Arrow: Keep Your Enemies Closer

Felicity: "What happens in Russia stays in Russia. Even when it makes no sense whatsoever."

This was a bit of a departure for the show and the characters, and I liked it. Shifting the focus to Diggle took away some of the need to step things up after last week's episode. It also allowed for some really nice character beats, which isn't always possible given how dense this show can be.

I'll start with the one thing I wasn't really into, the whole Isobel/Felicity jealousy thing. Isobel only seemed to be in the episode to sleep with Oliver, and I'm not sure that was really needed. I just don't see any connection between Isobel and Oliver, either sparkage wise or even character interest wise. They went from arguing to sex with no build up. Even if it isn't romantic, that doesn't really work for me. At least Felicity brought that up, that it doesn't make much sense. Except that we had to see Felicity get hurt, and that's not fair.

The A.R.G.U.S. connection to the main plot also left me a little cold, but only because it's a bit overdone -- the whole secret government agency can't go in for a rescue operation because of resources, or extradition, or any number of convoluted reasons. That being said, I'm psyched about Amanda Waller coming in (see Comic Book bits), and the fact that they know about Oliver's double life is fascinating. That could be a source of a lot of conflict going forward. Especially with Waller's involvement.

I loved that Oliver and Felicity didn't even hesitate to invite themselves along to Moscow, and I thought their reactions to Diggle's revelation that Lyla was once his wife were terrific. I accidentally paused the recording on that moment, and I swear their shock and confusion was genuine. It's also really good continuity that they used Oliver's position in the Russian mafia to find a way into the prison. I think the best moment of the episode was when Oliver scared a couple of guys carrying machine guns -- with words. I'd love to know what he said.

Diggle's reaction to discovering that he was chained up next to Deadshot was also very well done. But what really tickled me about this episode was Deadshot and Diggle fighting together to rescue Lyla. I can't imagine the kind of choice that Diggle had to make, between honor and revenge. Thankfully Deadshot wasn't completely without honor, because he gave Diggle an important clue about his brother's death -- that Andy was the target, and that Deadshot was hired by a shady organization called the H.I.V.E. (see Comic Book bits for more).

Island Flashback:

Although there wasn't too much movement on Lian Yu, this episode did have some rather important moments. We got confirmation that both Shado and Slade are alive, but Slade is badly burned on the right side of his face. I wonder, since Deathstroke always had a divided mask with the right eye obscured (on the dark side), is this disfigurement an explanation for his need to wear the mask? Will he lose that eye, and that's why that side of the mask doesn't need an eye hole? Bringing him closer to Deathstroke is probably an important thing, but I couldn't look past the shades of Two-Face. Will Slade go nuts? That could be interesting.

On the boat, we found out that the guy in the cell next to Oliver is his present day friend and Russian mafia connection, Anatoly. Although that's very cool, it does bring up the question: did Oliver have chances to get off Lian Yu that he didn't take? One thing I'm pretty sure of is that Oliver kept his promise and went back for Anatoly. We also got Sara in the flashbacks, and she played Oliver pretty well. Her betrayal was something I didn't see coming, especially since we know they both survive to present day. Also, Doctor Ivo knows who Oliver is, and that can't be good. Although it was a nice touch having Oliver use Tommy's name as an alias on the boat. Too bad it didn't last very long.

Comic Book Bits:

Amanda Waller. Well, it was probably inevitable that Waller was gonna show up eventually. I'm just a bit surprised they're bringing her in this early. Right up there with Ras Al Ghul, Amanda Waller is a heavy hitter in the DC universe. She has a long and complex history as both an outright villain, and an anti-hero. She's been played or voiced by C.C.H Pounder, Angela Bassett, and Pam Grier in film, animation, and on television multiple times. Although she's only been around since 1986, she's been entangled with all the big names at one point or another as either a friend or a foe. Her big connections are with the U.S. Government, a secret organization named Checkmate, and a group called the Suicide Squad. I'm not sure how much this show is going to get into those second two groups, so I'll stop there for now. But I bet I'll have a lot more to geek out on later on this season.

The H.I.V.E. which contracted Deadshot to kill Diggle's brother is a villain organization in the DC universe that started in the Superman books in the early 1980's. The name is an acronym that stands for the Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination. There have been a few incarnations of the group, but Deathstroke has worked with them on numerous occasions, and at one point H.I.V.E. was led by his wife Adeline Kane. I bet this might be a clue as to where Slade is in the present story.


The exploding coat was funny, in a grotesque sort of way.

They mentioned the particle accelerator again, and this time we got some exposition. Apparently it's causing protests, and the woman interviewed said it could lead to some kind of catastrophic event.

So everybody in this Russian prison speaks English.

I really liked the cinematography in this one.

I don't buy Oliver's line about protecting Felicity by not getting involved with her. That sounds like the same pitiful superhero crap excuse that Superman used for three quarters of a century to keep Lois at arm's reach.

