TV Review: Arrow – “Code of Silence”

Code of Silence
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous episode of Arrow here.
The debut of the Demolition Team and excellent action directing by James Bamford elevated an Arrow episode that was otherwise all about justifying a secret that Oliver is wrong to keep.
Stunt coordinator James Bamford’s directorial debut, “Brotherhood”, had some of the best action and fight scenes Arrow had ever seen. “Code of Silence” may not have reached those heights, but it was still good enough to stand out as something special. Bamford’s handling of the camera during those stunt sequences really showed off the intensity of the battles, and you could tell he was proud of stunt team’s work and wanted to put it on display. Even the flashbacks felt a little more interesting than usual thanks to a strong hand-to-hand combat scene.
Demolition TeamThe Demolition Team didn’t stand out as villains very much, but their demolition “gimmick” was what made them unique and allowed for some gripping, stunt-heavy sequences. Arrow takes pride in its stunts and fight scenes, but for the past two years they’ve mostly been pretty standard. Bringing in people like James Bamford (and Lexi Alexander) is the right way to capitalize on that element of the show and allow Arrow to make its presence felt in the ever-expanding landscape of superhero television.
Another thing I liked about “Code of Silence” was bringing Damien Darhk back into the main plot after a three-episode absence. He isn’t in direct conflict with Oliver yet, but working behind the scenes with his wife on one hand and William on the other puts him back into the game in a major and deadly way. Especially with Malcolm on his side.
The rest of the episode was mostly about Oliver wrestling with keeping William a secret from Felicity, and that’s a storyline that frustrates me a lot. As happy as I was to see follow-up on the long-gestating William subplot, I still find it incredibly illogical that Samantha would ask Oliver to keep him a secret from everyone, including Felicity, and even more illogical that Oliver would comply. Even though this season has been all about Ollie becoming a better person and not keeping secrets anymore.
And this episode practically hit us over the head with it. “I don’t know how you kept secrets for four years, Oliver!” Wink, wink. “It’s a good thing you don’t have to keep secrets from Felicity anymore, Oliver!” Nudge, nudge.
Oliver and Ruve AdamsThe Lance and Donna subplot was actually pretty decent. It allowed Lance to appear in the episode in a relevant way, which is always nice, and added complexities to his character arc this season and his relationship with Donna, which had to this point been used mostly for comedy.
What I didn’t like about it was that it was put there to intentionally contrast with Oliver’s secret-keeping from Felicity. Felicity telling her mom to trust Quentin despite his lying was sweet, but it’ll make her a hypocrite when she inevitably finds out about William and, I’m guessing, takes it pretty badly. It feels like the scene was written in just to trick the audience into falsely believing that what Oliver’s doing is okay, and that Quentin/Donna benefiting from it was just a side-effect.
Another such scene was Oliver’s conversation with Thea after she found out about William. One thing I did like about it was the sibling bond between Oliver and Thea and seeing how they’ve grown since their rough relationship in Season 1. What I didn’t like, though, was that the scene was only there so that the writers could try to explain why they had Oliver keep William a secret, and use Thea’s blessing as a way to make it okay. But it backfired because the logic still doesn’t hold up. How does not telling Felicity keep William safe? Is Ollie okay with Thea finding out but not Felicity? And if Thea can find out about William so easily, can’t Felicity? Or Darhk’s wife? Oliver doesn’t know that Darhk already found out about William, so shouldn’t he worry about that too now that Ruvé’s running against him?
Speaking of the mayoral race, I wish the episode had shown us the debate between Oliver and Ruvé, especially since Oliver won. If you’re going to have Oliver run for mayor, show us Oliver running for mayor.
The episode did end on a very good cliffhanger though. I assume Darhk killed Samantha, which is pretty gruesome, and I have no doubt he’ll use William against Oliver as early as next week. I’m just very nervous about the inevitable fallout from Felicity learning about Oliver’s secret-keeping, and I really hope it doesn’t derail what has been a solid season so far.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

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