Arrow featured one hell of a cliffhanger with "Unfinished Business." Ready to break it all down?
This week, TV Fanatic staffers Nick McHatton and Carissa Pavlica are joined by Hank Otero from Hanko9.com and a friend, Isaiah Mullins, who says he was "born in DC, but raised by Marvel Comics." Last week he challenged the panelists, saying there was no "ham in the table." This week, he gets to be that very ham. Say hello!
As for the episode itself, it was the one we've been anxiously awaiting, kicking off the not-so-gentle rift between Oliver and Tommy that could take the show into places we've yet only dreamed. Gather around below and let's discuss...
Were you surprised at just how far The Count had fallen?
Hank: It was my understanding that The Count was going to be Season 1's "big bad". I was actually surprised by how little the character was used in "Unfinished Business". Not that I'm complaining, the twist was an interesting one. I've mentioned before I was not a fan of Seth Gabel's over-the-top portrayal of The Count in episode 12 "Vertigo". Did the writers feel the same way and find the performance too cartoony for their more realistic world of Arrow? With this episode, it seems like they've reconsidered the importance of The Count in the bigger picture.
Arrow spared his life (you know that's coming back to haunt him), but if the character does return, I hope Gabel dials it down a notch. I loved Gabel as Agent Lincoln Lee on Fringe and his doppelganger scenes were some of my favorites in season 4. The guy is a great actor, it doesn't surprise me if he was asked to go more "joker" with his performance. Personally, a more subtle and creepy approach would have made The Count a truly great villain.
Isaiah: No because the writers knew that The Count did not work well with fans or the general audience. So turning The Count to a brain dead vegetable was wise move. Also this really hurt Seth Gabel. He played Agent Lincoln Lee so well in the sci-fi Fringe for me. It hurts because Gabel is a good actor, but Gabel in episode 12 "Vertigo", played Count as cartoony, over the top, and generic TKD Joker. I blame the writers for The Count more than Gabel. Overall, I am neither surprised nor sad that The Count is gone.
Carissa: I was a bit surprised because with an actor as talented as Seth Gabel, I would have hoped they would have left the door open for some sort of cure. From what we saw, it's a miracle he needs, not a cure. At the very least he got "The Hood" business right, so something is left unscrambled in there, but I have very little faith in the medical professionals of Starling City to be able to help him. Perhaps if he were shipped to another city he would a better chance of survival and that miraculous cure.
Nick: No, not at all. The way Arrow portrayed the asylum The Count was in made him feel the most sane out of everyone, his doctors included, so when the twist happened I can't say I was shocked.
How did you feel about the developments with Shado on the island?
Hank: I'm a big fan of all the island stuff and glad to hear those flashbacks will continue in season 2. The addition of Shado to the island team (like Felicity to the Starling City team) brings a fresh new dynamic to those scenes. I assumed Yao Fei was responsible for Oliver's archery skills, so it's nice to learn that Shado is actually the one teaching him.
If you've read "The Longbow Hunters" comic, you know Shado plays a fairly important role in Oliver's life. The writers have completely changed her background story here but I'm curious to see just how far they will take the relationship between Oliver and Shado. After all, Ollie does sport a copy of her red dragon tattoo on his shoulder in the present. It's interesting to note that the red dragon tattoo makes its first appearance all the way back in episode 1. Check out the scene where Oliver (wearing nothing but a towel), is looking at his scars in the mirror. Nice job Berlanti, Guggenheim and Kreisberg! By the way, Celina Jade is fantastic in the role of Shado.
Isaiah: I really like the development and, like Hank, I’m a big fan of the Island stuff. Like Slade, I would love to see Oliver develop a special friendship with Shado, not as love interest, however. Only in the way of a friend. We don't need to have love on the island folks. Also it would be nice to see what happen to Shado after she leaves the Island. I see Shado as a strong mentor to Oliver. I really think Shado's development is going to be a blast to watch.
Carissa: Surprisingly, I really enjoy the Island scenes now that they are filled with Slade and Shado. I knew she was the one who taught archery to Oliver, but watching him slap away at that bowl of water was priceless. I like it when we get to see him without the confidence he has now, and what it took for him to get there. As much as I am enjoying the scenes on the Island, I admit I am very much looking forward to the day when these two characters of Shado and Slade make their way to Starling City. Whether as bag guy or good guys, I don't care. Their personalities have fleshed them out enough that they will be top notch either way.
Nick: It's great to get some new blood on the island. I, like Hank, assume Yao Fei was the one who taught Oliver how to use a bow. It's nice to see someone treat Oliver like a decent person on the island too. For most of the time we've seen Oliver on the island has been mostly relegated to being the distraction, or no one really takes him seriously. Shado saw that he just needed to be taught in a different way.
Will Quentin Lance ever stop thinking the worst of his daughter's beaus? Were you surprised he immediately thought Tommy sold Vertigo at Verdant?
Hank: Quentin is a one percenter hater! I don't know if he will think the worst of all Laurel's beaus, but since he knew what Tommy and Oliver were like five years ago, he's definitely holding on to that poor opinion of them. Not surprised he assumed Tommy was involved with Vertigo at the club, the past speaks for itself. Both Tommy and Oliver were bad boys right?
