The Four Color Catch Up - Part 4 - Arrow
The Four Color Ark
Four Color Catch Up Part Four
When you left us we were working through our massive backlog of episodes to get you back up to date with all the fun goings on in the CW/DC Universe. We travelled through time with the Legends of Tomorrow, and defended the city of Freeland with Black Lightning and stopped a nuclear bomb with The Flash, and now it’s time to get you caught up on the episodes we missed of Arrow. So without further ado, and with shorter recap sections for brevity:
Arrow Season 6 Episode 14: “Collision Course”
Star City is out of money, and all of the funds that Cayden James blackmailed the city for have been withdrawn from his account in the Corto Maltese by none other than Evil Laurel Lance. The corruption in the police department is becoming fairly evident, but without the city’s budget – there is nothing that can be done to remedy any of the bad situations in Star City. Quentin lets Oliver know that Laurel is recovering from Dinah’s gut shot at his cabin in the woods, but “The Outsiders” also find out that Laurel is alive. What follows is a race against time for both teams to try to track down Laurel before the other, and it is not at all a pretty sight. When the two teams clash in the woods, no one holds back and the two teams attempt to rip each other to shreds, Oliver especially lays a fairly brutal beating on Wild Dog – the kind that could leave Rene crippled for life. The Outsiders break off their assault to get Rene to the hospital, while Oliver heads off to try to find Laurel – but her trail has seemingly gone cold. Oliver has to admit to the city council that he was unable to locate the money the city paid to Cayden James. Elsewhere, Evil Laurel stumbles out of the woods and approaches a truck driver – but rather than kill him and steal his truck, she asks for his help and claims to be the Earth 1 Laurel Lance.
The showdown we’ve been building toward for the last six episodes proved to be far more explosive than I think anyone in the audience was prepared for. The typical approach toward this on television would be that the two teams finally come to the central locus of their conflict, and discover that they need to work together to resolve it and move forward together, leading ultimately to a reconciliation. Arrow goes a very different way with the idea that these two teams clash now in a way that proves almost fatal for Wild Dog – who is largely the backbone of the other team. I did not expect that the revolving door of Cayden James/Black Siren/Anatoly/Ricardo Diaz was really just a corruption backdrop to the ongoing drama that is this incredibly messy process of Oliver discovering his identity in the wake of the destruction on Lian Yu at the end of season five. With Wild Dog now in the hospital and the team irrevocably fractured, I don’t imagine things are going to go smoothly for either team now. The big question is this final moment with Black Siren coming out of the woods claiming to be Laurel Lance, has getting shot messed with her head to the point where she believes she’s the real Laurel?
Echo Kellum keeps selling the anger and frustration of being in the splintered team situation. If it weren’t for his relatability, I suspect the constant anger and tension between the existing teams would be nigh unwatchable.
Arrow Season 6 Episode 15: “Doppelganger”
Laurel Lance lives? Stranger things have certainly happened in Star City, but this one seems very strange indeed. We don’t, however, have time to deal with this single event because Star City is splitting apart at the seams. First we learn that there is a surprise witness against Oliver Queen in his trial as the vigilante Green Arrow, next we learn that Ricardo Diaz seems to have large swaths of the SCPD in his pocket. Dinah agrees to work with Quentin and Oliver in rooting out corruption within the SCPD, promising that when it’s all over she WILL return to dealing with Laurel. Oliver, Diggle and Felicity track down the secret witness only to discover that it Roy Harper held against his will by corrupt cops. Knowing that it is Roy convince Thea that it’s time to come off the bench and suit up as Speedy to help free her former boyfriend from incarceration. Oliver, Thea, Diggle and Felicity work together once more to bust Roy out of the cell he’s being held in at the arrangement of Ricardo Diaz and bring him back to the safety of the Arrow Cave once more. He explains that he was captured somewhere near Hub City and that he would never betray Oliver. Thea and Roy decide to leave Star City together and build a life together elsewhere. Laurel is settling into her new fake life as the dead Laurel Lance, but Team Arrow isn’t alone in knowing the truth: Ricardo Diaz begins using Laurel as a source for information about Quentin Lance and the Mayor’s office.
Let me begin by making an appeal directly to the Producers of Arrow: Please, please, please, let go of the idea of keeping Laurel Lance around. I’m sure Katie Cassidy is a wonderful person, and a fine member of your cast who is game to deliver whatever you write for her. I suspect everyone enjoys her presence on set, and it might not even feel right without her there. The audience does not feel the same way about her, or her performance, as you do. The audience does not feel the same way about Black Siren, that we felt about the original or “good” Laurel. In the parlance of the movie Mean Girls, you’re trying to make Fetch happen and it’ll never happen. Let Laurel go. That said, let’s look at the episode. The emergence of a seemingly impenetrable shadow regime under the control of Ricardo Diaz is sudden and I’m looking forward to some explanation of how he was able to take complete control Star City under the noses of both Team Arrow and Cayden James. The highlight of this episode, without doubt, was the return of Colton Haynes as Roy Harper – and the return of Thea Queen to her Red costume to help rescue him. The entire city stacking up against Oliver seems potentially insurmountable without a team. Finally I’ve got to say I’m curious why we haven’t seen Rene in the hospital – Rick Gonzalez’ performance as Rene/Wild Dog was the impetus for the breakup of team Arrow in the first place, and it’s strange to not see him reacting to the events as they’ve played out thus far.
Willa Holland really delivers some of her best work in the entire six year run of playing Thea.
