It’s not often that you find me praising Arrow of late, especially when it comes to how it handles its characters — especially when it comes to the handling of its characters. But the episode “Brothers and Sisters” reminded me that Arrow is capable of delivering solid episodes that understand who its characters are. And, honestly, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing. Do I get my hopes up that we’ll see more of this? Or will I once again be fooled into believing they’ll deliver these characters to us week after week?
If Arrow was trying to test out a backdoor pilot with the quad of Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, and Lyla, count me freaking sold. I would watch the hell out of that. Better yet, just get rid of everyone else and go back to how Arrow used to be. Because it’d be so much better than what this current and recent seasons have been.
But sticking with “Brothers and Sisters,” it’s not normally that you’d find more good than bad or so-so moments on my lists. But, here we are.
Let’s break down the good, the bad, and the so-so of Monday’s Arrow:
Oliver and Felicity
When it comes to couples with a strong foundation, Olicity is near the top. Despite what these writers have forced and inflicted on them, it’s that foundation that has made them strong and have allowed them to have the successful marriage they have. They’re the reason that so many people have gravitated towards this show, aside from the comic aspect. They’re the reason I’m still watching. And while I’m convinced Arrow continuously underutilizes them, Oliver and Felicity continue to remain the good in the world of Arrow.
One of the things I loved about this episode was how we saw the growth in Oliver. How, earlier in the season, he was vehemently against Felicity going after Diaz. In this episode, he backed her play 100 percent. “I have your back. No. Matter. What.” Just like Felicity has always had his back. No. Matter. What. Not to mention, getting to see them in the field together brought back so many amazing memories and also unfairly got my hopes up that we might actually see more of this again.
Now, let’s talk about that pregnancy reveal. While I would’ve appreciated the moment where Felicity tells Oliver she’s pregnant be given its proper appreciation — longer than 15 seconds — I’m honestly thrilled that we got the scene. Arrow has been known to ignore those moments and have them happen off screen. But in those precious seconds, where we got Felicity eating mint chip ice cream (a nice callback) and telling Oliver that she wants their “children to know that they’re the most important thing” and his bewildered look at the mention of “children” and Felicity telling him with that smile and Oliver’s heartwarming reaction. It was perfect. And you bet your ass I want protective Oliver; I want all the cutesy pregnancy moments with them. GIVE IT TO ME, ARROW.
Mia and William
As far as the superior brother and sister relationship in the aptly titled “Brothers and Sisters,” William and Mia easily take the cake. Not only is it the fact that these are Oliver and Felicity’s children on our screens — how amazingly insane is that?! — but watching them come to terms with the fact that they have a sibling and what that means was intriguing. They have a shared goal: Find Felicity. Because in spite of whatever happened in this weird (hopefully alternate) future timeline, Felicity is their mother and they’re going to find her. Because she’s still alive. DUH. I loved how we got to see these strangers slowly coming to terms with the fact that they have a sibling. They are each other’s family. And that’s a dynamic I’m excited to see evolve in coming episodes. Obviously it’s not going to be immediate. But you started to see little bits of progress that’s going to continue throughout. And I can’t wait to see where their journey takes them.
Oliver, Felicity, Diggle and Lyla
If this show was all Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, and Lyla on missions I would love this show more than any other show and that is fact. In fact, they’re the only reason I’m still watching this show. Well, for them and their kids. Getting to see Oliver & Felicity and Diggle & Lyla on a mission together and out in the field — no NTA distractions showed Arrow in its element. It showed the potential of just how good this show could be in its seventh season. The core of this show has always been OTA (and Lyla is an honorary member, let’s be honest.) Once this show got away from that, that’s when it started to really decline. Forcing new characters on Team Arrow and taking away from preexisting relationships was infuriating. But it’s these episodes that make me both happy and angry. Happy because I love these four characters more than anything. Angry because this show really has no idea what it has in them.
Felicity and Laurel’s Friendship
When this show first started to force this friendship between Felicity and the woman that tried to murder her, Earth-2 Laurel, I thought there was no way in hell I could ever enjoy this. But the impossible happened. Arrow managed to do right by Laurel — for once! They’ve managed to jumpstart her redemption arc in a way that doesn’t feel easy or her actions immediately excused. Of course nothing’s perfect. But there feels like there’s more accountability than there would’ve been in the past.
Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the Felicity and Laurel friendship we’ve gotten this season, but perhaps none more so than this episode. Laurel guessed that Felicity was pregnant because she saw that Felicity wasn’t drinking wine or caffeine. And I just love how this showed us how Laurel knows these little details about Felicity. Anyway, once Laurel found out Felicity was pregnant, she went into protective friend mode and was supportive as hell. She brought Felicity food, suggested prenatal vitamins, and gave her a pep talk about Felicity’s fears of bringing a baby into this world when her family is a target by Diaz. But Laurel told Felicity exactly what she needed to hear. How she’s going to be okay. How there’s always gonna be another Diaz. How she’ll always find a way to deal with them. Oh, and to sum it up, “You’re kind of a badass.” Thank you for stating the obvious, Laurel. And thank you Arrow for this female friendship that I’ve been missing.
