Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Arrow, click here.
This season of Arrow has had its high points and its low points, but it often feels like it’s treading water, waiting for something big to happen. As effective as the Cayden James / Ricardo Diaz reveal was, it’s meant that we’re effectively back to square one, in terms of knowing what Diaz’s master plan is. Meanwhile, the season-long plot about the two teams splitting up finally got some traction last episode, when Team Arrow faced off against The Outsiders and Rene ended up in hospital. And then there’s the small matter of the cliffhanger, which had an escaped Black Siren claiming to be a kidnapped-for-two-years Laurel Lance. So where is the back end of this season headed? Right now, it’s anybody’s guess.
To a certain extent, this episode represents a back-to-basics approach for Arrow, and the result is one of Season 6’s stronger outings. It begins with some good news for Team Arrow, when Oliver is told by his lawyer, Jean Loring (Teryl Rothery) that the evidence against him is no longer valid, because Cayden James a. was a villain, and b. is dead. Oliver’s relief doesn’t last long though (when does it ever?), because Quentin pops his head round the door to tell them that “Laurel Lance” has just shown up at SCPD.
Sure enough, there’s Black Siren, bold as brass, giving a tearful interview to the press, claiming that Damien Darhk faked her death and kept her imprisoned for two years, “maybe to torture the Green Arrow”. When Oliver and Quentin appear, she falls into their arms, exclaiming that she never thought she’d see them again. You have to hand it to Katie Cassidy – she sells the hell out of this scene, particularly the look she gives Oliver when the press start asking her if she knows who Green Arrow is. Oliver fobs off the reporters (hey, whatever happened to Sexy Evil Journalist Susan Williams?) with a line that he’s made no secret about being in contact with the Green Arrow, but no, it’s not him, don’t be ridiculous, and he whisks Laurel off to somewhere more private.
Once cornered by Oliver, Thea and Quentin, Laurel confesses that, whoops, the money that Cayden stole from Star City has disappeared. She went to get it from where she had stashed it, but poof (she actually says “poof”), it’s all gone. Sorry. Sucks to be you, Oliver, etc. There’s a certain amount of speculation over why she’s pretending to be Laurel – is she terrified of Dinah’s revenge? Or is she now a target for whoever killed Cayden? Oliver knows it was either Diaz or Anatoly and he tries to get Laurel to identify the killer, but she feigns ignorance. Instead, she tells Oliver he’s going to go along with her story, because otherwise, the next time the press ask her who Green Arrow is, she’ll tell them. Oliver: not amused.
Things quickly get worse for Oliver (plus ca change, etc.), when the prosecutor informs him that they have a new witness to testify that he’s the Green Arrow. And that witness is… wait for it… Roy Harper. Gasps all round.
Team Arrow are particularly surprised, because even they didn’t know where Roy was hiding – Thea says she couldn’t even get hold of him for Oliver and Felicity’s wedding reception. (It has to be said, even after all the will-they-won’t-they stuff, it’s really difficult to remember that Oliver and Felicity are actually married now.) Anyway, they figure out that Roy probably isn’t co-operating voluntarily and that means either Diaz or Anatoly is behind this. Felicity uses her computer skillz and tells the team that the D.A.’s office have rented out several floors of a hotel downtown, so that’s probably where they’re holding Roy.
Meanwhile, Dinah is understandably pretty annoyed with Laurel’s plan and she gets herself officially assigned to the Laurel Lance resurrection case. She heads to the hospital and questions the doctor, who says that in a world where a man can run faster than light, anything is possible. As they’re talking, Laurel is on a hospital bed with Quentin trying to persuade her to wear Laurel’s clothes. This storyline just gets creepier and creepier. Anyway, Dinah confronts Quentin and tells him he’s delusional if he thinks he can change Laurel, and he counters by saying all he’s asking for is a chance. Then, they realise that she’s not in the hospital bed anymore and it turns out she’s been abducted by a cop who’s working for Diaz.
Elsewhere, Oliver and Diggle are staking out the hotel room, where they can tell, using infra-red tech, that Roy is getting beaten up by various goons. Oliver feels guilty, saying that Roy put on the hood to save him and now he’s been on the run for three years. Diggle chooses this particularly inopportune moment to whine that Oliver still hasn’t let him be the Green Arrow again and it’s been two months now. He says that instead, Oliver has had Cisco make him a new suit. This clearly isn’t a conversation Oliver wants to have right now, so he shuts it down, but you can sense it’s eating away at Diggle and will be Important For Later.
