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Arrow 1.08 "Vendetta" Review: Changes

      Arrow 1.08, “Vendetta”, was another action-packed episode, but it didn’t introduce any new villains and actually felt like part two to last week’s part one. I quite enjoyed this actually as it felt like we actually got a little bit of a breather and a chance to catch up with the characters and storylines. The episode was written by Beth Schwarz and Andrew Kreisberg and was directed by Ken Fink. There were a number of really gorgeous shots in this episode. I'm thinking in particular of the shot in the Bertinelli mansion and the shots in the final confrontation that are mirrored in the water (I've included both further down in the review).
    I’m very much enjoying Colin Salmon’s portrayal of Walter. I’m still not convinced of whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy, just as Susanna Thompson’s portrayal of Moira has me on the fence about her character too. Salmon is excellent this week, however, and I really love his interactions with Emily Bett Rickards – Felicity Smoak is quickly becoming a favorite character. Rickards does a fantastic job with the comic notes in her scenes even while she has the thankless task of having to deliver a lot of the techno-babble in the show, which she also does very, very well. I hope she gets much more to do – both as an ally to Walter and to Oliver.
    This week sees Moira trying to re-build her relationship with Walter now that he’s returned. She tells him that she’s the same woman he fell in love with and married. The irony, perhaps, and also perhaps Walter’s fear, is that she is the same woman but that woman isn’t who he thought she was if she could have her husband murdered. I have to admit that I knew the “blank” book Walter found hidden in her room would turn out to be filled with names – in the same handwriting as in the book Robert gave to Oliver. Of course, Moira’s book doesn’t have any of the pages ripped out, so it should have more names than the book that Oliver has. It will be interesting to see if any of those names are significant... I’m betting they are. I’m also wondering if Richard was not the one to make the list, however. It will be interesting to see what Walter makes of the names, and if he links the dead ones to Arrow.
    Tommy and Laurel have the most awkward double date – EVER - with Oliver and Helena, ending in both couples having a fight and ending their relationships. In the end, it helps to strengthen Tommy and Laurel’s relationship when he goes to her to apologize. He admits he didn’t want to face reality or admit to her that he was scared. He’s afraid that he has nothing to bring to their relationship now that he has no money. Laurel reassures him that it’s ok to lean on his friends, including both Oliver and her. She also tells him she was never interested in his money. Tommy is being forced to change, to construct himself from the ground up and really take stock of who he is and who he can be. It’s telling that when he finally goes to Oliver to ask for help, he turns down the easy offer of money, and he asks for a job instead. He tells Oliver that he wants to change, to become something better. And finally, here is someone that Oliver maybe can help to change.
    Oliver obviously sees a lot of himself in Helena – I think that’s why he is so desperate to help her – because he sees what he might have become. The big difference between Oliver and Helena, however, is that Oliver was the one who destroyed his own happiness while Helena’s was destroyed by her own father. Although, to be fair, Helena was trying to destroy her father by going to the FBI, and she was indirectly responsible for Michael’s death when her father mistook her laptop for his. One of the best scenes in this episode is when Oliver bares his soul to Helena over Sara’s grave – admitting his responsibility for her death and confessing to have used her to avoid the commitment to Laurel. Helena accuses Oliver, after the date-from-Hell, of using Sara’s death to manipulate her and she accuses him of forcing her to have dinner with Laurel, when in fact, having dinner together was primarily Laurel and Helena’s idea. It’s enough to convince Oliver that Helena will see things as she wants to and that she can’t change. He tells Diggle that he can’t save her from going over the edge because she’s already past it.
    Diggle really comes into his own here as a mentor for Oliver, and I certainly hope that Oliver is going to lean a bit more on Diggle to help alleviate some of his loneliness. Diggle proves himself to be a very wise mentor – I think we have a LOT more to learn about Diggle. He is very perceptive about Helena, and doesn’t like her from the start. He recognizes that she can’t change because she’s already changed into “something dark and dangerous.” Diggle sums up the theme of the episode: “Love isn’t about changing or saving a person; it’s about finding the person who’s the right fit.”
    Once again we were treated to some great action sequences – and a great Oliver working out sequence... I thought Jessica De Gouw was stronger in this episode than last week. I’m sure we will be seeing her again. I’m always impressed by guest stars in a television series. They have to jump in and hit the ground running with little to no rehearsal to really come to grips with their character. When you add in the complex fight scenes in Arrow, it makes that job even more difficult, so having Helena over the course of 2 episodes really gave De Gouw a little breathing space to settle into the character. I’m very much enjoying peeling more layers back from Stephen Amell’s portrayal of Oliver. Diggle was right in saying that this isn’t the Oliver he – and we – met a few weeks ago. That Oliver would never have opened himself up and taken a risk with his heart – and as viewers, we are now getting a glimpse into much more of his character.
    Finally, just another shout out to the writers. This is another finely crafted episode – our theme of changing/saving someone ran through all the relationships highlighted in the episode. I can’t say enough about the smart writing we are getting here. I’m starting to really care about a lot of these characters, which means that I’m also starting to worry about them and which ones are going to go bad and why!
    What did you think of the episode? Do you think Tommy working for Oliver is a good idea? Do you think China White is dead? Or is she going to come back for Arrow? Let me know in the comments below.

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