This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow: Season 6, Episode 9
Oliver is his own worst enemy (and Felicity doesn’t help) in the mid-season finale of Arrow. This episode follows an unusual pattern for one containing a wedding – it’s dispensed with early on so that the real business of the episode can get underway, rather than being the moment of celebration and reflection at the end.
The wedding is mostly useful for allowing characters to point out how weird it was for Ollie and Felicity to get married in the way they did, and for the CW to display how little it understands about weddings. Thea and Felicity’s mom are deservedly upset, which is a reminder of the fact that only TV characters would make choices around their wedding like Oliver and Felicity did. People certainly elope or steal the spotlight at other people’s weddings, but the latter are generally assholes and the former usually have a good reason for their choice.
The wedding is also a nice time to check in on what a mess everyone’s personal life is, and how many of them have had pasts with one another. Curtis gets drunk on champagne and memories of his marriage to Paul, Rene talks about his dead wife, they both learn that Dinah has been engaged multiple times, Thea misses Roy and I’m sad he is once again absent during a time that he would obviously be there for her. And of course Felicity’s criminal father is in attendance and flirting with her mom, who briefly reunites with Lance. Oh yeah, and the Queen parents are both dead, but the Ivytown people are back, so I guess that explains why Oliver isn’t all that sad?
I’d like to point out that while Oliver seems to have jumped to the conclusion that the witness is a current member of the team other than his best friend or his wife, there are many more contenders. The witness could theoretically be Roy, the bandages dude, Vince the vigilante, a reanimated Malcolm Merlyn, the Russians, Quentin, Lyla, or anyone named al-Ghul.
Of course Rene soon fesses up, but not before Oliver reveals that the OG 3 have been spying on the new kids. With every new member of the team there has been some sort of transition period, but with this group (as well as the two members they have since lost) that seems to be a rougher and longer transition. Evelyn’s betrayal, mentioned frequently here, certainly contributed to that. But there’s also more distance between the original team and this crop of newbies because Roy, Thea, Sara, and Laurel all came and went. That makes them two generations removed, a gap Oliver has never fully closed, nor does he seem to want to.
Oliver’s poor judgment, aided and abetted by Felicity and Diggle respectively, drives Dinah to quit the team and reunite with Vince. Rene is gone, and Curtis’s departure seems to hit hardest. That may be because he’s been with them the longest, but it could also be due to the level-headed way he notifies them. The original team can pretend they’re right with the other two, but there’s no justifying how they drove Curtis away.
I can’t help but feel happy for Rene and Curtis, in particular. Curtis clearly needs some time to think over his priorities in life, and spending less time with Felicity might help him gain some perspective and stick up for himself more when she walks all over him. And Rene has a good job and his daughter back, and as we’ve seen with Dig and Ollie, having a kid makes a person question their place in the vigilante business.
I doubt this breakup of the team is for long, but it honestly seems like a healthy choice for everyone except Dinah, who is spending time with her murderous ex. Watching Dinah and Oliver go toe to toe is some of the best chemistry this season, since they’re so similar in temperament. But it’s Diggle who usually spends time with her and therefore truly betrayed her, and that relationship won’t be easily repaired.
The idea that Felicity and Curtis wouldn’t have swept the place for bugs, and that a new lair wasn’t selected (they’ve done it before!) is pretty far-fetched. The least they could do is hand-wave at some new technology that Cayden James had Black Siren use. But at least we now have a reasonable explanation for Cayden James knowing the unknowable and every villain being one step ahead this season.
I’m eagerly awaiting Lyla’s reaction when she finds out what her husband did, as well as the continued relationship between Quentin and Black Siren. Her dad was killed by a drunk driver (perhaps that world’s Quentin Lance?) on her 13th birthday, and Quentin forged just enough of a relationship with her to make her defy Cayden James’s orders to kill Lance. Those relationships are complicated, and will only become moreso in the new year.
This episode ends on a tough note. Oliver is without most of his team through his own actions, as Cayden James pointed out. And of course that happens when pretty much every living member of Oliver and the Green Arrow’s rogues gallery assembles to creepily watch Oliver in the lair via a hidden camera. It’s particularly frustrating to see Oliver regress after spending this season so far showing emotional maturity in a way that is really new for the character. He at least acknowledged that he would have (and has in the past) done the same thing as Rene, and I’m hoping he has the good sense to keep following Thea’s advice. If he doesn’t, (mini) Team Arrow is going to have a hard time keeping their enemies in check, never mind taking them down.