Arrow Season 6 Episode 16: “The Thanatos Guild”
Malcolm Merlin gathered together surviving members of the League of Assassins into a new organization known as The Thanatos Guild and told them that he has a secret map that will restore the strength and power of the League to its former standing in the world. Now, the Thanatos Guild is ready to track down Merlin’s secret map and find the source of power they were promised. Nyssa Al Ghul discovers their intentions and comes so Star City to illicit the help of Thea Queen. Thea is about to leave town forever with Roy when Nyssa shows up and explains that the Thanatos Guild believe that Thea will know where the map is and are coming to try to kill her. Thea, Roy, Team Arrow and Nyssa go looking for Merlin’s map before The Guild can try to find it, and what they discover is a puzzle box rather than a map itself. Reluctantly, Thea begins to realize that fighting alongside Nyssa – she might be able to find her purpose in the way that Oliver found his in the Green Arrow hood. The two teams meet in a second massive conflict and Team Arrow manages to defeat the Guild and recover the pieces needed to determine what Merlin’s map really leads to. Merlin had discovered that there are more Lazarus Pits scattered across the globe, Nyssa asks Thea to come with her to destroy them all. Thea agrees, and Roy decides to travel with them. Thea, Roy and Nyssa leave Star City – presumably forever.
Oh Malcolm Merlin, why can’t we quit you? One of the things I’ve enjoyed about this season of Arrow is that it has spent an entire year building out its narrative from standard, shop worn tropes common to their comic book source material and comic related television. The story about the team breaking up over a philosophical difference? The Avengers did that, so did the Justice League, the X-Men, The Titans – but what has made Arrow’s narrative successful has been that they’ve combined those tropes with standard TV tropes and done so in not entirely expected ways. This episode is a perfect example: the last appearance of Willa Holland as a series regular is a typical “one last mission” tv trope of a goodbye to one of the stars of the show – coupled with a standard comic book trope where “the dead secret organization is very much alive.” Either one of these on its own could have a perfectly serviceable episode, but together it creates an episode that puts one of the toys back in the box and pulls out a host of others to take its place. Thea Queen and Roy Harper exit the narrative, but the League of Assassins is back and potentially more dangerous than ever, and we get fan favorite Nyssa Al’Ghul back as well. This becomes a mirror that can be held up to Oliver – as Thea figures out that her place is following the League it shows Oliver that his place really is in that silly green hood. The comedic interplay with Nyssa and Felicity over who really is the wife of Oliver Queen made for some light hearted moments in an otherwise action heavy hour.
Katrina Law gave her strongest performance as Nyssa Al’Ghul yet. Finally this character has stepped out of her father’s shadow and is a confident and powerful leader in her own right.
Arrow Season 6 Episode 17: “Brothers In Arms”
Diaz doesn’t just have the police in his pocket, he’s got people at every single level of Star City’s government. He has already won, and it is far too late for Oliver to do anything about it. Dinah and Curtis are able to give Oliver the first real list of names of who is in his pocket – including the acting Chief of Police and the District Attorney. Felicity urges Oliver to finally come clean to Diggle that he has no intention of giving up the mantle of Green Arrow, and reluctantly Oliver does so. Diggle has a strong emotional reaction to this at first, and goes to his wife for some advice. She asks why he’s suddenly so emotionally connected to being the Green Arrow rather than Spartan – he isn’t entirely sure why. Oliver has a sit down the Police Chief and the DA who both refuse Ollies offers of protection against Diaz, they are in his pocket and they aren’t coming out. Oliver fires them. Back at the Arrow Cave, Diggle attempts to apologize to Oliver for getting angry – but he just gets angrier. He admits that he feels Oliver is failing the city and that Oliver has lost the mission – now serving as the Arrow out of vanity rather than duty. The two get into a heated argument that escalates and escalates until they start beating the shit out of each other. Felicity breaks it up, and the two team members go off on a mission together – but the damage is done. Diggle blames Oliver for the breakup of the two teams, for Diaz getting a foothold in the city, all of it. Diggle quits the team and leaves. Meanwhile, with the help of Laurel Lance, Diaz has convinced the fired Chief of Police and DA to call for the impeachment of Oliver Queen on the grounds that his firing of them was an attempt to obstruct justice in his impending trial.
Every single moment in the six years of Arrow thus far: all of the uneven episodes, all of the season plots that stretched believability, all of the strange left hand turns, all of it was worth it to finally see John Diggle beat the shit out of Oliver Queen. Sure the fight is super short because Felicity breaks it up, sure Oliver gets some good hits in of his own – but watching the nearly two minute fight it is clear that if this were to go the distance Oliver would lose. The real meat of the episode though is the argument that builds up to the most satisfying fistfight in Arrow history, and this fight is just as satisfying – Diggle calling Oliver out on every bad choice he’s made since getting to Lian Yu at the end of last season and Oliver giving just as good as he gets. I called it a few episodes back, but this makes it clear: the collapse of Team Arrow and not the fate of Star City has been the true story of season 6. This episode marks a tectonic shift – because even when making questionable decisions Oliver has always had Diggle in his corner: how will he proceed without Diggle? How will Diggle proceed without the team? Did anything else happen in this episode? Actually: yes, but nothing as powerful or as game changing as the fracturing of ORIGINAL Team Arrow. I’m constantly impressed with the way Season 6 continues to surprise.
David Ramsey. Flat out, the Diggle arc in this episode is some of the strongest material that’s been written in all six years and the man chews it up and spits it back out.