LOL at Diggle calling their underground base "the Arrow Cave." Big Reveal at the end that Byron Mann was part of the bad guys on the Island. When I saw the pilot at Comic Con, the big reveal was Oliver's Mom had him captured for questioning so I'm sure there's more to this. Thea is back to using drugs based on thinking her Mom is having an affair with Tommy Merlin's Dad...... saw crashing the car she was begging for all episode coming a mile away.
Trust, who do ya? The theme of trust is paramount among our heroic and villainous denizens of Starling City this week. Can Oliver trust Diggle when Diggle's old commanding officer comes to town and it turns out he's on The List? Can Diggle trust said commanding officer? Can Thea trust her mother when she sees Moira as the recipient of Malcolm Merlyn's busy hands and thus Thea assumes they're having an affair? Can Tommy trust his father when Malcolm invites him out to dinner to get to know Laurel better? On the Island five years ago, can the soldiers trust this new guy who showed up looking for the prisoner Yao Fei? Can anyone trust Thea not to wreck her band new convertible? Why, can the hospital staff of Starling City General trust that a Queen won't end up in their care every other week?
The Blackhawks make their Arrow television debut fresh from the pages of World War II DC Comics and other guest starring roles over the years. This time they're not a bunch of flyboy fighter pilots shooting down Nazis over Dinosaur Island but a team of paramilitary types commanded by Ted Gaynor, Diggle's old XO from Afghanistan. They're the Blackhawk Squad Protection Group, suspected of pulling off a bunch of armored car robberies. Oliver and Diggle butt heads over this and Diggle tries to get in good with the Blackhawks, even taking them to Big Belly Burger, but it's soon revealed the Blackhawks are in fact the evil armored car robbers. (Diggle's discovery of this is cemented when he peels off the Blackhawk decal from the humvees to reveal "Evil Armored Car Robbers" written underneath.) Oliver planted Dig with a listening device, but Diggle didn't really need the Hood's help in rescuing his kidnapped sister in law or saving himself. Not when he gets in the bad ass line of the night: "You're forgetting something. I'm the one with the rocket launcher!"
Diggle and Oliver get beyond their little tiff and reaffirm their trust for each other. Why, Oliver even referred to him as his partner. But Diggle joked that with all the people above building the new Queen nightclub, Oliver might consider a side entrance to the "Arrow Cave". Hilarious. Also, makes no sense, since "Arrow" isn't what the Hood or the Vigilante is called within the show. "Hood Cave" would have made much more sense. But maybe Diggle has already worked out what Oliver's code name will eventually be and hasn't clued Oliver in on it yet.
Meanwhile, the odious Malcolm Merlyn has been touchy-feely all episode. Thea eavesdrops on a secret meeting between Malcolm and Moira where she sees him pawing her back, which seems to be his move, and Thea quickly jumps to the conclusion that they're humping, based on her 5 year old suspicions that they were humping even before her dad drowned at sea. Somehow Thea missed the really incriminating parts of the conversation, like when Moira asked for proof of life for Walter from Merlyn. Thea can't trust her mom and Oliver doesn't seem too interested in investigating whatever might be going on in the many rooms of Stately Queen Manor.
This week, however, the event that the late Robert Queen dreaded and able bodied men everywhere tent their fingers for has come to pass: Thea Queen turns eighteen. She's hot, she's rich, her brother's a superhero unbeknownst to her, and she's messed up. Thea is the catch of catches. Thea's been hinting that she wants a convertible (because Oliver got one when he turned 18) and she gets it, along with an expensive looking birthday party full of her hot teen friends giving her presents in clear plastic baggies: drugs. But not just any drugs: a hip, new, designer narcotic called Vertigo, heralding the arrival of "the Count" (DC Comics third tier baddie Count Vertigo) next week. Thea once again misinterprets Malcolm's spirit fingers on her mom's back as their affair, takes her Vertigo like a good little girl, and proceeds to get high and smash up her brand new convertible. Her reaction when she comes to at the hospital with Moira and Oliver at her bedside is about right: "The car--?" Unfortunately for Thea, her bloodwork came back soaked in the highly illegal Vertigo and the cops arrest her. Which means within four months, both Queen children have been arrested. Detective Lance must be loving this.
Tommy gets a personal invitation to dinner from his father, and who says he's impressed that Tommy got a job and started being a responsible person after Malcolm cut him off. Tommy's still resentful about the cutting off part. At a swank sushi dinner with Laurel, the subject of Tommy's dead mother kept coming up and rankling both Merlyn boys. Finally, Malcolm reveals he wants to sell the late Mrs. Malcolm's pride and joy, a clinic she set up, and that sets Tommy off the deep end. Later, Tommy gives Laurel a little backstory, about how when his mom died when he was eight, Malcolm disappeared for two years. We hear this story as Malcolm stands in his own Arrow Cave looking at an old family photo surrounded by his Dark Archer gear and weaponry. If it were me, though, and Malcolm treated me to a sushi dinner like that, I'd sign whatever he put in front of me. Just sayin'.
On the Island five years ago, Oliver, who killed a soldier and donned his gear and hood last week, tries to infiltrate the troops of the evil Edward Fyers and rescue Yao Fei. Maybe the saddest moment of the episode is when Oliver had a tray of food in front of him after not having eaten for who knows how long, and he had to drop it to go take a jeep around the Island. Fyers was onto him from the start, however, and we get a major reveal: Yao Fei was working for Fyers all along! Huh? But how? And why? (One more reveal from Oliver to Diggle, that Oliver didn't necessarily spend all five years he was missing on the Island.)
Finally, there's Felicity Smoak, who probably was the most disappointed of all this week. When Oliver approaches her to decrypt a thumb drive with some cockamamie story about a scavenger hunt with an expensive bottle of wine for her at the end, she uncovers the secret info about the Blackhawks.
An enjoyable enough episode, but the whole Black Hawk story didn't hold together for me on further reflection. Like...did something happen that turned Ted Gaynor from Guy Diggle Totally Trusted into Guy Who Robs Armored Cars With Military Hardware? Heck, did we even get an explanation of why they needed to rob 4 cars? Add in him kidnapping Diggle's sister-in-law just in case he might want to force Diggle to wield a rocket launcher for him, and he really seemed like a guy who was just evil for evil's sake.
And how did all that get him into The Book, anyway?
I felt about the same as It's False in that the newer episodes don't have the same oomph of the older shows in the series. For me though, I think it is that more of the political leanings seeped into the newer episodes.