There is one thing that a few of The CW superhero shows have in common, they consistently telegraph what they are planning to do. In the case of Arrow that telegraphing centers around the Oliver/Diggle/Green Arrow plot going on. While we all knew from the moment Oliver gave up the role there would come a point where he would end up taking it back, this is his show after all. The problem is, from that moment he gave up the suit the writers have barely explored anything with him outside of that world he left behind and have thrown together all these plots that prove why he will be back in it probably very soon. Diggle’s drug issue is just another way to speed up Oliver’s return, as is having him run around with Deathstroke these last two episodes. Showing why Oliver needs to come back is fine if you actually bother to allow him some actual time away from the world to explore things with his son and time as Mayor. Which at this point, they are barely doing. Might as well just go ahead and put him back in the suit and get it over with.
One positive of this week was the fact that some plots actually began to move forward in a season that has been spinning its wheels a ton. So far three of the CW DC shows, The Flash & Supergirl along with Arrow, haven’t really setup fully what the season plot truly will be. They’ve put some pieces together and some stuff is moving forward more in others, but unlike DC’s Legends of Tomorrow they haven’t fully laid out the big villains and main storylines fully yet. With Arrow each week has just been a bit of a hodgepodge of stories that sort of have a throughline, mostly the FBI investigation/Oliver stepping down storyline, but so far there is no true adversary other than Black Siren popping up here and there.
Most of the action surrounded Deathstroke and his reuniting with his son Joe who runs his own group and has plans to do terrible things. While I’ve been glad for the flashbacks to be gone from every single episode, allowing present day more time to breathe, the use of them in this episode to fill in the gaps of what happened with Slade after he got off the island up to when he headed out to try and kill Oliver in season two is well done. It shows what he did that helped spur these feelings in his son and why he feels that he has to try and help his son. This season was supposed to focus on Oliver’s trying to become a dad but sadly in these two episodes, the struggle of Slade and his son is a far more compelling father/son storyline than Oliver/William.
I’m sick and tired of team members hiding secrets that put their team in jeopardy. Yes, I know that from a writing standpoint it builds up drama which is the bread and butter of these types of shows outside of the actual superhero action aspects. It’s just tiring to watch this same group of people continue to make the same mistakes over and over again season after season. Last week was about Dinah’s keeping a secret about how she let her former partner/lover Vigilante get away. Before that, it was Felicity’s hacking choices that struck back at the team. Now Diggle’s drug use to be Green Arrow finally affected the team after it was revealed weeks ago. He compromised their mission this week because Ricardo Diaz, the DC character Richard Dragon, was the one behind the drug and of course John tried to justify his drug use to Lyla when he revealed to her finally. These are the people that have tasked themselves with protecting the city yet they can’t seem to ever learn the lesson to stop hiding things from one another. It’s a miracle they are still working together at this point, most would have given up a long time ago.
That being said, I’m glad that John finally came clean with the team and they were actually able to talk about things like adults. It was in that moment that despite all that I said above, the show proved why these people are still working with one another. They are more than a team, they are a family. Clearly, John’s issue are not over and hopefully, he actually lets Curtis help him, which like Curtis said it’s insane that he didn’t ask since the guy helped fix Felicity’s paralysis. The moment was ruined by the fact that right after John and Dinah swear no more secrets, Dinah walks away clearly still with secrets because for every step forward in the show there is always a step backward.
It’s kind of sad when the storyline that is not about the main characters is the part of two episodes that stand out the most. There were far more character moments and momentum with Slade & Joe’s story and how it helped Oliver than in the stories lately with the main supporting cast. Compared to last season, Arrow is really lacking something this season and that is a direction. Things are moving along but it’s just a variety of things with no seeming destination in mind. Next week the hacker villain is back but so far he just seems to be some sort of minor threat for the season, same with Richard Dragon if he returns after this episode. Even the third and fourth seasons of the series that were not received well by fans did a better job of highlighting that Ras al’ Ghul and Damian Darhk were the villains of the season. The crossover episode with the other CW shows can’t come soon enough as it will be a time when the cast can actually do some hero things that have meaning. Right now they are just stuck in place and all the great fight choreography and sweet moments with Oliver/Felicity can only save the episodes for so long.
Score: 7 out of 10