Anatoly comes town and causes trouble for both Green Arrow and Mayor Queen, who is under investigation by the FBI
In the sixth season premiere, reformed bad guy Slade Wilson gave his old friend Oliver Queen some advice: One day he would have to choose between the man his city needs him to be and the father his son needs to be. Shortly after he received that wise counsel, news broke that Oliver Queen was the Green Arrow. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that tonight’s episode is all about that. Can Oliver be both the city’s savior and a good father? (Tonight’s episode is also about money, which is weird since the show is inconsistent when it comes to addressing the thing that makes the world go around).
Naturally, reporters bombard Oliver when he shows up at City Hall in the morning. Oliver brushes off their questions with an offhanded reference to Bruce Wayne that actually disrupts the entire scene, but moving on! Unfortunately, Quentin and Rene have had no luck figuring out who leaked the image and why, and to make matters worse, this news has brought the feds to Oliver’s door. When he arrives at his office, he comes face to face with Samanda Watson (GLOW’s Sydelle Noel), a dogged, no-nonsense FBI agent who is investigating his connection to the guy in green. From her first scene, Noel does a good job of making Watson seem like a formidable adversary.
As Curtis and Felicity get to work on figuring out the photo’s origin and discussing how to make money (Curtis has a secret freelance coding gig and Felicity is nearing the end of the Palmer Tech buyout), Oliver heads out to a site visit with some Markovian businessmen, who end up being kidnapped by Anatoly and his masked gunmen. Anatoly threatens to kill them all unless Star City gives him $20 million, which just happens to the exact amount of money the insurance company gave the city to repair the SCPD station. Clearly, this latest attack is personal. But he has to put that on the back burner because a group of eighth graders beat up William because his father is the Green Arrow.
I know we’re six seasons in, but I continue to be amazed by how much Stephen Amell has grown with the role and how nuanced his performance is. There’s a moment after he picks up William when Oliver starts to give William bully advice, pauses because he realizes it’s probably not the best thing to say, but goes ahead with it anyway because it’s the best he can do in the situation; he tells William to punch the biggest guy in the nose the next time they try to start something. Unfortunately, Felicity interrupts with news that she and Curtis were able to find Anatoly, so Oliver jumps out of the car to handle that, leaving an annoyed William alone.
Team Arrow storms a Bratva-owned restaurant in another beautifully executed action sequence told through a series of long takes. I love how Arrow continues to step up its visuals in this run; the long take of Green Arrow rampaging through the kitchen, including burning one goon with a stove, was fantastic. Meanwhile in the dining room, Dinah witnesses Diggle hesitate to shoot once again, which rightfully concerns her. Unfortunately, Team Arrow is only able to rescue three out of four of the hostages, with the fourth one missing.
After the semi-failed mission, Oliver is supposed to meet with Agent Watson, but he ends up flaking because Raisa tells him he needs to come home. So while Quentin and Rene sit awkwardly in a room with Agent Watson and fail at making small talk (“I’m a feminist like that,” says Rene at one point) in one of the episode’s funniest scenes, Oliver has a serious conversation with William, who is pissed that Oliver left him alone today and admits that each time his father goes out, he’s worried he won’t come back. Doing that thing parents do, Oliver lies and says he’ll always come home, but William doesn’t believe him. While I’m already starting to find William somewhat annoying (mostly due to the child actor’s abilities), I’m impressed that the show isn’t running away from what it would actually be like to be the son of a superhero. Let’s be honest: It would be cool for a minute, but most of us would probably be anxious as William even if our mother didn’t die. But alas, their conversation is cut short because Oliver receives another call, this time from Anatoly.
Anatoly, who comes close to reaching Malcolm Merlyn levels of charming villainy, reveals that he’s coming after the $20 million for two reasons: First, the Bratva exiled him because they think his friendship with Oliver made him weak, and now he’s broke. Second, he wants to prove to his brothers that he’s not weak. Honestly, it was relief to learn that Anatoly wasn’t solely motivated by revenge. Money is a simple yet novel motivation for this show. Furthermore, it thematically connects the main Anatoly story line to what’s going with Felicity, who spends the episode pestering Curtis about throwing some of his freelance coding business her way since she’s running low on money. Anyway, Anatoly gives his old friend a choice: Deliver the money and save the remaining Markovian hostage, who has three hours to live because Anatoly poisoned him, or save the money for SCPD.
Luckily, Curtis is able to identify the poison Anatoly used based on pictures of the man’s scarred face, so Dinah and Diggle head to the hospital to collect the antidote. While there, the doctor asks Diggle how he’s doing, which forces Diggle to finally come clean to Dinah about what’s up: He caught some shrapnel during the explosion and didn’t tell anyone about it because there were more pressing issues, but said shrapnel started causing degenerative nerve damage — which isn’t something you want to hear from a person who routinely fires a gun! The worst part about all of this is that Diggle still doesn’t tell the team about his injury by time the episode ends because apparently the series can only tolerate a certain amount of growth.
That being said, I do appreciate that the show is continuing to emphasize how much Oliver has grown. As he did in the premiere, Oliver opens up about his current crisis of conscience, this time to Rene, who actually ends up being a pretty good listener. Oliver hates the fact that he had to lie to William, but Rene says white lies are part of every parent’s quiver.
Felicity manages to locate Anatoly once again, so Team Arrow goes in to take care of business. Oliver finds the hostage and fires an arrow filled with the poison antidote into him, but it’s all for naught because Anatoly shoots the man in the back anyway. Oliver is shocked because this isn’t the man he knows, but Anatoly reminds him that he could’ve done something much worse to him but he didn’t because he’s good and honorable man. Oliver has a clean shot, but he doesn’t take it and Anatoly gets away, but not before revealing that he wasn’t responsible for the leak because he’s a good man. This scene encapsulates what makes Anatoly such a compelling villain: He’s one of the foes Oliver treats with kid gloves, and that’s because of their friendship.
With that settled, Oliver finally meets with Agent Watson — without a lawyer because he’s a cocky idiot. Oliver’s pretty confident this investigation is going to end because news breaks in the middle of the meeting that new evidence (courtesy of Felicity and Curtis’ photo analysis algorithm) proves the photo of Oliver was doctored. But this development ends up only fueling Agent Watson’s fire.
That night, Oliver returns home and apologizes to William for lying about the fact that he’ll always come home. The fact that Oliver admits he was wrong gets William to let his guard down, and Oliver promises that he’s going to take steps to ensure he won’t leave William parentless. Cut to later that night: Oliver meets with Diggle at the Arrow Cave and asks Diggle to take over the Green Arrow mantle, not to clear his name but to actually protect the city because Oliver can no long put himself in danger like that with William at home. This may be one of the most mature decisions Oliver has made. The same can’t said of Diggle, who neglects to tell Oliver about his tremor.
Wall of Weird:
- In a surprising development, this episode was also quite humorous. From Rene’s interactions with Agent Watson to Felicity and Curtis’ banter to even some of Anatoly’s lines, I laughed quite a bit.
- At the end of the the episode, Felicity and Curtis agree to go into business together, which is actually kind of exciting. One thing that’s worth noting is how the show is underplaying Felicity and Oliver’s romantic reunion, which makes sense given that William is, rightfully so, taking up most of his attention.
- I really hope Anatoly sticks around as an antagonist this season.
- By the end of the episode, we still don’t know who leaked that photo, which is the season’s third mystery. (The first one is who rescued Black Siren from the Lian Yu; the second is what they want with Curtis’ T-sphere.)
- “Superheroes don’t save anyone,” says an angsty William as he punches his Flash backpack.
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