After last week’s brief absence, which our wonderful EIC Emmy covered so gracefully, I am now back with a new recap (and finally caught up with most of the TV I missed while doing business at the Berlinale).
This week, Arrow tackles one of America’s most controversial topics: gun ownership. The show does so in a surprisingly sensitive matter. In“Spectre of the Gun”, Oliver, as the mayor this time, is faced with a shooter at City Hall.
The episode opens with Dinah sparring with Diggle, while Felicity is using the Pandora Box she received from a fellow hacktivist to get information on the location of who they assume is Prometheus’s mother.
We then witness the return of Thea Queen to the show. Where have you been, Speedy? We are certainly glad to have you back. She comes back to her job at City Hall and realizes that things have drastically changed.
Not only has Quentin returned from rehab, but her brother is dating the dragon lady, Susan Williams. I do believe I speak for the fandom that Thea is quite an accurate portrayal of how many feel about that particular development in Oliver’s life. In addition to that, Thea learns that no other than René has been hired as the deputy mayor’s assistant.
Celebrations are cut short when City Hall becomes the victim of a mass-shooting. Even though Quentin and René try to stop the killer, the man gets away unscathed. He did, however, leave death and destruction behind.
The event causes Team Arrow to repeatedly discuss gun violence, gun registries, and gun laws throughout the episode. While Curtis is clearly for strict gun possession laws; René and even Dinah believe that as a free Americans, they should have the right to defend themselves.
When Felicity gets an identity for the shooter the team learns that the man is a 44-year-old system analyst, someone with no record. James Edlund lost his whole family in a mass-shooting at a ball several years ago. A shooting that may have been apprehended if the current administration had approved stricter gun laws. He is now looking for revenge on the government that failed his family.
Oliver addresses the City Hall shooting at a press conference, but he is attacked by attending reporters for not having a clear standing on gun control. He turns to his team for help. Quentin tells him that this problem is one he cannot solve in his leathers. This is something he needs to take on as the mayor. Oliver calls for a meeting with a councilwoman who was opposed to the Star City Gun Registry.
Meanwhile, the remaining members of Team Arrow work towards locating Edlund. They find his hide-out, along with floor plans to Starling General, his next hit. Oliver, not sporting his usual green suit, meets the man there. He tells him the truth about his family’s death – the shooter acquired the gun he used illegally, even a registry could not have stopped him. Oliver can eventually talk the man down and he is apprehended by the police.
After the scarring events of the episode, Oliver and the councilwoman agree on a law on gun control, called the Star City Firearms Freedom Act. It does not restrict ownership, but still hopes to make the streets a safer place. How? That’s one secret they will never tell…
Throughout the episode we get a closer look at René’s past. Instead of following Oliver’s time in Russia, this week we get to experience a day in the life of Wild Dog. We learn that he was married to a woman, who he believed was still using drugs, and had a young daughter. He was still very much involved in criminal activity, and fought with his wife over keeping a gun in their home.
One day, he returns home from a game with his daughter to find that his home had been invaded by his wife’s drug dealer. He threatens to kill her over money that she owes him. While René tries to take control, the situation escalates: shots are fired and René’s wife is killed in front of their daughter.
Due to the circumstances, René lost custody of the child. During the same time, he saw on the news that people have fought with the Green Arrow to beat Damien Darhk. This is when he picked up his hockey mask and decided to hit up the streets as a vigilante himself.
This week Arrow is brave enough to talk politics. It may not directly address the dire situation that the country is currently in, but it does address – and quite frankly so – one of America’s biggest issues to date. How does the country deal with gun control? What can be done in order to make cities safer without restricting personal freedom?
The show does so in a clever way, by representing various opinions on the matter through different characters. There’s Curtis, who is very much against any form of gun ownership, or René, who is very much against any form of restriction, and even Felicity, who apparently has no opinion at all (which is quite ironic considering she was the victim of gun violence not even a season ago). It may simplify what is an incredibly difficult and complex discussion, but this episode touches upon a controversy. Do they eventually value one side more than the other? We wouldn’t know.
Apart from addressing the issue at hand, this episode focused a lot on René and what led to him becoming the vigilante we met in the season five premiere. It does give the character a lot more depth. It helps in understanding what he went through in the past. Does it make him a more likeable character, though? That’s for the audience to decide.
Curtis: “I don’t have no problem with your right to bear arms so long as it doesn’t conflict with my right to, you know, live.”
René: “Are you kidding me? Look at what we do, man. Our whole life is violence. “
Curtis: “I’m not talking about what we do to protect the city. I’m talking about the fact that as a black man I am three times more likely to be killed by a gun than you. “
Oliver: “Both my parents are dead. My friend Tommy was one of the 503 killed in the Undertaking. Laurel Lance was my friend. Nobody respects the rights of someone to protect themselves and the people that they care for more than me, but everything in life comes with limitations. “
Oliver: “After everything that Star City has endured in the past several years, it would be easy to become immune or desensitized to the violence that pervades our lives. And it would be human to want to respond to that violence with violence. When I think of all the people that I have lost I remember the choices that I was forced to make in light of those tragedies. Some choices were easy. But the important choices, the choices that were worth making, they were hard. And hard choices require bravery. Fortunately, we live in the home of the brave. And we don’t run from hard choices. We rise up, and we face tomorrow together.”
Catch Arrow Wednesdays at 8/7 ct on The CW.