This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 6 Episode 6
Tonight’s episode of Arrow felt a bit perfunctory and low-stakes all around since Slade has stepped right into Malcolm Merlyn’s story beats as the deadly dad whose motives you can never 100 percent trust. (Albeit a less murder-y one.) With the flashbacks to a post-Lian Yu Slade, many mentions of Mirakuru, and the generic Eastern European setting, this all feels a bit like retreading old ground.
Team Arrow mostly rides the bench yet again, the cost of a still-large cast, even after some pruning. The villain of the week is forgettable aside from making John Diggle’s secrets finally catch up to him. Unfortunately, the emotional fallout is practically negligible.
Diggle comes clean
Diggle finally tells his goddamn wife about the enormous, dangerous lie he’s been keeping and has the nerve to try to downplay it while assuming she’ll just make ARGUS cook him up a brand new drug. Lyla’s return is a good reminder that it’s wicked weird for Dinah to be the only one who knows this secret. Man, I really hope she and John don’t get together.
It takes the threat of losing his supply of an illicit steroid that controls his tremors for Diggle to come clean, but for some reason the team forgives him immediately, and without realizing Dinah was in on it before them. Lyla’s reaction seemed more in-character, and Oliver and Felicity are still unaware, so perhaps it will only be those closest to Diggle who respond appropriately to his deception. Or perhaps whoever wears the hood is given a pass to be kind of a dick, and they’re all just relieved he’s less secretive and mean than Oliver.
As Lyla pointed out, John is, in many ways, the show’s moral center. He, along with Felicity, has been the one to rein Oliver in on many occasions, and he’s also attempted to do the same for Felicity on the rare instance where her judgment waivers. Shouldn’t everyone be more upset that he has been lying for the whole season thus far, almost got at least Rene killed, contemplated delaying catching a perp, and wanted to run into an explosion to obtain more drugs? I hope the show isn’t done with John and this plotline just yet—what are the odds that he’s not in some way addicted to this drug, beyond the need for it to treat his tremor?
There’s still another secret lurking in the lair in the form of Dinah’s present from her now-villainous ex-partner. I’m hoping that when Diggle inevitably calls her out for this, she’ll throw his actions back in his face, forcing the rest of the team to contend with his secret yet again, and the fact that she both tried to make him come clean and kept his confidence when she failed.
Oliver helps Slade take on Deathstroke Junior
Because this is a superhero show, father-son stories abound, and they are laid on thick. Shots of Slade training his son are intercut with training his metaphorical son Oliver, just in case anyone missed the connection. There’s plenty of bitterness and love in both relationships, and Slade rather neatly fills the Malcolm Merlyn-sized hole within Oliver’s world, if not the John Barrowman-sized one in the Flarrowverse and our hearts.
It turns out Joe has some serious inspiration for his criminal ways: his father. Slade spends a certain amount of energy distinguishing between his own actions on Mirakuru and his son’s, which are not drug-fueled. But in the third act, Joe points out that he saw his father kill years before the Mirakuru, back on that camping trip. He went on to make his own first kill six months later, which is pretty hard-boiled, even for the son of Deathstroke.
I was hoping for better set pieces for both Deathstroke and Oliver’s considerable skills beyond the bow, but the overly dark scenes everywhere other than the ASIS training facility makes the existing ones hard to fully appreciate. Slade’s fights with his son had the potential to be as electric as the ones between Slade and his protégé Oliver.
The other thing that would elevate this storyline is Slade having to make a real choice between his son and Oliver, or his son and doing the right thing. The stakes never feel high, even when Slade has a blade in front of Oliver’s eye. Joe/Kane stalls a real decision by evading capture, but of course we’ll see him again soon. Here’s hoping that confrontation becomes a genuine conundrum instead of just an obvious choice. I’d also love to see more attempts at artistic shots like Slade’s steam-filled exit, even if it was a bit cliché.
Slade’s son vows to ruin Oliver’s kid’s life, which is also rather cold considering William is a child, even if Joe doesn’t necessarily know that at the time. Still, Joe coming to Star City in an attempt to harm William, or perhaps his own newly unveiled mystery brother, will force Slade’s hand and really hammer home this whole “Cat’s in the Cradle” theme they have going on.