TV Review: Arrow: Season 2: Episode 14: Time of Death (CW)

Time, when utilized effectively, can be a useful element in a story. It can build tension, project desperation, or bridge a gap between scenes or characters. The flavor of the […]

Time, when utilized effectively, can be a useful element in a story. It can build tension, project desperation, or bridge a gap between scenes or characters. The flavor of the week for Team Arrow is William Tockman, a sophisticated bank robber and hacker who’s dubbed by the papers as The Clock King (due to his creative use of a minute hand in a homicide), played in this case by veteran character actor Robert Knepper. But it’s not just the danger of the enemy that makes Arrow so good this week. It’s the role that efficiency plays throughout the entire episode. The Clock King makes for an effective adversary, and reveals a vulnerability in Team Arrow’s supposedly perfect system that no one else has come close to reaching. That puts the group on it’s toes like never before. Seeing the heroes’ struggle as they go head to head with an opponent with intimate knowledge of hacking and security, as well as time and efficiency, is a welcome change from the usual tough guys they find themselves matched with. The team, specifically Felicity, get an abundance of moments in the episode to portray their characters ‘ weaknesses, strengths and mettle against an opponent inside not just their system but their minds. In short, we get to see what makes our heroes tick. Time of Death is written by Greg Berlanti and directed by Nick Copus.  Time of Death

This episode shows Team Arrow just as efficient as ever, and fits Lotz’ Canary in to their merry band without missing a beat. Her interactions with Diggle and Felicity are all incredibly natural, and hint at an untapped chemistry that can build on future story-lines for the series. The main conflict is never dull, and an incredibly effective adversary is found in Robert Knepper’s Clock King. Best of all, the entire team gets something to do. Felicity starts to feel insecure, as she’s used to being the go-to girl of the group, but also because she’s so envious of all the abilities Sara has that she doesn’t. As a result, she’s a lot more proactive in her pursuit of the Clock King, and goes through almost reckless lengths to repair her damaged pride after he takes her to school, in an incredibly well realized and tense hack-battle. Her sudden influx of ego still comes off as characteristic, as we see throughout the episode how desperate she is to prove her mettle to her team members. Even Diggle gets a role that is more fit to his character, as he actually gets to come out of the cave and do something on the street. Oliver’s fight with the bank-robbers is very short, and doesn’t do much to showcase his abilities, but the amount of bullets that miss him doesn’t seem too far-fetched, and there’s a really cool shot he does while sliding down some stairs, that could possibly be in league with his bomb disarm in Blast Radius (TRICK ARROWS!). The conclusion is pretty small scale, which is a welcome change, and ties up neatly, without feeling like a cop-out. The team stop the bad guys with very few bells and whistles, but Felicity’s dedication to stopping the Clock King keeps things from getting dull.

Time of DeathSeeing Oliver and Sara work together on a “case” is great for building more tension and danger in the series as well. Sara’s value isn’t as support, but as a second heavy hitter. This gives the writing team a chance to add more risks, twists, turns, and more complexity to the problems Team Arrow will need to overcome. Now Oliver has a second super hero set of hands that don’t need to be explained away by plot devices that break the momentum of the story. Not to say that Diggle and Felicity are being (or going to be) fazed out, but rather they’re characters will have to adapt and grow too in order to support two members in the field (Diggle…Suicide Squad…amazing…). This brings the teamwork to a more fast-paced level, and just makes the whole dynamic a lot more fun to experience.

Meanwhile, the island scenes are dominated by Lotz’ Sara as we discover the origin of her relationship with Sin. It’s not very well done, and the acting of the downed pilot was inconsistent with the desperation of the moment. Luckily, Bex Taylor-Klaus’ charisma as well as her dedication to the role of Sin, and convincing fraternity to Lotz’ Sara saves the entire sequence from going to waste. In fact, I think they could really pull off their own side-story, and I’d hope to see it sometime. But the big surprise is Laurel starting on her road to redemption. It’s not perfect, as Katie Cassidy’s acting in season 1 and 2 is still really uneven, but it could prove to be the beginning of something substantial for her character that she, quite frankly, needs. Regardless, she handles her reconciliation with Sara well, and there’s even a sweet scene with her at an addiction meeting with Detective Lance. It’s not redemption, but it’s a start.

Time of DeathThis week’s Arrow is incredibly to the point. The story is told with very little side bar, or substantial distraction. Emily Bett Rickards’ Felicity has been a valuable member of the team, and even become a fan favorite; but hasn’t had enough character motivated moments to really fly in terms of story and development. This episode changes all that. The majority of the conflict between the Clock King and the team is focused on Felicity feeling insecure and overcompensating to prove her usefulness. This leads to some very character driven moments by Rickards, that she excels at portraying, just giving the fans more to love in Felicity. Newcomer Lotz fits in well with the team, and reveals a substantial rapport with both Diggle and Felicity, as well as Oliver. David Ramsey also gets a more substantial place this episode than “Black Naysayer”, or “Looks really good in suits, in the background” guy, and Oliver has a powerful emotional moment that Amell downplays appropriately. There are a few problems with continuity. For example, how is Roy part of Team Arrow and doesn’t know who Sara is? How is it that the Clock King saw Oliver on the security camera and not Sara, even though they arrived in the vault at the same time? And Lotz’ Canary outfit is clearly constricting and might need to be redesigned. With or without these problems, the team pulls off an efficient episode that focuses itself in both emotional impact and narrative. Rickards steals the show as a proud Felicity, Robert Knepper plays yet another great bad guy to add to his large list of great bad guys, and Cassidy making the rounds as Laurel finally shows the start of something positive for her character. It’s a story that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and doesn’t get too ambitious. It’s well conceived and presented without trying to do more or less. Everything is streamlined and to the point, and after being jerked from story to story for the last couple of episodes; I’ve got to say, it’s a breath of fresh air.

-PS

 

Arrow airs Wednesday nights 8 PM/7 PM C only on the CW©

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