Back at the Arrow Cave, Thea learns that Roy is in trouble and insists on suiting up and coming with Oliver and Diggle on the rescue mission, telling them that they’ll need someone who can fit in the air conditioning vents. There’s a nice cut from her reaching for her suit to her actually wearing the suit as they’re all back on the rooftop. Hurrah! Speedy’s back! Took them long enough. Here’s hoping she gets a taste for it again, because it’s great to see her back in action.
So, Speedy zip-lines over to the hotel, hops in the vent and finds the room where Roy is being beaten up with a phone book. The goons (who are also cops) go out for something to eat and Thea makes her move. Roy: “Is that my hood? It looks good on you.” Thea kisses Roy and unties him, but he’s too wounded to be rescued, so he tells her to go without him. Felicity warns that masses of armed goons are approaching the room, but Thea says she’s not leaving without Roy and draws back her bow, ready for a fight. However, Oliver fires a lasso arrow at her (pretty nifty) and yanks her backwards out of the window, just as the goons burst in. Thea: not happy. (Did Oliver really do that from the rooftop opposite? Let’s not think about physics just now.)
Anyway, it’s not all a bust, because Felicity does some digging on the cops in the hotel and works out that they’re all being paid by Diaz. This is a bit of a revelation, because Team Arrow suddenly realise what they’re up against. At the very least, Oliver thinks it’s worth sharing this information with Dinah, which he does. He asks Dinah to put aside her vendetta and work with Quentin to figure out how deep the corruption goes in the police department. Dinah, to her credit, agrees. That comes as something of a relief after weeks of Team Arrow and The Outsiders flying off the handle at each other. Also, Dinah’s a lot less angry as a cop than she is as Black Canary. More Cop Dinah, please.
Elsewhere, Laurel meets with Anatoly, who takes her to see Diaz. Anatoly is now happily working for Diaz, telling Laurel that he’s in Star City for two reasons: 1. revenge against Oliver Queen, and 2. money. He says he’s happy to work with whoever can give him either. Anyway, he brings Laurel to Diaz’s HQ, where he’s in some sort of neon-lit boxing ring, sparring with an underling. It’s pretty obvious that the neon is there to obscure the face of the stunt man standing in for Kirk Acevedo, but at least the character finally gets a step closer to his comic book counterpart, Ricardo “The Dragon” Diaz, who’s apparently one of the DC Universe’s best fighters. Diaz takes Laurel to task for stealing the money, but she says she’s given it back, thereby confirming that Diaz has the money now. She says she just wants to be free of Dinah’s vengeance and wants to be able to live somewhere safe, in peace. Diaz, like Cayden before him, says that he’s been working on his plan for months and he knows all and controls all. Laurel looks suitably impressed and Diaz strokes her face, implying a potential relationship between them (the accompanying line is “Isn’t that worth staying in bed for?”, referencing Laurel’s earlier line about Diaz having convinced Anatoly that he’s worth staying in bed with).
Back at the Arrow Cave, Oliver and company get a tip about Roy being transferred, but when they attempt to intercept the police van, they find that it’s a decoy and that Diaz has taken him. Ruh roh! Back at Diaz’s lair (the Dragon’s Lair, if you will), Roy has been given an even bigger beating, because he’s now bleeding. Diaz wants him to testify against Olive, Roy says he won’t, and Diaz says if he won’t do it for himself, do it for Speedy, effectively threatening Thea’s life. Roy looks worried.
Speaking of Thea, she’s feeling pretty blue back in the Arrow Cave. Oliver sits her down for a heart-to-heart and tells her he knows she hasn’t been happy, what with spending the first half of the season in a coma and all. He says that when they find Roy, she should leave with him and be happy. They’re not writing Thea out, are they? Say it ain’t so! Either that or Roy’s chances of making it out of his guest appearance arc just shortened dramatically. Thea looked thoughtful, so she’s definitely considering it.
