Arrow: Fundementals


Wait, Oliver, your new plan is WHAT?

The general deterioration of Oliver Queen’s life, or lives maybe, continues in “Fundamentals.” The show opens with two corrupt Star City cops (I’m starting to wonder if there’s another kind) justifying their misdeeds as they walk down the hall. They get attacked by the Green Arrow, who seems to be a lot more angry and vicious than usual, demanding to know where Diaz is. The bad man himself is in another room surrounded by a mob of cops with weapons raised. Something I’ve learned from real world training, by the way: standing there with your weapon out is really tiring. Your arms start shaking really quickly, and when that kicks in, you’re not going to hit anything.

Then, in an overused tv trope, we jump back two hours to figure out how we got to that scene. Felicity has found out that Diaz is supposedly at police headquarters every night at 10:13. Personally, with what they show, I think that’s a leap. Oliver talks about going after him, and Felicity tries to talk him out of going alone, although who he’s going to call at this point, I don’t know. Maybe Team Flash has a free weekend? Diggle shows up, having been mislead by a well-meaning Felicity, and the two argue. At least they don’t end up punching each other out this time. Suffice to say, Green Arrow and Spartan aren’t about to team up again.

Oliver is trying to defend himself in front of the City Council and it’s not going well. The accusations about him being the Green Arrow to one side, Diaz has done a great job keeping a low profile that most of the council members have never heard of him. Lance looks very uncomfortable next to him as this ugly scene goes on. When they finally get out, Oliver observes that, if he does get impeached, Quentin will get a promotion. Lance isn’t amused. Felicity is still working on getting evidence to prove a link between Diaz, Hill, and Armand, but I’m not sure that would be enough to save the embattled mayor at this point. Quentin tries to reassure Oliver, going over his career since he came back from the island as the Arrow. They then get distracted talking about William’s inconveniently timed science fair.

Felicity and William are getting ready go when Oliver comes home. He pushes Felicity on getting the evidence about Diaz, but there’s a snag, and proving the link might make things worse for Oliver. In a fit of temper, Oliver flails around and manages to break William’s project.
This from the ninja-like master fighter?

Oliver retreats to the Lair, and watches their clue about Diaz. He hears a strange banging sound, and Felicity comes in. She makes a series of shocking statements and takes off, leaving behind a shaken Oliver. After more weird banging, Quentin stops in to check on Oliver. They have a long talk about the general mess Oliver’s life has become, and Quentin gives him a pep talk, leaving with a reminder about the upcoming council meeting. As soon as Quentin leaves, Oliver gets a very unwelcome visit from the Ghost of Villains Past, as Adrian Chase strolls in, just as smug and taunting as ever. After a big action sequence, Oliver figures out he’s hallucinating.

With Chase babbling away, Oliver runs a blood test on himself (I guess he’s picked up something from Felicity over the years) and figures out he’s been dosed with Vertigo. I don’t remember Vertigo being this strong a hallucinogen before, but maybe something’s changed. Oliver figures out who drugged him, but that doesn’t help at the moment. Chase continues to taunt him, playing on all sorts of fears of the mayor/super hero. Chase lands a few nasty verbal barbs, and then Quentin calls, needing to know where Oliver is, since he’s running late. Oliver offers a partial explanation and then walks into a new hallucination.

Oliver gets taken through some of his past losses, and argues with Laurel, Chase, Diaz, and most of his former team. Picking his way through this emotional mine field, he ends up back at his apartment, and deals with more phantasmal troubles. Oliver snaps out of all this on the floor of the lair, has another phone call with Quentin, and then gets a visit from… the Arrow. His earlier self also lays into him, telling him what he’s been doing wrong and that he knows what he needs to do to fix it.

Quentin tries to stall the Council, and Oliver finally arrives. The Council is openly hostile to Oliver, and I really wouldn’t blame him for just walking away at this point. Oliver’s not looking good, and Quentin manages to fake an emergency to get Oliver out of the meeting. Quentin gives him good advice, which Oliver, of course, ignores after another chat with the illusionary Chase.

Felicity and William get back from the science fair with a minor victory. Felicity, getting worried about no contact from or with Oliver, calls Quentin. The deputy mayor fills her in on the drug issue, and William shows he’s come a long way from the brooding, whiny presence he was at the start of the season. Oliver, back in his original costume, babbles about getting back to his first mission, and, when Quentin tries to talk him down, knocks the man out. Felicity goes in and finally manages to talk Oliver down. Apparently, all this was a trap, but that’s poor writing. If Diaz managed to get Oliver drugged, that’s fine, but Diaz is supposed to know exactly where Oliver will show up when while he’s drugged? Sorry, I don’t buy that one.

Felicity gets Oliver back to the Lair and gives him something to help get over the Vertigo. Oliver says he got some clarity out of his experience, and decides the thing to do is go back to basics, or Fundamentals as the title would have it. Because, when you’re up against a nasty foe, the best thing to do is isolate yourself from help and follow advice you got while you were on drugs, right? This is just dumb, all the way around. The Council, to no surprise, has voted to impeach Oliver, and he turns to Quentin and tells him he’s mayor now. Oliver makes things up with William.

The final scene is in what’s left of police headquarters. Black Siren as Laurel comes in to check on her crime boss. Diaz is happy about Oliver getting tossed out, uses the same line Oliver’s hallucination of him did earlier, and boasts about his plans for the city. Laurel seems happy about this, so I’d guess Quentin’s hopes for her aren’t going to pan out. Then again, I never thought they would.

What I liked: I approve of the changes in William. Quentin being a steadfast ally of Oliver’s, especially now, is something the poor guy needs. Felicity handled all this really well.

What I didn’t: Let me be really clear about something. I think the cast is doing the best they possibly can this season with what they have to work with. My complaints aren’t about them. But the writing this season has been horrible, and this is more of the same. Diaz knowing where a drugged Oliver would turn up, no matter how tempting he made the bait, is ridiculous. Oliver deciding to get rid of his one remaining ally and thinking that will help him capture Diaz is even worse. Diaz saying the same thing his hallucination did was just lazy writing. Speaking of, impeaching someone doesn’t mean they are automatically out of a job, so Oliver is seriously jumping the gun. Maybe he’s just eager to start his new, foolish, solo career?

This show has been around a while now. I hate to say it, but maybe they’re running out of good ideas. This was a bad episode in a weak season. I’m giving this one a 2 out of 5, no disrespect intended to Mr. Amell, Miss Rickards, and company.