UK TV recap: Arrow, Season 6, Episode 22 (The Ties That Bind)
Lyla goddamn Michaels9
Things going BOOM9
Matthew Turner | On 26, May 2018
Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Arrow, click here.
Arrow’s ridiculously enjoyable last episode ended with season Big Bad Ricardo Diaz swearing to kill Oliver and everyone he loves, which immediately sets up high expectations for Season 6’s penultimate episode. And while it’s fair to say that the stakes could have been higher and some of the emotional material is a little off, it definitely delivers on the action front. It remains to be seen whether Season 6 can stick the landing with a kick-ass finale, but this is a promising step in the right direction.
Amazingly, at the beginning of the episode, nobody seems to have considered the possibility that Diaz might be a little annoyed that his big plan to throw Oliver in jail was thwarted at the last minute. Instead, they’re just hanging out, like regular folks, doing regular stuff: Oliver’s at home, cooking up a storm for Felicity and William; Diggle and Lyla are at the hospital, getting Diggle’s arm implant thing checked out; Rene’s watching hockey on TV and eating popcorn with Zoey; Curtis is on a date with his new boyfriend and Dinah… well, Dinah’s in her Black Canary costume, beating up on bad guys, because that’s how she likes to relax. Seriously, though, did no one have any inkling that Diaz might send his goons after them? Because that’s a mind-boggling level of wilful ignorance, right there, and one that loses almost everyone involved a few respect points. Even the writers. No, especially the writers.
Anyway, that’s what happens – Diaz sends his hired goons to attack literally everyone Oliver cares about and they all burst in with machine guns. Admittedly, it makes for good TV, and the action sequences are nicely handled, especially the ones with Lyla and Diggle fighting alongside each other and busting out some sweet moves. Fortunately, Anatoly texts Oliver just in time to let him know the attack is coming, so he’s prepared enough to make sure no one’s caught in the initial attack. Also, Curtis puts his special balls to good use and takes out the gunmen, but his boyfriend gets shot in the neck and has to go to hospital. Meanwhile, Rene takes out his attackers with a gun he keeps under the sofa and a cornered Dinah pulls off a cool move of her own, saying “You know what’s great about sound waves? They bounce…” before sonic blasting herself and the bad guys into a wall.
With the Arrow Cave compromised, everyone meets up at The Outsiders’ Workspace just in time to watch Diaz’s goons smash up the Arrow Cave and burn it to the ground on the monitors. In a particularly appealing touch, there’s a nice little character note, with Felicity being extra upset as the goons smash up her computers. After that, despite literally the entire season having been about Oliver splitting up from both Diggle and The Outsiders, they all calmly agree to work together to take Diaz down. Honestly, it’s like that entire plot thread just goes straight out the window, with no second thought.
Things seem pretty bleak, but Oliver thinks Anatoly will be able to help them. One quick meeting later, and the newly reformed Team Arrow have a workable plan: Anatoly will persuade Diaz to relocate his minions to SCPD and Team Arrow will ambush them en route. Once again, that’s exactly what happens. During the fight, Curtis develops an uncharacteristic thirst for vengeance and goes after Diaz on his own, receiving a savage beating for his trouble. Curtis winds up in hospital, but it’s not all bad, because Oliver noticed that instead of dealing Curtis a killer blow, Diaz went after a necklace that had fallen off in the fight. They figure out that the necklace must have a flashdrive on it that Diaz has gone to great lengths to protect, meaning it probably has details of all his corrupt officials on it. So now Team Arrow have a new workable plan: get someone close enough to Diaz to clone the flashdrive with a doohickey Felicity whips up.
This leads to a fun Lyla / Felicity team-up, where Lyla volunteers to go into SCDP (on “official business”) and plant the doohickey (it’s called a “sniffer”), while Felicity does all the computery stuff from a car parked nearby. In the car, Felicity quizzes Lyla about how she and John make the marriage work when they’re both constantly in danger. Lyla’s advice: “Getting divorced helps.” Lyla is totally the MVP of this episode, if that wasn’t already apparent. More Lyla next season please, Arrow writers.
Meanwhile, in the offices of SCDP, Diaz realises that Anatoly is the only one who could have tipped off Team Arrow to their relocation. He pins him against the wall and, for a moment, it looks like Anatoly might get killed off, but no, the wily Russian fingers The Quadrant instead, since, for some narratively convenient reason, Lydia Cassamento and her Quadrant goons had also arrived at the scene of the ambush, just after Team Arrow left.
Anyway, Lyla strolls into SCDP, bold as you like, and has a brief confrontation with Diaz’s permanent henchman cop (the one with the slightly odd face), before casually planting Felicity’s sniffer. Unfortunately, Diaz has a tech guy of his own, and he immediately spots that his device is being cloned. Suddenly, Lyla’s surrounded by Diaz and his henchcops. Ruh roh!
This leads to one of the best action sequences Arrow has ever done, even if they do slightly bungle it by not showing Oliver and Diggle’s entrance. Lyla pulls both her guns and signals to Oliver and Diggle that she’s been made and they’d both better get here quick. Meanwhile, rather than sit tight in the car, while all the guns are going off, Felicity shouts “Frak it!” and runs headlong into the battle to retrieve the sniffer device (again, they slightly bungle this, by not establishing that Lyla’s been cut off from where she placed it, but no matter). So the action sequence – directed by Tara Miele, making a damn fine Arrow debut – unfolds around Felicity, as she ducks her way through the precinct to get the device, with Oliver, Diggle and Lyla battling bad guys all around her. One particular highlight has Felicity beaning a bad guy with a stapler and yelling “Sorry, not sorry!” Anyway, she grabs the sniffer and Diaz nearly gets the drop on her, but Oliver fires a special explodey arrow at him and they all get away. Hurrah! Diaz: annoyed.
