This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 6 Episode 7
This uneven effort from Arrow crams about every holiday episode trope it can into 44 minutes. Turkey puns, a head-tilting cameo, and two highly anticipated developments. Happy sweeps, folks! Ultimately, the positives like Thea’s return and seeing Oliver back in the hood were good enough to keep things moving, and holiday episodes are graded on a curve, right?
Oliver gets taken down a peg
Everything about Oliver’s arrest was pretty bogus, from his perp walk occurring during a Thanksgiving food drive to the iPad they used to scan his fingerprints. Would the scrum of reporters ever be treated to both the arrest and booking? Absolutely not. Why was he name-checking his girlfriend in a mayoral speech? Because this is the CW. I like the idea of Felicity literally bailing Oliver out, but that seems like gross misuse of those funds, not to mention the kind of thing business partners usually decide together. My final qualm is the only one that was addressed within the episode, but we don’t have time to dwell; weirder things have yet to come.
As if Oliver’s week wasn’t bad enough, he and Felicity finally find out about John’s tremor, the fact that he lied about it, and the illegal drugs he was taking. They are rightfully upset, thank goodness. Someone had to be. But it results in an overdue fight between Ollie and Dig. Oliver claims his biggest mistake was trusting John to be the Green Arrow, which seems a bit much while simultaneously being totally in character for the angsty former billionaire playboy.
John finally realizes he has always put Oliver — his needs, his mission — first, and what a mistake that was. Granted, this revelation comes in somewhat melodramatic fashion, and at a decidedly inopportune moment given his recent secret keeping, but this is a conflict that’s been a long time coming. While we saw Felicity chafe at her role in Oliver’s life from early on, like when she had to pose as his executive assistant, John has never much objected to his role within the team and Oliver’s life, outside of a quip or two about being the black driver. This made John’s side of the argument and Oliver’s eventual apology particularly compelling, even if John was also in the wrong in how he handled the tremor. It took Ollie far too long, but he finally recognized that he asked John to put on the hood because of his own son, forgetting about John’s son.
Cayden James sets a trap
I won’t lie, it was damn good to see Oliver back in the hood. I’m pulling for Diggle as the Green Arrow, I really am. But we haven’t had a chance to see him lead at full strength, without a tremor or the secret of a tremor holding him back. I want to see at least one episode of Diggle really owning the role so we get a chance to know what that looks like. Hopefully it will be many more than one, so we can see him come into his own as a leader and a hero.
The bogey (or Turkey, as Felicity says) getting the drop on Dig and almost taking off his hood begs the question: when is somebody going to notice that the Green Arrow is black? Particularly since the FBI thinks Ollie told Roy and Dig to be the vigilante in green, a noticeable change in race based on Ollie and John’s availability seems like a noteworthy detail. Perhaps the Arrow writers are simply opting for colorblindness, but that hasn’t worked well for them in the past, as Curtis’s mysterious yet rapid hair braider can attest. There’s a growing number of black superheroes right now, and more to come. But part of what makes that awesome is actually acknowledging how their experiences as black people inform them, both in the suit and out. Ignoring that serves no one.
Okay. I give. Billy freakin’ Joel is in this episode for some godforsaken reason, so I guess we have to talk about it. First, let me state for the record that I am a fan of Mr. Joel, as Oliver refers to him. But his presence here seems shoehorned in, at best.
Stunt casting and cameos are generally considered different but related phenomena. But in this case, I’d like to make an exception and say this cameo was stunt-casted. First, Billy Joel is such an odd touchstone to bring into the Arrowverse that the writers lampshade it, in the form of Rene’s fanboying, followed by a halfway decent throwaway line about having varied tastes. I watched a screener of this episode before the Billy Joel news broke, so I was taken by no small amount of genuine surprise. I can honestly say that up until the moment his face appeared, I thought they were going to reference him but never show him, because why on earth would Billy Joel be on Arrow? This is not like the Shawn Mendes cameo on The 100, which sounded eyeroll-inducing but made sense for their target audience, and frankly ended up being irreverently funny. What is the end game of a Billy Joel appearance on Arrow, for literally anyone involved? And when we finally saw him, it was over and done with in the blink of an eye.
Rene tries to pull a Babe Ruth and call his shot before he takes out the fire alarm. He’s not cool enough to pull that off and it doesn’t work anyway, because it turns out Cayden James is running a play from The Town and had a bunch of fake cops infiltrate the stadium. In a move anyone could see coming down Broadway, Team Arrow goes to town on the fake cops, in front of many members of the voting public and at least one camera. So much for the vigilante referendum. That’s a major victory for the hacker, who never even brought his ultra-dangerous bomb to the stadium.
Curtis stands up for himself while Dinah and Quentin bond
Oliver has John as his beloved doormat, and Felicity has Curtis. Lucy for Curtis, it’s only taken Felicity a couple of seasons to see that. She apologizes for naming their company and picking the first project without asking, and he apologizes for taking his prototype without asking her. But she still had one more big thing, spending their angel investment money on Ollie’s bail. Felicity screwed up big here — I’m not even sure that what she did was legal. It was for understandable reasons, but there have to be some limits on everyone’s tolerance for putting Oliver first no matter what, and ramifications when they cross that limit.
Continuing the pattern of everyone confiding in Dinah, Quentin acts like a jerk by assuming he’s the only one in a tough situation, and then tells her he didn’t shoot Laurel when he had the chance. Like many others, I wonder if Lance is on the chopping block since this plot feels like the same old story from him. Dinah, on the other hand, was nominated by Felicity to lead the team in Diggle’s absence before Oliver arrived. Team Arrow having so many members works best when they each fit different roles. Rene has excelled in the mayor’s office, Curtis has his tech skills and company with Felicity, and Dinah is a cop, confidant, and leader. I’d love to see her rocking the green hood while Diggle recovers so that Oliver can keep his promise to his son.
So what of this madness actually matters moving forward? Oliver lied to his son about the Green Arrow going to the stadium, which will definitely come back to bite him. Cayden James clearly think “Robin Hood” (as he calls him, to my delight) is responsible for the loss of his child. As Oliver points out, regardless of the truth, so long as Cayden James blames him, they need to figure out what happened. At long last, Speedy is back! Right now there doesn’t seem to be any lingering issues from her injuries, but that feels too good to be true. And of course they’ve lost the vigilante referendum, so they’re all taking an even bigger risk moving forward.
Happy Thanksgiving! Now go eat some Big Belly Turkey Burgers and crushed up french fries!