‘Arrow’ Review: “Dead to Rights”
‘Arrow’ lets loose another episode with its sixteenth outing of the series “Dead to Rights,” as Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) attempts to protect Malcolm Merlyn when a returning Deadshot (Michael Rowe) targets him for assassination, while Tommy.reluctantly reconnects with his father, and even Laurel finds her familial bonds in question when her mother unexpectedly reappears.
Last week’s ‘Arrow’ episode “Dodger” saw Oliver going up against the latest criminal to make his way through Starling City (‘Battlestar Galactica‘s James Callis), while Thea tracked down the troubled young Roy Harper (‘Teen Wolf‘s Colton Haynes) after he stole her purse. So, what does the sixteenth episode of ‘Arrow’ bring? Does it hit the same bulls-eye as the first 15 episodes?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’s latest episode, “Dead to Rights!”
As the Starling City police speed to intercept, a chopper touches down on a helipad, and out steps an assassin named Guillermo Barrera. Speaking to an unseen figure over the phone, Barrera demands half his pay for an assassination, before the phone is shot out of his hands, and Oliver engages him. Barrera attacks with knives, but Oliver gets the better of him and stabs him with an arrow, disappearing before the Starling police arrive.
Back at the lair, Diggle trains Felicity to defend herself as Oliver returns, and asks her to hack into the phone and find the man’s target. Rushing off to meet McKenna, Oliver remembers back on the island how he struggled with chin-ups, but believed he could help himself and Slade find a way off the island by repairing a radio damaged in their plane’s crash.
Oliver meets McKenna at Tommy’s birthday celebration in Laurel’s apartment, but the festivity is quickly broken by the appearance of Tommy’s father. Apologizing for their recent distance, Malcolm begs his son to attend a gala honoring his humanitarian efforts, but Tommy coldly refuses the invitation. Elsewhere, a still living Floyd Lawton returns to his apartment in Bludhaven, before China White greets him, and offers him a chance to come out of retirement using an enhanced technological eye-patch to compensate for his damaged eye.
While Malcolm and the members of his Undertaking meet to cement their plans, Felicity manages to uncover from the phone that Barrera placed a call to the Jade Dragon restaurant in Chinatown, a known front for the mob. Oliver takes Tommy there in the guise of a birthday dinner, but excuses himself to confront a thug in the back room, learning from a lowly Triad accountant that there's an assassination scheduled to take place the following day, but he doesn't find out the target. Flashing back to the past, Oliver manages to fix Slade’s radio, but the pair quickly find no one on the other end can hear them.
Oliver alerts Quentin to a potential assassination the next night, as everyone readies themselves for the gala, including Tommy. Meanwhile, Laurel receives a call from her wayward mother, but ignores it out of shock. The next night at the gala itself, Moira waits patiently for the assassins to make their move, as Malcolm delivers a speech in honor of his late wife pledging his dedication to save the city.
Back at the lair’s overhead club, Oliver shares a romantic picnic with McKenna, before being alerted to the fact that Felicity cracked the assassin's phone, revealing the target as none other than Malcolm Merlyn. Oliver rushes off, as back at the gala, China White pulls the fire alarm, and Malcolm witnesses his security taken out by Triad thugs dressed as waiters. Deadshot watches from across the street through his scope, but sees that Malcolm didn’t come outside as expected, and rather headed upstairs to secure Tommy’s safety.
Malcolm and Tommy duck gunfire from the thugs, as Oliver arrives to intervene, taking on China White in a brutal hand-to-hand battle. Tommy witnesses his father effortlessly taking down thugs and killing them, before the father-son pair secure themselves in Malcolm’s office panic room. Deadshot diminishes their safety by launching explosive rounds at the bulletproof glass, while downstairs Oliver nearly finds himself cornered by McKenna. Escaping upstairs, Oliver finds himself arriving too late to stop Malcolm from being shot through the broken glass, though his bulletproof vest offers some protection. Oliver realizes that the bullets are laced with curare, Deadshot’s signature weapon, and reluctantly reveals his identity to Tommy to facilitate setting up an impromptu blood transfusion.
Though Malcolm failed to see Oliver’s identity, Tommy denies any knowledge of the vigilante’s identity to the police. Watching the scene from a nearby rooftop, Oliver remembers how he and Slade managed to listen in on one of Fyers’ transmissions about his benefactor and a mysterious “Scylla” monster, later revealed to be a complex anti-aircraft turret capable of starting a major war from the island.
Oliver reluctantly informs Diggle of Floyd Lawton’s survival, before racing to the hospital, and sharing a brief moment with McKenna on his way to see Malcolm. Tommy and Malcolm too make up in the hospital room, as Malcolm begins to explain that after his wife’s death he spent years in a place called Nanda Parbat honing his purpose to save Starling City. The reveal of his mysterious teacher is cut short by Moira’s appearance, and Malcolm urges her to find the traitor within their ranks that led to the assassination attempt. Outside the room, Oliver approaches Tommy to begin explaining his identity as the vigilante, but admits he never intended for Tommy to find out.
Back in her apartment, Laurel calls Tommy and prepares to meet him at the hospital, but finds her mother Dinah (‘Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston) waiting for her in the hallway. Admitting certain mistakes she’d made in the past, Dinah reveals that she has reason to believe Laurel’s sister Sarah is alive after all.
A few weeks ago we were surprised to see that the largely island-based "The Odyssey" proved to be one of the better episodes of the series to date, a revelation we're happy to see balanced by the Starling City-centric "Dead to Rights." Written by DC comics magnate Geoff Johns, "Dead to Rights" displays a great deal more action and excitement than usual, deftly balancing DC characters and mythology as well. Though China White still feels somewhat superfluous, both Deadshot and Malcolm Merlyn are given some much-needed definition, while Oliver's identity revelation to Tommy should prove one of the more difficult twists to deal with going forward. We won't see 'Arrow' for near of a month after tonight's episode, but "Dead to Rights" easily delivers on the series' promise with an episode we hope raises the bar going forward.
What say you? Did you feel that ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its sixteenth episode? What did you like about “Dead to Rights?” Join us next month for another all-new ‘Arrow’ episode recap of “The Huntress Returns” on The CW!