Arrow – Season 7 Episode 14
“Brothers & Sisters”
Arrow focuses on the importance of family and how these relationships define people in both time periods.
The previous episode delivered the binary reveal of Felicity’s pregnancy in the present and that Blackstar is William’s sister Mia born to Felicity and Oliver in the future. These reveals connect the two time periods really well as we see the hope and joy associated with the pregnancy contrasting the bleakness of the future that is yet to come.
I really like what is being done with the future story, particularly now that the plot centres on the children of Felicity, Diggle and Oliver as a way of mirroring the dynamic that continues to define the show by delivering an alternate version of it. The fact that circumstances mean that there is no bond between the siblings provides a clear path to follow and goal to achieve. It also adds depth to Mia who was in danger of falling into the trap of being little more than a moody badass.
William finds a lot of comfort in learning he has a sister as it provides a connection to the family he no longer has. He talks about the annoyance associated with the supposed dangers of raising a child while being a publicly outed vigilante apparently not mattering where Mia was concerned. It’s natural for William to resent this though Mia points out that being the child Oliver and Felicity wanted not being all that great for her though she doesn’t go into detail as to what she means by that. I suspect Mia’s history will be fleshed out over the remainder of the season which works well enough as a large portion of the focus is on William and how he reacts to knowing that he has a sister all of a sudden.
William also has the wrong idea about Oliver and Felicity’s attitude to him as was reinforced in the present day when Oliver was trying to leave him messages only to be met with no response. As far as William’s concerned he went to live with his grandparents and was forgotten by his would be parents who made no effort to contact him after this. There’s a question to be answered around why William isn’t getting those messages but for now his feelings are understandable as he would most definitely feel abandoned by Oliver and Felicity because he doesn’t have all of the facts. Despite this he still feels that Oliver was a hero and gives Mia something else to think about when forming an opinion of her father that counters her anti-vigilante stance. She has clearly grown up thinking that all of the problems faced in her time are Oliver’s fault but having her mind opened to the possibility that he was doing everything he could to prevent what has come to pass makes for a solid if predicable arc for her to follow.
The scene where Mia and William bond over their shared heritage was really well done and provides the beginnings of an interesting brother/sister dynamic between these characters. They are very similar in that they are somewhat estranged from their parents and have a common goal in finding Felicity who may or may not be dead. Other than that it’s a really well acted scene where two people bond over something fundamental being missing from their lives. There’s a real sense that there is some regret attached to never knowing one another and there’s plenty of scope to develop this further.
Some details about Mia’s life are given which leaves open questions for the present day to explore. Dinah had no idea that Oliver and Felicity had a baby so it’s clear that the birth will be hidden from at least some members of Team Arrow. In the present day the only people who know at this point are Oliver, Felicity and Evil Laurel but given that pregnancy has some fairly obvious markers this is something that will have to be addressed sooner rather than later otherwise Dinah’s observation skills would be called into question. Another intriguing mystery is that Connor aka John Diggle Jr. is the adopted son of John Diggle despite my assumption that he’s the biological son occasionally featured in the present day. When does Diggle adopt a son or is this simply another deception designed to protect him in some way?
The other brother/sister relationship featured is that of Oliver and Emiko who are struggling to find a way to relate to one another Oliver looks to bond with her through his experience as a vigilante. He offers her advice on how to throw knives, critiques her arrows by suggesting that he has a better way of making them and generally overstepping the boundaries of his involvement in her mission. This is a very Oliver Queen way to act as he is very much a control freak and it’s clear that he has Emiko’s best interests in mind but his approach is flawed because he doesn’t take into account her fixation on her mission. This is the first clear example of Oliver acting as a direct comparison to her approach with the benefit of his years of development after starting from a very similar place.
Emiko doesn’t appreciate the intervention as she takes ownership of her mission and doesn’t want any unwanted interference. It took a lot for her to trust Rene and even that was out of necessity more than anything else so she isn’t in a position to accept help from others at this point. Rene’s perspective on the situation ends up being the most illuminating as he directly addresses exactly how Emiko is feeling and uses Oliver’s past to illustrate the point. Oliver being forced to consider how he would feel if someone were to take the list away from him when he was starting out and tell him how best to approach his mission. This clues him into how Emiko is feeling and forces him to reconsider his approach to dealing with her.
