‘Arrow’ Review: “Home Invasion”
‘Arrow’ lets loose another episode with its twentieth outing of the series “Home Invasion,” as Oliver is forced to choose between helping Diggle take down Deadshot (Michael Rowe), and helping Laurel protect a young client from enigmatic assassin Mr. Blank ('Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s J. August Richards).
Previous ‘Arrow’ episode “Unfinished Business” saw the resurgence of “Vertigo” leading Oliver to investigate the institutionalized Count (‘Fringe’s Seth Gabel), while Tommy concealed a dangerous secret from a persistent Detective Lance. So, what does the twentieth episode of ‘Arrow’ bring? Does it hit the same bulls-eye as the first 19 episodes?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’s latest episode, “Home Invasion!”
While Diggle and Oliver train for their plan to take down Deadshot, the killer himself takes aim and fires at a political figure across town. Felicity updates the pair that A.R.G.U.S. chatter has revealed Deadshot to be in town, before Oliver breaks for a likely awkward lunch date with Laurel. Meanwhile in his memory, Oliver learns from Shado (Celina Jade) that he must learn to use a bow as part of their plan to take down Fyers.
Diggle meets with his A.R.G.U.S. contact Lyla, who realizes his intentions and demands he stay away from Deadshot. Meanwhile, Oliver arrives at Laurel’s office for lunch, but finds her two busy tending to a case with the Moore family, going up against corrupt investor Edward Rasmus for stealing their life’s savings. That night, a mysterious man enters the Moore home under the guise of providing legal documents, but quickly shoots the mother and father dead. Young Taylor Moore spies the man through the door, but manages to escape before the shooter can get to him.
As Social Services prepares to take Taylor away, Laurel volunteers to provide temporary shelter for Taylor, regardless of her father or Tommy’s reservations. Oliver arrives at the office looking to offer his condolences, but Tommy quickly boxes him out from getting too involved, not knowing he and Laurel had met for lunch. Back in the past, Oliver attempts to learn to shoot steadily, growing closer with Shado, while Slade scoffs at their flirtatious behavior.
Back at the lair, Oliver assures Diggle they’ll get Deadshot at A.R.G.U.S.’ upcoming sting operation, tasking Felicity with keeping an ear out for Edward Rasmus as well. Oliver heads off to guard Laurel’s, just as Detective Lance does the same, but not before running into Roy Harper. Lance brushes off Roy’s inquiries into the vigilante, not noticing that Roy swipes his police radio from the detective's desk.
Over at Laurel’s both Tommy and Laurel console young Tyler before a knock at the door brings the mysterious Mr. Blanks. Laurel realizes him to be a fake from his badge number, before the hitman breaks in and opens fire. Tommy and Tyler hide just long enough for Laurel to open fire with her own shotgun, but Oliver quickly bursts through the window and drives the killer off, locking eyes with Tommy on his way out. After the police arrive, Tommy reluctantly suggests they stay at the Queen mansion, given its enhanced security system and protective detail.
With guards at every post, the group sets up at the Queen mansion, though Oliver quickly departs to go join Diggle on the mission to Deadshot. Elsewhere, Roy and Thea share dinner before Roy rushes off to sounds of vigilante activity over the radio. Once Roy arrives at the supposed site however, Quentin and the others appear and take Roy in, having staged the call to get back his radio.
While Diggle and the ARGUS agents set themselves up for Deadshot’s appearance, Oliver learns from Felicity that Edward Rasmus has booked a getaway flight to Shanghai, and makes his choice to help Laurel instead. Oliver stops the man’s car and threatens him into confessing his crimes, while back at the A.R.G.U.S. sting Deadshot manages to get the drop on them and takes out four undercover agents. Diggle pursues and manages to corner the assassin in a stairwell, but Deadshot quickly overpowers him, and threatens to kill him in the future.
Oliver returns to the lair, finding a bitter Diggle treating his wounds and upset that Oliver chose Laurel’s welfare over his. In the past, Shado demonstrates her own prowess with a bow, urging Oliver to give in to his senses, to which the two share a kiss. Oliver breaks the moment, pointing out he has someone he loves back home, though she may not know it until he returns. Meanwhile in the present, Laurel looks over Tyler, as Oliver returns to announce that Rasmus turned himself in, ending the threat to all of them.
Or did it? Mr. Blank visits Rasmus in custody, and asserts that he still needs to go after the boy for seeing his face, despite Rasmus’ pleas to call off the hit. Subtly, Blank handles Rasmus’ hand in such a way as to send an air bubble toward his brain, causing an aneurism. Blank apologizes for his action, as Rasmus slowly keels over dead. Across the station, Thea picks up Roy from captivity, before Detective Lance attempts to dissuade them from their hero fixation by showing the gruesome remains of one of the vigilante’s victims.
Laurel confesses to Oliver in a private moment that he’d since changed more than she’d given him credit for, not knowing Tommy to be listening around the corner. Downstairs, a delivery boy arrives as a distraction for the guards, before Mr. Blank quickly shoots his way into the mansion. Oliver urges Laurel and Tommy to hide with Tyler as the power goes out, heading off to confront the assassin.
After stalking around the house, Oliver finally engages Mr. Blank in a brutal back-and-forth fight through the house, before ending the man’s life with a fireplace poker. In the aftermath, both Oliver and Tommy give credit for the kill to one of the fallen guards, while Tommy laments to Oliver that Laurel would choose him if she knew his true heroic identity.
The next day, Laurel places Tyler in the custody of his grandparents, soon finding that Tommy intends to leave her apartment as well, claiming not to have been ready for the relationship’s commitment. Elsewhere, Roy explains to Thea that his encounter with the Hood changed his life, and gave him an ideal to strive toward, their destinies linked. Reluctantly, Thea agrees to help him track the vigilante down and join his quest.
Oliver returns to the lair to find Diggle sulking, as Diggle ultimately decides to leave the team behind. The resignation causes Oliver to remember his and Shado’s return to Slade’s airplane, shortly after which Yao Fei appears, having led all of Fyers’ men directly to them.
After the relative misfire that was "Unfinished Business," we liked returning to 'Arrow' with a renewed sense of purpose, and a more intimate tale fraught with emotions. Much of the hour is layered in personal betrayals and frustrations, as Tommy realizes how Oliver's secret continually impedes his own sense of self-worth, while Diggle comes to grips with his own lack of importance in Oliver's quest.
For the most part, each story works rather well, playing out with a bare minimum of moments that fail to land, particular standouts being Tommy (Colin Donnell)'s ability to connect with young Tyler over their parents' deaths. Somewhat less effective over the course of the hour is the appearance of J. August Richards, an 'Angel' alum soon to re-team with Joss Whedon for 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,' as the "Mr. Blank" character's eccentricities contrast a bit too much with his relative screen-time. The same treatment ultimately befell Seth Gabel's "The Count," where the Deadshot character benefits from his development over multiple episodes, so as to feel more organic.
All in all, a fine return to form that launches us into the final episodes of the season, though not without some minimal stumbling.
What say you? Did you feel that ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its twentieth episode? What did you like about “Home Invasion?” Join us next week for another all-new ‘Arrow’ episode recap of “The Undertaking” on The CW!