Arrow: Season 1 Episode 21 – ‘The Undertaking’ Review

Arrow Season 1 Episode 21 The Undertaking

Hello Arrow fans. With only a couple of more episodes left in the season, “The Undertaking”, brought together several unresolved plot points which as a faithful viewer is fairly satisfying to watch. “The Undertaking” did not rely on any big surprises or last minute revelations rather the episode examined Malcolm’s ruthless plan to destroy the Glades from it’s inception 5 years ago and how it resulted in the sabotaged yacht that stranded Oliver on the island.

Continue reading Arrow Season 1 Episode 21 titled The Undertaking review.

For the most part the use of island flashbacks have been effective in chronicling an origin story that runs parallel to present day Starling City. In this episode, the flashbacks solely focused on off-island events and from perspectives other than Oliver. With a stable of compelling characters such as Shado, Slade and Diggle, the possibility of further flashbacks outside of Oliver’s point of view is promising for the next season. 

The non-island flashbacks elaborated on several events at the core of the series so far and painted the motivations of several characters in a different light. Moira has had many shady meetings with Malcolm over the season but we learn in the flashbacks she’s neither a vengeful wife or a corrupt accomplice. Knowing that it was Frank who betrayed Robert Queen and planted the bomb on the yacht adds a new layer to Moira’s double cross on Frank in “Salvation”. At the docks, Moira was unaware her husband and Oliver were about to board an ill-fated yacht, which is a bit of twist having assumed she had a hand in their misfortune.

Meanwhile, the days leading up to the yacht expedition provided some new insight behind Oliver ditching his girlfriend for his girlfriend’s sister. Turns out that cheating on Laurel was an over reaction to the fear of taking his relationship to the next level.  Oliver’s immaturity rather than his womanizing ways provoked him to implode his relationship with Laurel by inviting Sara on the trip. The younger versions of Oliver and Laurel are at ease with themselves which makes their relationship more believable than in the present day, where they are understandably guarded with their emotions.

Arrow Season 1 Episode 21 The Undertaking S1E21

As for Oliver’s crime fighting partner, the rift with Diggle was quickly resolved with an apology. It would have been interesting to see how dark Oliver might become without Diggle and see first hand why they need each other. On the flip side, it’s too late in the season to begin a mini character arc. Bringing back Diggle into the fold nicely sets up the season finale as does Oliver discovering Malcolm Merlyn is the mastermind pulling the strings.

With Diggle on the sidelines this episode, Felicity gets some quality time outside of the Arrow Cave. Since Felicity is a regular next season, its good to finally introduce her to Oliver’s family and to Laurel. I thought it was a lighter moment when Laurel saw Felicity come out of the Verdant basement. Laurel’s icy delivery of “Who is she?” made me humorously ponder if there’s going to be a future cat fight over Oliver. Meow! 

One of the memorable moments in the casino scene is Felicity warning, “you don’t want to meet my partner”. When Alonzo, the casino guy, confesses Walter is dead it is hard to take it as face value, knowing the show usually leads viewers in one direction, then takes a different route. Some fans have commented that the rescue of Walter from the building is reminiscent of the movie Raid Redemption which was my initial thought as well. The rapid fire take downs in tight corridors is a great nod to movie as is the piles of badly beaten bodies.

Overall, the flashbacks in “The Undertaking” fleshed out and escalated the season’s main story arc to the point where it will be conclusively resolved one way or another in the final two episodes. What did you like or didn’t like about this episode? Anything that surprised you in the flashbacks?

More Posts You May Like:

Arrow Season 1, Episode 18, “Salvation” Review (vs The Savior)

Arrow Season 1, Episode 19, “Unfinished Business” (vs The Count/Doctor)

Arrow Season 1, Episode 20, “Home Invasion” (vs Mr. Blank)

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Posted on May 5, 2013, in Arrow, Comics, Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Really liked these flashbacks. The flashbacks are always good, but I liked the idea of seeing these events leading up to the voyage as a change from the island stuff. It along with the current day happenings this episode really set us up perfectly for the end of this season. Pre-island Oliver is just hilariously awful to me. Could he have picked a worse way to sabotage his relationship? What an ass! I know that is kind of the point, but he makes me laugh. The pizza guy wouldn’t break a 100? Classic pre-island Oliver.

    I guess it was a bad time for Diggle and Oliver to be separated too long. I kind of wish they might have done that a bit earlier and had them apart for a few episodes. Oh well. Diggle being back for the last couple will be good.

    Also Felicity is awesome. Loved the part where she walked out and bumped into Laurel and Oliver at the bar. Also her slipping up and saying she was happy to have Oliver inside her over the earpiece was funny too!

    • Like “The Odyssey” episode, when flashbacks are utilized differently it’s fun to watch. The show probably can’t do it too often though or it’ll lose it’s specialness. I found it funny too when Oliver called the pizza dude a loser for not breaking a 100 and telling Sara to circle around the block 3 times because Laurel was at the docks. Maybe it would have been better if it was revealed he kept Laurel’s photo in his travel bag showing he’s always thinking of her, instead of Laurel giving the photo to him. Pretty much a slap in her face for how he sabotaged their relationship haha.

      Not sure if you ever watched Angel, but there was a mini arc in the second season where Angel went off on his own while his friends started their own agency solving crimes/helping people. Yeah, if Diggle left earlier in the season they could have played on that idea and make their reunion a memorable moment. But like you said, it’s good to have Diggle back for finale to help stop the destruction of the Glades.

      Anytime Felicity puts her foot in her mouth and trying to cover up her crush on Oliver is always hilarious. That gag never gets old for me, sort of like Walter in Fringe messing up Astrid’s name.

  2. “What did you like?”
    Not one but two epic fight scenes. I simply love that last shot as the camera pans around Oliver to show the devastation he brought to those helpless goons. I also love the Easter Eggs (Ted Kord & Markov) for those diehard DC fans. It’s little touches like that that make this show great. Oh..and eveything that comes out of Felicity’s mouth.

    “Didn’t like about this episode?”
    I’m torn. The flashbacks in this episode were needed but I missed not seeing Shado and Slade…

    “Anything that surprised you in the flashbacks?”
    As you mentioned, Frank being the betrayer was surprising indeed.

    • I knew you would love that reveal shot. :) It was very cool! I didn’t catch those references but I always like reading about them after. Not to jump too far ahead, but Felicity has a little moment with Oliver in ep. 22 that I thought was somewhat adorable.

      I didn’t mind skipping Shado and Slade for a week to change things up. To be honest, I wasn’t invested in the Robert Queen portions of the flashbacks. I thought Oliver’s flashbacks were the most interesting, more so than the Malcolm/Moira parts.

      What’s great about using flashbacks as a device is seeing characters as we’ve never seen them before. Who knew Frank could be that conniving? .. Or that we would ever see him again.

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