Back at Quentin’s place, he’s playing a game of Spot The Dirty Cop with Dinah when Laurel shows up, claiming she has information about where Diaz is holding Roy. Just whose side is Laurel on, anyway? Oliver and Thea show up and they realise they don’t have any choice but to trust Laurel. She, in turn, tells Quentin that she figured if she was going to be Laurel Lance, she had better start acting like it. Which is, of course, exactly what Quentin wants to hear, so she could still be playing him. It’s fair to say that the which-side-is-Laurel-on game the show is playing isn’t quite as compelling as they think it is, but Katie Cassidy’s obvious enjoyment in the role more than makes up for all that.
Oh, and on the way out of the room, Oliver is needlessly nasty to Dinah, telling her she can’t come with them on the rescue mission. He says, “No. You don’t trust me, I don’t trust you, so I’d rather be out there short-handed.” Oliver can be a real idiot sometimes and this is one of those times, especially after he’d successfully talked Dinah into working with Quentin. Dinah’s not happy about it either and the expression on her face pretty much mirrors what the audience is thinking.
So, it’s big action sequence time and director Kristin Wendell does a decent job. as Oliver, Thea and Diggle fight their way through what looks like an abandoned casino in pursuit of Roy. Once again, it’s a treat to see Speedy back in action, as she can get away with much more agile fight moves than Oliver or Diggle can manage. There’s also some fun business where the fight scene seems like it’s following the progress of a single arrow as Oliver and Diggle keep stabbing and shooting people with it. To be fair, it was probably better on paper, as it doesn’t quite come across as planned, but it’s a decent effort nonetheless and points are definitely due for trying something different. Anyway, Thea catches up to Diaz, as he’s escaping with Roy and she handles herself pretty well, until Diaz gets the drop on her and holds an arrow to her throat. Oliver arrives just in time and tells her to get in the van and drive Roy to safety, which she does. Then, the police arrive and Oliver is forced to let Diaz go.
Back at the Arrow Cave, everyone regroups and they acknowledge that the DA will probably add witness tampering to the long list of charges against Oliver, but it was totally worth it because Roy is safe. Awww.
Oliver heads to Quentin’s apartment to see Laurel. He thanks her for not setting them up and giving them good intel. He also tells her she’s not their Laurel and never will be. Laurel says that he’s right, but she’s willing to try, if he’s willing to give her the space in which to do so. Oliver agrees, but then Laurel gets a text from Diaz saying “Good work”, so it looks like Laurel is still evil. Or is she? It’s actually kind of hilarious that Diaz comes up on Laurel’s phone as “DIAZ”. Let’s hope Oliver never catches sight of her phone, mid-text, eh?
The cliffhanger for the episode is extremely promising. Thea and Roy start going at it in Thea’s apartment and we cut to the rooftop opposite, where a member of the League of Assassins pulls off a mask and says, via comms, that she’s found the heir of Ra’s al-Ghul. So next episode should be fun, especially if Nyssa is involved. Also, if they really are writing out Willa Holland, at least they’re giving her something fun to do beforehand.
All in all, this is something of a return to form for Arrow, although it’s notable that two thirds of The Outsiders are pretty much absent, aside from a brief scene with Curtis looking after Rene’s daughter. Other than that, we get decent action, some well overdue plot development, the return of an old favourite (even if there’s no parkour) and Thea finally being given something interesting to do. Tune in next time for an intriguingly titled episode called “The Thanatos Guild”.
Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
– Oliver’s lawyer, Jean Loring, is actually a long-standing DC character in her own right (cf. Wikipedia). She was the Justice League’s lawyer and The Atom’s love interest for years, before she had a mental breakdown and murdered the wife of the Elongated Man (who’s currently on The Flash). Oh, and she became a supervillain called Eclipso. Guessing that probably won’t be happening on Arrow, though.
– A bombshell from Laurel: “Little trivia. There’s a Thea Queen on the Earth that I come from too.” Please, please, please can we meet Earth 2 Thea?
– Trick Arrow Watch: There were loads this week, from the afore-mentioned lasso arrow to a zip-line arrow and an explosive arrow, but special mention goes to the fireworks arrow that Oliver uses to distract the goons when Speedy slips into the hotel.
Arrow Season 6 is available on Sky 1 every Thursday, within a week of its US broadcast. Don’t have Sky? You can stream it live or catch up on-demand through NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription, no contract. A 7-day free trial is available for new subscribers.
Photo: 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.