused about the plan.
There are also more developments on the mayoral front. Yes, this plot thread won’t die even after Oliver dropped out of the race a few episodes ago. By tradition, the loser goes to the winner’s acceptance speech, so Oliver has to go to Ruve’s. Nothing like some last minute gloating. Interestingly, a reporter tells Oliver that his name came in at 48% as a write in. I wonder what Darhk would have done then? Ruve also comes by to snark at Oliver and Laurel, offering Laurel a job as DA, since the present DA is about to become Ruve’s deputy mayor.
Following up on Andy’s hijacking tip, Spartan and Green Arrow are in their trusty van, waiting for the attack. Thea and Laurel are back in the lair to guard the idol. Eventually, there is a dual action sequence. A pitiful few people attack the truck with the missiles on it (one truck is NOT a convoy, by the way, writers) and the GA/Spartan team defeat them easily. Of course, this was a feint, as Malcolm leads a team into the lair to get the idol back, utterly ignoring whatever alleged security they have. Thea and Laurel fight well, but Malcolm escapes with the idol.
The aftermath of this has a few points of interest. Story wise, Laurel wonders if Malcolm played Andy. Oliver, ever more suspicious, is thinking Andy played all of them, instead. That’s not a popular viewpoint on the team. Also, as a quibble: Green Arrow and Spartan race back to the lair, expecting a fight in progress. They enter on guard, weapons drawn…. and masks off. Seriously, if they thought the bad guys were still there, why would they do that?
Lance and Laurel go out for Chinese food. Lance once again gets in a surprise by saying a few words to the waitress in… well, he calls it Chinese, which isn’t a language. I think it was Mandarin. At any rate, Lance is very proud of Laurel, and thinks she should take the DA job. She can do even more good than she can behind the mask.
The team is next lured to an abandoned factory, almost as popular with bad guys as empty warehouses. It’s an ambush, and Andy gets hurt pushing Oliver out of the way of a trap that doesn’t seem like HIVE’s style at all. HIVE is all science and tech, aside from Darhk’s mysticism. This was a row of automated bows, which seems really clunky. At any rate, Andy’s injury makes most of the team forget their doubts about him.
All of this was apparently more misdirection. While the heroes were being used for target practice, Malcolm has once again wandered into Iron Heights, this time bearing gifts. He brings Darhk the idol. This kicks off a minor history lesson which has two interesting points. The first is that there’s a piece missing from the idol, making it useless. The second is that the idol was made by the homo magi. In the comics, the homo magi are an off-shoot of humanity who are exceptionally magically talented. The two most famous of them are Zatara the Magician, and his daughter Zatanna. I wonder if that means Zee might eventually show up, since we’ve seen her sometime boyfriend, John Constantine, already.
Back at the lair, Andy is getting patched up by Diggle. Andy is panicked and asking a lot of questions about what will happen now. Diggle tries to be reassuring, but Oliver pulls Diggle back. They argue yet again about trusting Andy. Diggle, who has argued so often about emotional detachment in the past, seems to be ignoring his own advice.
There’s a brief scene at Iron Heights involving Darhk’s cell being searched. The guards find nothing, and Darhk gets another chance to smirk and strut. He talks to Laurel about his alleged threats to Captain Lance. He also tosses a few random insults, which seems a bit beneath him, honestly.
Back at Diggle’s place, Andy is tearing the apartment apart. I kinda wonder where Lyla and Sara are during all this. Out of town on more ARGUS business I guess? His search is interrupted when Green Arrow shows up. Andy claims to be looking for bugs. Arrow accuses him of looking for the missing idol piece. Their fight escalates to the physical and that, of course, is when Diggle comes in. Diggle sides with Andy to the point that he draws a weapon on Green Arrow, saying, “I know exactly what that Kevlar won’t protect.” Not great moment in team morale.
This argument is continued back at the lair. Neither Diggle nor Oliver are backing down. Oliver actually lays out a decent argument for his issues with Andy, but Diggle isn’t having any. They snarl at each other for a while, Diggle even making it real personal by throwing in a few remarks about Felicity. They finally separate, and Laurel tells Oliver she’s not going to take the DA job. Oliver encourages her to do it, and she seems unsure.
All of this is interrupted when a full scale riot erupts back at Iron Heights. Murmur is somehow or other trustee (great decision by the prison staff) and hands out books with hidden spaces carved in them for a bunch of knives. Where those came from, I have no idea. The riot also provides cover for Damian to get the idol back.
Captain Lance provides a distraction for the heroes to get inside the prison, which will probably cost him his job in the future. The heroes get in and there is a lot of fighting. Thea/Speedy even gets a rematch with Malcolm Merlyn. The big dramatic conclusion to all this comes when Damian gets one of the guns and threatens to shoot Andy. It’s a weird scene, since both Spartan and Green Arrow could have shot Damian. Andy reveals himself as a traitor (I told you there were spoilers) and gives Damian the missing piece of the idol that Diggle had hidden. Damian gets his powers back, which isn’t good.
Even less good, he catches one of Green Arrow’s shots out of the air, and stabs Black Canary with it. It’s a really nasty wound. After that, all the bad guys get away. Green Arrow takes Canary to the hospital. There are several teary talks, and then she suddenly dies. This scene is written badly from a medical and procedural standpoint, but that’s not what everyone is talking about of course. They have killed off a second Canary, with an arrow, and Malcolm was part of setting it up. This really is a good bit like Sara’s death. Captain Lance gets there just too late, and falls over, whether from grief or his heart condition isn’t completely clear. Time of death was the title of the episode… 11:59.
The increasingly tenuously connected Flashback Theater is about Oliver and Diana having to be ready to kill some of Reiter’s men to survive. Oliver says this is necessary, while Diana isn’t as sure. Eventually, they pull it off and save the prisoners. Oliver sets up a trap to keep Reiter down in the tunnels.
What I liked: Geek that I am, I’m actually really excited about the homo magi mention. I’d love to see Zatanna show up. It was good to see the characters struggling to do the things Felicity used to do for them, although I wonder if they’ve already dropped the idea of using Holt.
What I didn’t: There were a lot of flaws with the episode. The hospital stuff was done badly on several levels. The drama with Andy seemed to escalate quickly. The scene at the mayoral speech seemed weird unless they’re going to use that to get Ollie in as mayor after all down the road. Flashback Theater is just eating up screen time they could use for something else. And I’m really not sure killing off Laurel was a great idea.
I just didn’t like this one anywhere near as much as I could have. I’m giving it a low 3 out of 5. I bet the next big drama story is going to be some variation of Diggle blames himself for Laurel’s death, goes off the deep end, and/or tries to hunt down Andy/Darhk. Also, Oliver? When someone with a heart condition gets really bad news and falls over? Don’t just stand there looking grim.