TV Review: Arrow: Season 2: Episode 12: Tremors (CW)

Let’s talk about Oliver’s problems this episode. The Arrow has started Roy’s training in controlling his anger. And so far, all he has been able to protect the streets from […]

Let’s talk about Oliver’s problems this episode. The Arrow has started Roy’s training in controlling his anger. And so far, all he has been able to protect the streets from are ceramic water bowls and wooden martial arts dummies. In his desperation to reach Roy, The Arrow reluctantly agrees to take him out on the streets, for a night. Unfortunately, Bronze Tiger (guest star Michael Jai White) has broken out of prison, and he’s after the prototype for the Earthquake Machine that leveled the Glades in the first season. But Oliver’s problems don’t end there. Laurel is on the downward spiral after losing her job, and now she’s facing disbarment. With no where else to turn to, Oliver makes a desperate call to find her help. Meanwhile, Moira is being encouraged to run against Sebastian Blood for mayor. She decides to consult Thea for advice before she even considers it. On the island, Oliver and Sara discuss telling the truth about Shado’s death, while they search for Slade. But they uncover a desperate plan to make Ivo pay, and in the process get rid of their only way off the island. Tremors is written by Marc Guggenheim and Drew Z. Greenberg, and directed by Guy Bee.  Tremors

Blast Radius forsook a old storyline for a one-shot. Blind Spot forsook a one-shot for an old storyline. Tremors finds that sweet spot in between, and manages to excel at both. The prison breakout scene at the beginning bends the suspension of disbelief. It seems like the guards take a series of steps comparable only to bubbly co-eds in slasher movies. Luckily, Oliver and Roy’s training sessions carry a unique energy, as their character’s egos clash, reinvigorating the episode’s momentum. Instead of degrading their relationship to student and teacher, they manage to have a compelling rapport with their personalities intact. But it’s when they hit the streets together that the real nerve of Roy’s anger is revealed. (It also draws an interesting parallel with a heist movie, with Roy and Oliver as the robbers, and Dig and Felicity as the “man in the van”) Felicity discovers that Bronze Tiger stole plans to Malcom Merlyn’s home. Once Oliver and Roy get to Bronze Tiger and find that he’s going after a prototype for the Earthquake device, the entire tone of the episode changes (When they tell Dig and Felicity what he’s after, they look like someone said Voldemort). Roy goes berserk at remembering how much the earthquake took from him, and brutally attacks one of the mercenaries, giving Bronze Tiger a chance to escape with the prototype Earthquake Machine. Colton Haynes does an effective job of conveying his character’s uncontrollable rage, shaking, and having bloodshot eyes, coming off as genuinely out of control. But it all comes together at the end when Oliver realizes in a desperate moment that the only way to stop the Earthquake machine is to reveal his identity to Roy. He decides to take a chance, put it all on the table, and trust Roy. This is my favorite scene of the season partly because Roy knowing The Arrow’s identity is an important step in him becoming Arsenal; but mostly it’s because this is a very Ollie thing to do. In the comics, The Green Arrow makes decisions on impulse rather than thinking things through. It’s a great scene that closes the gap between The Arrow and Oliver Queen just a Tremorslittle bit; and it shouts back to the comics in a very subtle, but satisfying way. Now that Jason To…er Roy Harper knows Oliver’s identity, he’s been invited to join Team Arrow. Oliver introduces him to Dig and Felicity, both of which are gracious. But due to Roy’s vengeful nature, and insistence to be a hero no matter what; it’s anyone’s guess if this will be a feather in their cap, or the chink in their armor. It’s such a great theme of opposing natures, and it really keeps the potential story-lines harder to figure out, building a substantial amount of suspense.


Tremors MoiraMeanwhile, Walter invites Moira to dinner for some unknown reason. When she gets there she’s surprised to learn that he and his company would like to start grooming her to run against Sebastian Blood in the mayoral race. She considers it a joke writing it off, until Thea talks her in to using it as a chance to start paying back the city after doing so much damage to it. Moira invites Walter over and agrees to run, but insists that something must be done about her doctor knowing the truth about Thea’s father, before she starts. This story-line is the closest we get to the Sebastian Blood for mayor arc, and it looks like it’s going to end up being very important. But for now it’s just a seed. It’s a arc that is made all the better by Susanna Thompson and Colin Salmon’s seasoned roles (since the whole episode’s plot is driven by kids), and Willa Holland’s involvement in a story-line that doesn’t involve Roy ends up being a welcome change for her character.


