Arrow recap: 'Next of Kin'
John conquers his leadership fears (OR DOES HE?) and Felicity’s math tutoring causes Oliver’s love to multiply
“His name is John Diggle, and he is the Green Arrow.”
Oliver’s voice-over ushers in a new Arrow era as John accepts the hood and the role of team leader. His first outing goes well; he dives off a rooftop and Dinah sonic blasts him to the adjacent one so he can nab Alex Faust, last seen stalking through the SCPD in the premiere.
The team agrees it’ll take some getting used to John’s new title, and at some point, people are going to notice that the Green Arrow’s not firing arrows anymore (although Felicity and Curtis are working on a solution). Dinah is more worried about John’s injuries, but he assures her that the tremors are gone and he wants to take the lead while Oliver juggles William and the FBI investigation.
Speaking of, Oliver has made progress with his son, who seems happier since Oliver quit moonlighting as “the other guy.” However, he’s worrying about an upcoming math test and doesn’t appreciate Oliver’s advice to just relax and accept a few Cs.
Oliver’s got allies, though, so he plies Felicity with Big Belly Burger and asks for her help since math wasn’t his strong suit in school. Felicity jokes that his strong suit must’ve been truancy, but Oliver corrects her: It was charm. Yep, I believe that.
Because she knows Oliver so well, she correctly guesses that he told William to quit worrying and recommends he listen to what William says he actually needs. Oliver thanks her for the advice, and they share a sad moment because Thea isn’t able to step in as the amazing aunt they both know she’d be. Yes! I’m so glad people are demonstrating genuine feelings about Thea’s absence!
Now, to the baddie of the week: A mystery woman leaves several bodies behind after she breaks into Kord Industries to steal the transport schedule for the company’s new nerve gas, ZX. The New Team Arrow rolls out to provide protection for the transport truck. Inside are two Kord employees bickering about in-cab silence versus radio pre-sets, and in 30 seconds, we get the richest character interaction of no-name extras that Arrow’s ever given us. And it gets even better when John squeezes into the cab and, after an awkward silence, announces, “You have horrible taste in music.” Ha! Oliver Arrow would never say that, but it feels perfectly natural for John Arrow.
Then the mystery woman stops the truck and shoots John, who’s in protective material, and the two employees, who are not, sadly — and I really do mean that. Have you ever felt this bad about a one-off character death on this show?
The rest of the team is in the back of the truck with the ZX, but the woman and her team incapacitate them with flash grenades. The minions load the ZX into their vehicle as their leader tosses the driver’s body from the cab and steers it toward a building. When Wild Dog looks to Green Arrow for instructions, John absolutely freezes, allowing the minions to escape with the gas and their leader to create a fiery explosion with the truck that sends a dozen people to the hospital.
At the Arrow Cave, Rene angrily demands to know what happened. John insists he’s never frozen in the field before, and Dinah tells them all to chalk it up to the fog of war and let it go.
Privately, though, Dinah tells John she only covered for him because the team needs a solid chain of command. John blames his paralysis on never having to make the hard calls on his own before, and boy, is this frustrating. They both know John has a problem that Oliver didn’t know about when he left his team’s lives in John’s hands. How does anyone on Team Arrow not know by now that keeping secrets is dangerous and dumb?
But hey, at least facial recognition coughed up the identity of the mystery woman. She’s Onyx Adams, former CIA black-ops operative whose squad disappeared in 2015 with $100 million in Syrian government gold. Three of her squad eventually returned to the CIA, so Onyx’s crew has been staging terrorist gas attacks to bump them off. Rob Reynolds is the last defector alive, making him the likely ZX target.
Oliver, meanwhile, takes Felicity’s advice and listens to what William says he needs: somebody who can teach him quadratic equations. (William doesn’t verbalize this, but he probably also needs a bedroom that doesn’t look like a cold, echoey concrete jail cell. Poor kid!)
A grim-faced Rene then appears on Oliver’s doorstep to say that John is in over his head, and the team needs Oliver back. This prompts an Oliver drop-in at the Arrow Cave, where he accomplishes two tasks. First, he recruits Nevada’s three-time state Mathletics champion to tutor his child. (Felicity says it’s only three because they wouldn’t let freshmen compete, NOT THAT SHE’S STILL BITTER.) She seems pleased and a bit flustered by this request.
Oliver then turns to John, who’s assumed the brooding position. “That expression is as much a part of the uniform as the green hood,” Oliver jokes. John guesses that Rene talked to Oliver, and Oliver in turns wonders if he’s asking too much of John since, you know, John’s got a wife and son of his own. Whew! I was starting to worry that everybody had forgotten about JJ. But John says he made peace with his dangerous life years ago; his problem now is making the tough calls that came so easily to Oliver.
Actually, Oliver says, he was usually operating on instinct and fear. Yes, there will be losses, and they won’t always be strangers. But the Green Arrow only exists because John had faith in Oliver, and if John will just have faith in himself now, “you can be a better hero than I ever was.”
