I can honestly say I am surprised by how much I am still enjoying ‘Arrow’ this season, even as we enter the fourth episode which is usually where the quality starts to dip as the show starts dipping into more standalone episodes and leaving the over-arching plot for the mid-season finale. But this season, it feels like every episode meshes well into the one compelling story, and every episode counts, even the flashbacks, and (excuse the pun), I am really “digging” it.
This week, as you could probably tell from how last week’s episode ended, featured Oliver and Lyla hatching their plan to set Diggle loose from prison, even if he did not want to be set free. The catch is that they do not have Felicity’s blessing or help, as she is fervently against the plan, especially as Diggle himself wants to stay in prison as his penance for killing Andy last season. She even goes so far as to sic the new team on Oliver, though they clearly do not stand a real chance in stopping him, and quickly learn that Oliver was holding back during all of their training matches (as Felicity learns when they return to HQ covered in bruises). So it is Oliver and Lyla going into the prison alone, armed with a new chemical freshly stolen from Palmer Tech (which also does not sit well with Felicity) that is apparently capable of corroding through anything (minus the container it resides in apparently). They free John from the prison, who goes along with Oliver mainly because he does not want Oliver to be imprisoned along with him, and because Oliver reminds him that the team needs him and he could just as easily serve his “penance” while helping people as Spartan. They escape using the corrosive chemical to eat through the floor, and in a somewhat confusing yet ultimately badass (but also kind of similar moment to a Nolan ‘Batman’ movie) they escape the guards at the last minute when Lyla flies a plane overhead which latches on their restraints and hoists them into the air above the shocked guards, who somehow did not see the elaborate rigs attached to the men they were holding guns to.
All the while, the flashbacks also took place in a Russian prison, where the final Bratva test had Oliver infiltrate as a drunk to find a man with information on Kovar, get the information, and then kill the man before he can report back to Kovar. Oliver does this with chilling efficiency, and all within a prison and within sight of other prisoners, but when he returns to Anatoli he expresses some remorse over having to kill the man. Anatoli explains the necessity, though, and reminds Oliver that he needed to trust the process of his Bratva brothers, congratulating his friend on finally joining the organization by offering him a drink from his flask. Now that he is part of the brotherhood, we still need to see Oliver get that tattoo (I think), and hopefully a haircut as I’m tired of the wig, though I will miss the quick and to-the-point flashbacks focusing on the Bratva tests.
Felicity and the new Quiver Crew meanwhile had their hands full with Church’s crew, who use planted evidence to break into the police evidence locker to steal all the weapons they can find, included the weapons they lost in previous weeks due to Team Arrow’s interference. Furious, Felicity tries to track down Church and realizes he is heading to a bunker the ACU has been using and is currently interrogating a prisoner that Oliver and company brought them, a man who belongs to Church’s organization. Not only that, but the DA himself is there, and Felicity realizes that without Oliver there to stop Church, they could lose the whole ACU and the DA in one swoop, but she is reluctant to send in the relatively green (again, excuse the pun) team without Oliver, who is still busy at the prison. Plus, Rory is not there as he quit after claiming he cannot work with Felicity, who only reminds him of his dead family. It is so bad that Rory would not return even after a pep talk from Felicity reminding him that his father’s legacy is for him to help people, while her legacy is to make up for those lives lost at Havenrock, the kind of talk which usually works in these situations. Fortunately for them all, Rory shows up in the nick of time to remind Felicity that the choice to face Church and his men belongs to the team, not her, and they all want to help the ACU and the DA. The team heads out and saves the lawmen, but not without casualties. After saving the cops, Curtis takes a knife in the back, and while trying to get him out of the building, they are confronted by Church himself. Wild Dog stays behind to distract the villain so the others can get Curtis out, and Felicity gives the order for them to leave Wild Dog behind so the rest can escape while they can.
Oliver returns to the Arrow Cave and promises the team that they will get Wild Dog back, and surprisingly does not seem angry at their actions in his absence, perhaps realizing that they needed to do something about the Church situation while he was out. John is set up to live in the old HIVE HQ in not too shabby quarters, though it seems he will remain on the run for some time, and Felicity and Rory seem like they are going to be able to work together, reminding each other that while they have burdens to live with, they need to find a way to move on. As for Wild Dog, he is being tortured by Church, who seems to really enjoy putting the hurt on a member of Team Arrow, taunting that if Rene ever gets back to the Green Arrow, there will not be much left of him.
- What does Felicity do for a living now? Clearly she is not the CEO of Palmer Tech anymore, yet she is still living in the Old Queen loft, so she is paying the bills somehow, and I doubt she is letting her new boyfriend fund her lifestyle (credit to a friend of mine for pointing out how odd this is.)
- Oliver removes his mask while in John’s jail cell, doesn’t that seem like a stupid risk? It’s a military jail, there’s bound to be cameras EVERYWHERE, and his face is very recognizable. Is there a chance this could come back to bite him in the ass somewhere down the line? Same with Lyla who drives the truck onto the prison, after all, she is still the director of ARGUS, are you telling me she is not worried about SOMEONE spotting her face on a camera and connecting the dots?
- The DA in this episode continued his rhetoric about how vigilantes are a problem, even if at the end he could see their usefulness. It certainly seems like they are setting him up to potentially be Prometheus, which now makes me think that perhaps he is not the big bad of the season, but just a red herring. However, now that they have mentioned Roy again in this episode, I wonder if maybe they would bring him back to get “revenge” on Oliver for everything he had to give up
- Where is Malcolm Merlyn!? Over the summer it was big news that the actor playing him had signed on to be a “regular” across the entire Arrowverse, and yet I have not seen him appear on any of the CW DC shows.
- Is there a chance that Church is going to turn Wild Dog against the team? Doubtful as Rene seems very strong on the side of right, but we really do not know the character very well.
- Not really sure how well Spartan is going to get along with the new team members, but I do feel that his time in the army instructing new recruits in a way will make him an ideal teacher for new vigilantes, as teaching does not always seem to be Oliver’s strong suit.
So next week we will hopefully see the team working to save Rene, giving the show more momentum, and continuing to build on the story of this week, all of which makes the interconnected story of this season all the more fun to watch. I am not sure how long the ‘Arrow’ folk are going to be able to keep up this renaissance, but I am really enjoying it, and I can honestly say that I think ‘Arrow’ could finally be having that resurgence we have been hoping for. See you back here next week!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.