“Every child deserves to believe that his father is a hero and believing it, you became one.”
As we close in on that final road heading towards Arrow’s season seven finale, Oliver and the gang are still doing their damnedest to track down Emiko and the Ninth Circle. When Oliver and Diggle interrupt Virgil—a Ninth Circle operative—in the midst of an exchange with a rogue A.R.G.U.S. agent, they get their first lead on the Ninth Circle’s biggest picture…and during it all, the themes of family and truth are revisited.
Unlike last week, Oliver’s not wholly relegated to the background. Much of the plot in “Spartan” centers around his attempts to get any information that will lead him to Emiko so he can try once again to reach his half-sister and dissuade her from this path of destruction she seems so intent on following. And despite the urgency of this narrative plot, Diggle is the focal point of this episode. Aptly titled after his code name, John must come to terms with the tension built over the years between him and General Roy Stewart, his stepfather and former CO of John’s deceased father. It’s obvious early on that their relationship is familial in nature. After all, there is nothing like family to truly carve a hole into someone’s psyche.
The origins of John’s disdain for his stepfather are complex: not only does he blame Stewart for his father’s death but the “tough love” the general showed both John and Andy growing up, not to mention the fact that he sidles his way into John’s life so soon after his father’s death is a prime catalyst for a lasting resentment. So it should come as no surprise that the two of them are paired together and eventually captured by Dante as he searches for the codes to Cygnus X-1, a biological agent capable of eating through any substance. As poignant as their dynamic is, it’s difficult not to look past some of the rushed plot points of this season that “Spartan” highlights.
As blazingly impressive as his introduction was, Adrian Paul’s Dante has fizzled out just as quickly. Instead of him being the brains behind the Ninth Circle, the writers have posited Emiko in that role, a role wholly unsuited for her and even more unbelievable. Dante’s fate after Emiko learns the truth of her mother’s death, provided he is truly dead, is a prime example of how a show can absolutely waste a character. The swerve they tried to convey with Emiko working with the Ninth Circle was initially a strong one, though it crumbled the moment she was given leadership over the massively secret organization.
More immediately, however, is, now that she knows who killed her mother, what is the point of her continuing along the Ninth Circle’s mission? Is she a true believer now, married to the cause or were her actions purely driven by that feeling of loss, of being alone with no family to call her own? With three weeks left, it’s doubtful she’ll ‘see the light’ prior to the finale which doesn’t bode well for the drama to play out these next few episodes in anything other than a disappointing fashion.
But back to the strength of “Spartan” in John and his stepfather’s reconciliation. As it turns out, the majority of Diggle’s anger at the general is because he let John’s father die. Or that was the official report anyway. The truth—gathered thanks to Felicity’s hacking skills—is that John’s father was the one responsible for his own death. General Stewart hid the truth because he thought it best served John to see his father as a hero. Whether or not this was the right choice could be argued; what can’t be argued is the man John came to be. And at the end of the day, at least for “Spartan”, that’s all that matters.
- The flash forward in this episode was kept to a minimum (thankfully) but offered some good content. Diggle’s biological son, John Jr., seems to have gone the way of his deceased uncle Andy. Head of the Deathstroke gang, JJ is on the opposite side of the fight against Connor, even sending his goons to eliminate his adopted brother. That coupled with the obvious attraction between Mia and Connor, and this future time has consistently hit on some good character moments, despite my indifference to the Galaxy One conspiracy plot as a whole.
- So now that Archer has been scrapped, Felicity and Alena look to rebuild it, better than ever but this time in a way that it doesn’t benefit the bad guys. Unfortunately for Felicity, she doesn’t understand that, no matter the precautions she may take, any weapon or system, no matter the altruism involved in creating it, can be used for the wrong side. And as the future shows, her work is destined to be put to nefarious use.
What are your thoughts and predictions on this episode of ‘Arrow’? Let us know below!