Arrow tries its hand at a political hot topic as “Spectre of the Gun” takes on gun control.
For a show like Arrow – whose lead character is the mayor, and with a heavily political source material – to attempt to provide commentary on a current issue like this is neither surprising nor problematic. It’s admirable, too, that the show and its creative team feel this to be a good place to tackle something socially relevant, and that this is what they chose.
However, “Spectre of the Gun” is wildly unsuccessful in its execution, for two main reasons. One is that it’s laughably ironic that any real balanced argument can be had given the nature of the work Team Arrow does and the method with which several members do it. The other is that this episode falls into the long-standing Arrow pitfall of failing to show viewers a particular angle instead of telling them, almost monologue style.
There’s no subtlety to how the debate is handled, and it feels infinitely more like a PSA than it does an episode of television, let alone of Arrow. It’s heavy-handed, stagnant, and, at times, slightly patronising in its obliviousness to its audience, which this episode seems to believe consists of people on the lowest rung of society with minimal intelligence and/or with barely a vague awareness of the way any part of the developed world works.
An attack on City Hall fuels the debate across the spectrum, with all of the major present day characters getting involved somehow. But while the attack causes widespread arguments about the firearm situation in Star City, it – along with the debate – also brings back difficult memories for Rene, whose backstory is revealed. Frustratingly, this is also handled with a great deal of incompetence, and the scenes play out in predictable fashion while also made ridiculously over-dramatic, and also poorly playing into his involvement in the ongoing gun argument. Learning about Rene after all this time should have been considerably better than it is here.
Some teaser quotes:
1. “I don’t owe it to any of you.”
2. “This is my assistant.”
3. “Screw you, Rene!”
4. “You guys are really serious about this recruitment drive you got going, huh?”
5. “You’re the criminal.”
“Spectre of the Gun” airs on Thursday 23rd February at 9pm on Sky 1.