“Arrow” Recap: Happy Birthday Tommy – Musings Of A Mild Mannered Man

“Arrow” Recap: Happy Birthday Tommy

Did any of you expect (or even hope) that Arrow would be this good a show? I mean, really? When you first heard that the CW was going to try yet another superhero series, didn’t you all just groan and start a betting pool for how soon it would be canceled?

I sure as heck had no idea. Every week, it seems, I’m left picking my jaw up off the floor in sheer amazement. Okay, no, maybe not every week. There have been a couple of stinkers. But when it comes to audacity and ambition, Arrow is in a class by itself.

We start the week off with the police rushing to the scene of a helicopter landing. It seems a world-renowned assassin is coming to Starling City. Wait, the police have something to do other than chase down The Hood? Oh, Detestable Detective Lance isn’t leading this team of cops, so I guess it makes sense they’re doing their actual jobs.

Only Oliver gets there first. He and the assassin have a little tussle which ends with Oliver stabbing the dude with an arrow. Yep, this is the dark hero we have all come to love.

At the Arrow Cave, Felicity Smoak is training with Digg because he wants her to be able to keep people from putting explosive collars around her neck. My bisexual heart is all aflutter now, with the smoking hot Felicity joining in the training sessions. I really think she’s easily the prettiest actress on the show in a recurring role.

Oliver comes in and lets them know the assassin is dead and he recovered a phone that he needs Felicity to decrypt. Oliver understands that assassins are like rats—when you spot one, you know there are a bunch more scurrying around.

Once he has given them their marching orders, Oliver leaves for his date with McKenna Hall. Digg, being Digg, makes a sarcastic comment that maybe Oliver shouldn’t be dating the woman who is hunting him down. Oh, Digg, I love you.

The date, it turns out, is Tommy‘s birthday party. It’s a nice, intimate little double date with Tommy and Laurel. This didn’t work out the last time Oliver and Laurel tried it, so I’m skeptical. But happily, the little love triangle seems to have gotten used to the awkwardness of everything.

Things get even more awkward as Malcolm Merlyn shows up. He’s brought Tommy a present and an invite. It seems he’s being honored as a humanitarian. Tommy speaks for the audience (and gets the best line of the night) by saying, “What, did they run out of real humans?”

Malcolm resorts to bribery. He offers to return Tommy’s trust fund if his son will be nice to him again. That’s kind of despicable, really. He doesn’t want to be bothered fixing the problem he created. He just wants to buy Tommy off.

Fortunately, our boy has grown up and he tells his dad to get stuffed.

The Triad still needs to kill Malcolm, so China White goes to bring a very special assassin out of retirement. And full credit where credit is due, AE user Showler totally called this all the way back when Deadshot made his first appearance. Floyd Lawton is back, and now he has a cybernetic eye.


Felicity manages to pry one piece of info from the phone—the last call, which was to a Chinese restaurant. As clues go, it’s a little vague. They were hoping for something like, “This is the time and place of the hit and his name, description and Social Security Number.”

Then the show has Oliver do something a little puzzling. It’s not as hare-brained as some of the plans Oliver makes, but it’s pretty thin. Instead of just breaking into the place as The Hood and having a pointed conversation with the Triad goons, he makes a reservation—for two. He takes Tommy there for dinner for a little heart-to-heart about dads and how they can let you down and that maybe they blow their brains out in front of you, but they’re still your dad.

It’s a great conversation, and I get why structurally they had to do it this way. And I also know they were aiming for the “check please” joke. But it seemed a little weird for Oliver to do it this way.

It was also kind of a bust. He doesn’t get much information at all, other than the fact that the hit will be taking place the following day. Swing and a miss for The Hood.

Oliver calls Detestable Detective Lance for help. I mean, really? Are there no other cops in the city? Ones that aren’t consumed with an irrational vendetta against The Hood? And yes, it is irrational. The Hood is a vigilante and that sort of thing can’t be allowed, but seeing the way Lance blows off legitimate cases (like the firefighter case a few eps ago) because he’s so rabid about the Hood robs him of the high ground.

The Hood is a killer, I get that. But he hasn’t yet harmed a civilian. I would like to see Lance at least acknowledge that.

Anyway, Oliver says he knows there’s going to be a murder somewhere in Starling City the following day. Lance hisses and spits at him and then tells him to get him a name or he wouldn’t be able to do anything. In all fairness, he’s kind of right. For once.

