Arrow – Season 6 Episode 15
Arrow brings back an old friend as Evil-Laurel tries to assume the identity of Earth-1 Laurel in an effort to save herself.
Evil-Laurel’s role in this episode plays out pretty much as I expected it to. She angles for sympathy from the press and the authorities while forcing Team Arrow to play along with her lies lest they reveal the truth about alternate universes and perhaps exposing themselves in the process. While this goes on Evil-Laurel suggests that she might be trying to turn over a new leaf while there is some ambiguity around whether she actually has or not.
Predictable doesn’t necessarily mean uninteresting though in this case I was less than thrilled with the way the whole thing was handled. Part of the problem is that it has been overcomplicated by bizarre decisions made in how the characters react to her presence. The biggest anomaly here is Quentin who seems to alter his position on her between scenes in this very episode. Of course he’s conflicted by her willingness to try being “his” Laurel because he’s immediately suspicious of her true intentions but also hopeful that this is genuine. The inconsistency comes from how he approaches it. Quentin is still fixated on the idea that Evil-Laurel is a version of his daughter and wants her to embrace that but strangely when it comes to Laurel’s mother he makes it very clear that she isn’t Evil-Laurel’s mother which completely contradicts how he appears to want this to end up. Of course it’s possible that Quentin is going quietly insane and isn’t aware of the double standards he sometimes exhibits where Evil-Laurel is concerned which could be an interesting angle should the writers decide to explore it.
Paul Blackthorne makes the best of the material as always. He does a great job with Quentin playing along for the benefit of the cops and cameras while privately wincing at the thought of doing exactly what Evil-Laurel wants him to do. The reluctance and discomfort come through clearly along with a clear sense of being completely lost in the midst of an impossible situation.
Another unpredictable factor in all of this is Dinah who gets herself put onto Laurel’s case thanks to the corrupt Captain Hill (Tina Huang) who obviously wants to keep Team Arrow distracted as much as possible by adding a further complication to the situation. Dinah’s desire for vengeance is as strong as ever so every time she’s close by there’s a strong sense of tension. Juliana Harkavy plays Dinah as if she’s waiting for the opportunity to make her move now that she’s in the best position to do it.
Fortunately, Evil-Laurel has covered the bases really well by making herself a public figure and threatening to out everyone’s secret identities. This makes it difficult for Dinah to do anything without it seeming really suspicious. For now she has to do her job and bide her time. Quentin takes her aside and tells her why she can’t make a move for now and tries to convince her to take a back seat for now. He’s still convinced that he’s changing her even if Dinah isn’t. Dinah actually calls him delusional for thinking he can change her which clearly strikes a nerve judging by Paul Blackthorne’s facial expression though it isn’t enough to change his mind. This conversation establishes a holding pattern between Quentin and Dinah with no clear idea who will make the next move.
Dinah is given further reason to hold back on her vendetta after Felicity learns that Diaz was behind the murder of Cayden James and has been engineering everything that has happened this season. This means that the bigger picture has to be considered and any personal feelings have to be pushed aside for the moment. Evil-Laurel gives the team information on Diaz’ whereabouts and they have no choice but to act on it because there are no other leads. Everyone is aware of how likely it is that she’s leading them into a trap. Not all animosity is put aside as Oliver tells Dinah that he isn’t letting her come with them since neither of them trust the other and Oliver would rather be in the field with a smaller group that he knows he can count on. It’s a sensible decision as well as functioning as a reminder that her decision isn’t one she can go back on whenever it suits her. Thankfully the episode doesn’t get bogged down in the conflict between the two teams as it makes smaller moments like this more effective.
At first it seems like Evil-Laurel may have turned over a new leaf but it becomes known that she is working with Diaz in some capacity. It’s possible that she’s engaging in a triple-cross for reasons known only to her but if that’s true then the whole thing becomes needlessly convoluted. Evil-Laurel’s arc is starting to feel really repetitive as it keeps flipping between potential for redemption and reminders that she’s irredeemable. It’s about time the writers picked what to do with her and concentrated on developing her along that route rather than the constant betrayals and ambiguity.
Katie Cassidy is definitely more at home in this role than she ever was with the other Laurel. It’s easy to see how much more engaged she is through her performance and she does an excellent job making it seem possible that she wants to be a better person. At no point does the other Laurel come through in her performance so it’s doubly impressive that Katie Cassidy is able to make Evil-Laurel sympathetic at all especially considering what she has done.
For the first time, Ricardo Diaz feels like a formidable presence in his own right. Examples of his martial arts prowess are seen however briefly and he is shown to be a very capable tactician. His conversations with Evil-Laurel and Roy clearly show that he’s able to come up with clever plans and knows how to play people against each other. The scene where Oliver is forced to let him go or face arrest reinforces how carefully he considers his plans before carrying them out. It amounts to very slight development but it is significant and establishes him as a credible threat for Team Arrow in its fractured state. There is more to him than physical presence thanks to the corrupt cops and Police Captain that he has at his disposal so Team Arrow have to deal with Diaz’ impact on the infrastructure of the city as well as his criminal endeavours. He’s unlikely to number among the best villains the Arrowverse has to offer but for the purposes of right now he’s compelling enough.
