This was a perfectly serviceable episode, but I was totally unexcited about it.
It was the Green Arrow team goes to Russia, Part Deux -- except it wasn't as fun this time. Why wasn't it as fun? Was it Anatoly? Anatoly and Oliver being at odds didn't work for me, because that has been the one consistent relationship throughout the entire series. It has always been the two of them as brothers. Anatoly had Oliver's back even when Oliver was at odds with the Bratva (in the flashbacks). And then he takes a hard line because Oliver refused a request from a low-level lieutenant? (Or was it a captain? Whatever.)
I'm glad they finally resolved the Diggle storyline, but the stuff about the General left me cold. I'm also bummed about Rory losing his powers. Continuity-wise, the nuke worked, even if it was slightly ridiculous, but hamstringing one of the big powerhouses on the team was a cop out. It feels like they're preparing for a big fight and they want to temporarily remove a big gun for dramatic effect.
I did like the way the new Canary is interacting with the team. She had some good moments. I also really liked Quentin and Rene interacting, especially Rene pushing Quentin into opening up about his anger issues and what drove him to drink beyond Laurel's death. That story Rene told about Quentin as a beat cop was touching, and just what Quentin needed to hear. Why do I keep singling out Rene's contribution these days? Is it the actor, whom I've always liked? Maybe they're just writing more effectively for him now.
Felicity's morally questionable intimidation of a mildly corrupt businessman was a bit disappointing while also being an interesting character choice. What are they doing with her? Are they pushing her in a darker direction so that she'll fit in better with Oliver, or are they making her darker so that Oliver will see the darkness in her and use it as a way to redeem both of them, pull both of them back? Does that make sense? Although I did like the party where Curtis and Rory acted as Felicity's bodyguards. Plus you can't go wrong with an ice sculpture of a bear.
I like that they're finally getting to Oliver becoming the Hood. The intro scene with him doing the archery gymnastics and catching the arrow that Talia shot at him was very first season. And I'm liking the flashbacks more this year than the last couple, since they moved away from Slade and the island. But there is definitely something off. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's the fact that Talia is pushing him to kill, even though that works with how he began the series. It feels wrong that it's happening in the present, too. He should be past this by now. That could be the point of the season.
-- Susan and someone we don't know put Luchnik and Oliver together in Russia and got Green Arrow. Not sure what this means for their romantic relationship, but it doesn't matter since I'm not invested in the ship. She's both Oliver's girlfriend and a reporter. Does that mean she's going to die to solve the problem?
-- It's good that they're finally addressing the big Bratva plot hole, that he was a member of a Russian mob, and then suddenly he wasn't, but he didn't exactly go low profile, mobs aren't prone to letting people go.
-- Where's Thea?
Talia: "You're beginning to understand now."
Oliver: "Understand what?"
Talia: "That the man who embraces the dark, is never without sight."
Felicity: "First, welcome back. Hugs, kisses, warm feelings."
Dinah: "When I signed on, I didn't think I'd be stopping a nuclear arms deal in a foreign country."
Diggle: "When I signed on, I didn't think I'd be dealing with aliens."
Dinah: "You know, the other guy said when you get in one of your moods, I should just let you be, but, to be honest, brooding really kind of gets on my nerves."
She called him out on the brooding. I liked that.
Curtis: (toast) "To Rory and his amazing nuke-stopping rags, which hopefully doesn't give us all radiation poisoning."
Two out of four broken fingers.
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.