“A father passes on more than just his name to his children. He provides them their legacy.”
It’s all in the setup.
For “Level Two” to hold any type of significance to Arrow viewers, just remember that line. Because, despite not much going on in the fourth episode of the season, this week seemingly paves the way for the next several weeks more than any episode of the still-young seventh season.
After his attack on the prison guards, Oliver finds himself on Level Two. After a night exposed to sensory overload techniques, he meets Dr. Parker, the chief psychiatrist for this particular section of Slabstone Prison. Though there is no groundbreaking reveals in their interactions, it’s curious that this psychiatrist is doing his best to deconstruct Oliver Queen. Much of what he does is akin to enhanced interrogation more than the purported psychiatric evaluation he’s there to dispense. Much of Dr. Parker’s aim is for Oliver to admit that the path he followed for all these years was sparked by his murdering father’s actions. Parker taps into Oliver’s fears that William will somehow follow this same destructive path. There are no obvious reasons for the doctor’s motives, though it’s a dubious proposition that it’s anything but self-serving.
While Oliver suffers, Felicity is going through her own transformation. It’s no surprise that, after nearly being killed in her home by Diaz, that she’d want to take action. In a few short episodes, she’s developed more as a character than she has in the previous two seasons. Yes, some of her methods for interrogating The Silencer on Diaz’s location is far from anything Felicity has ever done but she’s come to a near breaking point. She is flirting with that line, one that Rene and (surprisingly) Laurel warn her not to cross. Whether or not Felicity does something that she can never take back remains to be seen.
Speaking of development, it was good to see Rene get a bit of his own. From his original appearance, ‘Wild Dog’ has been a passionate man whose fire often times seemed to be present without the structure of the why. He has two powerful conversations in “Level Two”, one with Felicity and the other with Dinah, laying out how he became the man that he is today. Far too often his character has been presented as the unpredictable hothead, lacking true dimension. This season the writers have taken to fleshing him out, not only in the sense of his convictions on the need for Star City to have a core vigilante group but as a father to Zoe as well. It’s a welcome focus considering the few times Rene has been showcased as more than a quick-tempered vigilante has always been his best moments.
It’s unfortunate that the most interesting plotline this week gets the least amount of screen time. William and Roy’s future excursion into a much different Star City fosters so many questions. When Dinah shows up — along with the vigilante Zoe — even more questions abound. The catalyst behind this massive change — the once inner city Glades now risen to power and walling out Star City — is head-scratching to say the least, but there’s still so much left to be answered that giving the benefit of the doubt to this curious framing of the future can be forgiven…for now.
As the narration unfolds, “Level Two” offers more anticipation towards future development than actual meat and potatoes of the now. As the present timeline looks to create connections (Dinah and Rene, Felicity and Laurel, Oliver and Dr. Parker, etc) the glimpses into the past strongly hint at the destruction of these characters, in the figurative (and possibly literal) sense. “Level Two” is another forgettable chapter in Arrow’s seventh season but, unlike the others, offers promise that the power of the story’s development is right around the corner.