Arrow – Season 4 Episode 7
Arrow brings back a figure from Diggle’s past that opens up some old wounds and forces him to deal with emotions he thought he had put behind him.
Bringing Diggle’s brother back after he was believed dead for so long is a risky proposition, especially since the show has spent this season undoing a lot of the deaths that have happened. Sara was dead and came back, Ray was believed dead but came back and now Andy Diggle (Eugene Byrd) has returned from the dead as a member of Damien Darhk’s organisation H.I.V.E.
With all of the resurrections happening on this show it runs the risk of turning death into something that is fairly meaningless. It already is in the comics but it seems that it is spilling over onto the TV show. Felicity calls it out directly but it is a problem that needs to be addressed if it keeps happening. Are Oliver and Thea expecting their parents to return at some point with all that’s going on? Of course there is the possibility that they will meet the Earth-2 versions of their parents but that’s not the same thing.
The casual resurrection of Andy can be forgiven when the results are as good as they are here. Diggle has been a mainstay on this show since the first episode but he has never quite had an emotional arc of his own that doesn’t relate to the other characters in some way. Most of the time he serves as emotional support to Oliver’s story or Oliver will back him up on something that relates to him anyway but giving Diggle the emotional heart of an episode is something that hasn’t really been done before.
Diggle is a simple guy when it comes down to it and is having trouble dealing with all of the strangeness that has come into his life. He is still shocked by Barry’s powers and the mystical stuff is a little over his head but he has had the advantage of a certain distance from those revelations which gives him enough leeway to process them in his own way.
Andy’s reappearance is something that he can’t avoid and take his time over processing as it hits him right where he lives. Nothing makes sense in Diggle’s world any more and that comes across really well here. It’s been a rough few weeks for him as he has recently found out that his brother was involved in criminal activities and was killed by H.I.V.E. because his crimes clashed with theirs. Diggle has had to endure his brother’s memory being tarnished by this new information and now he is faced with confronting him over it.
David Ramsey’s performance in this episode is absolutely perfect at putting across the wide range of emotions he is feeling. His scene with Laurel where he truly opens up is very moving and I like the fact that the two characters can bond over having resurrected siblings come back into their lives. Granted Laurel’s situation was her own fault but on a sentimental level they are going through the same thing. We don’t often get to see Diggle and Laurel share scenes so this was good to see. It should happen more regularly.
I found his conflict with Oliver really interesting as well. Oliver is willing to give Andy the benefit of the doubt and encourages Diggle to do the same. In Diggle’s head his brother is a criminal and doesn’t deserve any leeway but Oliver is insistent that family is important enough to grant that.
Diggle disagrees to the degree that they have a very passionate discussion about it where Diggle seems to think that Oliver is blinded by his devotion to family but it turns out that after all the darkness Oliver has seen and all that he has done, he really needs to believe in hope and that anyone can be redeemed. This is consistent with Oliver’s journey since the series began as hope seems to inspire him to do and be better.
There’s also the fact that Diggle feels that this is his problem and doesn’t want to put anyone else on the line for something that he thinks is his responsibility. What he initially doesn’t realise is that Team Arrow have become a family and that families look out of each other. He does realise this by the end of the episode when he calls Oliver his brother. It risks being overly sentimental but the performances and dialogue are strong enough to make it work.
Oliver is a much more passive presence in this episode but his Mayoral campaign is becoming really interesting as it has put him in the sights of Damien Darhk who -at least it appears- doesn’t know about his double identity. He did say last week that he has his suspicions so I wonder if Oliver Queen is one of them. Darhk’s scene with Oliver was filled with the same level of menace that we have all come to expect from him as he causally threatens Oliver to do things his way or suffer consequences. The only hint is that he will no longer be running unopposed if he doesn’t cooperate which makes me wonder if Darhk is planning to run himself or has someone in mind similar to Slade Wilson using Sebastian Blood.
Oliver initially decides to go along with Darhk so that he can bring him down from inside his organisation. As Felicity and Diggle point out this is far too similar to his infiltration of the League of Assassins last season and look how well that turned out. Per Diggle’s recommendation he decides to do things differently and go with his original plan as well as fight Darhk in the light of day. It’s a solid progression for Oliver and I like that he’s actually listening to his friends to help deal with this problem. I can see where he was coming from as Quentin seems to have lost Darhk’s trust but I also think that pretending to go along with Darhk’s plan wasn’t the smartest idea. It seems that extra effort is being made to tell viewers that this is not season 3 and those mistakes will be made up for. So far so good.
