Arrow Season 7 Episode 4 Review: Level Two

The future is grim and the present is torturous, on an Arrow episode full of revelations

Arrow Season 7 Episode 4: Level Two

This Arrow review contains spoilers. 

Arrow Season 7 Episode 4

This week on Arrow, we got our best look yet at the future, and it’s a juicy one! We also learn more about Dinah’s new zeal for the rules, Felicity’s charge in the other direction, and Oliver’s disturbing experience on the titular Level Two. As dark as it is, this mistreatment is actually the first time I see a glimmer of a narrative way out of Slabside for Oliver, since torture of that nature is something Felicity and friends would be willing to break Oliver’s deal for – and they might even be able to find help.

Dinah’s conversation with Diggle was a great chance to finally understand how she went from being so independent to enforcing the rules in a matter of months. As she said, “living in the shadows is when all the worst things happen.” Framed that way, her change of heart suddenly makes a lot more sense, so I’m glad we heard about it. It’s still bit wild that she arrested Rene, but I guess that’s what people who are practically siblings do when they have hot tempers and incredibly high stakes in their friendships?

I’m looking forward to more conversations like the ones Dinah had with Rene and Diggle about how to achieve justice, be heroes, and serve their communities. Those are the kinds of questions most non-powered, non-millionaire people have to ask themselves all the time, and it’s more accessible. And choosing the Shock Doctrine-style real estate scam in the style of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a great move.

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Another great move is putting Dinah in the shoes of an average cop, Lance back in season one, instead of a powered person. She says she can’t take the risk for a stranger, but Quentin didn’t know that he could trust the hood when they first started out, either.

Felicity, on the other hand, is testing her limits. It’s wicked weird that laurel is teaching Felicity a) patience and b) ethics, but I love this character pairing. I’m glad Felicity found a way to use her brain to take on The Silencer, but I also love the idea of watching a woman grapple with extreme anger on screen. I just wish we engaged with it more directly and emotionally, instead of it feeling so detached.

Over on vigilante watch, Sir Flips-a-lot seems to be about Rene’s height, which isn’t very tall. To me, that means women are still on the table, although it doesn’t read as a “woman behind the mask” thing, which usually have huge tells. Stranger still, the vigilante seemed to practically fly up the wall at a couple of points. Are we getting magic and time travel? This is currently the least compelling plot to me, but that’s generally because everything else is actually so good this season, and there’s no real emotional investment in this new vigilante yet.

It certainly sounds like Felicity makes good on that ruthless future that Laurel alluded to, although right now I’m more curious about what brings Dinah from a prominent role on the up and up to a hunted fugitive who can be put to death in just a few short years. And where are Diggle, Curtis and Lyla?

I cannot wait to see more of this Mad Max world, especially Zoe and the Vigilante Resistance. But where is Rene, since he apparently won’t come close to Star City anymore? And, of course, Dinah drops the bomb that Felicity is dead. I don’t for a second believe it and neither should you, but I’m still curious to see how they’ll manipulate the pieces to unlock this puzzle box.

The psych leaves me feeling incredibly mixed. Obviously, torture is bad (a fun theme of the episode!) and by the end, it becomes clear that his definition of “help” and “reform” is to rewrite Oliver’s personality. But for stretches of the episode, he gives decent advice and brings up reasonable questions. Oliver doesn’t know how many people he has murdered, and his father wasn’t all that good of a man, although Ollie already knew and processed that. Perhaps the most telling is the exercise where Ollie swaps roles with his father and has William on the life raft, because it shows what we already know – Oliver would never do to William what his father did to him.

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The guy had a point when he said it wasn’t fair for Ollie’s father to ask him to promise to carry on his legacy, especially while adrift in the ocean in the middle of a near-death experience. That said, Oliver has revised that contract on multiple occasions to better suit his evolving knowledge of his parents as well as his own morality. He stopped killing, he stopped using the list of names to govern his mission, and he added other people to his team, people who he knew would call him out when they thought he went astray, which is perhaps the best move he’s ever made, and the best indicator of his morality as a hero and a leader.

I’m hoping it’s those traits that Oliver will hold onto, even as he seems to surrender parts of himself to the prison. After all, this is a man who could not be broken by the Bratva, Lian Yu countless times, or Nanda Parbat. If anyone can find a mental escape from this torture, it’s Oliver Queen.

Rating:

3.5 out of 5