Arrow: Emerald Archer

“We knew what we were getting ourselves into when we agreed to this.”

By framing its 150th episode with a documentary, Arrow does what it does best. Focusing on the cost of being a hero and the damage created when you don’t succeed by revisiting the past and simultaneously resetting the stage for things to come.

From the first moment, we knew we were in for something different.  Gone was Oliver’s opening monologue followed by the requisite action scene.  Instead we open with Warner Bros. Pictures title card and a posthumous interview with Quentin Lance expounding on the need for vigilantes even as he admits they work outside the law.  The voiceover poses the age-old question – are vigilantes heroes or criminals. 

It is soon clear that Oliver’s commitment to transparency includes allowing a documentary crew full access to his home and at work.  His hope is to win back the city’s trust and become the hero he always wanted to be.  Towards that end, he candidly recounts the decisions he made and admits to his failures.

He’s not the only one.  Either the documentarian is an adept detective, which is not out of the realm of possibility given that she’s been working on this for years, or Oliver also offered up his friends and family to be interviewed.  Regardless of how she found her interviewees, it’s obvious Oliver did not coach them on what to say.

Barry claimed Oliver was unbelievably damaged before hastily backtracking in fear of harming Oliver’s reputation further or admitting to knowledge of his formerly secret identity.  Curtis called him flawed although stated he was a hero.  A season one Diggle claims there is no way Oliver could be a hero while the present-day version just said that Oliver has “grown.”  Thea, Sara, and Sin, discuss vigilantism without ever mentioning Oliver by name while Rory and Rene only mention their own exploits.  Laurel, forced to take on the mantle of her Earth-1 namesake, is blunt when she claims that vigilantes cannot be law-abiding and they know it, which is probably one of the few things on which she and Ricardo Diaz can agree. 

And they’re right.  The reason the police come up short when faced with these criminals is not that they are incompetent, ignorant, or untrained.  It’s that they are obligated to work within the confines of the law.  Vigilantes are not.  How many times has Oliver and Company broken into random tech company #3 to steal the one gadget that can defeat this week’s villain or hacked into a government or military database to obtain someone’s personal information – warrant be damned.  If the police were allowed to use the vigilantes’ methods, they could have the vigilantes’ results.  We should be happy they can’t.

These questions are brought to a halt when the SCPD investigate a possible shooting and vigilante sighting only to discover a maskless and winded Rene.  Rene explains that the New Green Arrow has been captured and Oliver’s first response was to turn off the cameras.  He’s fine with the documentary digging into his own life but not his sister’s.  Or his son’s but we’ll get to that shortly. 

Giving Oliver the benefit of the doubt, I’ll say that these events provide him with an opportunity for a little transparency with his friends too.  Oliver comes clean to both Diggle and Dinah about his relationship with Star City’s newest vigilante.  While neither was particularly surprised by Ollie keeping a secret, they were shocked at the secret itself.  That doesn’t stop either of them backing his play.  Diggle uses A.R.G.U.S.’s super secret satellites to rescue Emiko and Dinah uses all of SCPD’s resources to locate her captor, not that they are successful. 

Which is when Diggle approaches Oliver with the idea of getting the Band back together.  Star City Police Department may not be able to handle the Chimera but Team Arrow can.  Diggle counters Oliver’s argument that Team Arrow no longer exists by saying it does. It’s just morphed into a different form.  Dig informs Oliver that Team Arrow is willing to go into the field with him even at the risk of violating the Anti-Vigilante law. 

This only makes sense if my previous argument is true considering that with the exception of Rene all of Team Arrow is involved in law enforcement of one stripe or another and could assist in that capacity.  By choosing to go out as vigilantes they are not hamstrung by those rules and regulations.  For whatever reason, Oliver agrees. 

Realizing Chimera will use the Mayor’s debate with Oliver as an opportunity to attack Oliver, Team Arrow lies in wait.  As expected, Team Arrow succeeds where the SCPD fails and is thanked for their help by being arrested.  All of which is captured on film.  This leaves Mayor Pollard in a bit of a quandary since the Anti-Vigilante law she wrote is still in effect.  Her solution is to deputize all of them. 

