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Last episode of Arrow ended with Diggle confessing his tremor-related woes to Dinah, Curtis and Rene, but not, as yet, Felicity and Oliver. They find out this week – with predictable results – but that’s just one of many ingredients in an over-stuffed Thanksgiving episode that gets bogged down in some frustrating plotting, even while making some satisfying progress.
The episode opens with Oliver fronting a Thanksgiving Food Drive, which counts as a nice nod towards Oliver’s socialist leanings as Mayor in the comics. The warm and fuzzy feelings are short-lived, however, as Agent Samandra Watson chooses that moment to arrest Oliver for being the Green Arrow (well, for multiple murders), in front of his son, no less. Oliver: Not happy. Samandra flat-out tells Oliver she knows he’s the Green Arrow and that she also knows Roy Harper stood in for him in the past and Diggle is doing the same, so she’s pretty clued-up. It’s going to be very interesting to discover the source of her information, but we’re not there yet. Anyway, Oliver gets arraigned, thanks to Felicity using some of her company’s investment money for his bail, without telling Curtis.
Meanwhile, Season 6 Big Bad Cayden James is back on the scene and getting Evil Laurel / Black Siren to steal some highly explosive material (“nano-thermites”, it says here). Evil Laurel behaves rather strangely during the theft, using her sonic scream, even when James warns her that she could blow herself up. (“You do see how that could have gone wrong, yes?”) Does Evil Laurel just like to live dangerously or is something else going on here?
Meanwhile, back in the Arrow Cave, Curtis gives Diggle his tremor-reducing prototype and it seems to be working nicely, if Diggle’s handstand-press-up combo is any indication. However, when Team Arrow head out into the field to thwart a raid on AmerTek (for “accelerants”, it says here), Diggle suffers a mid-fight spasm that nearly gets him killed and puts him out of action. So, it’s time to come clean to Felicity.
Felicity, for her part, apologises to Diggle for everything he’s been going through, but says he needs to talk to Oliver. She’s more annoyed with Curtis for using their prototype without asking her and she starts to have a go at him, but Curtis, quite rightly, calls her on a. naming their company without consulting him, b. choosing which product to work on without consulting him, and, oh yes, c. using their start-up money to free Oliver without consulting him. Felicity: Bang to rights. They agree to stop arguing, though, because Cayden James is out there somewhere and he has a “thermo-barric bomb” (it says here) all ready to explode, thanks to all the nano-thermites and accelerants he’s stolen.
Meanwhile, Oliver has found about about Diggle’s deception and he is mad as hell. He tells Diggle that he’s very, very disappointed in him and says that the biggest mistake he ever made was trusting Diggle to be the Green Arrow, which seems a bit harsh. Diggle counters with the fact that Oliver basically asked him to put his (Oliver’s) needs, his goals and his family above his own in order to become the Green Arrow. So the argument is a bit of a stalemate.
Anyway, with Diggle out of action, Oliver is forced to put on the Green Arrow costume once again when it turns out that Cayden James is planning to attack a Billy Joel concert at Star City Stadium. This will, of course, entail lying to William about being the Green Arrow again, which presumably won’t go well. Anyway, first, he tries to use his Mayor powers to get Billy Joel’s manager to cancel the gig, but Billy Joel’s manager says no way, dude, so the team split up and search for the bomb during the concert. This leads to perhaps the lamest cameo in history, as Billy Joel is briefly seen performing, in a shot that could frankly have come from any concert movie. Why? The result of a bet amongst the production staff, perhaps? Who knows?
Whatever the reason, the team end up running around the concert venue and it turns out Cayden’s men are all dressed as cops. A flurry of stupid decisions ensue, including a. Wild Dog firing his guns in the air in an attempt to get civilians to flee the venue (it goes…badly), and b. Mr Terrific, Black Canary and Wild Dog getting caught on camera beating the crap out of a bunch of “cops”, and on the eve of the public vote on the Anti-Vigilante Bill, no less. That actually turns out to be Cayden James’ goal all along, as there is no bomb and the Anti-Vigilante Bill passes, meaning a lot more trouble for Oliver and company in future.
As for James’ motivation, that turns out to be a rather boring personal revenge-type deal. While looking for the bomb in the stadium, Oliver comes across a fake bomb and Cayden steps from the shadows to personally inform Oliver that he’s doing all this because Oliver caused the death of his son. Oliver is like, ‘um, can you be a bit more specific?’, but Cayden is gone, promising that Star City is going to burn and it’s all going to be Oliver’s fault. Ruh-roh!
On the plus side, all the Billy Joel action has given Oliver time to reconsider his harsh words to Diggle and they make up again. Felicity and Curtis apologise and make up too, which is nice. Oh, and Quentin and Dinah have a great heart-to-heart, as they bond over their dead loved ones coming back as evil, costumed psychopaths. Dinah’s actually quite reasonable about it, telling Quentin: “We’re good people. We see the best in the people we care about. And I, for one, am not ready to think of that as a bad thing.”
The best news of the episode is saved until last, however. Yes, that’s right, Thea Queen is awake. Just as Oliver finishes apologising to Diggle, a nurse comes in and says Thea is awake and there she is, joking about being woken up with Lazarus Pit water and everything. In fact, Felicity had something to do with kick-starting her recovery, and it’s something to do with “cutting-edge neuro-science”, but who cares? Thea is back and all is right with the world.
All in all, this is a bit of a strange episode, in that Oliver and Diggle’s initial argument doesn’t quite ring true (especially with Oliver’s new-found level-headedness), the team make some highly questionable decisions in the field and Oliver seems to be remarkably free to still do his job, despite being arrested on multiple counts of murder, but Thea’s return excuses basically everything, so we’ll let it go. Come back next time for the annual crossover event, when Oliver and company face off against evil Nazi doppelgangers, alongside the casts of Supergirl, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.
Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
– A sweet moment between Diggle and Curtis, after the drug appears to work. Diggle: “You’re a genius, Curtis.” Curtis: “I bet you say that to all the geniuses.”
– Michael Emerson hasn’t had a lot to do as Cayden James just yet, but his line-readings alone are enough to justify his presence, even on a simple outburst like “And yet!”
– We stand by our prediction that the season is going to end with Star City discovering Oliver is the Green Arrow and voting him in as Mayor again anyway. The Anti-Vigilante vote decision would seem to suggest otherwise, but there are glimpses of protest signs reading “Green Arrow 4 Mayor” and “I Heart Mayor Green Arrow”, so we still have hope.
– Did we mention how happy we are that Thea is back? Welcome back, Thea. You have been sorely missed.
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Photo: 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.