Episode 18: Salvation
By: Carlos Uribe
Arrow is a show about the Green Arrow, a vigilante who seeks justice. It is based on the DC comic superhero Green Arrow.
Salvation is a tricky episode to review because of what I was feeling as I watched it. There were three stages of enjoyment that I went through the episode. There was the first stage where I was completely on board and I was enjoying it thoroughly. The second stage is a point where the writers were basically restating the arguments from the Huntress episode. I get that's a recurring theme but it's always best to not bring up covered material unless you have something new to add. This episode really didn't. This made it feel frustrating that the conversation basically seemed to discuss the same points over and over again. We get it show why Oliver is different from vigilantes who resort to death in order to get results. We get that Oliver's path is a lonely one that doesn't allow him to have much of a life. It's been beaten into heads with much better episodes. The good news is in the final stage. The final stage is where I was back on board with the episode when I realized why it was repeating a lot of the same arguments. It doesn't excuse that it did but once it was done the writers were able to use it to go somewhere different. The status quo doesn't really change that much but it does seem to signal a change in Oliver. Salvation is an episode that is fun and enjoyable but it does have frustrating elements that might be used to finally move into new territory.
The main plot has to do with a new vigilante called the Savior of the Glades. This savior turns out to be a man who is upset when the gangbangers killed his wife. The killers got away because the police didn't turn out any leads and because the assistant district attorney allowed the case to slip through the system. It makes sense that he would be angry but he decides to seek vengeance. The journey to finding this vigilante was fun. It was quite an exhilarating ride to see Oliver having to jump through buildings to try and find this “savior” before his second victim is killed. It was an adrenaline-pumped moment that ended in disappointment because they didn't get to the victim in time. The plot moves towards having personal stakes when Roy gets taken by the vigilante. Why? Roy is a random gangbanger that the vigilante decided to target for seemingly no reason. A problem with knowing that a character is going to be coming back next season is that it makes it hard to take it seriously that he's in any serious danger. Oliver is going to be able to catch the bad guy in time to save Roy. This is basically what happens. They figure out that the reason they weren't able to catch the savior the last time is because they weren't looking in the right place. The savior had been using the old subway system in order to transmit his images. It's a bit funny that the subway system is so completely forgotten about so that it takes this case to bring up Diggle's memory of having ridden in it. A subway system that is crucial for the undertaking because the symbol on the notebook is revealed to actually be the old subway map for the Glades.
The search for the Savior is where I can get behind this episode. It's thrilling and fun. At the same time, we're constantly treated to the same lectures that Oliver needs to have a life. A lecture he's pretty much received from Diggle every since they started working together. The one exception is that one time where Oliver had a life and stopped being a vigilante completely. They don't really dominate the episode and I was able to live with it for the most part. There's also a small exchange where Felicity is surprised that Oliver is going to try and rescue a man on his list. This is because he believes in giving people a chance to redeem themselves. When Felicity brings up that Oliver seems really intent on getting rid of people with the same goal, Oliver brings up that other vigilantes don't show the same restraint he does. The case in point is how the Savior will broadcast his actions to the internet. The Savior will give the victim a few minutes to plead for his life before ending it. It's brutal because the Savior isn't interested in justice but revenge. On the other hand, he's exactly like the Huntress. This is basically the same situation all over again except Oliver doesn't share a personal connection with him. I really get into the second stage when Oliver and the vigilante meet. They basically share the same conversation Oliver has had with the Huntess. About how it sucks to be alone and how they're actually different. Oliver is forced to kill the Savior as a last resort in order to save Roy. I was ready to call this episode derivative but then we get that scene with Laurel at the very end.
That's when I moved to the third stage. Oliver didn't just kill the Savior but he learned something. He learned that as long as he pushed away himself from having any connections or having a life then he might turn out like the Savior. He might lose his restraint and start seeking death as the first solution. He realizes that he needed to stop metaphorically being on the island. So what does he do? He decides to start having a friendship with Laurel again. I don't think he meant a proper date when he asked for dinner or a coffee but it might lead to a rekindling on their relationship. This is compounded by how Tommy has been relatively absent from Laurel's life. They might still be dating but they're drifting apart. It helps that Oliver was willing to listen to Laurel get the whole sister plot off her chest. Oliver isn't just willing to be friends with Laurel again but he's willing to build a bond with Felicity when he assures her that he'll always be there to listen to talk to her about her day. Oliver choosing to stop being an island while continuing his work as a vigilante is a pretty big move for the character and it's all because the Savior made him realize what being alone can do to him. The third stage was one of understanding even if it wasn't necessarily of acceptance. Now that Oliver is starting to open himself up, we can move on to other internal conflicts about being a hero.
Salvation is a pretty good episode of Arrow. It might not be the best and it felt repetitive at times but it was necessary to move Oliver's character into a different direction. This is assuming that the next episode doesn't move him back into the island. The other plots also worked well. Thea continues to struggle with Roy's criminal activities but the two are falling in love. Laurel's quest to see if her sister is alive finds out that the girl in the picture is a random girl. What's even better is the heartbreaking scene as Laurel's mom reveals that she blames herself for the sister's death and might finally start to accept it. The scene where Laurel's mom learns that her living daughter wants to stay in contact with her was also sweet. The final plot is basically the predictable development of Moira framing her partner on the assassination attempt on Malcolm's life. She's at least able to talk him down from going after the partner's family.