Arrow: Doppelganger

“I’m only used to good news if it’s accompanied by bad news.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

After weeks of forced high concept plots and unrealistic conflict, we are treated to an episode filled with actual consequences, a plot that made sense and real honest to goodness character development.

This episode read like a miniature “This is Your Life” for most of our major characters. Oliver is stuck weighing the effects the choices he’s made have had on the people in his life. Thea is wondering what her life would have been like if Roy had stayed in it. And Diggle wonders if his future will include a hood. Oh, and Roy's back!

For a brief moment, Oliver thought that the case against him might disappear. DA Armand’s case hinged on Rene’s testimony, and that testimony was compelled by tainted evidence. But since Oliver has never been known for having good luck, the SCPD managed to locate a new star witness – one Roy Harper. This leaves Oliver wondering how much has actually changed in the last three years. How many people have sacrificed their happiness on his behalf, and given the state of the city, were those sacrifices worth it?

Roy’s original sacrifice cost Thea as well. She stayed in Star City with her brother instead of leaving with Roy only to become a killer, lose her father and end up in a coma. Oliver thinks it may have been too high a price. In true big brother fashion, he suggests that she should leave with Roy. He’s found his happiness with Felicity and William, and he’s hoping his baby sister can too.

It’s about time they brought up the fact Diggle was supposed to take the hood back. After explaining how much wearing the hood meant to Dig, I’m happy he’s not just letting the idea go. Unfortunately, Oliver’s only qualm about wearing the hood was William, and that issue has been settled. Oliver just hasn’t admitted it to himself yet. At the end of the day, we know Oliver is going to keep the hood, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a very real conflict on the horizon.

And don’t forget Anatoly’s slow decline from Pakhan of the Bratva to Diaz’s hired gun. Oliver may not feel any responsibility for Anatoly’s current predicament, but you can rest assured that Anatoly lays the blame squarely at Ollie’s feet.

Then there is Laurel. I believe her when she says she wants to live without always having to look over her shoulder. Her nest egg is gone, and she’s being hunted by at least three different groups. Claiming Laurel’s mantle may have been her only play. If nothing else, it gave her time. Now she has options. She can throw in with Diaz or attempt to build a new life with Quentin. I’m sure they’ll string the “will she / won’t she” out for a few more episodes but given that Diaz has already killed one of his partners and lied to her. Laurel has some pretty justified doubts, while Quentin and Oliver have both defended her, I’m going to go out on a limb and say she chooses Dear Old Dad.

Oliver’s pragmatism ruled this episode for both good and ill, but everything he did was completely in keeping with his personality. He’s offered a way to put $30 million in the city’s coffers, and he goes for it. He discovers that Diaz has his hooks deep into the SCPD and goes to Dinah and Quentin. Regardless of how they feel about each other, he knows neither of them is dirty. He pulls his sister out of a dangerous situation at the risk of Roy’s life and yet when Laurel arrives with a story that sounds too good to be true he risks everything to rescue Roy anyway. The only thing his pragmatism doesn’t extend to is going into the field with Dinah. He’d rather be shorthanded than be with someone he can’t trust. That is also very much Oliver.

So what is Diaz’s end game? Is he trying to build a new crime family? Or does he just talk a real good game? He’s certainly willing to play the long con. It took months to set up Cayden and the case against Oliver. Did he mean for Roy to get away? Is embedding Laurel with Quentin preparation for when Oliver is carted off to jail? Inquiring minds want to know.

The biggest problem with forcing conflict into unrealistic plots is the extra time and effort required to finagle reasons for characters to do things they would never do or make situations play out in ways they never would. This episode is proof that the time can be put to better uses. And while it’s true, this episode exists mostly to lay the groundwork for things to come, it was a welcome reprieve after the debacle of the last few of its predecessors. It may not have been perfect, but it’s the closest thing I can remember seeing in a mighty long time.

4 out of 5 Arrows

Parting Thoughts:

Laurel did steal the money. Color me surprised. Not that it matters since Diaz has it now.

OK, I go back to my original question. Who’s taking care of Zoe while Rene’s in the hospital? And what babysitter just leaves a kid home alone?

Love Speedy calling Oliver and Dig out on the fact they didn’t even think about whether they could fit in the vents. Survey says – No!

Love them using the exploding arrow in the door as a decoy.

So who’s looking for Ra’s daughter and why? Nyssa disbanded the League.

Quotes:

Laurel: “Talking out of school will get me into trouble.”

Felicity: “Well, if you’re in the mood for some witness tampering, I think I’ve got a line on where the DA is holding Roy.”

Anatoly: “I’m in this city for two reasons only. One is revenge against Oliver Queen, and two is money. I’m happy to work with whoever can get me either.”
Laurel: “You’re in the city because the Bratva cast you out.”
Anatoly: “Well, there’s that too.”

Thea: “It’s just like riding a bike.”
Oliver: “It really isn’t.”

Anatoly: “Diaz’s feelings were so hurt when you tried to run. It’s as if you don’t trust him or something.”

Diaz: “Do you want to join my team?”
Roy: “Sure. Do you offer medical and dental?”

Diaz: “Why the hell would Queen let his baby sister dress up like Will Scarlet?”

Officer: “Unit 545 requesting backup. Shots fired. Arrows. Make that arrows fired.”

Diaz: “Not all those guys are on my payroll... yet.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey there. Just wanna let you know that this is a little spoilery on the front page. Maybe you can reformat it?

I’m behind on my arrowverse watching at the moment but I’ll definitely read your review in full once I’ve caught up. Thanks for all your work on this site.

Shari Houtman said...

Thanks for the heads up. Let me see what I can do.

Patryk said...

I guess Talia would want to kill Malcolm's offspring in a poorly thought our revenge plot. It's just a suprise it took her so long after the failed Prometheus plan.

Shari Houtman said...

Maybe she was injured on the island and it's taken her this long to heal. Or maybe she was captured by Nyssa and just recently escaped. Those two definitely had some family issues to work through.