Arrow Season 6 Episode 3 Review: Next of Kin

Oliver sits this one out as Team Arrow struggles under new leadership in "Next of Kin." Our review...

This Arrow review contains spoilers. 

Arrow Season 6 Episode 3

We’re still in setup mode on Arrow, but things are starting to get back into the groove as more pieces come onto the board. Tonight’s episode reveals that there are plenty more landmines aside from Anatoli, the mysterious perpetrator of Oliver’s surprisingly accurate frame job, and FBI Agent Watson. Team Arrow may just destroy itself, if given the chance.

I’m glad to see that Oliver’s hiatus from wearing the hood lasted at least one episode, and will likely go on longer in order to maximize the tension that comes from a self-destructive, physically compromised John Diggle.

Oliver Stumbles, but William and Felicity Bond

Continuing his trend of questionable parenting advice, Oliver tells William just “relax a little bit more” about his upcoming math test. The poor kid has been traumatized and now he’s behind from switching schools, and the only thing model student Ollie can come up with is to chillax, man. I’m enjoying watching Oliver’s struggle to transition to parenthood. It’s realistic for him to chafe in this new role, and for him and William to need some time to adjust to one another.

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Felicity, on the other hand, is a natural when it comes to putting William at ease. It helps that their attitudes toward school are similar, and that in William’s mind, she had nothing to do with his mother’s death and the other horrors of Lian Yu. William and Felicity are genuinely bonding, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if William was happy to spend time with literally anyone who isn’t Oliver.

Tonight, a couple of members of Team Arrow (past and present) acknowledged the absence of Thea Queen. Last week, Lance struggled with diplo-speak and wrangling Oliver’s political affairs. This episode saw Oliver wishing his sister was there to help him find his way as a parent, and Felicity acknowledging that Thea would be such a badass aunt. Here’s hoping that she comes back into the picture soon, and would it kill Roy to swing by with some flowers?

The New Team Arrow Struggles

I appreciate Dinah’s stance on Diggle’s secret: the best thing for the team is to back his play. To be honest, though, Dinah has been feeling like more of a leader these days. The tension between Dinah and Diggle is thick and complicated. On the surface level, there’s the conflict over Diggle’s tremor and now his state of mind, but there have been one too many instances of a concerned hand on the bicep and talking with their faces far too close together. That’s CW-speak for, “Watch out, Lyla.”

I loved seeing Dinah talk with the female beat cop, Officer Hernandez. It was a small moment, but it’s a role that typically would go to a man, even though it could just as well be played by someone else. In the past, this kind of law enforcement exposition or sizing up the problem would be done by Lance or Oliver. Dinah’s take on things is refreshingly matter of fact, and a good way to give her more screen time.

Like Diggle, I didn’t feel betrayed by Rene running to Oliver with his concerns. In fact, I think it takes guts to call out your leader, which is something we’ve seen Rene do less elegantly before. It’s tough watching him respond with maturity when he is seemingly proven wrong, once we find out that Diggle isn’t so cured anymore. Of course this sets up the possibility for resentment in the future when the truth about John’s miraculous cure comes out.

I was surprised by something else, though. Rene’s commitment to feminism seems to have evaporated, given that he greets the villain of the week by saying, “Surprise, Bitch!” The line wasn’t clever enough to feel worth the fact that Rene is the kind of guy who thinks it’s a good idea to address any woman like that, regardless of how she behaves. It may seem like splitting hairs to quibble with how our heroes talk to villains, but it’s not exactly heroic behavior to use a needlessly gendered word, and one that contradicts Rene’s flimsy claim of feminism last episode. While I was skeptical then, it did seem representative of his general commitment to gender equity, although Rene is apparently just another guy who only believes in empowerment when it comes to his daughter.

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Diggle Doubles Down

So about that Diggle reveal: this is probably the most exciting development on the show in a while. Diggle and Felicity are the collective moral center on Arrow. We’ve seen Felicity waiver when it comes to her hacking buddies and the after-effects of wiping an entire town off the map, but Diggle has never done anything like this before. Any of his past missteps came from a place of real concern, whether for his brother or other members of Team Arrow. This just feels needlessly wrongheaded mixed in with a genuine cry for help.

Perhaps the worst part about seeing John choose drugs and secrecy was that it followed that great throwback to the pilot. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an arrow skewer a tennis ball, and it felt like the true inauguration of a new Green Arrow. Unfortunately, that excitement was exceedingly short-lived. To make matters worse, it came after Oliver had offered John an out earlier in the episode, one that Diggle was too proud to take. I guess brooding isn’t the only trait that comes with the hood.

How long until John’s performance-enhancement fails him and gets someone hurt, or compromises him, physically or otherwise? Will the people of Star City take the side of the vigilantes, and will Diggle’s decision jeopardize their support? How will all of this affect Lyla and JJ, whose existence Oliver was so magnanimous to acknowledge in this episode? I have a feeling it won’t be long, and it’s going to be juicy.

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3 out of 5