This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 7 Episode 11
In David Ramsey’s (John Diggle) directorial debut, it seems like no one in Star City can get away from their past, no matter who they are, what earth they’re from, or when in time they are. Laurel was confronted by someone from her past (sort of) and for once being from Earth-1 was more interesting than being from anywhere else.
Oliver was finally called to account for one of his bigger, foundational lies: that his father heroically sacrificed himself to save Ollie. At the same time, he’s forced to deal with deceptions that goes back much deeper, the way his parents betrayed his sister Emiko and her mother. If Oliver ever wants any kind of relationship with Emiko, or even to simply try to apologize for what his parents have done, he needs to confront his own past and that of his parents.
In the future, I’m hoping to see Oliver reckon with the fact that both he and his father had secret children that Moira kept from Oliver – though in fairness to Oliver, he didn’t know about his own kid, whereas his father did. Still, it’s an odd parallel, and secret children or siblings are unusual, so shouldn’t Oliver immediately think about his own secret child and his mother’s devastating meddling? And shouldn’t he be calling Thea, his sister who was secretly a half-sister as well, to tell her about this development? Ollie has just doubled his living family members, so I would think this would be cause for a phone call at least, especially after Felicity asked if the new green arrow could be Roy, a nod to a common fan theory that unintentionally implies a lack of contact.
One issue I had with this story is that it still went easy on Oliver, right at the end. It goes out of its way to make Ollie look like a good person. Most journalists wouldn’t say, “why come forward now, when you don’t have to?” They would say, “you’re only coming forward now, because you have to.” Oliver Queen, former billionaire playboy, mayor, star of a TV sideshow trial, and unmasked vigilante, told the truth about his father killing Hackett to Hackett’s son, in a room full of people. There’s no reason to think that information would remain a secret any longer. Oliver did the right thing, sure, but he gets no brownie points. Making sure Hackett lived struck me as more admirable than that follow-up interview.
Is it just me, or was this whole episode physically brighter than Arrow has been in a long time? The b-roll of the skyline, in particular, was pleasantly jarring. When’s the last time we really saw daylight in Star City, or Oliver Queen spending extended time in street clothes? Elseworlds was such a success in large part because it let Stephen Amell flex his comedic chops and broke Ollie and the rest of Arrow out of the doom and gloom. While this season has been a major improvement over the previous one, if the show is going to continue for a long time, I think it needs more bold moves like lightening up the tone.
As a side note, I love the chemistry between Emiko and Rene, which feels like it built in a completely natural way from when she was masked to the reveal of her identity. There is so much similarity in their anger, and yet the gulf between them shows how much Rene has grown since we first met him. I hope he’s able to mentor Emiko a bit, especially as she’s very much in the season 1, murder-is-chill headspace.
This episode was a particularly good one for Oliver and Felicity. I’m not someone who needs them to be front and center of every episode, and I recognize that a solid couple is harder to write than the drama of a will-they-won’t-they or an on-again-off-again pairing. But Arrow has smartly realized that in order to move forward, Oliver Queen needs to grow, and that includes maturing in his relationship with Felicity rather than starting problems every other episode.
Instead, this was a great way to showcase the strength of their partnership and the value of the two of them sharing screen time. More than just sleuthing, Felicity helped Oliver externally process his emotions about Emiko, his father’s abandonment and his mother’s deception. This adds to the bond they’ve been working to repair as a couple, and helps give the audience a better look at what’s going on in Ollie’s head, rather than just having him grimace at something in the distance all the time.
This Argus-Diaz situation is getting out of control fast and worse, it’s still the least interesting thing on our screens every week. I’m interested in a revival of the Suicide Squad which, let’s face it, was more interesting on this show than on the big screen, but Diaz has well overstayed his welcome. It’s also clear that DCTV can’t even say the full name Suicide Squad, so they dug into some b-level villains who are far more whimsical than hard-boiled. At least they got to mock how hamstrung they are, and boy howdy.
Poor Curtis was kept in the dark about Diaz, then made to do something he considered unethical. When he found a smart way around it to kill the Ghost Initiative he thought he was free and clear, but Lyla seems to be on the right track here: Diggle is getting power hungry here. While things are on the mend in the Smoak-Queen household, Team Argus is looking pretty fractured, with Lyla feeling undermined and Curtis calling his own shots, whatever that means.
I am 100% here for Curtis using his genius to get Lyla and Diggle out of a tough spot, but it was awful to watch him killed and worse that it seemed like something this show would do. Curtis continually gets the short end of the stick on this show, not just from the other characters, but also from the writing. He remains one of the few buoyant characters, something Arrow needs more of, not less.
The lighter the touch on the Laurel redemption arc, the better it works. Ollie’s quick exchange with Felicity when he says he “almost” likes Laurel was spot on, the kind of in-passing remark that makes the transition feel gradual and realistic. And every time the trio of Dinah, Laurel, and Felicity reluctantly gets shit done together, we’re one step closer to a very cool girl gang-only episode. But I was less charmed by the story of Laurel’s father’s passing, if only because it was so overly laden with tropes. Of course she was the reason he was driving and the last thing she ever said to him was in anger and it was her birthday.
Who left that threatening note for Dinah, since Laurel’s stalked was already in custody? What the heck happens to make Rene such a jerk in the future? And will someone actually kill Curtis, because Dinah didn’t mention him in the list of people who got tattoos and swore the oath.