Arrow – Season 7 Episode 6
Arrow continues to progress Felicity down her obsession fuelled darker path while showing the possible end result of the choices she makes in the future.
Felicity’s character arc this season has been really interesting because of how heavily justified it is. She is at her most desperate at this point and seems to have no limits when it comes to bringing Diaz to justice. So far she’s tried to manipulate the FBI, A.R.G.U.S. and Evil Laurel to achieve her goal with varying degrees of success and now she’s tired of the constant failure even if everything she tries brings her a little closer to bringing Diaz down. The tracker on Silencer ends up being instrumental in furthering her plans. This leads her to Anatoly at the same time Diggle and his team come in and forces them to compare notes because it’s clear that neither will back down to give the other the win.
Anatoly’s role in the episode is to encourage Felicity to go down the darker path where Diggle takes his usual place as the voice of reason. Diggle encourages Felicity to remember the person she was before Diaz came into her life and filled her every waking moment though she doesn’t want to hear that at this point as she considers that version of herself to be gone because Diaz took that from her. It’s a little melodramatic -though that’s nothing new for this show- but it’s a point that’s easy to understand. Anatoly compares her to Oliver when he first joined the Bratva and makes references to getting used to Demons. It’s curious that Anatoly would make a case for Oliver’s soul but encourage Felicity to continue compromising her principles. It’s possible he sees the truth as being somewhere between and one of his issues with Oliver’s approach was that he tried to segment those Demons by attributing them to his hooded identity where Felicity is fully aware of what she’s doing and showing increasing willingness to carry out her plans. Awareness seems to be the key where Oliver was arguably deluded.
It’s also worth considering that Anatoly is terrified of Diaz and wants rid of him but has no way to do that himself. He encourages Felicity to get rid of him for good by handing her a gun and putting the idea in her head. It’s not a hard sell as it’s something that Felicity has already been considering but murdering someone in cold blood would be a major step in the wrong direction for her and the writers don’t allow that to happen quite yet.
The scene in the prison interview room is brilliantly tense. I didn’t think for a second that Felicity would pull the trigger because I don’t believe she has crossed that line quite yet so the drama comes from what the scene is actually about. It’s designed to highlight how Diaz has been responsible for fundamental changes within her. This is the first opportunity Felicity has had to take stock of how much she has changed. Diaz doesn’t believe she is the sort of person who has it within her to kill but Felicity feels that she does have that capability which clearly terrifies her because of how much she has changed. She has also decided to live with that rather than make an attempt to come back from it. She is shaken out of her murderous rage when Evil Laurel tells her that Diaz is needed in order to bring Oliver home which makes Felicity’s demeanour change instantly suggesting that Oliver is the key to restoring her humanity to some degree.
Evil Laurel stopping Felicity from crossing the line is a really interesting development as it is the last thing that would be expected from her. She tries using the pull she has as DA to make a case for Oliver’s release which presents an opportunity for an impassioned speech about being a Hero. The appeal is built on the foundation of Oliver’s clear mistreatment in prison as well as the FBI failing to keep up their end of the deal that left him imprisoned in the first place. They promised to protect his family but failed so as far as she’s concerned the deal is invalid because the FBI haven’t delivered on what they promised. She also points out that Oliver’s incarceration has shown just how much of a Hero he is because he hasn’t taken the easy way out and operated at the same level as the criminals he shares his accommodations with. For those reasons Evil Laurel feels that he deserves to be free even if the court doesn’t degree.
When this fails Evil Laurel decides to kill the Judge until she’s stopped by Dinah who was present in the courtroom and saw the first evidence that Evil Laurel is capable of change. Her arc is focused on her heading towards the light which is pretty much the opposite direction that Felicity has chosen to travel. Dinah’s appeal to Evil Laurel’s better nature works well enough for her to reconsider her actions and continue to pursue more legal avenues. This season has done the best job so far of rehabilitating this character and I like that she retains a certain edge to distinguish her from the original Laurel while making her transition feel more real as it’s more reasonable that her entire personality wouldn’t change. In order to keep this character interesting she should always have that struggle with impulses such as killing a Judge who makes life difficult for her.
The fact that she serves as a moral compass for Felicity speaks volumes about how far she’s come as the changes in these characters allow them to meaningfully interact in ways they couldn’t have before. Granted Evil Laurel always has an agenda to doing positive things like dissuading Felicity from killing Diaz but it shows a more complex outlook on life to what she had previously. These two characters basically meet in the middle on certain issues and it’s a dynamic that definitely works.
Evil Laurel reforming isn’t the only thing worth celebrating in this episode. Team Arrow are out in the field together once again as a group -minus Oliver- for the first time this season. None of them are wearing costumes but they are working together towards a shared goal and playing to their strengths. It’s something of a bookend to their conflict against Diaz as splitting themselves apart from one another was what allowed Diaz to come to prominence in the first place so it’s only fitting that coming together again is what brings him down.