Gotta say, Arrow depicted the Oliver/John and Oliver/Felicity relationships so beautifully tonight. Original Team Arrow know each other inside and out, and their one-on-one scenes are a pitch-perfect combination of insight, support, and encouragement. (Next page: Pop a breath mint and get ready for kissing)
At Oliver’s apartment, Felicity is crushing her tutoring gig, and she and William gently scoff at born-into-privilege Oliver thinking that school doesn’t matter when it is/was so important to the two of them.
Oliver is delighted at their interplay as he delivers a plate of Monte Cristos to the table. Felicity’s aghast that William’s never had one before, while I’m aghast that Oliver made the sandwiches with waffles. Is that a…thing? That people do?
Then Felicity gets a call that the team located Reynolds at a swank Star City hotel. She assures William that he’s awesome, then sails out the door. “She’s pretty cool,” William says, and his father agrees. You know, I’ve been skeptical about the whole William story line, but his scenes this week were, dare I say, interesting — maybe even enjoyable. Who knew?
Our heroes suit up, and Dinah tells Rene to get on board with John’s leadership. Thankfully, the showdown at the hotel is a success. The team burst in with ferocity and coordination, and the flash grenades are no match for Curtis’ new protective glasses. John only hesitates for a split second before ordering Black Canary and Mr. Terrific to find and neutralize the ZX while Wild Dog takes down the minions.
John himself goes after Onyx as she’s about to shoot Reynolds, and they engage in a cleverly staged fight around, on top of, and inside Reynold’s car. John subdues Onyx, prompting Reynolds to ask, “Who the hell are you?” The man in the hood responds, “I’m the Green Arrow.” Self-confidence: Ask John how!
In the bunker, the team celebrates its success with champagne, and Felicity and Curtis unveil a surprise: the Green Monster, an arrow-shooting crossbow filled to the brim with fancy tech that allows John to skewer several helpless tennis balls to the wall.
This quells the last of Dinah’s fears about John’s leadership ability, although I’m still side-eyeing both of them for their questionable decision making.
Okay, let’s move quickly through this week’s City Hall drama: New Team Arrow’s stumbles give a councilwoman an excuse to bring anti-vigilante legislation to a vote. The council is about to approve it when Oliver interrupts to give a speech. First, I’m fairly sure this doesn’t follow Robert’s Rules of Order, and second, why was the mayor not at the City Council meeting in the first place? I will never, ever understand the lunacy that is Star City’s governmental structure.
Anyway, Oliver says his No. 1 priority is keeping the city safe, and the police can’t do that if they’re hunting down vigilantes. Ergo, he invokes Chapter 9 of the city charter and turns the bill into a citywide referendum. He argues that vigilantes saved hundreds of people at the hotel the night before, and the city should have a voice in whether police resources are devoted to stopping them.
This news interests Samanda, who’s still on Oliver’s case — literally. Naturally, she noticed that the Green Arrow hasn’t been firing any arrows recently, and she doesn’t buy Oliver’s alibi that he was on the jumbotron at a Rockets game at the same time the Green Arrow was arresting criminals.
Not only does she want to know whom he’s protecting by stalling the anti-vigilante legislation, but she’s got a crime board with pieces of evidence and photos of Oliver’s known associates tacked up, including John, Rene, Quentin, and Felicity. If Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that someone with a crime board means business.
That night, Oliver swings back by Felicity’s place with a gift to celebrate the A that William earned on his math test. Felicity unleashes a flow of words that reminded me of her character in season 1 when she was overwhelmed to be meeting Mr. Queen for the first time. Felicity voices her surprise that Oliver has a math prodigy son, then assures him that he has other gifts, like his amazing abs. Ha!
Inside the gift box is a key to Oliver’s apartment, which confuses her because they agreed to keep their distance as William adjusted to his new life. But Oliver says that when he saw Felicity interacting with his son, he knew that William’s life will be better with her in it. “Just like mine,” he says.
They kiss, and then they kiss, and then Felicity slides her hands under Oliver’s jacket to slide it from his body as she pushes him off screen.
Woof. That escalated from *heart eyes emoji* to *ten million fire emojis* in a hurry. Olicity’s back, baby!
Oh, but the final shot of the episode is bad news: In a seedy alley, John exchanges a wad of cash for an injectable drug that immediately steadies his hand tremor. John, noooo! I thought Oliver’s pep talk had fixed you up!
Arrows for your quiver
- Kind of loving the struggle to name the Felicity/Curtis startup. Oliver rejects Bit by Bit as too much like an ‘80s sitcom (he’s not wrong), but even better is the crossed-out name on the brainstorming board: Oracle. A+ DC Comics reference, show! (Mind the comic spoilers at the link).
- The keychain on Felicity’s new key is a round, yellow, glasses-wearing smiley face, and I’m charmed by the idea of Oliver carefully reviewing each option, then grinning when he finds the perfect one.
- So, friends, do you have a guess about John’s mystery injection? Could it be some new form of mirakuru that’s brown instead of green? Do you think he and Dinah should’ve come clean to Oliver? Could Olicity be any cuter? And do I need to start making Monte Cristos with waffles? Let me know in the comments!