Why am I still watching Arrow? After 20 episodes, including this past week’s “Home Invasion,” what’s so attractive? The acting walks a consistent tight rope between being quite good and frankly, uncomfortably forced. The story arcs change too frequently. Whenever they seem to be going down an intriguing path, they switch to another story line unrelated and far less engaging. As I write this, I’m shaking my head. Why do I keep coming back? Am I a glutton for punishment (a review for another day) or is there something else there, something within that hour which won’t let me delete it forever from my pvr?
After a short hiatus, Arrow returned this week with “Home Invasion,” a relatively strong episode, which is one of Arrow’stricks. Just when you think you’re close to being done, the writers pull you back in. With the first season’s finale only three episodes away, tensions are beginning to rise in Starling City. The juiciest rift is between Arrow himself, Oliver Queen, and his ex-best friend, Tommy Merlyn. Let’s see if I can get this right. Tommy is dating Oliver’s ex-girlfriend Laurel. Oliver was dating Laurel before his boat capsized and he was stranded on ‘the island’ for 5 years. A side note: Oliver was also having an affair with Laurel’s sister who died (we think) when his boat sank. Tommy knows of Oliver’s secret, that he is the vigilante known as The Hood. Revealed in “Home Invasion,” Tommy also knows that Oliver still loves Laurel. And according to Tommy, if Laurel knew he was the Hood, she would choose Oliver (for he has changed into a beacon of nobility) over Tommy. Tommy can never win. So he decides to break off things with Laurel, and work for his father. Oh, did I forget to mention, Tommy’s father is also adept with a bow and arrow – as he’s been unveiled to be a dark Arrow-like figure in episodes past. Phew. I think I got it. Tommy now poses a real threat to Arrow. It will be interesting where this goes. Will Tommy join forces with his father, learning the ways of the bow, to challenge Arrow? Or will he forsake his jealousy and help his life long friend? Who am I kidding? It has to be the former.
Another problem for Arrow in “Home Invasion” is mending the fences between him and his right-hand-man, John Diggle. Oliver promised to help Diggle kill Deadshot, the assassin who killed Diggle’s brother many years before. But, on the night they are both to take out Deadshot, Oliver never shows as he goes after Edward Rasmus, a threat to Laurel. As a result, Deadshot is too strong for Diggle, who is in need of a few stitches after their altercation. This is the second time Oliver has hung Diggle out-to-dry, and rightfully, Diggle is done. He walks out on Oliver and will no longer help him in his crusade to clean up StarlingCity. “Home Invasion” leaves just Arrow and Felicity Smoak, his quirky cohort, to fight crime. Felicity is a great addition to the show and breathes an awkward femininity into Arrow’s man-cave. Giving her more screen time has added a playful and light-hearted spirit, offering a balance between soap opera love triangles and all too quick action.
So have I figured out why I’m still watching? Not really. I can’t take Arrow seriously. And maybe that’s why it works. Here’s an example from “Home Invasion.” In a flashback, Oliver is on the island. He is helped by Shado, the daughter of his savior Yao Fei, to learn the ways of the arrow. Yet, after knowing one another for only a short time, and having absolutely no onscreen chemistry, they kiss. It is one of those weekly moments where I shake my head. Oliver, who is acting as wooden as the tree he’s standing next to, is touched by Shado on his chest to straighten his shot. Their eyes lock and whammo. A big kiss. It might make sense to the storyline, as Oliver reveals he can’t continue with her as he’s in love with someone else back home, obviously Laurel (yet, wasn’t he just cheating on Laurel with her sister before the boat went down and he was stuck on that island – oh, best we forget all that morbid stuff for the flashback). Arrow takes itself seriously, but I cannot. The show, like its lead actor, tries too hard. But this isn’t a bad thing. That’s the attraction, something that makes Arrow so much fun to watch.