You know that old saying of when things are good bad things are sure to follow? Well, that could certainly describe Oliver Queen’s Thanksgiving as our pesky FBI Agent Samandra Watson tried to play Grinch to Oliver’s holiday season.
Arrow invited us to a special Thanksgiving hour, aptly titled “Thanksgiving,” that had everything from family to crazed villains to hospital visits to two Green Arrows. But perhaps more than anything, this “Thanksgiving” hour set the stage for two obstacles that await Oliver and Team Arrow in the second half of the season.
While Agent Watson’s case against Oliver isn’t anything new, this week marked the first significant action that puts this case into the spotlight. Watson formally arrested and charged Oliver with seven felonies related to his actions as the “Green Arrow.”
“Thanksgiving” was the perfect blend of action, plot, and heart that have defined Arrow over the years. It was an episode that was perhaps one the most important hours of the season in terms of the scope of the season. But it also served to highlight the theme of family this season, as well as the important relationships that define Oliver and his continued story.
It’s something that, for me, Arrow really seemed to lack last season. I’m not asking for an entire episode focused just on a relationship and ignoring storylines. But I yearn for the perfect balance between the two. Kind of how you don’t want your offense to run or pass the ball too much so as to alert the defense as to exactly what they can expect. You want a balance between the two that allows for production. Usually the run sets up the pass in football. Just as the heart can set up the action and its significance. (Sorry, you sometimes have to deal with my football references during football season.)
One of the more intriguing things this season are the multiple conflicts that affect Team Arrow. And for the sake of things, let’s look at the two significant obstacles, where Oliver and Team Arrow find themselves facing off against Samandra Watson and also facing off against Cayden James. Because one big bad isn’t enough.
But it’s an interesting parallel — one of them is an FBI agent just trying to abide by what she believes in, in hope of protecting civilians. Then you have Cayden James, who is just out for revenge. One of a villain because she’s a threat to Oliver’s livelihood. The other is a villain that is an actual villain that has already hurt and endangered the people of Star City.
Both are notable obstacles for Oliver and Team Arrow to overcome this season. And both are certainly going to have significant consequences for everyone involved as we continue on this journey. For the first time in awhile, I’m wondering how the hell Team Arrow is going to manage to come out of this in one piece. Or, better yet, are they?
Let’s break down the importance of family, speculate about the future of the Green Arrow, and wonder what the hell happened for Cayden James to yearn to deliver swift justice on the Green Arrow and his masked friends:
Thankful for Family
The more that we get of “Dad Oliver,” the more I’m loving how this aspect of Oliver’s life is developing his character. William is starting to grow on me. This family that Oliver is creating continues to grow on me. And this focus on that familial aspect is something I’ve been waiting to embrace for a long time.
“Thanksgiving” served, as the holiday does, as a means to establish the importance of family. With a season-long theme of family, this was the kind of episode that provides those moments of heart that makes this more than just a show about a superhero. This becomes a show about the man that is the superhero. And there’s a huge difference.
If you don’t care about the man or woman underneath the hero persona, how much do you really care about the hero?
One of the things I really loved about this episode was that despite all of the terrible things that transpired — from Oliver being arrested and charged as being the Green Arrow to Cayden James’ revelation — was that Oliver didn’t let the darkness overwhelm him. If this were earlier seasons, Oliver might’ve let the weight of these obstacles prevent him from celebrating the things that he does have. And we saw in “Thanksgiving” that, as Oliver said, he has a lot to be thankful for.
Family is the defining force behind that. Throughout Arrow, we’ve seen Oliver deal with his blood family and the ups and downs of that, as well as create a new family with Felicity, Diggle, and the other people that have joined Team Arrow. It’s the perfect reminder that family isn’t defined by blood. It’s defined by the love that you have for those that you care about.
Families aren’t all the same, which is what makes them so wonderful. They’re incredibly diverse and elicit a great deal of emotion. Family isn’t necessarily born, it’s created. Family is about love, not blood. And all of the DCTV shows have managed to do a great job at showcasing that, including Arrow.
Even as it appeared that Oliver’s world was crumbling around him — with threats that could and might and probably definitely will impact him moving forward — Oliver decided to live in the moment and appreciate what he has right now. It’s another one of those impressive moments of character growth that you want to see in a character over the course of six seasons.
And as we saw Oliver stand with Felicity and William in his arms alongside Diggle and Thea — WHO FINALLY WOKE UP!! — you got a glimpse of Oliver Queen, the family man, and how important that aspect of his character will be for him moving forward. This is a new-look Oliver, who continues to grow up before our eyes.
Family is always a smart theme for a show to take on, especially a show that was criticized for failing to really balance the heart and action last season.
What’s the Future of the Green Arrow?
“Thanksgiving” marked the return of Oliver Queen as the Green Arrow. But should we be concerned about Oliver’s longstanding as the Emerald Archer?
To recap, Oliver made a promise to his son William earlier this season that he wouldn’t suit up as the Green Arrow anymore. That way as to not threaten to make William an orphan, much like Oliver is now. It’s a promise that Oliver not only agreed to but has taken very seriously over the past several episodes. Oliver’s beginning to see that there is life after Green Arrow, and that there is a significance in being a part of William’s life. Being the Green Arrow jeopardizes that.
