Legion contributor Andrea Levine is recapping and reviewing Arrow for us this season. Follow her on Twitter @wysefyre!
This week’s Arrow enters the political area in a way we haven’t seen before. Spectre of the Gun deals with the complicated issue of gun control, and it force Oliver to handle the situation not as the Green Arrow, but as Mayor Queen.
The episode begins with the return of Thea. She arrives at City Hall just in time to say hello to Quentin, tell Oliver his dating Susan Williams makes her want to vomit, find out Rene is the new assistant to the Deputy Mayor, and to a part of a mass shooting.
A lone gunman enters City Hall, disguised as a repairman, and starts shooting up the place. Many people, including Adrian Chase are injured and several are killed. Rene, carrying an illegal firearm, manages to nick the shooter in the shoulder. He would have stopped him, but the shooter was wearing kevlar.
Felicity is able to determine the main weapon is an Air-15, a military grade weapon similar to an M-16. The upshot is it’s a crazy powerful weapon.
Rene finds Quentin at the SCPD. Quentin had walked past the shooter right before all hell broke out. He felt guilty for not picking up on the threat, but at least he saw the man’s face and could provide a drawing for the cops. Rene tells him not to feel guilty, and Quentin tells Rene not to carry an illegal weapon. Dishonorably discharged people can’t carry guns. That’s not going to stop Rene.
Oliver and Thea head to the hospital. They find out a few more people have died from their injuries. And they find Chase trying to get dressed and leave the hospital despite his injuries. Chase introduces them to his wife, Doris. She doesn’t want him leaving either. Oliver and Chase discuss whether or not the shooting was part of a bigger agenda. Because the weapon was an Air-15, Chase thinks it might have something to do with one of the crime families.
While Oliver goes to figure out who’s responsible, Felicity tries to track the weapon and Quentin’s description of the shooter. This begins a debate between Curtis and Rene about gun control. Curtis is a strong supporter for it and Rene is opposed. Quentin is also for, but Dinah is against. It’s interesting to see how the lines are split among the team. But all of that has to wait because Felicity gets a hit.
The shooter is named James Edlund. He’s a nobody. He’s not connected to anyone. What he is is a victim. During the last mayoral administration, a proposed gun registry was shot down (no pun intended). Shortly after that, Edlund’s wife and daughters were killing in a shooting. He blames City Hall.
Thea pulls Oliver and Quentin away because Oliver needs to give a press conference on the shooting. Oliver tells the press what happened and who the shooter is. He takes questions, but it’s clear he’s not sure how to answer them. He’s asked about the City’s stance on gun control and his personal stance. He says it’s complicated, but he’s dedicated to trying to figure out a solution.
Back in his office, Oliver is drowning. He knows the conference didn’t go well. He doesn’t believe he’s fit to deal with these types of issues. What’s worse is, given his night job, his first instincts are to always resort to violence, so are they trying to break a cycle or feeding it? Quentin tells him he needs to keep trying over and over until he gets it right. Don’t give up. But he also points out that this is a job for Mayor Queen, not the Green Arrow. He needs to stop up. Oliver asks for a list of everyone who had been involved with the previous gun registry plans.
While Oliver is meeting with Councilwoman Pollard, the woman who effectively killed the gun registry legislation, Curtis and Rene are looking for Edlund. They go to a survivors’ meeting and are able to obtain the location of a friend Edlund was staying with. They go to the home, but Edlund isn’t there. They find floor plans and realize how thoroughly Edlund has planned everything, however; those plans aren’t of City Hall, they’re of Starling General.
We need to pause here for a second to discuss Rene. Throughout all of the episode, Curtis has been trying to persuade Rene to see why gun control is so important. Rene is firmly on the side of gun rights. Curtis can’t understand it until they are at the house, when Rene tells him if he had his gun, his wife would still be alive.
That’s right! This week’s flashback is Rene’s origin story. The story is a well-known but no less devastating one. Rene was married to a woman named Laura and had a daughter, Zoe. They used to live in the Glades but got out. At first, the flashback centers on Rene bringing a gun with him while they all went to an event deep in the Glades. Laura is not comfortable with the gun and only allowed him to have it as a home safety precaution, emphasis on home. They argue, and Rene concedes. I guess the disagreement took a toll on Laura, because she decided not to go with them. Rene is upset and this leads to him confronting her on drugs he found in their bedroom. Laura was an ex-addict, but I guess she’s no longer an ex. Zoe walks in on them fighting, and Rene tries to cover it up by saying he was upset because Laura wasn’t joining them. Before he leaves with Zoe, Rene tells Laura she needs to choose, either the drugs are gone when they return or she is.
