This week, Arrow was an hour long game of chicken between the audience and the producers. Both sides kept waiting for the other to blink, but the question still, more or less, remains the same: is Oliver really brainwashed? Keep reading to find out, and note that minor spoilers will be discussed.
1. The transitions have to go
Before we get into the meat of this week’s episode, can we all agree the the transitions from modern times to the flashbacks need to get the fuck out of here? The weird CGI fade from a light bulb to a paper lantern, or a doorway to a five year old Asian doorway adds nothing to the show whatsoever. It is distracting, and is an item on the line budget that can be used for something far more interesting, like anything at all. Literally anything. Use it to get Oliver a ridiculous hat. Buy Felicity an Apple watch. Double your lozenge budget so Thea doesn’t always sound like she just smoked a carton of unfiltered Camels. Anything. Please.
2. Speedy Begins
For all the talk about Thea “changing forever” in the Lazarus Pit, she seems to be totally fine. In fact, she seems to be a more focused, compassionate, driven version of her past self. Can I get tossed in a Lazarus Pit? I have a bunch of projects I’d love to get a jump on.
But really, her story is the most interesting one this week. She feels like if Oliver let her die, he would never be under the control of the League of Assassins, which is a misguided idea. But her guilt, paired with her helplessness, makes her don Ollie’s hood and bow, and Speedy is born.
Of course, she is also going to ditch Starling (again) to follow a man (again), only to eventually return (again). However, the reveal of her being the one to shoot the arrow into Ollie’s arm was a nice one, and the unified vision of Team Arrow was a nice difference from the usual moping that happens whenever Ollie goes missing.
3. How good of an actor is Oliver?
There are two possible outcomes from the “Oliver gets brainwashed” storyline: 1) he really is brainwashed, and Diggle and co. need to break him of it, like the third act of The Muppets Take Manhattan or 2) he is only pretending to be brainwashed to take control of the League to dissolve it/change it into the League of Friendship or whatever.
If the former is what is going to happen, that needs to happen in the next week or two, so that the season finale can feature a full strength Ollie taking down the League. If it is the latter, then this ruse can continue a little bit longer, so that the impact is maximized.
There are equal signs leading to both possible outcomes. In Nanda Parbat, he totally kills a dude he believes to be Diggle, and he seemed awfully close to killing real Diggle and real Nyssa until stopped by others. On the other hand, he walked away from a fight with Canary and Diggle, and didn’t even go after Thea when she put an arrow through his arm.
Either one could be plausible, and I’m glad there was at least one week where Ollie’s future was in question. If you recall, when Ollie was “dead” earlier this season, the first episode after his “death” it was revealed that he was fine. At least now, there was a full hour when it seemed like the Oliver we know and love was really gone.
4. Does Ray being out of town mean anything significant?
Ray is the only member of Team Arrow (and, to be fair, calling him a member is a bit of a stretch) that wasn’t around this week, and his absence was particularly stated as being “out of town.” Would Ollie trust Ray enough to say to him, “Look, bro – I have to go ‘join’ the League of Assassins – I’m going to have to be deep undercover for a spell, so don’t interfere, I have this under control.” Because, honestly, no one else can stop him. Sure, Thea can fire a bow nicely, and Diggle is special ops, but c’mon, we all know that they’d fall to Ollie in no time.Continued below
But Ray, aka Phony Stark™, could blast him with some serious firepower, taking him out. To ensure that his plan goes well, Ollie might’ve been behind Ray not being around this week.
Or, he’s a billionaire, and could be taking out his “Felicity doesn’t love me” energy on a beach vacation in Mali. Whichever.
5. So, let’s just call this Batman, huh?
If Ollie and Nyssa have a baby, we officially have to stop calling it Arrow and start calling it Green Batman With No Secret Identity. Look, I know that this makes sense as an Ollie story, but this is so completely the story of Damian Wayne – and on a show that already teased Ollie being the father of Connor Hawke – that it feels really, really derivative. Can the show overcome this? Absolutely, but I would like to see the show getting more inspiration from Green Arrow stories, rather than Batman ones.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!