Warning: Spoilers below…..
Code of Silence was a great balance of action, drama, humour and romance that dispelled any misplaced viewer doubts that director James Bamford had the ability to evoke powerful, emotional performances from his cast. Not that I had any doubts. James is a long-time student of film in many genres, a film geek if you will. I knew he would surprise many.
The central theme of Code of Silence was secrets and lies. Oliver was feeling guilty that as the wedding approached he was keeping the existence of his son from Felicity. Meanwhile to cover up the reason for the Demolition Team targeting & injuring him, Quentin lied to partner Donna, dismissing the injury as a gambling debt catching up to him. Donna was quick to call him out on it, citing her excellent BS detector from years of lies from her ex-husband, Felicity’s father. Both characters told lies for protection, however would Oliver confiding in Felicity put William in danger? Ultimately, it’s Oliver’s desire for a relationship with his son that makes him a target.
Fictional characters, as in life, aren’t perfect; they sometimes make poor decisions. What is important for a drama is that they suffer consequences from these decisions as Oliver may find out as William has been kidnapped by the Season 4 villain, Damien Darhk.
Director, James Bamford and the Arrow stunt team brought their A game once again for the stunts. Highlights included the motorcycle jump over the taxi, but under the bridge. James said of the scene:
Additionally, the giffable Speedy slide under the table was brilliant. The camera followed the action closely in what seems to have become a signature for James’ directed episodes. The episode also showed the final showdown between Oliver and Conklin. The knife fight was masterfully shot. I’m going to miss Ryan Robbins.
This week’s villain, the Demolition Team, are mercenaries hired by Damien Darhk to take out Quentin and Oliver. Rosie (Stargate Atlantis’ Rachel Luttrell), Jackhammer (X-Men’s Daniel Cudmore) and Hardhat (300’s Marc Trottier) were inventive adversaries firing nail guns and bringing down buildings, although it would have been nice to explore their characters further. Each had a showdown with members of Team Arrow and the actors did a fine job with the fight sequences.
The script, written wonderfully by Wendy Mericle and Oscar Balderrama was oozing with awesome moments and had quite a few important scenes for fans that ship Olicity or SmoaknLance. The highlight for me being the famous “glitter bomb scene”, another highly giffable moment. James told a fan the glitter was totally real, no CG.
With regard to performance, the MVP for Code of Silence was Charlotte Ross (Donna Smoak). The bond between Charlotte and Emily shines on screen between the Smoaks. In particular the conversation in the loft where Donna shares her fears and that she’s living vicariously through Felicity brought tears to my eyes. I certainly hope she will be around next season.
James’ direction was incredible. There were so many hero moments for the characters, the kind that make you shout HELL YEAH!! My favourite was a simple shot of Black Canary standing atop the Vogue Theatre roof.
Transitions between the current action and the flashbacks have also become a signature for Arrow and James accomplished these in a creative way. My favourite two were the cell bars to champagne flutes and the eye to eye. Special shoutout to editor Jessie Murray who totally rocks editing the episode and the transition scenes in particular.
Finally, I’m always impressed with the way James Bamford shoots group scenes in the lair. The camera flows organically as characters move in and out. It is a thing of beauty.
Code of Silence was an excellent second foray into direction for James and I hope he’ll have many more opportunities in the future. I’d love to see his work on a cinema screen.