So Oliver turned to John Diggle to assume the Green Arrow mantle because he no longer couldn’t. After all, Star City still needs the Green Arrow even if Oliver Queen doesn’t. But Diggle has been dealing with challenges of his own, including a tremor that has made him a liability in the field and endangered those working with him in the field for months. But Diggle, as he always does, put Oliver’s well-being before his own and agreed to take on the mantle.
Diggle has since been dealing with his tremor, experimenting with a drug to stop his tremor, opening up about his struggles with the team. Curtis even decided to try and help Diggle like he helped Felicity walk again after her paralysis. But things finally caught up to Diggle when, in the field, he had a bad reaction to withdrawal and Curtis’ new treatment that sidelined him and finally forced Oliver into the forefront.
Following the two hashing it out with each other, where Oliver was “disappointed” and Diggle upset he’s been putting Oliver’s well-being before his own, the two brothers apologized and had a conversation where they got real about what’s now happening. Diggle will be recovering for a while, which means Oliver will step into the Green Arrow suit again
But Oliver also made it clear that, when Diggle is ready to return, that Diggle should be Green Arrow again. Because let’s not forget Oliver’s promise to William or Dig’s sacrifice and desire to want to help the city as Green Arrow.
But the question is: Should we really expect this?
Not only because Diggle is facing severe nerve damage that has spread to his back and threatens paralysis. But because Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow. Oliver is the Green Arrow. He’ll eventually become Green Arrow again, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
After all, Oliver Queen’s journey was supposed to be five years, as evidenced by his initial arc. If Arrow wanted, it could certainly sort of revive the Green Arrow as Diggle’s story. Not that I necessarily believe that. I’m just reaching here.
After all, Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow. And Arrow won’t soon forget that. Nor will they waste Stephen Amell’s impressive physique on just being a mayor.
Cayden James’ Motive Revealed
I love a villain that infuriates me. It means that they’re formidable. It means that they’re going to cause me much emotional grief. And that means I’m going to care. A lot.
Cayden James is one of two big bads this season, with the other coming in the form of FBI Agent Watson, who shouldn’t necessarily be considered a villain but is considering her threatening the livelihood of our hero and his team. But James is the prototypical villain in that he has a grudge against someone. And, surprise, surprise, it’s the Green Arrow.
Cayden James’ motive was something that was a little suspect in the first six episodes. Sure, this was a man that was imprisoned by ARGUS for a damn good reason — a reason we didn’t really know, but we now know has something to do with his supreme intellect and talent with computers. Up to that point where ARGUS had imprisoned him, he hadn’t committed any crime to be imprisoned for. It was more the fact that he posed a danger in the future. And, folks, we’re starting to see Cayden rise to ARGUS’ expectations.
But what else causes these villains to do wrong but a little old thing called “revenge?” So clearly there had to be a reason why Cayden James is doing whatever the hell it is he’s doing. And we finally found out that his rift with Team Arrow is personal.
Turns out, the Green Arrow somehow was the reason Cayden’s son was “taken” from him. Now, with those hellbent on revenge we know that sometimes they cling to hyperbole and falsehoods to make them feel justified in their actions. Now exactly what happened with Cayden, his son, and the Green Arrow should be revealed as we move through the season. But can we ask a very important question: Who the hell is Cayden’s son?
Clearly that’s going to be one of the mysteries this season as I’m going to infer that Cayden’s son wasn’t exactly a saint. Who was he? And what did he do to end up on the receiving end of the Green Arrow’s wrath?
Hopefully the answer to that is a bigger surprise and better reveal than Vigilante’s identity.
12 Things About “Thanksgiving”
- This certainly isn’t going to be like those classic FRIENDS Thanksgiving episodes that you watch and laugh with every Thanksgiving, but Arrow’s Thanksgiving had the perfect blend of heart and intensity that I’ve come to expect from this show.
- THEA IS AWAKE. THEA IS AWAKE. THEA IS AWAKE.
- Oliver suiting up as Green Arrow again was magic. I didn’t realize how much I missed him in the suit until he was.
- On that note, I love Diggle as Green Arrow, but I do want Oliver as Green Arrow back. Please, please, please.
- I loved that conversation between Oliver and Diggle where they both did not hesitate to be honest about how they are and have been feeling. Oliver felt disappointed in how Diggle put the team at risk. Diggle was upset by how he’d put Oliver and his well-being before his own. The things that were said needed to be said. Great scene between Stephen Amell and David Ramsey.
- Also, how amazing is it that Oliver was the one to apologize first? That, my friends, is what you call character growth.
- I don’t think I’ve despised a character as a villain that isn’t really a villain as much as I do Samandra Watson. That’s a good thing, I guess?
- Felicity didn’t even hesitate to bail Oliver out — $1 million, I might add — of jail. (insert heart eyes)
- Who the hell is Cayden James’ son?
- Also, why does it always have to be sons? The one daughter we had — in Sara Diggle — was taken away by Barry Allen and these writers. Representation matters.
- I loved Quentin and Dinah finding common ground with each other. How they’re both people that want to see the good in others. Even if that’s not necessarily the case. They’re good people. Now, let’s see how they deal with this moving forward.
- That final shot of the episode with Oliver, Felicity and William, along with Diggle and Thea was just beautiful. It encompassed the theme of the season in family, and Oliver had the most important people in his life with him during a holiday that celebrates the importance of family.
Arrow airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.