Welcome back, John Diggle! Lord, have I missed you. I cannot tell you how infuriating it has been to watch Arrow — and to watch these Diggle storylines — and watching the shell of the man Diggle was. This show turned him against Felicity — as he failed to stand beside her earlier in the season as Diaz tried to kill her and William. He stood there multiple times and claimed that have been there for Felicity this season when he hadn’t. And it made me sick to my stomach watching some man that looks like Diggle on my screen. But, thankfully, these writers realized the injustice they’d done Diggle and the fans and had him right his wrongs in the form of actions and words that make me hope — hope, not believe — that the real John Diggle is back.
I absolutely loved how Felicity called Diggle out on his bullshit, and he realized just how in the wrong he’d been. So when they went on that mission to get Dante, naturally the objective was Dante. But when Diaz escaped, Felicity went after him. And so did Diggle. “He might not have been the objective but he was the priority.” Diggle prioritizing his friend’s safety over the mission. WHERE HAS THIS MAN BEEN?!
Someone woke Dig from his long slumber because he finally remembered what’s most important in this world: “Sometimes the best choice is to just protect your family.And that’s exactly who you are,” Diggle tells Felicity. And dear God, everything is right with the world.
I like that, for once, Arrow didn’t wipe Dig’s actions under the rug. They had him own up to his mistakes. He acknowledged how he let Felicity down that last time. We saw him take the fall for his wife. HE IS PROTECTING THOSE HE LOVES LIKE JOHN DIGGLE DOES. GOD I HAVE MISSED THIS MAN.
I have never enjoyed a 30-second scene on this show — that didn’t have to do with Olicity or OTA — than I did watching Ricardo Diaz go up in literal flames. Not only did his plan to escape fail drastically — as if you could outsmart Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, and Lyla — but karma finally found Diaz in a cramped cell and brought him down in a blaze of glory. I know that the question is supposed to be — OMG who did it?! But honestly, I don’t care. I just am glad someone finally killed this worthless, non-threatening villain that was the worst in the history of this show. But now that you mention it, I’d like to know who did it so I can send them a fruit basket with my sincere gratitude. (Perhaps it’s Laurel trying to protect Felicity? Though I doubt this show even knows who it is at this point.) I’d say it was a good time, but that character and the actor that portrayed him were downright awful. Good riddance. Have fun burning in hell, Diaz.
She really is Felicity’s daughter. While the flash forwards have been continuously dark and depressing and I find myself asking — Why the hell was any of this worth anything if it ends like this? — there’s also been a lot of ignorance and arrogance, mainly from the NTA side of things. So God bless Mia Smoak, who comes in the only one not taking crap and being real as hell. She’s the logical one asking the smart questions like: Did you find a body before assuming Felicity was dead for real? Because these other morons will believe anything that’s fed to them. Sorry, William, but Felicity taught you better. Always ask for a body.
Oliver and Emiko
While William and Mia was effective in the new siblings learn of each other scenario, this whole Oliver and Emiko thing just feels unnecessary. At first, I was intrigued. Now, I just feel like this show is trying to find something new — anything new — to force on us. What’s the point of Emiko Queen? Besides the fact that she’s likely to turn on Oliver (more on that below.) I think the thing that’s rubbing me the wrong way is that, unlike William and Mia, there’s nothing that Oliver and Emiko share in terms of shared goals. William and Mia want to find their mother. Oliver is paying for the sins of his father, yet again. Though I understand that there’s a part of Oliver that wants to get to know Emiko because she’s “family.” But I feel like Arrow is trying so hard to force these two — right down to Emiko posing as a lesser version of the Green Arrow at the beginning of a crusade. Same notebook. Same suit. Same stubborn attitude. I get showing the parallel between these two at their different stages in their journey, but it just feels too “nail on the head” here. Also, let’s not forget Oliver’s loyal and best sister, Thea Queen, who this show ousted because it couldn’t come up with a storyline with her. Or something. Because if Thea was here, I don’t think we’d be exploring this storyline and continuing to make the Queen siblings pay for the sins of their parents. Wait, this is Arrow. Of course they would.
I wasn’t sure what to think of Emiko at first. Obviously I loved that she was a badass and could hold her own. I sympathized with her pain and tendency for revenge in terms of her mother’s murder. But ever since then there’s just been something off about her. Not only is she getting a bulk of the screen time — over other more established, beloved characters — but it feels like, yet again, Emiko is being used to hurt Oliver. Because of course she’s evil and in league with Dante. Of course. Now, I’ll give this show a little time (like the next episode) to explain what the hell is going on and how these two know each other. But it feels like all Arrow knows how to do is utilize other characters to hurt Oliver. Now, villains I uiver. Now, villains I understand. That is literally their role. But it feels like this show is headed more in the “let’s use Emiko to hurt Oliver route” than the “let’s focus on Oliver creating a new family,” what with his and Felicity’s unborn child and now his new sister.
The Ghost Initiative
Look, I could never put anything involving that lizard Ricardo Diaz on the “good” list. But as far as the Ghost Initiative as a whole, I like the idea of reopening this Suicide Squad. So, naturally, it looks as if Arrow is once again shutting it down. Especially now that Diggle no longer works for ARGUS and God forbid we make Lyla a regular and give her that focus. Lord, I would watch the hell out of her storyline. There’s an eclectic mix in this Ghost Initiative, including Cupid, China White, and Slade’s son. Though, honestly, this group needs Floyd Lawton. But we don’t get to have nice things because only the movies can have nice things.
Arrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.