‘Arrow’ Review: “Time of Death”
‘Arrow’ season 2 lets loose its fourteenth episode of the year with “Time of Death,” as Felicity struggles to find her place when Oliver and Sara go up against DC villain The Clock King ('Heroes' Robert Knepper), while Laurel's family reunion continues a downward spiral, and Oliver is confronted by a face from the past.
Previous ‘Arrow’ installment “Heir to the Demon” saw Nyssa al Ghul ('Spartacus' star Katrina Law) arriving in Starling City to reclaim Sara by threatening her family, while Oliver learned yet another deadly secret about his mother's past, so what does the fourteenth episode of ‘Arrow’ season 2 bring? Does Oliver's latest DC foe join the ranks of forgettable one-offs, or bring about an even bigger bad?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’ season 2, episode 14, “Time of Death!”
At the Kord Industries building, William Tockman (Knepper) guides two thugs by radio, giving them precise instructions down to the second to ascend to a secure floor, and knock out a security detail carrying a mysterious item in a briefcase. Once the thugs retrieve the item, Tockman instructs them to wait in a precise, but seemingly vulnerable spot for a few seconds, though one thug impatiently disobeys, and is forced to kill a guard as a result. The alarms tripped, the thugs escape the building and muscle their way through the police, blending in outside with an approaching protest.
Sara spars with Oliver and Diggle, after which the three compare wartime scars, leaving Felicity left out. As Oliver and Sara plan not to flaunt their recent coupling at the party for Sara’s return, back in the past, Oliver, Sara and Slade eye the Amazo freighter from a distance, before a small plane passes overhead, but ends up shot out of the sky. Meanwhile in the present, Tockman kills the thug who disobeyed him, spouting the virtues of patience from 'War and Peace.'
The Lances (save for Laurel) show up to the party at the Queen mansion, leading Sin to almost expose Sara’s identity by acting too familiar. Quentin takes Oliver aside to apologize for how he’d treated him about Sara after his return from the island, after which Quentin and Dinah seem to bond over their renewed family. Oliver and his mother bitterly pretend to be fine for the sake of appearances with Thea, before the latest crime calls both Quentin and Oliver away.
Quentin meets with Arrow and Canary to alert them to the deceased thug, handing over the murder weapon, as Oliver deduces that the item Tockman stole is an experimental “skeleton key” that Queen Industries stopped production of, and could potentially be used to open bank vaults. Later, Canary offers some unwelcome advice to Felicity as she attempts to train, while Oliver assures her of her worth in finding Tockman. Back in the past, Sara finds the survivor of the plane barely alive, and sends Oliver for medical supplies.
Quentin drops by Laurel’s apartment to talk her into a more intimate family dinner, believing that that his relationship with Dinah is on the mend, before Tockman’s latest crime calls Quentin away. At the scene, Tockman’s men load up a bank vault’s money, just barely escaping before Oliver and Sara arrive, though when Felicity attempts to track the thugs down, Tockman hacks into their network and threatens that he rigged a nearby bus to collide with an impending freight train. Sara manages to pursue Tockman to the alley and wound him with a baton, though he escapes just as Oliver catches up to the bus on his motorcycle, and stops the collision with a moment to spare.
Back at Verdant, Thea points out to Oliver that things seem tense between he and Moira, though Oliver denies anything wrong. Meanwhile downstairs, Felicity has managed to improve their computer security, while Sara’s blood analysis has revealed the man to have MacGregor’s syndrome, a disease just rare enough to identify the criminal in medical databases. Oliver and Sara visit the location where Tockman is supposedly registered, though he anticipated Felicity’s move, and infiltrates the lair’s computers once again, this time destroying them with an explosive virus.
While Felicity tries desperately to salvage the wrecked computers, Oliver poses they move a large amount of money into his personal account to act as bait for Tockman, though in the meantime a bitter Felicity suggests Sara go to her family dinner. Sara asks Oliver to tag along for emotional support, and Diggle assures Felicity that she’s irreplaceable. A short while later, Sara and Oliver show up at the dinner, though Laurel and the others are predictably surprised to see Oliver. The conversation turns sour when Quentin suggests Dinah quit her job and return to Starling, forcing Dinah to reveal that she has someone else in Central City. Laurel quickly deduces from Oliver and Sara’s table behavior that they too have rekindled their relationship, causing her to berate her family and storm out of the apartment. Back in the past, Sara comforts the dying pilot, who asks Sara to find his 12 year-old daughter, who will have no one after his passing.
Oliver angrily confronts Laurel in the hallway, having grown tired of Laurel blaming everyone else for her own issues and insecurities. Oliver renounces his ability to care about Laurel’s continued spiral, before returning to the lair to find that Felicity has mysteriously disappeared, though she soon calls in to reveal that she set up her own trap for Tockman at the Starling bank.
A while later, Oliver, Diggle and Sara manage to find Felicity before Tockman and his men arrive, though Tockman soon makes his presence known, and shuts off nearby gas mains to cause a potential explosion. Diggle races to attend to the valves, while Oliver goes after Tockman’s thugs, and Felicity realizes she can track Tockman’s movements through the mains. She and Sara manage to finally confront the villain, who insists he stole the money for his dying sister, before raising his gun. Felicity shoves Sara out of the way of the bullet, grazing herself, before using Tockman’s own virus to detonate the phone in his jacket, knocking him out.