Isaiah: No, because Quentin Lance will always have those thoughts of losing Sarah to a bad boy. Which is how he sees Tommy by default. Remember Oliver and Tommy party hard and break a lot hearts. Plus, Lance still has a lot more guilt for Sarah's death than Oliver does. You can see it in eyes when he's talking to Oliver and or Tommy. Guilt will make Lance think the worst of his daughter because of her choice to continue to be with the men he thinks were the cause of Sarah's death.
I was little surprised about Tommy selling Vertigo at first, then look back on and realized it just wasn't happening. I knew Tommy wouldn't sell and or touch Vertigo since Thea was arrested for Vertigo in her system. So why would Tommy sell the stuff to a party girl who might be the same age as Thea?
Carissa: If I have to say it again, I will. Quentin Lance needs to depart. I know he's an integral part of the show, but part of me cannot wait for the day he's in trouble and and his daughter, Laurel, has gone all vigilante and he has an all-points bulletin out for her like the rest of the city and he looks into her eyes and sees his daughter and his world crumbles around him. That will happen, right? Please say I'm right. His constant jumping to conclusions makes him an awful cop, even if he went to Verdant under the guise of keeping another cop from doing it. Secretly, he loved every minute of it.
Nick: One of Quentin's flaws is he tends to live in the past. His life has mostly stopped since Sarah died and he's now going through the motions just for Laurel's sake. So he's still of the opinion that the boyfriend's he knows of Laurel haven't matured or grown past their pasts or previous misdeeds.
How the heck did Tommy disable that lair and who helped him??
Hank: I have a theory... as it turns out, Tommy called his pal Barry Allen (who lives in the same building as Dinah Lance in Central City) for a quick favor. Barry arrived "in a flash" and helped Tommy convert the Arrow-cave into a boring 'ol storage space. Cool theory right? Seriously, this was one of those moments where you have to suspend disbelief and just go with it - haha.
Isaiah: I really think Tommy paid the workers from before with a little hush money. Tommy is a smart man that pays very well to keep their mouth's shuts. So Tommy can things to happen without anyone looking at him. Tommy is like Jack Jeebs aka Jeebs from the Men In Black movie. They both can hid sh—well.
Carissa: I'm guessing magician. Is there a magician in the house? Is that part of the Verdant entertainment? Because that was a lot of stuff to move in and around what they normally use and a very short time frame to get it all done. Just amazing. Really. The Verdant Magician is my answer.
Nick: Tommy isn't an idiot. He probably knew Quentin wouldn't stop until he searched every square inch of Verdant, so I'm of the mind that he moved the lair piece by piece far in advance.
What will happen now that Tommy is working with Malcolm?
Hank: I think we all knew Tommy would eventually turn his back on Oliver and return to Malcolm. However, I feel like that should have somehow played out over several episodes. Tommy has been flip-flopping big time lately. One minute he's upset Oliver is a killer and the next he understands how hard being Arrow and keeping this secret must be. Oliver's only human and just like Quentin Lance, he remembers the old party-boy/spoiled rich-kid version of Tommy. Cut him some slack dude and don't run back to your evil-Dad at the first sign of a disagreement!
Hopefully, Tommy continues to keep Oliver's vigilante secret (even from Malcolm). It would make sense for Arrow to take down the Dark Archer in the finale, paving the way for Tommy to take his place in season 2. The downside to this? No more John Barrowman on Arrow... maybe they won't kill him off and instead confine him to a wheelchair. This way, Malcolm can teach Tommy all the secrets he learned in Nanda Parbat. Now that sounds like an awesome season ender!
Isaiah: Tommy will become like his father before him…the next Dark Archer in the family. We've all seen this coming. The writers did amazing job making Tommy a likeable character and seeing Tommy turn to the dark side of the family will break some fans' hearts. However; I do wish the fallout with Oliver and Tommy was done better because it felt rushed and unnatural at best. Tommy as the new Dark Archer would put the Arrow plot upside down on its head. I think Tommy will be a better villain because Tommy will start playing mind games on Oliver and Laurel as his weakness. So, in the long run, Tommy will help Oliver become a better and stronger character.
So seasons 2 will mostly be about the war of the archers, as the fight for Starling City begins! Now that’s a season would keep fans happy and brings in new fans to show.
Carissa: I am so looking forward to this. Whether Tommy starts by watching Malcolm as the Dark Archer and then slowly takes on his role, or if Malcolm ends up wounded and he is forced to don the suit, it's going to be good. I do know that Tommy knows jack squat about archery, so he'd better start slapping that bowl of water if he's going to get up to speed in the case of an injury. Otherwise, it's going to be done the old fashioned way - a tradition passed down from father to son. A son who is just angry enough about his old friend that he's willing to step into the ring to take him on.
Poor Laurel is going to be caught in the cross-hairs and I'm also looking forward to that being her kicking off point for the Black Canary. There is so much that can happen in season two, and with this new Tommy development and Oliver with Diggle and Felicity at his side, it's lining up nicely indeed!!
Nick: It was bound to happen, but it's a bit hypocritical of Tommy to think that Oliver would never return the self-respect he gives to Oliver. Oliver has never turned his back on Tommy, and he is the main driving force of Tommy's independence with Malcolm thanks to Verdant. So Oliver put two and two together with some outdated information, I can't blame him considering Verdant is absolutely essential to his cover story. Just let that one go Tommy, Oliver is the reason your father is still breathing. With Tommy and Malcolm now reunited, I hope Tommy will begin questioning or finding out more about his father's past.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.