It also doesn’t help that he condemns her vigilante ways in favour of a legal solution which amounts to pure hypocrisy on his part considering his past. In many ways the lack of understanding of how she is feeling shows how far Oliver has come as he has gained a respect for the law that he didn’t have previously. This has blinded him to Emiko’s point of view which makes for an interesting character flaw for Oliver to overcome that is in keeping with prior characterisation. He does eventually realise the folly of his approach and has a really open conversation with Emiko where she admits her aversion to trusting Oliver or anyone else. There’s an arc for her to follow around acceptance of help as well as altering her perception of Oliver to remove the spectre of Robert Queen from her opinion of him.
Her mission to avenge her mother’s murder by finding out who did it is taking up a lot of her concentration for good reason. At her core Emiko is a very lonely person who struggles to deal with the losses in her life and considers bringing down the one who killed her mother to be the catharsis that she so desperately needs. It’s likely that she’ll find that achieving that vengeance will end up making her feel empty as predictably happens in these situations but for now her emotionally driven story is really well handled and offering Oliver as a contrast as well as a representation of what further down this path could look like for her.
Of course Emiko isn’t immune to a shock reveal in the form of a prior relationship with the new big bad, Dante (Adrian Paul) who encourages her to come home now that Oliver is beginning to trust her. It looks more than likely that Dante raised her which accounts for her skills based on his prowess in an action sequence. This amounts to another contrived personal connection between Oliver and the main villain but so far it works for me because the origins of Emiko’s skills have been a question mark since her introduction so at least it answers that even if the world feels very small with this season’s big bad conveniently having that personal connection to Oliver through his long lost sister. If it was Dante’s plan all along to use Emiko against Oliver in some way then he would have to have known that Oliver would be let out of prison. Of course it’s possible that Emiko was acting as the new Green Arrow on her own and Dante is taking the opportunity to cash in on a connection he has now that Oliver knows he exists.
There isn’t much to say about Dante as an antagonist at this point though the fact that Diaz respects him and seems to fear him to some degree sets him up as a formidable presence. This is backed up by his knife skills that give Oliver a run for his money as well as his casually confident demeanour. So far he seems a capable replacement for Diaz and it’s a confident debut that fits the build-up given to him prior to this point. It’s about the right time in the season to deliver a well developed villain plot with no bloat to it so we will see how this progresses.
This episode also serves as a potential exit for Diaz assuming he doesn’t somehow survive being burned to death. In honesty I wouldn’t be surprised if he does but if this is the end for him then it’s a good note to go out on if painfully overdue. His presence on the revamped Suicide Squad was always a risk because it’s clear that he can’t be trusted whether he has a brain bomb or not. He lives up to those expectations when he takes an opportunity to escape and join Dante which violates the terms of his deal and sends him back to prison where he’s easy prey for an assassination attempt with the identity of his killer being a mystery.
Diaz is on really good form this episode taking his place as the clear leader of the team even if they’re reluctant to admit that they’re following his lead. Each member of the team has their own distinct personality that doesn’t get a lot of airing here but the history of the show provides that background for long term fans though the episode doesn’t make proper use of it. Part of the problem is that almost no work has been done to establish a team dynamic before this so this episode feels like a pay-off for development that never happened. Sadly this means that what could have been an engaging group dynamic feels underdeveloped.
As I mentioned, Diaz is on good form with his casual attitude to the situation. The way he mocks Diggle and Lyla shows that he doesn’t take their threats seriously and is always waiting for an escape opportunity. This sets up him underestimating Diggle which ends up securing his downfall. He clearly makes the assumption that given the choice Diggle will focus on Dante which gives him the opportunity to escape. This proves to be incorrect as Diggle regards his loyalty to Felicity as more important than bringing down Dante. It’s a really touching moment when Diggle tells Felicity that Diaz was the priority. He understands how deeply affected by Diaz Felicity is and won’t allow him to roam free in order to threaten her or those close to her again so Diaz lack of understanding of how close a unit Team Arrow are ends up securing his downfall.
