Arrow: “The Man Under the Hood” Season 2 Episode 19 Review

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The last episode of Arrow came with shocking reveals for both Laurel and Thea. This episode takes these twists runs with them, but in opposite directions.

The Man Under the Hood was probably my favorite episode for Laurel and maybe even her now imprisoned father. Laurel has had one hell of a rocky season. Her alcoholism subplot was the worst thing about the season thus far, while her reunion with her sister delved into soap opera territory.

After Slade so matter-of-factly revealed the Arrow’s identity to Laurel, I was prepared for a soapy subplot that ran the rest of the season. I am so happy to have been proven wrong. Laurel’s investigation of the Arrow was the best thing about this outstanding entry. She goes into it cautiously, but eventually starts putting some things together, including that Sara is the Canary.

But instead of a big emotional scene between Oliver and Laurel, she consults her father. His immediate response of “Don’t tell me” was an incredibly rewarding moment for fans from the beginning. It was also rewarding for Laurel, who suddenly saw her friend in a very different light. As her father points out, knowing the man under the hood makes it personal, detracting from what the Arrow means to Starling City.

So no, we don’t get this big crescendo of a scene where Laurel confronts her best friend and sister about what they do at night. In fact, she seems proud of her sister. She silently hugs Oliver and we know things will be alright.

What’s amazing is that Thea’s storyline did literally the exact opposite. It was soapy and repetitive. Her refusal to talk to anyone just puts off the inevitable reconciliation. Even after Oliver points out that their father knew that Thea’s biological father was Malcolm Merlyn she doesn’t budge, calling them all liars. Based on how well Laurel’s story played out, I kept expecting Thea to say “The man who raised me is my true father”, but it never happened.

Luckily, this subplot was just a small portion of what ended up being an incredibly smart episode. The war between Arrow and Deathstroke rages on, reaching new heights this week when team Arrow find Slade waiting for them in the Arrow Cave (oh shut up, it’s an easier title than the Arrow Basement Under Oliver’s Sister’s Club).

After Deathstroke dispatches Oliver, Sara, and Diggle, Felicity notices that something is missing: a key to the Mirakuru. Turns out, Slade plans to build a super strong army with the convicts he freed off the bus in the last episode. Oliver thinks Slade is going to sample his own blood to do so, which makes it all the more jarring when Oliver finds a very weak Roy losing a lot of blood to the convicts. From there, Slade and Isabel confront the Arrow (I appreciate how the series isn’t giving us a full-blown Arrow and Deathstroke battle in costume yet). Diggle, saves the day seemingly killing Isabel and allowing Oliver to escape with Roy. But just to add a little more tension to the end of the season, Slade saves Isabel by giving her the Mirakuru. Yay!

Meanwhile, the island had some significant development this week. Ivo, it appears, has a way to cure the Mirakuru, connecting the island story to the present in a way that gives it drive and goals. Also, I was slightly sad to see Ivo go, he was a solid villain for the island flashbacks.

So besides Thea’s plotline, this episode was thrilling and rewarding in a way few Arrow episodes are. Laurel may just surprise us and continue to come into her own. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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