Roy’s return felt like something of a wasted opportunity. For one thing he barely appears and spends very little of his screen time interacting with Team Arrow. His return is more about what he represents rather than what his character can bring to an episode which is definitely the wrong approach. Forcing Roy to testify against Oliver by capturing him, brutally beating him and forcing him into the court room is a reasonable idea and I can somewhat get behind the idea that Roy might be doing this willingly. It’s at least hinted at in the early moments of the episode before revealing that he is being held against his will.
He has one reunion scene with the team as a whole that amounts to little more than listing his injuries before Oliver confirms that he would do what he did for any member of his team. It’s great to see Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, Thea and Roy in the same room together as it is a warm reminder of Arrow days gone by but it’s baffling that the episode doesn’t celebrate his return more effectively.
Roy’s return is a great showcase for Thea who has been at risk of stagnating this season. Characterising her as the moral centre of the group and dispenser of sage advice does work but it doesn’t stop her being a background player. Her job in the Mayor’s office last season was a good use of her but her return to that this season has been less than stellar so it’s high time she had something meatier to play with.
Her concern for Roy encourages her to suit up once again and join Team Arrow in the field. Oliver practically begs her to reconsider her decision because he doesn’t want to see her spiral out of control once again. Ridding herself of her vigilante identity has been a positive step for her mental well being and Oliver takes on the role of the concerned brother not wanting his sister to drift back into old habits.
Thea’s justification for getting back into the field is entirely justified especially considering how she rationalises it. It isn’t something that has come up before but the feeling like her life has fallen apart since Roy left makes a lot of sense when you consider everything that has happened to her since then. Not long after Roy left, Thea was near death and healed by the Lazarus Pit which kicked off its own set of problems. Most recently she was in a coma so it’s easy to see why she would feel like things haven’t gone all that well for her since Roy left. The fact that she lists everything and is clearly angry about it reinforces this and Willa Holland’s performance completely sells Thea’s mindset.
The scene where she tries to rescue Roy is brilliantly done as an example of how desperate Thea is to save his life. Their reunion kiss is really touching and Thea ignoring all dangers in stubborn refusal to leave him behind works thanks to Willa Holland making it work. Oliver comes across as the most detached and reasonable part of this equation which further exemplifies his more mature attitude. He wants Roy back as much as Thea but has to consider the practicalities of the situation and what will be best overall. This looks to an impulsive Thea like he doesn’t care but the opposite is true when he makes it clear why he approaches the situation the way he does. Oliver’s tactical thinking is focused on keeping Roy alive which unfortunately means playing a longer game than Thea would like.
Hopefully Roy will stick around for a while longer as there’s definitely scope to explore his dynamic with the team as they are now. He has missed a lot since his last appearance so it’ll be interesting to find out how he views the team as they are now. There’s also a lot of unanswered questions as to where Thea goes from here and strong hints that Roy will be part of whatever the next phase of her development is. Oliver strongly recommends that she go with him wherever he decides to go because she is at her happiest when she is with Roy. Selfishly he’ll miss her but knowing that she’s happy will comfort him at least. The League of Assassins appearance at the end of the episode saying that she has found the heir of Ra’s Al Ghul but leaving it ambiguous as to who she means -though it’s probably Thea- also hints at a next step for her character. Either way I wonder if they’re gearing up for a tearful exit that allows Thea to finally be happy.
Naturally Roy’s return presents an opportunity for Oliver to blame himself as always. Roy put on the Arrow costume and turned himself in to protect Oliver which was the direct cause of his exile. Oliver feels responsible for that and wonders if things would be different had alternate choices been made. Felicity reminds him that sacrificing himself for Oliver was Roy’s choice and it was arguably the right one considering the circumstances. Oliver definitely shouldn’t feel responsible for it at any rate. I found this scene to be fairly contrived as it doesn’t track with Oliver’s current mentality so seemed crowbarred in to answer a need that wasn’t there.
Some other loose threads are dealt with in this episode such as Diggle’s desire to be the Green Arrow. He points out that he has had a flawless record for two months and that he really wants to resume the role but Oliver has no interest in stepping down. Felicity points out that Oliver is reluctant to step down because there’s so much going on at the moment it wouldn’t feel right to. It’s small comfort for Diggle who is desperate to be Green Arrow once again. It’s good to know that this hasn’t been forgotten though it’s a strange time to bring it up. It remains to be seen what the end result of this will be but I suspect it won’t be good news for Diggle.
A solid if predictable episode that continues the Evil-Laurel plot pretty much as expected. Katie Cassidy is excellent in this role but the constant back and forth over where her true allegiance lies is becoming tiresome. Quentin’s approach to dealing with her seems to change from scene to scene though Paul Blackthorne makes good use of the material he’s given regardless of how problematic it is. Dinah’s role in the situation is nicely complex as she finds herself unable to take vengeance on Evil-Laurel considering the position she has maneuvered herself into. Ricardo Diaz is allowed some meaningful development in this episode showcasing his skill, intelligence and ability to strategise. He isn’t iconic Arrowverse villain material but he’ll certainly do for now.
Roy’s return is something of a missed opportunity because he’s barely in the episode and shares limited time with the rest of Team Arrow. He only has one scene with all of them and most of that is spent listing his injuries so hopefully he’ll be back for more meaningful interactions in the coming episodes. His return is a great showcase for Thea who goes through a lot in this episode and brings up everything that has happened since Roy left. The scene where she attempts to rescue him is brilliantly done from their touching reunion to her blind desperation and the hints dropped at the next phase for Thea’s character are intriguing. The thread of Diggle wanting to be Green Arrow is picked up though feels out of place and definitely ill timed.
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