Arrow recap: 'Thanksgiving'
Black Siren and Cayden James return, and Billy Joel "performs" in Star City
Holidays are never best the times on Arrow. Someone usually gets shot, injected with a super-solider drug, paralyzed, or something. So it shouldn’t come as surprise that this year’s Thanksgiving episode is not an exception. While no one finds himself or herself in mortal peril this week, Team Arrow does encounter some difficulties as long-simmering plots finally come to a boil; however, the episode feels a bit thin in places and sees the show return to some bad habits.
Tonight’s episode begins with Oliver, Felicity, and William working at a Thanksgiving food drive that’s also celebrating the city’s extravagant new precinct, which has interrogation rooms that look more like the ornate reading rooms in my college library. Agent Watson interrupts the festivities in order to arrest Oliver for multiple counts of murder, burglary, and assault, all committed under the guise of the Green Arrow. The fact that she has the nerve to arrest him in front of William pisses Oliver off, but Agent Watson doesn’t care because she’s got her guy.
With Oliver arrested for being the Green Arrow, Diggle wants Team Arrow on high alert because he’s worried Star City’s criminal element will think it’s open season. And he’s not wrong. Cayden James and Black Siren make their welcome returns tonight to steal some nano-thermites. Honestly, I can’t overstate how much I love Michael Emerson as Cayden. He’s like a more sinister version of Harold Finch. Also, Katie Cassidy continues to have the time of her life with her campy portrayal of Black Siren. And these two have some fun chemistry together even though they’re almost never in the same frame.
While Team Arrow wasn’t able to stop Black Siren’s first heist, they’re ready when she and her goons attack Amertek in search of an accelerant to mix their nano-thermites with. Extended-take fight sequence notwithstanding, Team Arrow performs poorly in the field; Diggle, who was testing out a prototype of Curtis’ implant to fix his nerve damage, becomes crippled with pain in the middle of the fight because he’s going through withdrawal from that drug. Thus, Black Siren evades capture once again.
Yes, it’s finally time for Diggle’s secret to come out into the open, and with it some long-festering issues between Diggle and Oliver, who was released on an exorbitant bail. Both of them have acted selfishly recently; Oliver asked Diggle to take over the mantle because of William, without taking into account that Diggle has a family, too, and Diggle endangered this team by keeping his nerve damage a secret. At first, when they both talk about Diggle’s secret, things don’t go well because neither Diggle nor Oliver is really ready to hear about his own screwups. It doesn’t help matters that Oliver starts their conversation by saying this is the first time he’s ever been disappointed in Diggle, because it only took Oliver a few months to become an annoying parent. (Next: Broken promises)
Thankfully, both men realize they were wrong and apologize to each other. I particularly appreciated Diggle’s apology because it ties back into the show’s history. He admits to Oliver that part of the reason he did what he did was because he’s secretly always wanted to be the Green Arrow, something that was made apparent to him when the Dominators gave them their dream lives in the 100th episode. The fact that the 100th episode wasn’t just a meaningful experience for Oliver is another sign that the show is trying to expand and allow more room for the others’ perspectives. Unfortunately, Diggle’s dream may be over, because his nerve damage has spread to his back, and he risks becoming paralyzed if he goes back into the field.
This isn’t great news for Team Arrow, because they figured out that Cayden plans on attacking a Billy Joel concert and they need a Green Arrow to lead them. With no other option, Oliver suits back up and heads out to Star Stadium with the team to find the bomb.
This is where the Billy Joel footage comes in, and it’s very distracting and doesn’t add anything to the episode. While the team handles Cayden’s men, who are dressed as a cops and locked the stadium doors to keep the concertgoers in, Green Arrow goes after the bomb — except the scary-looking one he finds is a fake. It turns out Cayden James arranged this entire plan just to meet him and warn him that Green Arrow is responsible for Cayden losing his son, so he’s targeting the city as revenge.
At first, Cayden’s plan seems rather convoluted and stupid, but that’s until we learn the last part. Cayden releases footage that shows Team Arrow attacking cops (who were in actuality his men), which turns the city against vigilantes on the day of the referendum. Obviously, the public votes in favor of the anti-vigilante bill, turning Star City into a very hostile place for Oliver and his friends. Agent Watson pays Oliver a visit before returning to Washington and says the age of vigilantes is coming to an end; the people will soon realize they’re not aspirational figures since they aren’t willing to step out into the light and own up to their shortcomings.
That evening, Oliver lies to William about going out into the field, then tells Diggle he will return as Green Arrow until Diggle is ready to get back out there. What a stupid development! Why does Oliver think he can get away with lying to his son? Why does he think this will turn out well? It is a shame that Diggle as the Green Arrow only lasted four episodes. But, thankfully, this episode doesn’t end on this frustrating note. Surprising everyone, Thea finally wakes up from her coma because they conveniently found the right drugs to jumpstart her brain. It’s a Thanksgiving miracle!
Wall of Weird:
- While everyone was working on the Black Siren problem, Quentin and Dinah had some time to bond over the fact that no matter how much they know they shouldn’t, they can’t help but see the best in Black Siren and Vigilante — i.e. two people they had a chance to kill or capture but decided not to. I appreciated this scene a lot.
- Felicity and Curtis also butted heads tonight. She was pissed Curtis used their technology on Diggle without consulting her, and Curtis finally opened up about being pissed that she chose the company’s name and project without consulting him. Short story shorter: They make up by the end of the episode, which is when Felicity comes clean about using their angel investor money to pay Oliver’s bail.
- I ask again: Why was Billy Joel in this episode? Why was the concert footage necessary?
- You can tell Emerson was only on set for a day or two at the most because he’s almost never in the same shot as the other actors, except for his final confrontation with the Green Arrow.
- Next week is the big crossover!