Arrow's back, Viners! After taking a few weeks off, the show returns with an episode that really steps up the drama and makes some absolutely huge developments. To top it all off, Time of Death even manages to use a new villain, the Clock King, to give Felicity some time to shine! Who doesn't want that, right?
First and foremost, this is a ginormous episode for Laurel. For several episodes now, many of us have been beyond frustrated with the character. Yes, she's endured hardship after hardship, but nothing was ever done to make us want to see her recover. Much of the time she was lashing out at others or acting like a complete brat -- it felt virtually impossible to root for her. Without blatantly spoiling what happens, I will say the writers create two absolutely critical scenes for the character. The first one with Oliver is intense and gives Stephen Amell a chance to deliver a more compelling performance. It's just too bad that an overuse of handheld cameras became distracting. I understand the shakiness is an attempt to sell the intensity of the heated conversation, but it reaches a point where it's just jarring instead of beneficial. For the second scene, Katie Cassidy offers a powerful performance as she talks with her sister, Sara. It's a legitimately strong scene and most certainly a key moment for the show. Laurel's not the only Lance with some emotional drama this week, either. Her father, Quentin, has a scene that is almost guaranteed to soak some of your empathy.
The flashbacks in this episode don't progress the island story (until the very end, that is), but that's okay because they exist to make a major reveal about the dynamic between two characters in the modern day story. Truth be told, you'll probably see the twist coming a mile away, yet thanks to the performances and directing, it's still an impactful and effective moment.
William Tockman aka The Clock King is played by Robert Knepper and he gives a fine performance. Ultimately, his plot isn't all that special, but how it impacts Felicity totally is. With Sara now in the mix, Felicity is questioning what she brings to the team when Tockman is able to counter her technical skills. Felicity's almost always there to put a smile on our face as she says something likable (so, she's basically the opposite of Laurel?), but it's great to see some depth given to the character. After all, everyone else on the team can go out and fight crime and she's stuck back in the base. This narrative also gives her the opportunity to be the focal point in a good scene with each character on the team (Oliver, Sara, Diggle). Plus, the performance Emily Bett Rickards gives in her final scene is flat-out awesome and, unless you have a heat of ice, it'll give you a good laugh.
Going into spoilers here, so skip to the next paragraph if you don't want 'em! I'm thrilled they're turning Slade Wilson into a more prominent character, but how many times are we going to see him serve as the big reveal in the cliffhanger? It's like the fourth time now, right? Thankfully, it looks like they're done teasing Deathstroke and he'll finally play a larger role in the next episode.
As much as I loved the handling of the drama, there were a couple times where the music simply felt like too much and took a little bit away from the moment. Perhaps if the volume was little lower or if the score was less like something you'd hear in a romantic movie it wouldn't be as distracting. This only happened twice, but both times it hurt the scene by feeling too cheesy instead of actually helping to pull more emotion from me. Also, it's kind of odd to make Roy part of the team and then literally reduce him to one or two lines and have him not in the loop at all. It would be great to see them incorporate him a little more now that he's officially met the team -- well, everyone except for Sara in costume.
You know what's funny? I'm a sucker for a good action scene and the fights in this one were minimal, yet Time of Death still turned out to be one of my favorite episodes. They've taken massive steps with Laurel and did a praiseworthy job juggling some solid drama with the rest of the cast. This gave the actors a chance to step up and each of them nailed it. The fact the episode included a couple of blatant easter eggs doesn't hurt, either! Then there's the cliffhanger which finally promises to deliver on something we've been waiting quite some time so see!