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. (Recap continues on next page)