This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 7 Episode 17
Oliver learned a hard lesson in tonight’s episode: you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. It’s yet another learning moment for him (although a bit of a repeat…) that doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but does bring a truly excellent fight, including back-to-back arrow deflections.
One downside to the way this story unfolded is that it doesn’t leave much room to critique Oliver’s very real need to play hero even when it’s unnecessary or patently unhelpful. If Emiko’s plight had been real, going in against her wishes could have truly endangered her further. It’s also a reversal of a lesson he supposedly learned in their relationship just a few episodes ago, about respecting her wishes and following her lead. As the count down to Arrow’s end has officially begun, it feels more important than ever that Oliver learn certain lessons and set a good example to the rest of the Arrowverse. Listening to others, especially the women in his life, is a desperately overdue lesson for Oliver Queen.
I’m sure there’s much more to be told about Emiko’s story, and the fact that she spared Rene speaks volumes. Like her brother said, she doesn’t miss. Back in the Team Arrow Lair, she was expecting Rene to lay into her for being with Dante, or at least grill her over it. But he didn’t – that’s really not his style, and he long ago realized it wasn’t hers.
This episode adds to the rather grim picture of Moira Queen. I loved her so much as a character, but it’s hard to resolve the character we saw on screen with the things we’ve learned about her since then, largely off-screen. Robert, on the other hand, never had such a complicating warmth to him, and most of the revisions to his history have involved seeing actor Jamey Sheridon portray him again, making it easier to integrate those actions into our concept of a living, breathing Robert.
Moira, on the other hand, feels like two separate people. The complex matriarch played by Susanna Thompson, loving but at times single-mindedly so, and also a brutally cold woman who paid off William’s mother and blackmailed Robert into abandoning Emiko and her mother. That said, I call bullshit on the concept that Robert couldn’t fight back here. He didn’t even sound like he believed his own excuses in the flashbacks to Emiko’s childhood. He was a grown adult and should be held responsible for his own choices – he could have taken responsibility for his affair, even if Moira went public.
Emiko’s black suit and red-tipped arrows were no doubt cool, and a nice nod to her comics origin. But they raise an interesting question: why did Emiko bother running around in green to begin with? She literally dressed up exactly like her brother for months while she had an entirely different leather suit, a whole other set of arrows, and for what? Was she always trying to get his team’s attention? Surely the Ninth Circle knew he was in Slabside. I hope we get some resolution on this, since there was so much build up around the concept of the other green archer. I would hate for the answer to simply be that it looked cool and they wanted to mess with us.
Everything seems to be coming together nicely to tie all of the season-long threads together. Dante works with the Ninth Circle, who crop up around regime changes. Emiko is interested in Archer and seems to be the one who takes it nuclear, which Felicity is creating, first born out of her Diaz-related paranoia, and now as an attempt to make some next-gen law enforcement software. The more this unfolds, the more appreciation I have for this season’s overarching story, even if early players like the Longbow Hunters petered out rather quickly, and Diaz overstayed his welcome by a season (and a half?).
We haven’t heard any mention of Emiko or the Ninth Circle in the future – it’s possible the Ninth Circle and Eden Corps have some sort of connection, but what happens to Emiko? She’s definitely a vigilante, which could put her in the crosshairs of the new world order, even if she helped bring it about. It seems highly likely that she’ll get some sort of eleventh-hour redemption, possibly giving her life in an attempt to rescue Rene, Oliver, or someone else on Team Arrow or of importance to them, like Mia or William.
This episode is the first time Felicity has been faced with the idea that Archer is not a good idea, in our timeline at least. Her new CTO was a welcome return from Alena Whitlock. After seven seasons of impunity, Felicity is finally being called to account in a real way for her many digital crimes. We’ve seen her called a hacker in the past tense, but Archer is so obviously a violation of citizens’ rights that it’s disturbing no one else has really mentioned it until now. I hope that when Emiko and the Ninth Circle eventually “weaponize” it, they make clear to Felicity that any version of Archer is inherently dangerous and discriminatory.
Oliver screwed up in part because he assumed Emiko was a damsel in distress. But Arrow wants the audience to know that we underestimated Emiko, too, when she holds a dagger to Dante’s throat – she’s the leader. Robert Queen walked away from his daughter twice, first when he abandoned her and her mother, and again when he admired her thoughtful business plan but couldn’t possibly take a chance on his own daughter. After all, he had to keep her a secret and maintain Oliver’s inheritance. His reward was the sinking of the Queen’s Gambit, for which Emiko framed Malcolm Merlyn.
Perhaps this season’s greatest strength is the sheer number of interesting, complicated women it features. When before in the show’s history have this many of the major players been women? Felicity created Archer, an incredibly dangerous piece of technology, along with Alena Whitlock. Emiko is going to weaponize it. Dinah is a Captain in the SCPD, trying to earn back their reputation from the city while balancing her vigilante past with her cop present, and keep the (female) mayor’s favor. Laurel is running from her past, which Emiko is helping to do more than just nip at her heels. And that’s just the characters in 2019.
I was glad to finally hear Thea mentioned in connection to her new sibling
It was great to hear the name Frank Bertinelli again
Props to Ollie for giving Emiko the chance to explain herself
Laurel had some very interesting moments here, mostly the fact that she never explains her innocence or the fact that Emiko threatened her.