“People say that revenge corrupts the soul, that if you go down that path, you’ll never come back. But sometimes, embracing the darkness is the only way to get justice.”
Here we are, three weeks into 2019 and Arrow has finally returned. With the first half of the season primarily dealing with Oliver’s incarceration and eventual release, it’s not a surprise to see that we’ve got more than half the season to go and, in that, there’s quite a bit of ground to make up when framing the narrative for Season Seven’s second half. And it starts where the last non-crossover episode ended; with Emiko Queen.
As the title suggests, “My Name is Emiko Queen” puts Oliver’s until now unknown half-sister in the spotlight. From her own ledger of names to her quest for justice—though some would call it vengeance—Emiko’s story plays out with many of the same beats as Oliver’s initial introduction. She’s even forced, after taking a bullet wound, to reach out to Rene (as Oliver did with Felicity) to patch her up. There’s nothing really new about Emiko’s journey or the angry violence and ‘I can do it on my own’ attitude that fuels her as she tracks down the man that killed her mother. But unlike with Oliver, we don’t get to see Emiko prior to her mother’s death so are only presented with the vengeful cloak she adorns as Star City’s newest vigilante.
Despite commanding most of the screen time, other than a good scene or two with Rene, there was no real captivating moment for the character. It sounds harsh but, as this was her true introduction, there’s still a lot of time to flesh out Emiko’s personality. Again, this was the same issue that plagued Oliver upon his return from Lian Yu; that type of experience changes a person, hardens them. Emiko is no different. Her partnership with Rene notwithstanding, her true persona will most likely be peeled back during her interactions with Oliver.
Speaking of the show’s titular character, it’s not often he’s relegated to the background. He spends most of the episode with Felicity, trying to process his feelings on his father having a secret family and his relation to Emiko. There’s no one to punch or skewer, just his own conflicting emotions and, unlike he’s often done, Oliver doesn’t hold them in. He’s open and honest with himself and Felicity, and that is one of the biggest aspects of his character’s growth over the years. Whether this new Oliver will be able to make a connection with the vengeful Emiko will be a test of strength as she will ultimately have to decide if vengeance or justice will be the path she continues to walk.
The two remaining plot points involve the flash-forwards to the future Glades/Star City (with Rene as mayor!) and the much more interesting developments at A.R.G.U.S. The former storyline, catching up with the adult William and Zoe, has been one of the season’s weaker aspects. This week’s reveal that Rene is working with the people who plan to level Star City (as well as murdered Felicity) does peak my interest but it’s Diggle’s mention of the Ghost Initiative—once known as the Suicide Squad (before the movie deep-sixed that particular Arrow storyline—that creates a more compelling narrative in future episodes. With Diaz being the first member of the Initiative, his intel on the mysterious Dante, as well as Oliver and Felicity’s soon-to-be nuclear reaction when they discover the deal Diggle’s made with Diaz, this is setting up to be the surgical strike that may permanently sever Team Arrow’s original three’s relationship.
Arrow – “My Name Is Emiko Queen”