I always listen to music while I write my columns. It helps me gather and focus my thoughts. Tonight (like most nights lately) I have Queen playing. I’ve always been a fan.
In a lot of ways, I always thought of Freddie Mercury as a character that I could see on the pages of a Grant Morrison book. It was like he was from a different world or something. He just seemed so cool. An incredible force with his voice, stage presence, charisma, outfits and creativity. Far beyond others in terms of originality and vision, it seemed like he was always evolving—something that carried over with both Queen and his solo stuff.
This got me thinking about something I’ve been noticing more and more in Arrow.
What’s that, you say?
Well, since the beginning of the season, we’ve watched the evolution of Rene into what I think is the most dynamic character in the show.
Seriously. It seems like every week, we see a new side to him. When you compare him to the rest of the team, I think you’ll see that in the short time we’ve gotten to know him, he’s probably shown the most emotional growth of anybody.
Before I break him down, here is a short list of how I see each character in a nutshell:
Oliver: rough backstory with a lot of moving parts; brooding guy accomplished at successfully living a double life; may be capable of falling in love; gives good advice to recruits; expert at revealing his secret identity to anyone (hehe); crack shot
Felicity: tech-savvy nerd capable of dispensing adorably cringe-worthy wit at a moments notice; didn’t seem too bummed that her boyfriend was killed
John: proud, grizzled veteran who loves his family; strong fighter; prone to getting really mad; constantly hunted for something he didn’t do
Ragman: family and personal past not totally clear; has cool, super powered rags
Dinah: new Black Canary; mad her boyfriend was killed
Curtis: low self-esteem, gets beat up a lot; has good jokes; was sad for about 10 minutes after his husband left him
Evelyn: disagreed with Oliver; took her ball and went home
Looking at the list, they’re all good characters in their own right. But in terms of complexity and being interesting, Rene is ahead of the pack (how about that pun?) in my opinion.
It seemed like he was going to be your standard “tough guy”—all brawn and no brains. But, actually, he’s shown he’s capable of being pretty cerebral.
When we first met him, he was a blockhead with a big chip on his shoulder. To Ollie’s credit, some of those one-on-one talks got through to Rene and he started to change. He was one of the first recruits to buy into the program—even though he can be difficult at times, he’s the guy willing to do whatever it takes for the team.
How about his reluctance to let Curtis give up? The heart-to-heart he had with him in the alley—encouraging Curtis to pursue his knack for technology—showed a great amount of maturity. I’m not sure the Rene from the beginning of the season would have said the same thing as the Rene we saw in that scene.
He’s a fighter—both mentally and physically. Remember that beat down he took at the hands of Church? The dude fought through it (using John’s advice) and got back on the proverbial vigilante horse.
Don’t forget he has some subtle comedic chops, too. Taking down multiple three-patty burgers at a small diner is no easy feat!
There’s a number of other examples we could discuss, but there’s not enough space in my column, so I’ll end with tonight’s episode. I think it really illustrates the point I’m trying to make. Not only does he watch over Quentin, but he also helps him prep for his interview—asking the hard questions and forcing Quentin to re-examine himself. Even when Quentin throws him out, Rene comes back to talk to him like a man. I’m telling you, the Rene we saw in the earlier episodes would not have come back. He’s learned how to work with people and become a positive presence for the team and those around him. He doesn’t let his past dictate his future—thanking Quentin for putting him on the right path years ago.
Now, you might disagree with what I wrote this week and that’s totally okay. You can draw parallels and make arguments for the other characters and their personalities/experiences to support your claim. This is just my opinion.
So, are Freddie Mercury and Rene similar? Well…no. You obviously can’t compare them. But like Freddie, Queen and their lyrics and videos, I find Wild Dog’s character to be very interesting and one that is constantly changing and evolving.
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks!
Until next episode,
Matt Ross covers Arrow as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. Catch new episodes of Arrow Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.