Tommy does decide to go to his dad’s award ceremony, mostly because of what Oliver said. It’s like watching a horror movie where I know the killer is in the room beyond the door and Tommy has his hand on the doorknob and I’m in the audience screaming, “Don’t go in there!” Because Malcolm is not a man to be trusted at all.

China White makes her move. They set off the fire alarm and her goons slaughter Malcolm’s security detail. Interestingly, Malcolm’s first thought is of Tommy’s safety. Maybe he’s not so bad, maybe he really does care….

No! I will not be seduced by John Barrowman‘s dreamy eyes. Malcolm is evil and everything he does has an evil angle. I will hold to this truth, no matter how hot Barrowman is.

Felicity finally breaks the phone’s decryption, which let’s Oliver know who the target is. He calls Lance and rushes off to save the day. Lance, being the insufferable prick that he is, intends to use this opportunity to catch The Hood.

You know, I just realized, he’s Elmer Fudd to Oliver’s Bugs Bunny. He schemes and plots and stalks and hunts and he always ends up with nothing.

Malcolm is trying to get to his panic room upstairs when they are intercepted by two Triad thugs. It’s do or die time, and Malcolm does and they die. It’s a great reveal to Tommy, who watches in shock as his dad disarms the men. When Malcolm has a gun to one of their heads, Tommy tries to tell him to stop, but Malcolm just executes the thug.

Tommy is not having a good night. And it’s going to get worse.

Oliver has to face off with China White. It seems she’s holding a grudge over that one time he gutted her a little bit. Some people can be so touchy about that sort of thing.

When he does defeat her, McKenna shows up and tells him to drop his bow. Can’t a guy get some alone time without his girlfriend nagging him? Geez! Well, Oliver instead shoots a fire extinguisher and makes his escape.

Malcolm and Tommy reach the office they were heading for and then forget all about the panic room.The glass is bulletproof and the door’s lock is magnetic, which is fine and all, but that’s not a panic room.

And they should have gone into the real panic room because Deadshot blows the window open with an explosive round or something. Then he plugs Malcolm twice in the chest.

Okay, now here is a pet peeve of mine. This scene plays out the exact same way in every movie and TV show everywhere. Malcolm is lying there, allegedly having been shot, but there is no blood. I instantly assume that he was wearing a bullet-proof vest. But he can’t just say he was wearing a vest. No, he has to do the opening of the shirt to reveal the vest. Every single time someone is saved this way, they feel they have to do the “surprising reveal” of the vest.

It bugs me.

Anyway, Malcolm did get wounded a little bit, and you know what that means. Dang that Deadshot and his poison bullets. It’s just so mean. You’re all, “ha! you only grazed me!” and then you fall over dead.

Oliver arrives on the scene and assesses what has happened. Tommy trains a gun on him and won’t let him approach. On the one hand, this is idiotic since The Hood was protecting their retreat just minutes earlier. On the other hand, it’s brave and smart, as there was no reason to think The Hood wasn’t there to attack Malcolm himself.

Oliver tries to reason with him, but Tommy’s having none of it. So Oliver does the only thing he can think to do—he unmasks.

First off, HOLEEE Sheet!

Second, Oliver? You are the worst secret-identity keeper ever.

Tommy is just pole-axed. The poor guy has received way too many shocks to the system. So he’s like, “Okay, you’re the vigilante, cool, help me help my dad and then I’m gonna go have a nervous breakdown.”

Oliver uses Tommy to give his dad an emergency transfusion. You know what I’m thinking? As often as it seems to be needed, shouldn’t Oliver keep his Universal Antidote in his utility belt?

Another fantastic thing about this episode is they don’t cheap out on the aftermath. Oliver has to tell Digg that the man who murdered his brother is in fact still alive. Digg doesn’t take that too well.

Tommy asks Oliver if he was ever going to tell him about his vigilante-ness and Oliver says no in a voice just brimming with FEELS. Tommy gives him a look of heartbroken betrayal that just killed me.

Laurel’s Mom shows up! The inestimable Alex Kingston joins the cast with news that Sara might be alive. Jeebus.

And finally, Malcolm brings Moira into his hospital room and charges her with finding the traitor in their midst.

So much stuff happened! I’m exhausted. What did you guys think?

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via AfterElton.com http://www.afterelton.com/2013/03/arrow-recap-116-happy-birthday-tommy


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3 Responses

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  1. March 2, 2013

    […] “Arrow” Recap: Happy Birthday Tommy (musingsofamildmanneredman.com) […]

  2. March 21, 2013

    […] “Arrow” Recap: Happy Birthday Tommy (musingsofamildmanneredman.com) […]

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