This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 7 Episode 20
We always knew there had to be something big, something somehow worse than where Team Arrow was at the start of the season, in order to get them to where they are in the future. Finally, in this puzzle box of an episode, it seems like we’re found it. Roy rage-murdering two Metro Police was shown to be appropriately horrific. The rest of the team conspiring to cover it up was exactly the kind of thing Oliver Queen promised would never happen again.
Still, it’s a bit of an abrupt left turn for the entire thing to hinge on a character who has been on the other side of the world in the present tense and a plot element (the Lazarus Pit) that was retired a season or two ago and thematically lets our vigilantes off the hook. If Oliver going to prison was about finally facing the consequences for his actions, why is this season ending with anything that sets Team Arrow up as innocent victims to overreaction?
If there were going to be a sacrifice where the vigilantes are innocent, it would be more interesting for it to have come about as part of the struggle to reconcile their methods with standard policing, something that would reinforce a season-long theme. If the writers were more intent on showcasing the toll of vigilantism and the inherent risks, something Arrow has let itself off the hook of for far too long, then involving the Lazarus Pit at all was taking the easy way out.
On the one hand, I’m glad to see some real consequences for vigilantism that are not softened. But it feels strange to have those consequences to befall Roy, who was brought back specifically for this episode so these consequences could happen. Of course, the Lazarus Pits were blamed, largely absolving Roy of wrongdoing. Why not use this moment to call to account the active members of the team, like Felicity for her continual violation of the rights of others?
The vigilantes have rather disturbingly erected a “blue wall” of their own. Much like the way cops protect their own rather than taking on systemic murder of unarmed black and brown people, corruption, or other ills within their own ranks all in the name of protecting their safety and reputation so they can continue to serve, Team Arrow has created a false narrative where their only choices are to let terrorists win or cover up a murder, continue working with Roy, and keep using illegal methods like lying to Dinah and having Felicity hack government servers.
In yet another of Arrow’s missteps around the criminal justice system, they have a Black police officer stare down Oliver. He talks about how Ollie used to be in jail, has killed before, and is not exactly innocent etc. It’s the kind of “three-strikes” thinking that thing white cops are known for doing to people of color. Using a Black cop to say it to a white hero is…a weird take that puts a bad taste in my mouth. It’s also not the first time this show has made sure to have a cop of color be the one to harass the predominantly-white Team Arrow.
For all of their performances throughout the episode, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone too much to frame Emiko for murder. Oliver defends this by pointing out that she is in fact a murderer, but so is he. Just because he stopped going it and served a few months in prison doesn’t absolve him of those crimes (for which he was never prosecuted). I’m hoping that the next couple of episodes will tease out how Team Arrow feels about what they’ve done in this episode and the consequences they’ll face because of it.
Dinah’s interrogation style is an interesting reflection on her relationships with each character. With Oliver, tension, a remnant of last year’s schism. With Felicity, frustration, though Felicity seemed to be more on edge than Dinah, with her remarks about what Dinah didn’t know because she wasn’t around last year. Then there was Roy’s interrogation, which was littered with distrust. Contrast that with John’s, which clearly came from a place of respect. And of course with Rene, sisterly consternation and then infuriation, a flavor of, “I told you not to trust Emiko!” This was a great episode for Dinah to shine, made all the better by realizing that while the interrogations were performances, some things can’t be faked and shine through no matter what. It seems the best cover stories work when they’re shot through with the truth,
From a structural perspective, this episode could have used one less retelling of the same story: Oliver’s. Every other telling added new information except his, which seemed to exist purely as a red herring, because this story structure includes the “final version” of a story at the end. I wish it had been quicker or had included “new” information. Instead it was a bit exhausting in an otherwise-intriguing episode.
Felicity eating a big belly burger while in interrogation is a big mood
Im loving rene and roy bonding over defending the glades
It’s fantastic to see Roy Harper back fighting again, when he’s not, ya know, murdering people
I have no patience for Oliver intentionally not telling Thea about his half-sister and instead calling her boyfriend. I know, I know, Willa doesn’t work on the show anymore. But this is a bad way of explaining that.