Arrow recap: Roy and William meet some familiar faces in Star City
After a week off, the flashforwards are back in “Level Two” with several surprises!
We pick up with Roy and William arriving in Star City. Both men vowed never to return for reasons, and yet here they are thanks to Felicity. The Hozen reactivates and leads them to Smoak Technologies, which was one of several changes to Star City that was teased in the Legends of Tomorrow episode “Star City 2046.” At the beginning of the season, showrunner Beth Schwartz said that these flash-forwards weren’t connected to that episode (“This is our own future”), but clearly, that doesn’t mean the show won’t draw from it.
The moody dynamic duo discovers some wall computer programmed by Felicity that leads them to a safe containing a black bag. But before they have a chance to open it, cops show up. Alas, the boys don’t have much to defend themselves with, but that’s okay because a masked hero shows up to save them. And not just any masked hero; it’s a slightly greying Dinah Drake, who has gotten back to her Black Canary roots. The revelation that Dinah eventually embraced the vigilante life again feels very in line with the fact that this is a superhero show after all, but more importantly what we saw in the present day storyline: Dinah softened her anti-vigilante stance and accepted the Green Arrow’s help in stopping a series of arsons (but not before arresting Rene).
Roy is surprised to see her back in black since she was, after all, a police captain, but Dinah said that all changed when Star City fell and the Glades rose. The Glades built a wall and closed their borders, which are now guarded by Star City. This is a pretty saddening development since it means that the condition of the Glades didn’t improve over the next 20 years. In the present-day storyline, Dinah attended a town hall in the Glades where residents expressed their dissatisfaction with law enforcement, which they had already lost faith in due to Diaz’ actions last season.
However, Dinah isn’t the only familiar face the boys run into. Dinah takes them to a hideout to get away from the police, and that’s where they meet a grown-up Zoey, who has also become a vigilante. Zoey explains that her father wouldn’t be caught dead in Star City for reasons, but beyond that, we don’t get too much more information about what’s going in the Ramirez family. Anyway, William opens the bag they found at Smoak Technologies and discovers a Rubik’s cube, which reveals a holographic map showing secret tunnels in and out of the glades. It’s right then that Dinah breaks some news: Felicity couldn’t be the one who sent them there because she’s dead.
Next: Oliver faces a wannabe Hugo Strange
Meanwhile, in the present, Oliver goes through some torturous therapy down in Level Two. He tries to tell his new doctor that the only reason he’s there is to find Diaz’s guy the Demon, but the doctor doesn’t care about that and is instead more interested in digging into why Oliver is who he is. With the bald head and beard, this Level Two doc feels like he was at least partially inspired by Batman villain Hugo Strange, except he doesn’t seem nearly as formidable, so we’re going to call him Wannabe Hugo Strange for the duration of the recap.
At first, Oliver resists Wannabe Hugo Strange’s questions, so the not-so-good doctor injects him with something that loosens him up and forces him to revisit the moment his father committed suicide on the life raft and asked him to right his wrongs. The doctor argues that this moment created a cycle of violence and corrupted Oliver’s mission as the Green Arrow from the beginning. Not only that, but he tells Oliver that if he’s not careful, William will find himself caught in the same cycle as well.
Nevertheless, Oliver continues to resist, so the doctor forces him to undergo electroshock therapy. During the procedure, Oliver imagines he’s on the life raft with William and kills himself to save his son’s life. (Stephen Amell delivers a devastating performance throughout the entire sequence.) However, it appears as though Wannabe Hugo Strange’s motives weren’t entirely pure. After the procedure has ended, he asks Oliver what his name is, and Oliver replies “Inmate 5487.” In other words, the doctor is trying to reform Oliver by erasing his entire sense of self, which definitely isn’t a good thing (and is also basically what Ra’s al Ghul tried to do in season 3. Oh, I wish we’d gotten to spend a bit more time with Al Sah-Him).
What I found interesting (and at times frustrating) about Oliver’s story in this episode was it touched on similar territory as the excellent season 5. The psychiatrist tells Oliver that he needs to let go of his past (a.k.a. the promise he made his father) or else he’ll hurt William. Not only that, but the entire setup of the episode (the chains, the claustrophobic cell) reminded me of season 5’s emotionally devastating episode “Kapiushon,” which saw Adrian Chase force Oliver to confront the idea that his vigilante mission was tainted from the beginning because he used it as a means to kill. Wannabe Hugo Strange makes a similar point here about the cycle of violence. Like “Kapiushon,” “Level Two” makes it clear that the doctor is up to no good, but still asks us to consider that he may at least have somewhat of a point. Look at the season’s flash-forwards, which show that Oliver’s mission has indeed taken a toll on his son. However, as was the case in season 5, I’m sure we can expect the show add a bit more nuance to the situation.
While Oliver was being tortured and Dinah and Rene were tracking down an arsonist, Felicity was busy trying to interrogate Silencer. As we’ve seen in the past few weeks, season 7 Felicity is desperate and willing to do anything. She considers torture more than once in this episode, but thankfully Laurel, whom she recruits to help, talks her out of it and urges her to use her brain instead. So, Felicity plants a tracer in Silencer’s belt and allows her to escape so that they can follow her back to Diaz. Before they head out, however, Laurel warns that she’s going to have to be as ruthless as Earth-2 Felicity, who runs her own empire, and willing to kill Diaz when the time comes.
Wall of Weird:
- After Dinah arrests Rene, Diggle urges her to consider that it’s possible to follow the rules and accept help from outside forces like vigilantes when necessary. Hey, Quentin did it!
- I really enjoyed Earth-2 Laurel and Felicity’s dynamic. Their odd coupling brought some humor to their very heavy storyline.
- “Prosecuting criminals must be a lot harder than being one,” Felicity to Laurel.
- “You are a hell of a lot more interesting than I thought,” Laurel, to Felicity, after finding out that Felicity abducted and imprisoned Silencer.
- Beebo made an appearance in tonight’s episode and it was a glorious as you would expect! All hail Beebo!