While all this is happening, Laurel’s situation just keeps getting worse (as worse as white, upper-middle class, television substance abuse can get anyway). Paul Blackthorne’s Detective Lance gets a very personal role as the reformed alcoholic father in Laurel’s subplot, that he plays realistically switching from genuine worry to tough love. He resorts to trying to trick her in to going to an AA meeting, which she rejects with force. But the real wake up call for Laurel comes when she goes in to a job interview only to find out she’s being disbarred. She drowns her sorrows at Thea’s club, where Oliver sees her, and takes drastic measures to get her help. When Laurel goes home, just before passing out, she thinks she sees Sara, waiting for her. In my review for Blind Spot, I said that I thought Laurel wasTremors Laurel going to have to fall hard to come back up, and I have got to say that Katie Cassidy’s portrayl of Laurel’s “fall” gets more convincing every episode. Her maintaining her lifestyle despite her addictions isn’t really touched upon at all, nor does it paint a true-to-life picture of substance abuse. But her attitude to getting help, or being told what to do is incredibly consistent with real addiction, and it quite possibly the best acting Katie Cassidy has gotten to do since the season started. Originally I had reservations about this arc, but it seems to be going somewhere significant.


The island flashbacks get a little bit more Slade this time (yay!). While Sara and Oliver trudge through the jungle looking for him, she attempts to convince Oliver not to tell him the truth, due to his instability; while Oliver insists that he has the right to know. They track him back to the graves where they believe he was headed, where Oliver sees firing coordinates for Fyer’s missle launcher. He exclaims that Slade is going to blow up the freighter, and the two rush to the missile launcher. Slade is just about to fire the missile at the freighter, when Oliver talks him down and recommends taking the freighter and using it to get off the island. He also assures him that he won’t have to go through the changes from the Mirakuru without help. The island scenes this episode were really well done, with the doomed relationship between Slade and Oliver building up even more. Oliver continues to change; becoming more confident, and less fearful. Stephen Amell’s slow shift in island Oliver’s attitude and competence has taken a long time, making it even more believable. Slade is incredibly hard to watch with how desperate he looks, where he once stood tall. It’s been a long fall for Slade, but Manu Bennett is driving a dangerous and unstable Slade quite Tremorseffectively, building a creative back-story for a legendary villain. Caity Lotz’ Sara Lance is still an interesting character. But her dialogue delivery was clumsy, making her potentially memorable line “Love is the most powerful emotion, which also makes it the most dangerous.” fall flat, which was all the more depressing when Oliver calls back to it in a significant way later in the episode. But the exclusion of Ivo gave the island characters enough time to rebuild their rapport and regroup tactically, reinvigorating their competence in the eyes of the audience.


Final Word


Tremors takes a lot of risks.  But it gives just enough run-time to subplots, to keep us invested, without neglecting the main plot or the action. It’s proof that you can have your cake and eat it too. The acting is all very competent, and the action (especially the fight scenes with Michael Jai White) is just so much fun to watch because of how well choreographed they are. Oliver’s chemistry with Roy is just what the fans have been waiting for (“You saved me.”). Colton Haynes keeps extending Roy’s potential as a character. Susanna Thompson finally gets something to do as Moira Queen, and secures her place in future episodes of the season; plus the return of Colin Salmon’s Walter Steele was a nice surprise. Team Arrow keeps getting more and more efficient each episode, evolving in a realistic way. Dig, Felicity, and Oliver’s conversations are just as entertaining as they always are (I love Felicity’s critiquing of all the different comic-book villain’s names). Katie Cassidy portrays her character’s addiction very well, including the relief at being able to finally cut loose and not worry what people think of her (which is so often overlooked in the interest of providing a wholly negative picture of addiction).  It was all very natural. A little more about Slade and Oliver’s friendship is revealed and makes the modern day struggle between them that much more dynamic. And though Sebastian Blood is obviously absent to preserve the suspense before the inevitable showdown, nothing is lost because the episode acts as a cleanup, picking up various story-lines that were left hanging for too long, while still building for future arcs.  It’s well written, well directed, and has just the right amount of action, adventure, intelligence, and comic reference. All in all…it’s just great. It’s among the best of the season and rightfully earned that for it’s balance.

Tremors Waller

Plus the seed for a future Suicide Squad storyline. I mean…there are just no words for how cool that could be. The people behind Arrow seem to know what they’re doing. And as long as they keep doing it, this show could have a long lifespan.



Amanda Waller.  Director of A.R.G.U.S.  I’m here to talk to you about the Suicide Squad Initiative.  


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Arrow airs on Wednesdays 8/7:00 Central only on the CW

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