This season’s action-packed Arrow premiere find’s Oliver dealing with the fallout (if you will) of the explosion on Lian Yu. This keeps it moving at a fast pace, but means we have to wait another week before we’ll learn more about a few key developments — like Olicity’s relationship, the fate of Malcolm Merlyn, and a personality for little William.
It feels like every other scene in this episode is a fight or an explosion, although the best has to be the fight between Dinah and evil Laurel. Their dialogue leaves something to be desired, but I’m hoping that these two will square off many more times to come.
Very early on we learn that Diggle, Rene, and Curtis made it off the island okay. It takes a little longer to see Felicity, but it seems pretty obvious that Samantha is a goner well before that’s confirmed. The big hold out is Thea, and we don’t find out that she is alive, but comatose until the end of the episode.
First, how is Malcolm Merlyn not by her side and rashly blaming everyone? I know he was in a tough spot the last time we saw him, but that guy has some serious plot armor, so I don’t for a second think he’s dead. Second, I’m glad for the showrunner’s sake that Thea is alive, because I’m not so sure the fandom could take another badass woman from this show being killed off.
Everyone is a little bit haunted here, each in their own way. We see Diggle miss a shot and become gun-shy for the first time, while nursing a physical wound to match his mental one. Quentin, meanwhile, is struggling with his sobriety in light of believing he killed Black Siren back on Lian Yu. Oliver’s son William is missing his mother and haunted by his father, even as he stands right in front of him. (Can someone please get that boy some professional help? He watched a man die, lost his mother and met his long-last father all on the same day, shortly after having been kidnapped.)
On the positive side, Rene seems to have only grown more confident and capable in his role at City Hall, which has grown in Thea’s absence. His character development was a highlight of last season, and with his affectionate moment with Oliver after getting his second chance at a custody hearing for his daughter, it seems like Rene is continuing on a trajectory of personal growth.
Oliver and Felicity’s relationship seems uncertain, which is realistic, given that their moment of connection came in the midst of a life-and-death scenario. Almost no time was spent on Olicity aside from one very brief, delightfully awkward conversation, a necessity of playing catch-up on the events of Lian Yu while setting up several season-long arcs between all those explosions and fights.
We got a first glimpse at Oliver struggling with fatherhood. I would like to see a bit more clarity about exactly how much William knows about his father, the “bad man,” and hopefully have a more fleshed out personality, rather than being a human MacGuffin, serving only to push his father’s story along.
I keep expecting Quentin to be on the chopping block since they don’t seem to know what to do with him, but proffering paternal advice to Oliver was a nice moment, and Quentin and Dinah’s friendship worked here as both teammates and potential father/daughter surrogates.
I’m glad that Oliver was unmasked, though it did feel like it came out of nowhere, because ultimately the secret identity plot has been played out for any and all possible narrative interest. I’m cautious, though, because we’ve seen him unmasked before and then wriggle out of it.
Oliver finding his way out of being identified would feel like a re-hash. Not to mention, the theme of Oliver having to square his two identities, and whether that’s even possible, has become more prominent in the last season and was addressed directly this episode by Slade. What better way to explore those themes than by having Oliver actually have to rectify those two identities publicly, once and for all?
Like any good premiere, we’re left with a whole host of questions to unravel to start the season. Who rescued Black Siren from Lian Yu? What will she do with the T-Sphere she stole from the lair? What happened to Malcolm Merlyn? What will happen to Thea? How will Oliver’s life change now that he’s been unmasked? Tune in to the rest of Season 6 to find out.