This week’s episode of Arrow comes with an important message: Not all wiz—err, vigilantes are good.
Someone’s going around Starling City knocking off gang members, and it all leads back to quite the unexpected source: Laurel’s trainer. He used to be a vigilante, as it turns out, and he’s suspect no. 1 for the new killings. He’s not, of course, since it’s never the first suspect, but it brings a whole new wave of questioning, as Oliver is left to contemplate Roy’s emotional state.
Oh yeah, Roy’s still in the show, in case anyone forgot. It might be kind of hard to remember, since his regular status in Season 2 seems to have been downgraded to one line per episode, and a few scarce appearances at Oliver’s side fighting crime. The most disappointing aspect of the show’s dynamic with Roy’s character is that he only is included in the show’s events whenever it’s convenient for the plot to move along. It’s hard to become invested in him as a character, despite how interesting he is, because the show writers aren’t communicating to us that he’s important to the team.
One of those times of convenience was brought back into the mix with the last episode, when it was revealed that he was having dreams in which he was killing Sara. The revelation that these dreams might, in fact, be memories have a profound effect on Roy, convincing him that he’s a killer and unfit for the team. Unfortunately, most of the team is far less than supportive.
It brings up some interesting ethical questions. Because if Roy did kill her, it was while he was on the Mirakuru. That means that he didn’t have any control, but does that absolve him from guilt? And perhaps even more importantly, can he and should he continue working with the Arrow if another episode from supposed residual Mirakuru could happen at any time?
Meanwhile, Laurel is set on defending her trainer, and Oliver grows ever more upset about the idea of her being trained, especially by a man who’s revealed to be an ex-vigilante. This further moves along Laurel’s impending transformation into the Black Canary, but more important for this episode is what it teaches about the teacher-apprentice relationship between Oliver and Roy. The maniacal killer, being revealed to be the ex-apprentice of Laurel’s trainer, would seem to encourage Oliver to put Roy down before more people get hurt. But Oliver doesn’t buy it. Because he’s learned a principle that nobody else in the show seems to get, at least at this moment in time.
Oliver tells the ex-vigilante that the problem wasn’t that he took too long to cut the apprentice loose, but that he didn’t believe in him. That cuts deeper into Oliver and Roy’s relationship, where Oliver shows something truly remarkable. He believes in Roy, and in who Roy can be, despite his flaws and past mistakes. It’s forgiveness, in a sense. It’s very reminiscent of how God treats us, even with the sins that we’ve committed so many times in the past. Oliver embodies that characteristic, and really makes us want to root for Roy all the more.
The biggest positive with this episode was the fact that it had a point. While it was pursuing two different storyarchs, it did so in a cohesive manner, tied together with a strong theme. With that said, it also neglected to move along the story revolving around Merlyn and Thea, which should be a pretty big deal, and only served as further remembrance that Roy is largely a prop. I want to see Roy as an actual part of the team, not just a convenient plot device.