They return from the event to find the apartment in disarray. Rene sends Zoe to her room, and he goes to their bedroom. Laura is being held hostage by her dealer. She owes him $500. Rene tries to keep him calm, says he has the money and goes to the safe, where his gun is kept. Before he can get the gun, he’s attacked. Laura is thrown down, her head hit, and Rene recovers enough to get his gun and shoot the dealer, but as the dealer goes down, his gun goes off and kills Laura. Zoe walks in and sees all over this. Rene tries to comfort her as best as possible.
The aftermath of this is Zoe is placed into foster care, and Rene is not allowed to even see her. He’s devastated by this. And that’s why he tells Curtis if he had his gun, his wife would still be alive. You can see he blames himself. Curtis is floored by this news. But they have to put a pin in it because they need to get to the hospital.
Oliver and Pollard are knee deep in discussions. Pollard doesn’t understand why people want to put limitations on the 2nd Amendment, but not on others. Oliver points out that’s an incorrect statement. Everything has limitations and they need to figure out how to have limitations, but not screw over anyone. It’s a tricky minefield. But then Oliver is called away to get to the hospital.
Using his repairman disguise, Edlund is able to get into the hospital. Team Arrow and the SCPD form a perimeter and start searching for Edlund. Oliver finds him, and as Oliver, not Green Arrow, he talks to Edlund. He acknowledges his pain, but points out the man who killed his family acquired his guns illegally, so a gun registry couldn’t have helped. Edlund knows this. He’s angry. He’s angry at the world and at himself for failing to protect his family. Everyone else is so angry too. Why not put them all out of their misery? Because, Oliver points out, it’s not his call. The people Edlund killed were innocent and didn’t deserve his judgment. Edlund agrees and turns the gun on himself, but Oliver persuades him to turn over the gun and live, so his family will live on through him.
Edlund is taken away and agrees to plead guilty to all charges. Oliver gets with Rene and together, they create a proposal which allows for a registry, but also insures no one’s rights are taken away. They figure out a compromise and Oliver presents it to Pollard, who can live with the proposal. Even if it’s just for the sake of optics. Ever the politician, she also informs Oliver she will one day come a-calling on him.
At the Arrow Cave, Curtis and Rene talk. Curtis did a little googling into Rene and learned about Zoe. He got in touch with a lawyer friend and they believe Rene has a shot at getting Zoe back. Needless to say, Rene is happy to hear this.
Spectre of the Gun ends with Oliver holding another press conference. This time, it’s at night and on the steps of City Hall. They have a memorial set up for all the victims and Oliver introduces the Star City Firearms Freedom Act. They are going to make things work so everyone can be safe, but still have all their rights.
Other points of interest
~ Dinah and Diggle have some moments together. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the surface, it just appears as though Diggle is being a good friend, but there’s a little something there. I hope it’s nothing. But anyway, Dinah doesn’t know how to be or do “normal” things. She’s been on a vendetta. How do you come back from that? She confides in Diggle she found an apartment she liked, but balked on the lease. Diggle encourages her to take things slowly and start doing little things like getting that apartment to help her through the transition. She takes his advice and gets the apartment.
~ Felicity doesn’t like the arguing between the team, particularly Curtis and Rene. She doesn’t think it has any point. Curtis disagrees. He points out that we used to be able to debate different viewpoints, but now it’s gotten so rude. Maybe if we were still able to engage in healthy debates, the country wouldn’t be so divisive. Felicity agrees.
So that Rene, he’s been given one heck of an origin story. We’ve gotten hints, but I wasn’t prepared for him to have a wife or a daughter who was around 10-12. I do have a problem with the chemistry between Rene and Zoe. There is none. I’m a big fan of Rick Gonzalez, but I don’t think he connected well with the material. He made a better husband than father. The girl who plays Zoe is not the strongest performer either, so at times their interactions came across a little wooden. However, this doesn’t change the fact that Rene’s flashback is powerful. I just think some of it is due more to camera angles and the physical action than the acting.
I don’t think Arrow have ever made a social commentary like this before, and I think it handled it well. I was surprised. They acknowledge the issue of gun control is complicated and tricky, but they don’t pick a side. That’s the important part. They don’t choose sides. What they do is show us different sides of the argument. It’s been a while since a flashback was so relevant to the main plot as well as our lives. I can’t remember if there’s been one quite so in our face.
I don’t want Arrow to do this often. It goes against what the show is, but if there was an issue they could tackle, gun control is one which makes sense.
What did you think?