As an exercise in discernment, continuing what we started in the Engaging Culture class in 2014, I decided to check out an episode of Arrow and see what its worldview is and what it espouses either on purpose or by accident. I’m going to write as the show happens:
The creepy alderman Sebastian Blood visits his mother, who is in stuck in a hospital by Blood under his aunt’s name, and finds out that she spoke to Laurel. He says he forgives her then dons his Blood mask and kills her. Using forgiveness as a sort of morality in bad guys is tried and true. The idea that the bad guy follows a set of rules is supposed to give them a level of depth. Kinda shallow though. Nothing moral about this.
Sarah and Oliver are on the island via flashback. He tells her that you can’t trust anyone. So dramatic.
Laurel is notified that Sebastian Blood’s mother in the hospital died. She tries to enlist help but the ADA says she is on her own. Everyone in this show is on their own.
Oliver visits Roy who won’t tell anything about Blood. He is on his own.
Oliver and team discuss the need to stop Blood. Duh.
Arrow is requested by Laurel for a meeting. She spills the beans on Blood. She tells him that Blood killed his mother to cover up the fact that he killed his father. Arrow agrees to look into it.
Felicity illegally hacked Blood’s mobile phone. I guess that’s cool. The ends justify the means right? The team agrees to look into Blood.
Roy has super tough skin. He can punch through stuff without damaging himself. Super strength and super tough thanks to the injection from Blood when he was captured. He decides to fight crime with his new powers. Vigilante life chosen. At least he wants to help people.
Felicity hacked the justice department and the “bad news” is that she can’t hack the old file on Blood’s dad’s death. Another means justified I guess.
Laurel is going to help Arrow. She is still doping pain pills. She hasn’t learned from any consequences but the drug use is portrayed as wrong.
Oliver and Sarah are back on the island. Oliver jokes about always being drunk at parties. Never anything negative to say about drunkenness. “Not everyone is what they seem,” she opines. Once Oliver falls asleep she steals his radio apparently proving that.
Laurel helps Arrow break in to the records office to steal the sealed file. The illegal activity is once again justified by the ends. Oliver then holds off innocent police with force. They jump out of a window. A window?! Why the huge drama about breaking in if you could just go through a window? Mission Impossible bubble popped.
Oliver and team debrief. Dramatic language and posturing.
Roy has a target – the Slasher who attacks prostitutes. Cyn needs a dress. Thea offers the prefect dress. “Guy… or girl” won’t know what hit them. Casual homosexual reference. “Whatever you’re in to.”
Oliver confronts Blood about Laurel. Nothing revealed. Laurel is just acting weird.
Cyn pretends to be a prostitute to find the Slasher. Her first trick? Him, of course. In the whole city, the Slasher picks her up. Way too lucky.
Blood is confronted by Slade. It’s confirmed that Blood is the murderer of his father. Blood has to kill Laurel or he will be killed.
Laurel’s house is tossed. She is arrested for illegal pain pills. When her father visits her in the interview room she tries to tell him about Sebastian Blood. Her father doesn’t believe her. Consequences finally show up for her drug use! Finally!
Sarah is back on the island. She is trying to contact Anthony, the guy who captured her the year prior. She is concerned about Anthony killing Shadow. He will have to live with her death for the rest of his life, he says. So it’s harder to be the killer than the killed? He needs her to save him. She can be his savior.
Roy is checking on the Slasher in the hospital. Cyn called Thea. She just wants to help him but Roy rejects her help. Always alone: the theme of this show.
Oliver confronts Laurel about how she needs help to kick the drug habit but she says she doesn’t need anyone’s help. Seriously, this whole show is about trying to do everything on your own. Blood and his goons knock out Oliver and take her. Could have ended the show by killing him. So close but Blood doesn’t know Oliver is the Arrow and for no reason decides that survivors are acceptable.
Blood says that masks historically give people authority like a god. Arrow and Blood fight. Blood should be no match but suddenly he knows Kung Fu. Blood gets the jump on Arrow but Laurel saves him by shooting him. She removes the mask and it’s not Blood.
The dirty cop that was killed has tons of evidence that wraps up a bunch of cases tightly. But since we know that Blood is the one who wears the mask it’s not convincing the viewer. The ADA asks her substance abuse problem and then fires her.
Oliver is mad because Laurel “fooled” him into believing Blood is the bad guy. He had a Blind Spot (the name of the episode) with her but no more.
Oliver finds out that Roy put someone in the hospital.
Sarah on the island calls Anthony and thanks him for saving her. She then calls him out for torturing people. He turns from his “save me” attitude to promising to hunt her down and killing her.
Slade kills a bunch of Blood’s men and promises to kill more of he fails again. He is super fast for an old, one eyed, and previously thought to be dead guy.
Arrow confronts Roy. The serum twists men, he says. Arrow offers to teach Roy to control his ability and his mind. Roy accepts help! Hallelujah! Someone won’t do it alone!
What did we learn?
-The ends justify the means. Killing people, hacking or breaking into government computers or buildings, attacking innocents, whatever. This is a particularly dangerous philosophy because for Christians the whole point is that the ends do NOT justify the means. The means, our journey is everything.
-There seems to be some kind of moral superiority given to those who try to do things on their own. On the one hand we learn that Laurel was wrong to try to kick her drug habit on her own, but Arrow doing things on his own is seen as a plus. This message is confounded by the relative answers to whether or not people should work together to solve problems it’s never answered completely or concretely.
-The drug use does finally have consequences but they are minor so long as the plot moves forward. Laurel losses her job (for now) but has the charges dropped for no reason. The others do doubt her about Blood but only because she kills someone else wearing the mask. The drugs really are secondary. I would prefer a much stronger message about the dangers of drugs via stronger consequences.
-This show is a soap opera. Seriously. So melodramatic!
What do you think?