In a much more dark and real theme, Spectre of the Gun showcases Arrow‘s take on gun control. An extremely hot topic that can never be boiled down to 45 minutes, Arrow manages to present both sides of gun control through its main characters in an easy to follow format. Whilst interesting to hear the stances of many of the main characters throughout the episode, there is also a reason many films and documentaries have tackled the complex issue without any real resolution, and Arrow is no different to them.
It’s an issue very real and present to a lot of Americans, and debated by almost everyone around the world. There seems to be no better group to tackle it than a group of vigilantes, who also happen to use guns from time to time. The efforts of grounding the Arrowverse into a very real issue must be admired and respected; very reminiscent of Season 1 of Arrow on its tackle on drugs. It is an issue that has been overlooked for so long in the world, so it was fantastic to see the writers take on such a hard hitting subject. However, with a group that often uses brute force and operate out of the law, and the use of a bow and arrow, which can simply be put as a ‘more efficient weapon’, it seems gun violence should definitely be something tackled on a weekly basis.
The episode was bold enough to address gun violence, but not bold enough to pick a side. Merely using the characters to drive the arguments, Spectre of the Gun manages to perfectly use the character’s personalities on each side. An episode with no real Arrow action, but solely focused on Oliver’s mayoral duties instead. After a mass shooting in city hall, killing seven unknown people and injuring Adrian, debates on gun control soon arises.
It is soon found that the shooter was just a nobody, a victim of gun violence, who takes the term ‘fight fire with fire’ one step too far. He does in fact show how the right to bare arms may cause any sort of normal person to easily enter a building and shoot a bunch of people. Oliver plays the conflicted lost soul, as he often does, initially not picking any sides when a reporter asks how the issue effects him personally. This allows Oliver to play the role of the mediator, whilst Curtis and Rene play the roles of for and against gun control respectively.
Throughout the episode Curtis and Rene spit facts that are able to factor in their personal backgrounds, such as race and history. Never actually revealing any hard evidence or statistics, still great to see both emotion and the rationale out of the two. It is simple to side with Curtis and his wishes for a gun registry and more gun control, but what the episode superbly showed was a way to understand why someone would decide their right to the second amendment. Instead of getting flashbacks to Russia, this week’s main character was Rene, and his personal story of why he likes to carry a gun.
It was revealed that Rene’s wife had died from a gun shot. Rene’s wife, a not-recovering drug addict owes money to a drug supplier. After taking his daughter to a sport outing, they are greeted by his wife with a gun to his head. Rene tries to convince the gunman that he has money for him in his safe, but really its just his gun. In the scuffle, Rene shoots the gunman, but the gunman shoots his wife. That day Rene lost his wife, and through troubled times he manages to lose his daughter. Rene ultimately blames himself for not carrying his gun in the first place, in which he takes it upon himself to be someone else, Mad Dog.
Rick Gonzalez really shined in this episode as Rene, playing a tough character with an even more tough stance, yet was relatable at the same time. Hopefully Arrow will feature more of Rene’s history and military background, as he becomes a more prominent player in the team. Rene got to serve as Quentin’s new assistant as well, who helps create a resolution to the episode. Alongside Oliver and a council woman who opposes gun control, they create a bill that is right in the middle of both arguments. An ending that felt a little disappointing, but probably the most real outcome as gun control can get.
Whilst there wasn’t any real resolution, this episode, as well as the entire season, must be applauded for grounding the characters and creating weight to the world. In the end, it is their history that makes the characters who they are, and how they react. Despite their differences, seeing Rene and Curtis bonding together to try and get Rene’s daughter back was a real delight. In addition, seeing Oliver actually fulfilling mayoral duties adds a whole new perspective that the Arrowverse can now explore.
Arrow airs Wednesdays on The CW.