With that in mind, Oliver returns to the Bunker, film crew in tow, with the intent to rebuild.  We never get to see the documentary’s conclusion about the nature of vigilantes.  Although, if Maya is to be believed it must have shown them in a positive light.  However, given her comments regarding vigilantes being the death of Star City and getting what they deserved I doubt the Mayor’s solution was successful.

The B plot revolved around William’s return home.  He’s brimming with anger at being sent away to boarding school, at not being able to come home for the holidays, at Felicity’s newfound security consciousness and probably a little at himself.  William got expelled from school and apparently made an impressive effort to hide the fact.  The feat might have fooled just about anyone but Felicity.  We also get hints of the William yet to come – from his recognition of Felicity’s security measures to the budding friendship between him and Zoe and his reluctance to discuss his school crush.  Please, please, please let the reason for his dismissal be something other than his sexual orientation. 

Why William was expelled is just one of a multitude of questions I have.  Does the resurrection of Team Arrow mean Diggle and Curtis quit their day job?  And does it include Emiko?   And is Ollie in charge or Dinah?  And, and, and...

Other episodes may have more emotional heft but this was brilliantly crafted.  There was nothing I did not love.   However, given what we know of the future I’m left with one fervent hope.  That Nora West-Allen of this season’s Flash is correct and the timeline is malleable.

5 out of 5  Black Watch Satellites

Parting Thoughts:  

This episode was filled with Easter Eggs.  From Sin’s last name is the name of one of her co-creators to Kevin Meltzer being named after two of The Green Arrow’s more famous writers, Kevin Smith and Brad Meltzer.  The streets Nutter and Winter were none other than Pilot Director extraordinaire David Nutter (Arrow, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Supernatural, Smallville, Dark Angel, Roswell, and the upcoming Batwoman just to name a few) and former Arrow Director of Photography and Producer Glen Winter.  And lest we forget the Documentarian was named after CW President Mark Pedowitz.

In case you missed it, the voice over was narrated by Kelsey Grammer.

Was Diggle going to tell Oliver about Diaz when Curtis interrupted?   The world may never know.

Rory and Helena are missing?   Helena’s no big loss considering she’s more villain than vigilante.  But Rory?  Say it ain’t so!

Connor was supposed to be Diggle’s son, right?  So what does that make Maya?  Her hatred of vigilantes has a distinctly personal tinge.

Quotes:  

Dinah: "He just dresses in green leather and runs around with a bow and arrow. Which sounded a lot better in my head." 

Rene: "You have a cute shiny new badge. (turns to Dinah) Thought about giving one to anyone else?"

Mayor Pollard: "Your little stunt of deputizing Oliver Queen has set off a firestorm."
Dinah: "That’s funny. I actually think that’s a different superhero."

Felicity: "It wasn’t so much a suggestion as it was one of those ‘mom’ things where if you don’t talk now, you’re grounded.  So..."

Diggle: "Who’d have known that wearing a hood and carrying a bow and arrow runs in the gene pool?"

Diggle: "Oliver needs access to the Black Watch satellites."
Curtis: "Does he know about those?  (To Oliver) You know about those?"
Oliver: "You’ve met my wife, right, Curtis?"

Curtis: "We gotta call him something.  I thought ‘Chimera’ sounded cool. Ok, do I look like Cisco?"

Rene: "Do your folks know you’re here?"
William: "I’m not seven."

Rene: "Sure, you guys can have the living room. I’ll be in the next room.  Cleaning my gun..."

Rene: "You are so stubborn.  You sure you and Oliver aren’t related?"

Dinah: "We have a new problem."
Oliver: "Don’t we always?"

Officer: "SCPD.  Don’t move! Freeze!"
Curtis: "Maybe you were all too busy being unconscious, but we just saved everyone in here."

Nick: "Fans have a strange way of showing their affection."

Laurel: "Get that camera out of my face before I give you an enema with it."

William: "Where’s Dad?"
Felicity: "Oh, he just came across a very unexpected – completely expected setback."

Pollard: "Oh, it’s a party."

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

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