Back at The Outsiders’ Workspace, Felicity is thrilled at the thought that the data she risked her life for might put an end to Diaz – she just has to decrypt it all first. Oliver, of course, has to ruin everything, and he’s not at all happy about her putting her life in danger, especially not now she’s his wife and a step-mother to William. Felicity rightly points out that she’s fine and they got the data and that that’s what marriage means, trusting each other and protecting each other and doing cool gunfight moves like Diggle and Lyla, but Oliver’s not convinced. This is meant to be the episode’s big emotional moment, but it doesn’t really work, because it requires too much of a shift on Oliver’s part – it’s not like Felicity has never been in danger before, after all. Does anyone remember when Sara taught Felicity a few useful fight moves? Apparently, even Felicity has forgotten them. Thankfully, Diggle is on hand for a heart-to-heart and he tells Oliver, “when I said that your focus was split, I didn’t mean throwing away everyone that gives you strength”, pointing out that he was there for her when it counted, the same way she’s always been there for him, as Overwatch.
Meanwhile, back at SCPD, Diaz gets a stern talking to from Lydia Cassamento, so he stabs her in the neck and kills her. So much for her coming back as an intermittent Big Bad next season, as we predicted last recap. It’s an odd decision – on the one hand, it serves its obvious purpose of showing that Diaz is losing it and cementing his overall strength within the Quadrant, as well as providing a shock death in an episode that badly needs a shock death, but on the other hand, she was a really promising character and the writers just threw her away. Poor decision, Arrow writers.
Anyway, Diaz’s tech guy (since when did Diaz have a tech guy?) comes through again, saying he’s traced the source of the decryption thingy to the Outsiders’ Workspace, so it’s off to the Workspace they go. They gas the Workspace and everyone leaves, except Felicity, who’s really determined to nail Diaz once and for all, so much so that she stays behind and risks choking to death. In the end, Oliver grabs her and promises that he’ll find another way. There’s a fight with Diaz on the stairs and it looks like it’s all over for both, but Felicity tells Oliver to blow up the Workspace, which he does, and the blast sends Diaz flying down the stairs. Sucks to be you, Diaz! Oliver and Felicity make it out just as the Workspace goes boom, but now they’re back to square one again. Also, neither Team Arrow nor The Outsiders have a headquarters anymore. Where are they going to hang out next season? CC Jitters? (Sorry, that’s a Flash joke.)
Actually, for the moment at least, their temporary HQ is at ARGUS, which you can recognise because of its distinctive blue lighting. They find out that Diaz escaped the explosion and that Felicity’s decryption was lost, so they are officially out of plans. Meanwhile, Oliver apologises to Felicity (fair play to Stephen Amell – he’s really, really good at apologies) and admits that – duh – he should have trusted her to look after herself and he should have trusted his own abilities to keep her safe. Felicity: “It’s good to know that after all these years, you can still learn something.” Oliver: “Well, I still have a ways to go.” Felicity: “That’s true.” She’s not wrong – there’s all of Season 7 to get through, for a start.
Back at SCDP, Diaz kills another member of The Quadrant, which effectively reduces them to whatever the two person version of a quadrant is. A Duant? A Duplant? Again, it’s a sudden and shocking death, but since the Quadrant member (the vaguely Russian one) hadn’t even spoken before this episode, it means next to nothing. And what was the point of giving all that build-up to the Quadrant a few episodes ago, if they’re just going to kill two of them off with no repercussions? Just to give Diaz more power? Is that really it? Hopefully, this will pay off in the final episode somehow, but it’s hard to see how.
So, after Oliver tells Felicity he has a plan, we cut to the episode’s cliffhanger, which is Oliver in FBI Agent Samanda Watson’s office, telling her that Diaz controls the entire city and begging her for help. She tells him that if he wants her help, she’s going to need two things, the first of which is she’s going to need him to say the words. So Oliver says, “I am the Green Arrow”. Gasp, etc! Samanda’s cool response: “And the truth shall set you free…” Then the episode cuts to black as Oliver testily asks her: “What’s the second thing?”
All in all, this is an exciting, fast-paced episode, which doesn’t exactly capitalise on the main events of the season (really, the two teams coming back together should have been a much bigger deal) or nail its emotional moments, but delivers handsomely in terms of action sequences and character moments, both for Felicity and the kick-ass pairing of Lyla and Diggle. Come back next time for the season finale! Here’s hoping they can stick the landing.
Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
– RIP, Lydia Cassamento. We hardly knew ye. You made a big impression in your handful of scenes and your sassy crimelord ways will be deeply missed.
– No Quentin or Not-Laurel this episode, for some reason. No doubt they’ll both feature heavily next week. Why didn’t Diaz go after Quentin, seeing as he was targetting everyone Oliver loves? Who knows? Maybe he just ran out of henchcops.
– Lyla (and by extension, Audrey Marie Anderson) has been criminally under-used for several seasons now. Here’s hoping the Arrow writers wise up and give her more to do in Season 7. (Assuming they don’t kill her off next week, that is.)
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, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription, no contract. A 7-day free trial is available for new subscribers.