Right off the bat, Arrow definitely handles dealing with cliffhangers one episode to the next better than they do one season to the next. Last week’s “Fallout” did not do the best job really capitalizing on the cliffhanger from season five where Adrian Chase got his final revenge against Oliver. Everyone but the one character that most assumed would die made it of the island fine in a series of very cliche flashbacks. This week picks up right where the last ended with Oliver’s identity as Green Arrow being broadcast across the news thanks to an anonymous tip.
While this has been done before on the series, frankly it makes more sense that it’s being tackled at this point. Unlike when he was a rich playboy, as mayor the fact that Oliver is vanishing all the time to fight crime not only takes a toll but likely makes a lot of the people that work with and alongside him at City Hall, those that are not his team, very curious or suspicious of it all. Even in this episode where he’s under scrutiny and barely escaped armed Russian mobsters, he just has his car pulled over by security and runs off to be Green Arrow.
At the center of the episode is the reappearance of Anatoly, and after all the time focused on his and Oliver’s friendship and past last season this time he takes on a much more villainous role. The reasons for this turn, as he kidnaps Markovian executives in order to try and ransom them for $20 million from Oliver and the city, are not that out of the blue. With all that was seen about the Bratva last season them exiling Anatoly and him trying to rebuild strength and confidence in his abilities by taking on Oliver to prove they are not friends anymore works. Especially since Anatoly doesn’t fully go villain as he proves to Oliver that he is still a honorable man based on how he didn’t go for Oliver’s son or send that photo or do anything else that an actual villain might do. It also leads to some of the best fight scenes with his Russian goons, nice long shot well choreographed fights through the kitchen and other parts of a restaurant along with the shipyard later.
During all this we learned more about what is wrong with Diggle, and despite it being made to look like he had PTSD, which seemed quite off for someone as seasoned as Diggle, it turns out he has degenerative nerve damage after taking shrapnel during the island explosion. That makes it in a way even worse that he won’t tell the others his condition and keeps putting others in danger in the field. Dinah’s not saying anything, even after it almost got her killed is another thing that overall doesn’t make any sense, especially since she spends most of the episode bringing it up to him and trying to get him to tell others. Keeping his secret is definitely something that likely will be even more of an issue next week with the new weight of the team Diggle will be shouldering, but more on that later.
The photo of Oliver as Green Arrow, something Felicity and Curtis are able to prove fully later was faked, sets off a lot of the stuff in this episode but overall kind of sputters out as a plot. Agent Watson appears very briefly but once the photo is revealed faked she of course says she won’t be closing her investigation, meaning that we’ll be seeing her later and this will be a continuing issue for Oliver and the team. The fact that someone placed Oliver’s head on the Green Arrow photo to fake an image is a bit interesting because it begs the question, did the person know that he is Arrow and just not have a good photo to prove it or do they not know he is Arrow but want to put suspicion on him for another reason? Hopefully it’s something we learn about sooner rather than later.
One thing I really did enjoy about the episode is that much like they talked about after season five, flashbacks are not as prevalent as they used to be. There is not a single one in this episode which is great. It meant that all the action and story was rooted in the present instead of hopping back to some relevant similar story from the past. Last week the flashbacks were all focused on the island escape, and thankfully those did not continue. Where the flashbacks will go in the future should be interesting as I really hope that they are kept sparse or not at all unless very necessary.
Outside of all the other plots is the battle Oliver has with his moonlighting as a vigilante and what it’s doing to his son, William, who is afraid he might become an orphan. Despite this being a quick turn from last week’s episode where William seemed to not want to be around Oliver, his worries are legitimate and the kid is pretty smart about the fact that Oliver’s promise to not die as Arrow is a lie and not in his control. While I like that Oliver is making the right decision to be able to be with his son by giving up as Green Arrow, it’s not really the solution to the other issue of the episode with the faked photo. Oliver deciding to stay with his son is great but Diggle suddenly taking up the mantle is going to cause some big problems. First is the aforementioned nerve damage and issues in the field it could cause since he could not fire a gun and now has to fire a bow and arrow. Secondly, the Arrow going from being a goatee wearing white guy to a bigger buffer black man is sure to definitely send up red flags for Agent Watson’s investigation. Sure we assume most people don’t actually notice what the Green Arrow looks like (otherwise pretty sure many people would really notice it’s just Oliver with a mask on, but come on….they at least should be able to tell that the Green Arrow changed skin tones and is buffer.
While it’s not the strongest of episodes “Tribute” does do a much better job building things and moving the season forward than the premiere did. There are still a lot of questions that are in the dark such as who was behind the return of Black Siren last week, but that will surely come later in the season. Diggle keeping his issues to himself is very selfish and surely will lead the team to have issues going forward till the time where Oliver will of course have to don the suit again and break his promise to William. That’s a bit cliche and is sure to happen, but overall I’m okay with that. Seeing how Oliver and William interact in the meantime and how Oliver does as Mayor without the Arrow hanging over his head could be an interesting journey for the season.
Score: 8.5 out of 10