Felicity is more fixated on bringing Diaz down than ever because of her pregnancy. The danger that Diaz poses has a greater impact on her because she has an upcoming family that she doesn’t want threatened by him. She went through something similar with William but it’s conceivable that expecting her own child makes her feel even more protective. That’s certainly the impression created by the dream sequence carrying that extra weight for her because she is due to be responsible for a life that she had a hand in creating.
This sends her further down her path towards potential villainy as killing him becomes a priority once again. The knowledge that he is part of the new and improved Suicide Squad gives her the idea of hacking the brain bomb and using that to put an end to him once and for all. Naturally Evil Laurel is her go to for help in accomplishing this though in a shock twist she refuses because living on the right side of the law happens to agree with her at this point despite her hatred for Diaz. She ends up being more valuable to Felicity as a friend, sympathetic ear and someone who reassures her of how great a mother she will be. If this keeps up then she will definitely earn the dropping of the word “Evil” every time I refer to her by name.
The Felicity/Evil Laurel friendship is one of the strongest things the show has going for it at the moment. Female friendships isn’t typically something Arrow is all that good at so this stands out even more as a strong example of it. Their bond is heartfelt, sincere and has grown organically out of a really unlikely pairing. It also enables Evil Laurel to become a better person by being the voice of reason as Felicity’s morality continues to waver. Evil Laurel is the one to convince her that killing Diaz shouldn’t be a priority which is definitely taken to heart even if I’m not convinced that Felicity isn’t the one who burned him to death.
A strong episode that delivers a compelling introduction of the next antagonist, explores the two brother/sister relationships brilliantly and offers a satisfying conclusion for Diaz. The reveal that Blackstar aka Mia is Felicity and Oliver’s brother adds further depth to the future time period as there is the beginnings of a relationship that has a lot of room to develop. Having them bond over their fractured childhoods works really well and the hints at Mia’s past are really interesting as well. There are also a number of intriguing open questions asked that can be answered during the present day. Oliver and Emiko’s relationship is developing nicely with Oliver trying to give Emiko the benefit of his experience but ends up overstepping the mark and encroaching on the mission she is fully committed to. Rene helps Oliver understand where Emiko is coming from which then prompts a change in approach therefore allowing Emiko to open up to Oliver. Her ties to Dante are somewhat contrived though it does offer an explanation for Emiko’s skills and adds to the potential stakes of the current villain story. Dante as an antagonist has a strong debut even though there’s not a lot to say about him as yet. His skill level is impressive and fits the build-up.
This episode makes for a strong exit for Diaz if he hasn’t somehow survived being set on fire. He takes on a natural leadership role within the current version of the Suicide Squad even if the dynamic of that group hasn’t been properly established. The problem is that no effort has been put into making use of the strong personalities that exist within this group of characters. They are all well established in prior episodes but not in the context of how they fit together as a group which is a real wasted opportunity. Despite this Diaz is on top form and having him brought down by underestimating Diggle’s personal priorities. Diggle’s choice to recapture Diaz rather than go after Dante was really touching as it reinforces how close Team Arrow are. Felicity’s renewed fixation on bringing Diaz down as a result of her pregnancy makes a lot of sense and her interactions with Evil Laurel on this topic work wonderfully. Their friendship has grown organically and Evil Laurel’s redemption arc is starting to become believable.
- Mia and William’s connection setting up a compelling dynamic that begins to unfold
- Oliver’s misguided approach when it comes to helping Emiko
- Rene helping Oliver realise where he’s going wrong and encouraging him to change his approach
- Emiko opening up to Oliver once he alters his behaviour
- a strong introduction for Dante
- Diaz having a satisfying potential exit
- the sincere and organically developed Felicity/Evil Laurel friendship
- failing to make use of the strong personalities in the revamped Suicide Squad
- a potentially contrived connection between Dante and Oliver through Emiko
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