I don’t even know what to do with “Dead to Rights.” Is not necessarily a bad episode, but it’s also not particularly good. Really, it just doesn’t feel like an episode of Arrow. It continues the plot from “Dodger” and has all the usual characters, but otherwise doesn’t resemble the show at all.
Oliver opens the episode by killing the hitman that China hired to kill Malcolm. For once, this doesn’t actually go his way. He doesn’t know who the target is or who hired the hitman. So, Diggle and Felicity spend most of the episode doing the actual work while Oliver futzes around with Tommy and McKenna. Although, he does show up again to work when they finally get the information.
Naturally, China is forced to hire Deadshot as a replacement. Apparently, he was only sort of killed last time. This eventually leads to China and Oliver duking it out in an epic brawl where Oliver is totally and awesomely outclassed. Deadshot nearly kills Malcolm, but Oliver makes it just in time. So, Malcolm is saved and now Tommy knows Oliver is the Hood. It’s much less dramatic than it could’ve been, and takes up maybe a minute of the episode, tops.
In other drama that nothing comes out of, Diggle is upset that Deadshot is still alive, and also that Deadshot might have killed Diggle’s brother. That drama takes up maybe fifteen whole seconds. Then Laurel’s mother shows up at the very end of the episode. Apparently Sarah might be alive. It sounds much more exciting than it is.
Over in the requisite flashback of revelation and false drama, Oliver and Slade are still trapped on an island. Bet you didn’t see that coming. There’s also something about a war that the bad guys had the tech to start, but nothing came out of that. So, yeah, totally pointless. Also, they make a joke about Gilligan’s Island, which only serves the purpose of reminding us there’s shows about being stuck on an island with less fruitless plots.
Honestly, the problem with this episode is that it feels almost like it could be a decent origin story. That origin story, though, is not for Oliver. It’s for Tommy, and maybe for Laurel given that minimum amount of foreshadowing. Notably, though, the show is not named after them, nor does it care to linger on their stories. Instead, we get to watch Oliver continue to do a whole lot of not much at all because the show’s called Arrow.