Arrow's done a variation of the 'two vigilantes in the same town' story this season in the dark arrow episode. The Dark Arrow is different from the vigilante in "Salvation." The Dark Arrow is the opposite of The Green Arrow, the antithesis, and the representation of what and who Oliver is fighting to rid from the city. The vigilante isn't notable besides his use of technology to publicly terrorize the people watching. Oliver wanted to take out a bad landlord, but the other vigilante gets him first and broadcasts his murder for all to see online and on the television. Oliver doesn't like other doing his work without restraint. Felicity wonders what the difference is between Oliver and the other guy, Joseph Falk.
"Salvation" is an awesome episode. I'll just make my opinion clear of the overall episode clear before I nitpick it. "Salvation" is a blast to watch--it feels like a superhero movie. The mission is clear, the villain is clear, and the way the villain kills makes the audience want to see Oliver stop him. Arrow didn't need to throw in Roy Harper as the third and final (potential) victim of Falk's, but Tim Minear discussed the purpose of the third act break in a recent SOFADOGS podcast. Thea has a relationship with Roy; therefore the audience must have some kind of investment in the relationship because the audience is seemingly invested in Thea (also, I know Arrow doesn't have the traditional four act structure--network dramas don't use the four act structure anymore). The sequence with Oliver trying to save the life of the assistant district attorney was perhaps the best sequence on Arrow this season. It got me invested in the story. Oliver's running around the city, jumping from building to building, onto trucks and off of trucks, running for his life to save a life. The sequence cuts back to Falk torturing the assistant district attorney. Falk's an angry man who lost his wife in a gang beating, and the district attorney's office never brought the case to trial which made him angrier. The sequence is tense, frantic, urgent, and riveting. Felicity feels like she's failed when she leads Oliver to the wrong place twice and especially when the assistant district attorney is murdered; it just accomplishes so much in a small amount of time.
The episode intends to compare Oliver and Falk mainly because Oliver's been more of an island lately, ever since McKenna left. Several weeks passed. Oliver goes out nightly and when he's done he sleeps. Diggle's concerned. Oliver tells him he's fine, but he's withdrawing. Diggle doesn't want to see Oliver withdraw. Oliver tells him he's down and done with entanglements. He can't keep anyone close. Anyone close will eventually leave him. Oliver names Laurel before McKenna and Sarah. Basically, he's been out bringing the corrupt folk of Starling City to justice. Naturally, after John Nickels, the landlord, is taken by Falk, Felicity wonders what makes the new vigilante different. Oliver stops for a moment and then tells her, "He won't show my restraint." Felicity's question is valid. What does separate Oliver from other vigilantes? He's even killed.
Oliver and Falk have their face-off in the last act, and Falk points out their similarities, right down to the killing part. Oliver resists killing Falk until he shoots at Roy, so Oliver acts and kills Falk. It's telling that Oliver doesn't reply to Falk's comparisons. Oliver urges him to drop the weapon and give himself up. Falk won't let a gangbanger from the glades walk free. The Glades' gangbangers killed his wife. Oliver tells Falk that Roy can use his second chance to change. The question about the morality of The Hood is an ongoing theme this season, so "Salvation" doesn't produce an answer. The continued question is continually excellent in its execution.
Roy's involvement in the A story is a drag. Thea and Roy as a couple were just thrown together. My theory about The CW is that the executives meet with individual show runners and tell them to put any character without an arc into a relationship with a model-type. Roy's character is that of a bad boy, a miscreant, who's done bad things and owes debts to bad men. Thea leaves him when she sees the gun he means to use in a bank robbery. Roy tells Falk that he doesn't deserve to live, that no one will miss him, as Thea watches tearfully. She will miss him. This is their history: Roy thinks she's a rich snob, and Thea's inexplicably attracted to him. That's it. Anyway, the takeaway from Roy's involvement is really just the shot of him looking at the arrow he got from Falk's body. Roy and Oliver are going to clash not just because his younger sister is getting down with a Glades boy but because the Glades are the hot spot for the bad stuff that's about to go down.
The Dark Arrow reappears to avenge the assassination attempt on Malcolm. Malcolm is crazy. Moira covers her tracks and throws the Triad dude under the Subway train, so to speak. I don't think Moira saw The Dark Arrow prior to "Salvation." The experience upsets her. She shakes and cries in the car after Triad Dude dies.
Oliver's unaware of his mother's after-work activities, of course. He's too busy trying not to be an island. I think the A story would've been better suited for an episode that a few weeks after last week's rather than as an episode set a few weeks after last week's episode just so the audience would feel the passage in time rather than be told that significant time has passed. Regardless, "Salvation" is an awesomely strong episode that displays the best Arrow has to offer. Top-notch work.
-Sarah's not alive. Dinah was working out her guilty conscience. Laurel's going to try to have another relationship with her mother again. I also learned Laurel's father's name is Quentin. You don't know that I didn't know his name for months.
-The flashbacks were very good, though Yow Fei died. Of course, his kick-ass daughter is taking his place. She knows what Fyres intends to do with the missile. Oliver's plan to get off the island failed completely. One thinks Wilson won't listen to Oliver so readily now.
-Drew Z. Greenberg & Wendy Mericle wrote the episode. Nick Copus directed it.