The Team Arrow reunion allows for excellent action sequences featuring the characters in the field. As always the Longbow Hunters and Diaz make for great physical opponents as many of them have their unique memorable gimmicks. Silencer stands out once again because of the sound cutting out to announce her presence and returning to suggest that the tide of the battle is turning. The one drawback to this is Diaz’ plan to blow up the entire city. It feels at odds with his style considering what his plans were last season but I understand that a large scale problem was what was needed to get the team together again. The mood following this mission was infectiously optimistic suggesting that a corner has been turned in terms of bringing the team back together though Felicity not joining in the celebrations shows how distanced she feels from those that care about her.
Oliver’s prison plot takes a bit of a back seat this week other than everything that happens outside the prison being in service of freeing him. Oliver once again looks to protect Stanley when he’s accused of attacking a guard; he points the guards in the direction of Ben Turner after finding one of his blades near the scene of the crime. It’s such an obvious setup though from Oliver’s point of view he has come to trust Stanley and doesn’t believe him capable of exactly what he appears to have done. Stephen Amell’s expression when he realises that he fell for Stanley’s manipulation and had Ben Turner dragged off for something he didn’t do tells us everything about how Oliver feels in that moment. The expression suggests disappointment and a sense of betrayal. If Stanley is being set up as the next villain then I’d be interested to see what form that takes.
The future storyline offers a possible end point for Felicity’s descent into darkness. She is believed to be dead in this time period -though I’m fairly sure that she isn’t- and William is fixated on getting to the bottom of the signal she sent him. More information about this dark future is given specifically around Felicity who went underground taking her father’s Calculator moniker and basically becoming a villain. Evidence suggests that she has a plan to blow up the city just as Diaz was planning to do back in the present day plot which is a pretty clear indicator that she has gone too far down the dark path. The fact that she’s recruiting William and Roy for some reason suggests otherwise so there’s plenty of intrigue to carry this plot.
It appears Roy isn’t being entirely honest with William either as he mentions something called “the Mark of Four” which was enough to get his attention and make him leave Lian Yu. What this all means and why he doesn’t tell William is anyone’s guess but it’s clear that there is a good reason and Dinah understands what that is. Once again I like that the information about this future is released steadily and organically through dialogue that doesn’t obsessively play the pronoun game as often happens in situations such as this. The plot is feeling more connected to the present day thanks to the similar destructive plans in both time periods. I’m sure Felicity’s villainous status is a red herring but it’s difficult to figure out why that is.
Another strong episode that makes really good use of the characters and furthers Felicity’s arc down compelling as well as concerning lines. Her march down a darker path is well justified and continues to develop thanks to the influence she has from others. Anatoly encourages her down this road by reminiscing about his experience with Oliver which makes no sense on the surface but works if you consider that Anatoly’s biggest issue was Oliver trying to segment his inner Demons in a way he felt was unhealthy. Felicity is embracing hers which proves to be a better solution at least as far as he’s concerned. Diggle is there to encourage her to remember the person she used to be even if she’s not ready to hear it. The scene where she is about to kill Diaz and takes stock of what she has become by telling him that she has it within her to kill him even if he doubts her. Evil Laurel is the one to talk her down because Diaz is needed to free Oliver. Evil Laurel has a great dynamic with Felicity and her journey towards the light is working well because she still retains that edge where she will struggle to do the right thing sometimes because it is counter to her nature. This is shown when she has to be talked out of killing a judge by Dinah who sees the possibility of redemption within here.
Team Arrow reuniting to bring down Diaz is treated as a triumphant moment and is fitting considering them not working together was what allowed Diaz to come to such prominence in the first place. The aftermath is infectiously optimistic and the action is great. It’s really satisfying to see them all working together after such a long time apart. Oliver’s prison plot takes something of a back seat even though the events outside are all about securing his release. Stanley manipulating Oliver is brilliantly played with Stephen Amell’s facial expression telling audiences everything they need to know about how betrayed Oliver feels. The future storyline reveals more information about Felicity and her apparent plan though her death and status as a villain is most likely a red herring. This plot feels far more connected to the present day story and the information is being released steadily as well as organically.
- Felicity continuing down the dark path
- Anatoly encouraging her darkness while Diggle tries to be her conscience
- Felicity taking stock of how much she has changed when she considers killing Diaz
- Evil Laurel heading towards the light while keeping her edge
- Stephen Amell’s performance when Oliver realises that he has been manipulated
- further intrigue in the future plot
- Diaz’s plan to destroy the city not fitting his usual style
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