There isn’t much from Quentin this episode but I’m really starting to think that he will be the one killed as the evidence seems to be mounting. Darhk is obviously suspicious of him and I don’t believe that he is careless enough to leave an important piece of paper lying in open view like that so I figure this was a test of Quentin’s loyalties and since Team Arrow show up to the location then that probably means that he has failed.
Thea’s blood lust is back and Malcolm is doing his own twisted version of parenting by seeking out terrible people for her to hunt down and kill as they don’t deserve to live as far as he’s concerned. Thea doesn’t want to be a killer so refuses and tries to control her urges as best she can but knows that she’s losing as evidenced by her overreaction to a guy that tries to flirt with her.
There’s some hope for Thea when Darhk’s abilities seem to calm her blood lust instead of killing her. It’s definitely an avenue worth pursuing but I wish she would be honest with Oliver about what’s going on with her. I’m also confused as to why nobody asked Constantine if he could help with this problem when he was in town.
I’m glad to see I was wrong about Ray’s hasty departure last week as his appearance here felt like he was part of the show. Most of his scenes were spent using science to figure out where the Ghosts are coming from but his contribution is in service to the main story so it makes this spin-off setup feel more organic than prior episodes of both Arrow and The Flash.
Ray’s legally dead status is brought up a number of times as Felicity encourages him to come back to life since he is needed but Ray doesn’t agree as the evidence seems to suggest that nobody really missed him when he was believed dead. The city was renamed to Star City in his honour but quickly became a crime ridden hell hole and his company is on the verge of failing so it seems that he has no legacy to return to. I’m glad that he doesn’t magically decide that he has some worth and leaves it open for him to find something else worth living for. The promise of being around for more superheroics is about the extent of the foreshadowing.
The action in this episode was great. There were several really cool looking engagements and Ray’s sudden appearance during the final one only added to the cool factor. I especially liked Thea’s long fight with Andy. It feels like the already impressive action sequences have upped their game this season.
I’m still finding that there isn’t a lot of progression in the flashbacks. In previous seasons there was more than enough material to fill up entire episodes as well as feed into most of the others but here it feels like there’s a small amount of story being stretched out across brief cutaways. Some of it is engaging and I like Baron Reiter’s mystical hints but beyond that the flashbacks seem to slow down the episode.
Crossover time in two weeks with more superheroes than you can shake a stick at. Are you excited? I know I am
An excellent episode that allows Diggle the chance to shine as he confronts a face from his past which tests everything that makes sense to him.
Having Diggle’s brother Andy resurrected on the show presents a potential problem as there have been three resurrections this season alone so there’s a risk that death will become meaningless if this keeps happening.
It can be largely forgiven when the content is as strong as this with David Ramsey delivering a really strong performance as Diggle struggles to deal with the fact that he has to confront his brother so soon after finding out that he was involved with criminal activity before he died.
His conversation with Laurel about resurrected siblings was a really good scene that made me want to see Laurel and Diggle interact more.
Diggle’s conflict with Oliver over giving family the benefit of the doubt was great as well. Oliver points out that he really wants to believe in hope no matter how dark things get. This tracks well with Oliver’s character since the series began and offers a solid contrast to Diggle’s moral stance on the issue. Diggle also fails to realise until the end of the episode that Team Arrow are a family and he shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help from those he fights alongside.
Oliver being on Darhk’s radar further ups the threat level and his refusal to comply with Darhk’s demands after some pushing by Diggle and Felicity who remind him that his last attempt to tear apart an organisation from the inside didn’t go so well makes things really interesting. I can see what Oliver means since Lance seems to have lost Darhk’s trust to the point where his loyalty is being actively tested but it’s good that Oliver now listens to his teammates instead of simply dictating.
I really liked Malcolm’s twisted parenting style by trying to find people that he feels deserve to die to help Thea control her blood lust. It’s impressive that Thea refuses to kill anyone and there’s some hope when Darhk’s powers seem to calm it again. I wish she would simply be honest with Oliver and I wonder why nobody asked John Constantine about it while he was in town.
Ray’s arc concerning finding something worth living for was really interesting and his contribution to the main plot of the episode was a valuable one. I like that this wasn’t resolved by the end of the episode as it leaves things open and the fact that he leaves himself available for superheroics is great as his presence boosted the already excellent action sequences.
I’m finding the flashbacks to be massively lacking in story. In previous seasons there was enough to fill entire episodes but this season it seems that there’s a small amount being stretched out over a number of weeks. There is progression but it is slow.
Crossover time in two weeks. Who’s excited? I know I am!