Arrow premiere recap: The struggle is real for Oliver and Felicity
Arrow’s uneven sixth season ended with a couple of major developments for the show: First, Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo), the season’s ultimate big bad, managed to evade being caught, which means he’s back this year. Second, and more importantly, Oliver went to prison after publicly confessing to being the Green Arrow in order to save the rest of Team Arrow from suffering the same fate. Now, it’s time to dig into what those game-changing twists mean for the show’s seventh season, which kicked off tonight with the solid, twisty, and table-setting “Inmate #4587.”
Picking up five months after the events of the finale, the hour wastes no time in revealing how Oliver’s doing behind bars. Spoiler alert: Not great, Bob! Surrounded by criminals he’s put away (like Bronze Tiger, Brick, and Derek Sampson), Oliver is trying his hardest to keep his head down and ignore his heroic impulses because he believes that’s the quickest way he’ll be reunited with family. But, that’s obviously as hard as it sounds for Oliver, and both Stephen Amell and the script effectively convey just how much Oliver is struggling. Look at the pained expression on Amell’s face when he decides to walk away instead of protecting a nervous new inmate named Stanley, who is a big Green Arrow fan and gets beaten up by Brick and Derek Sampson because they thought that would coerce Oliver into helping them with some shady operation. As Amell teased, the Oliver we meet in this episode is very unheroic.
“Inmate #4587” draws a pretty obvious yet effective parallel between Oliver and Felicity’s situations. Like her imprisoned husband, Felicity is trying to hide who she is; except, in this case, she’s living as a pink-haired barista because she and William are in protective custody since Diaz is still at large. Furthermore, Rickards also does a great job of showing how the isolation for witness protection pains her, especially in the scene when she comes home from work and is reunited with William. You can feel that there’s something missing in her life. But, that’s all about to change because Oliver’s worst nightmare comes to past.
In the standout sequence of the episode, Diaz attacks Felicity in her apartment while his men do the same thing to Oliver as he’s taking a shower in prison. The much-touted naked shower fight scene more than lived up to the hype and the trailers. It was brutal, visceral, and reminiscent of the fights on The Punisher, which were more concerned with conveying the toll violence takes than being cool. As Oliver tries to defend himself, one of Diaz’s men eventually emerges and tells him that Diaz found Felicity and killed her.
Another spoiler alert: Felicity and William survive Diaz’s assault. And the Felicity who comes out of the attack has been galvanized to fight back. She pays Oliver a visit in prison and reveals that she plans on sending William to boarding school so that she can leave the witness protection program and focus on capturing Diaz. Obviously, Oliver isn’t too keen on this idea, but he really has no place to say anything since he made this whole deal without consulting her in the first place. However, Felicity isn’t the only one who has had a fire lit under her behind.
NEXT: A new Green Arrow
After his emotional reunion with Felicity, Oliver decides he’s done trying to keep his head down, too. Once he’s allowed out of his cell, he ventures out to the yard and reminds everyone he’s the Green Arrow goddammit by beating one of Diaz’s men with a weight. The message he’s sending is clear: Don’t mess with me.
While all of that was going on, the former members of Team Arrow were busy adjusting to post-vigilante life: Dinah is now the head of SCPD; Diggle and Curtis work for ARGUS; and Rene, who is having the hardest time not suiting up, runs a youth gym and sees firsthand the problems facing the inhabitants of the Glades. But all of their lives receive a shock when a new Green Arrow enters the scene.
The biggest question surrounding this Green Arrow is, who the hell is he? Because the real Green Arrow is, you know, doing time. Unfortunately, no one on Team Arrow is able to figure that out, but Rene doesn’t care because he thinks the city needs a new hero since the Glades are, as always, in bad shape and the Green Arrow is giving people hope. Dinah, on the other hand, is committed to upholding Star City’s anti-vigilante law and sets out to capture the Green Arrow. But the SCPD’s sting operation is thwarted by Rene, who suits up for the first time in months, and creates a distraction that helps the mysterious new archer escape. Obviously, this puts Dinah and Rene at odds and she makes it clear that she won’t hesitate to arrest him if he gets in her way again.
Could the new Green Arrow have something to do with the premiere’s biggest twist? As we catch up with everyone on Team Arrow, we’re also introduced to a new character: a young man who travels to Lian Yu in what initially appear to be flashbacks. When he arrives, he gets caught in one of the island’s many traps and ends up coming face-to-face with Old Man Roy, which is when it’s revealed that this young man is grown up William and this is actually a flash-forward to 20 years in the future. Right before that bomb drops, however, we see the new Green Arrow cross off names in his book like he’s season 1 Oliver Queen. This raises two options that could be totally wrong: First, Roy is the new Green Arrow; or two, Adult William is the new Green Arrow and somehow he’s traveled back in time. I doubt it’s the second one because Arrow almost neve dabbles in time travel.
As a storytelling device, I’m genuinely curious to see where the flash-forwards go. The reveal was indeed surprising, but I wonder if they can actually make these worthwhile as the season goes along. This isn’t a Lost situation where the show will eventually catch up to the flash-forwards because Arrow’s flash-forwards are so far ahead, and I don’t think the show would just jump 20 years. So, the question remains if and how the flash-forwards will affect the present day storyline.
Overall, “Inmate #4587” sets up an interesting season. My one concern, beyond the flash-forwards, is how long the show plans on keeping Team Arrow apart. One of the most frustrating aspects of season 6 was the needless intra-team squabbling that truly felt like it came out nowhere, and now this season is starting with Dinah and Rene on opposite sides of this Green Arrow issue. Hopefully, it doesn’t take too long for those two to work this disagreement and for the team to finally be reunited.
Wall of weird:
- Stanley tells Oliver that he was falsely imprisoned for murder, so I expect we’ll dig into that mystery soon.
- Rene is also running a youth box gym that gets an influx of cash after he helps save the Green Arrow.
- Curtis works for ARGUS’ R&D department, but he’s just as chatty as always.