Sara patches up a somewhat drugged out Felicity, as Oliver inquires about her feeling left out of late. Felicity admits she had grown used to being Oliver’s “girl,” though he assures her she still is. Shortly thereafter upstairs, Sara settles into her job as the new Verdant bartender, as Oliver gets an urgent text from Thea, and Laurel shows up to make amends with her sister. Laurel begs Sara not to hate her for what she’s become, before the two finally embrace.
Awhile later, Sin greets Sara upstairs, as we see that the young girl in a photo from the pilot was indeed Sin. After the pilot died, Oliver found a parachute in the plane wreckage that they might use to get aboard Ivo’s freighter. Meanwhile in the present, Oliver arrives home to find that Thea tricked him into meeting with his mother, who herself was busy entertaining a guest at the mansion. Moira introduces Oliver to the man, none other than the present day Slade Wilson.
Whew. So, where were we before all those messy Olympics cut off our weekly ‘Arrow’? Ah yes, we had Nyssa al Ghul arriving in town to reveal a surprising relationship with Sara, in turn outing her survival to the rest of the family, while Brother Blood and the present-day Slade continued their shadowy motivations, Moira began a mayoral campaign and Thea remained in the dark about her true paternity. Plus, season 3 renewal! We shouldn’t exactly consider “Time of Death” a “premiere” in the way that “Blast Radius” kicked off the year in January, but it’s hard not to feel as similar sort of adjustment period woven around the seams.
It’s certainly an adjustment and a great jumping off point to have Sara now firmly a part of Team Arrow, crowding out the “cave” in ways we’ve heard teased through the various stars, forcing Felicity to find her own niche amid the scarred, muscly warriors in her midsts. And like other ‘Arrow’ premieres, we have yet another recognizable DC villain in a one-off appearance, portrayed by a recognizable genre star. In other installments, that might prove cause for concern, but thankfully “Time of Death”s very outset firmly establishes Knepper’s calculating William Tockman in a manner far less outlandish than a comic counterpart, but without losing any of the distinct menace. Leave it to a genre pro like Knepper to perfectly sell villainy without coming across either campy or bland, but extra touches like his penchant for philosophy, Batman referencing, and some effective musical cues firmly plant the Clock King among ‘Arrow’’s better villains.
Along a similar line, Laurel’s story through the second season has been especially hit and miss , though the writing definitely scored a bit of sympathy in previous installments to have Laurel’s rage somewhat justified by the sheer gravitational effect all of Sara’s actions had on their family. Few of Laurel's drug-related spirals really resonated, though it was smart of the writing to turn Quentin’s overly raised optimism for a reconciliation with his wife into something Laurel could get behind, putting aside the pills to give her family a shot. Of course, even though it all predictably went down in flames, the brutal dinner scene and its shouty aftermath between Laurel and Oliver were a nice way to balance all the spinning plates we’ve seen this season, without undermining their effectiveness. We haven’t seen very much between Laurel and Oliver this season, at least in the way of direct drama, and their confrontation nicely invoked a sense of history between the two, that either side had strong justifications to divide by.
Elsewhere, we know Diggle will be getting his own spotlight later on this season, though it certainly didn’t’ hurt to have him supporting Felicity, whom even we’re astonished to realize we’ve come this far into the review without delving into. It’s especially impressive to consider how the character had been intended as a one-shot, but now completely owns her spotlight in a episode that highlights the character's strengths, as much as her weaknesses. She may not have all the combat skills of her companions (no worries filling out athletic wear, though), but the Clock King’s menace made for an effective arch-nemesis of her own, even as the team gave her an only-slightly-condescending pat on the back for her life-saving actions this week. Most refreshing of all, underscoring her value to the team was very well established as something beyond simple petty jealousy for Oliver and Sara, in a way that Oliver’s “you’ll always be my girl” felt like a genuine bond, rather than an obligatory romantic gesture.
Of course, there’s always bad with the good, so we’ll shine a light on the less effective flashback sequences focusing on Sara this week. It isn’t that a backstory for Sara’s relationship with Sin really weighed on the story more than it should, though the appearance of the island plane really raised more questions than it solved, while the girl in the picture’s identity wasn’t really much of a mystery, all things considered. Equally ineffective was Laurel’s final confrontation with Sara, the absurdly heavy-handed dialogue of which almost entirely derailed any good will of her earlier scene with Oliver. It’s good to see the pair no longer at odds, and with Laurel getting the treatment she needs for her addictions, but good grief, was the screenwriter drunk at the wheel for that schlock-fest.
And hey, how about that ending? It’d have been nice, if the earlier-released photos for “The Promise” didn’t entirely give away that present-day Slade would be making his presence known, though we suspected he’d pop up in the final moments to make the photo revelation less egregious. It’s a shame to have been robbed of that moment, which would have given “Time of Death” much more weight overall, and the promise of an epic showdown next week, both past and present. Hopefully we’ll hear from Brother Blood as well, and find more time for Roy Harper than an obligatory cameo in the Queen mansion. Things are getting crowded, for certain, though “Time of Death” is a good indication ‘Arrow’ remains up to the task.
Well, what say you? Did ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its latest installment? Were you shocked to see the present Slade revealing himself to Oliver? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us next Wednesday for another all-new ‘Arrow’ recap of season 2, episode 15, “The Promise” on The CW!