Is it just me or is Moira getting cooler while in prison I loved how she treated Roy. I was actually bummed that Thea had to break up with him out of love for her mother. It was a crappy choice, and Moira didn't let it happen

So, Quentin let Roy go. Huh, that's quite a bit of progress. It was a nice little confirmation that he's accepted Oliver's new direction. It was also one more step to including Roy in team Arrow.


Anatoly: "Gulag, worst in Russia. It's called Koshmar."
Oliver: "The nightmare."
Anatoly: "It's full of violent psychopaths and killers. And that's just the guards."

Dig: "Felicity, Lyla isn't my friend. She was my wife."
Felicity: "Explain that sentence."

Oliver: "I don't have a lot of time."
Summer Glau: "I'll be quick."

Deadshot: "What's keeping you from shooting me?"
Dig: "Honor. You should try it sometime."

I liked the focus on Diggle, and the stuff on the Island. I thought Moira's actions made up for Thea breaking up with Roy. I just don't like the Isobel/Oliver stuff at all. However, the change in focus made up for that one not-so-good plotline.

3 out of 4 Shots of Vodka
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow, The Originals and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.


Freeman said...

Gaaaaaah! This episode gave me a geek seizure! It was chock full of so much stuff!

First up. Isobel's name was shown on the list in the first season, so this whole seemingly "tacked on" tryst could either be Ollie or her trying to feel each other out (no pun intended). But man, seeing Felicity sad was like watching Ollie kick an adorable puppy multiple times.

Anatoli has the same name as the Batman villain KGBeast! Moira's lawyer has the same name as The Atom's wife! Miraclo, the substance Ivo is looking for, is the stuff Hourman uses to activate his powers, and they just announced an Hourman show! Diggle's ex-wife has the same name as Harbinger, a DC superheroine that's more in the Green Lantern vein of characters in that she's affiliated with space and whatnot. Plus, her code name or the name of the mission in this episode was Harbinger. The Flash is getting closer. I can smell it in the air.

I could see a possibility of H.I.V.E. recruiting Slade and maybe providing him with some sorta Miraclo-based substance that gives him his enhanced abilities from the comics. I wouldn't be surprised if the stuff Blood is injecting into dudes is Miraclo.

Now onto Amanda Waller. I had to suffer through two seasons of Cynthia Addai-Robinson in Spartacus which was a very unpleasant experience. I consider her one of the only bad things about that show. But as she only got like 2 minutes of screen time in Arrow, I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt. Plus, she really is the spitting image of New 52 Amanda Waller. It's quite uncanny.

I was kinda disappointed Deadshot didn't ricochet shot everything in sight but at least they gave him an opportunity to do something beside shoot things, heh.

I swear you gotta keep Google open while you watch this show and just type in every name that is mentioned or else you could miss something.

tricksterson said...

HIVE, at least some versions of it, also has connections to Brother Blood in the DCU. I wonder if the dual connections mean that Slade might show up in the present day working for Brother Blood.

ChrisB said...

I agree with you completely about the Felicity/Isobel story. It felt weird and not in keeping with the rest of the episode.

Loved the rest of it.

Josie Kafka said...

I thought the Oliver/Isobel thing was sort of fun in a they-think-its-meaningless-but-of-course-it-won't-be kind of way.

So everybody in this Russian prison speaks English. That made me smile.

kikishua said...

Until the Oliver/Isobel hookup I was thinking, maybe she's his half sister. So that was wrong.

Marianna said...

The only thing that really disappointed me about this episode was that Amanda Waller was not played by C.C.H. Pounder. Of course the blame should really go to the New 52 comics since this show is following their lead, but it bothers me that women in comics (with the exception of parental figures) are all young, thin, and beautiful (and usually scantily-clad). Amanda Waller used to be an exception to that. Also C.C.H. Pounder is amazing.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Marianna; C.C.H. Pounder is a wonderful Amanda Waller, in fact she's played Amanda Waller before (she voiced the animated version of Waller for years). I too am a little disappointed in the casting for the character, but I believe the reasoning was that the character is early on in her career.

Either way, I totally agree with your comment about the whole skinny/young thing is far too common. Comics/Genre Television should start incorporating different body types in more things.

Lamounier said...

Good episode for Diggle. I liked how it deepened his backstory and, possibly, gave him a new arc, what with his brother being Deadshot’s actual target. Speaking of Deadshot, he was cooler this time than last season. I hope he returns.

I’m not feeling Felicity so much as of lately. Some of her lines that are supposed to be cute and funny come off as faux quirkiness. I thought the Isobel/Oliver thing was unnecessary, and I especially disliked how Isobel presumed Felicity was sleeping with Oliver. And Isobel wants to save Queen Consolidate? I had the impression, from the season premiere, that she just wanted to crash the company even more.

FYI: the new prove-you-are-not-a-robot verification is very odd, though somewhat funny. Pizzas? Haha.

AndrĂ¡s Eisenberger said...

I loved how the drugs Dig got caught with were blue and crystal-like, as if they got it straight from Walter White :)