'Arrow' 6×02 Review: 'Tribute'

Arrow’s sixth season really feels like the beginning of a new chapter, in more ways than one.

There’s a refreshing tone that seems to have covered this series like a warm blanket, as it attempts to embrace the new and pay homage to the old. There’s a fine balance that the show is going to continue to build upon, as it continues to trudge forward in this new chapter while also bringing back the things that made it a success in earlier seasons.

But, it feels good to watch Arrow and enjoy it again. It’s been a while. And with two episodes straight in season 6, I’m beginning to embrace the optimism here.

Arrow’s second hour of season 6, titled “Tribute,” took a little bit to get going with the storylines, but it eventually brought us the payoff in the form of some really great moments and teases of what’s to come this season.

Though I admit, following the release of those spoilery photos for next week’s episode, I’m focused and waiting on that episode because of what awaits me. So of course this was going to feel like a bit of a letdown.

But then Arrow started hitting on those emotional elements that, as a viewer, I need to feel invested. In the first half of the hour, I was lacking that emotional connection. It was all action, action, action. I needed a reason to care. And then the show gave me specific reasons to care.

Oliver’s dynamic with William, something I’m still warming up to, took an interesting turn that was focused on heart. This wasn’t William just being a bratty kid. There was a legit issue here, where he feared that Oliver would go out and be the Green Arrow and one night not come home, leaving him an orphan. It was something that Oliver could relate to, in a way, and it really drove that personal connection home.

There was also Diggle’s struggle with his nerve damage, and how the inner turmoil was hurting him. But also how this nerve damage was limiting him and nearly costing the lives of those on his team he cares about. There’s a genuine problem here that Diggle was trying to run from. The only thing is, this isn’t an enemy overseas. This is a part of him. And you can’t outrun yourself.

I have to admit that Arrow really surprised me with another cliffhanger that left my jaw on the ground. Twice in a row? Arrow, stop it, you’re starting to impress me again.

Following last week’s bombshell that Oliver Queen was the Green Arrow — a photo that Felicity and Curtis later “disproved” — this week’s final scene rested with Oliver and Diggle.

Oliver, after struggling to find a way to keep his promise to not make William an orphan, decided to step down as Green Arrow. Not only that, but he wants Diggle to take over the mantle. Um, Arrow, we’ve got a problem.

Let’s break this hour down:

A Struggle of Balance


As if Oliver Queen doesn’t have enough hats running around as both Oliver Queen and the Green Arrow, he now has to deal with balancing his new life of being the mayor of Star City, the Green Arrow, and now a father. Alone those three roles are enough to drain anyone. Together, it’s a massive struggle of balance for someone who’s become quite the multi-tasker.

“Tribute” centered on Oliver struggling to find a balance between these three roles in his life. As he dealt with the fallout of the leaked photo unveiling him as Green Arrow, there was also the matter of Anatoly challenging him as Green Arrow, and then there was Oliver’s newest role: Father.

Oliver struggled much and often in this episode. He was being tugged in several different ways throughout the episode. Mostly, it was a battle between being there for William and then doing his job — his two jobs, that are both important. William was obviously upset every time his father had to leave him to attend to his other jobs, and it seemed as if he was mad that his dad’s being unmasked as Green Arrow was causing him issues at school.

But that wasn’t the deeper rooted issue. Not even close.

When Oliver left the limo to go do his Green Arrow business, William didn’t think he was going to come back. And not come back as in abandon. Come back, as in come back alive. Because William, even for a young man, is pretty intuitive. He knows exactly what Oliver risks going out there as Green Arrow every day. He knows that it’s likely that one of these days, he won’t come back. Just like his mother.

That’s the thing with being the Green Arrow and being the ire of every criminal that comes to Star City. There’s always a threat when you put the hood and go out there. There’s always a chance that it’s your last time out there. Just look at Laurel. You never know when it’s your time.

And while Oliver was insistent that he would always come back, he also understood that it’s a promise he couldn’t keep. Because he’s seen what happened to Laurel; he remembers when he “died” fighting Ra’s al Ghul; he believes that, eventually, this crusade will be the death of him.

So how could he do his best to keep a promise that wasn’t guaranteed?

Ultimately, Oliver decided that he needed to do everything in his power to try and remain true to his promise to William: That he wouldn’t leave him an orphan. While he apologized for lying in his promise to always come back, he did vow to do whatever he could do to try and live up to his promise. But he also promised to try and be the best father he can be.

But how does Oliver go about holding true to that promise when he’s under FBI investigation, as well as the focus of the many criminals of Star City?

A New Green Arrow?


At first I thought Oliver was headed in a completely different direction with ensuring that William wouldn’t end up without a parent. I thought that he was thinking ahead to creating a family with him, William, and Felicity. But Oliver isn’t there yet. He’ll get there in time. Instead, Oliver turned to Diggle for help.

Oliver understands that Star City needs the Green Arrow. He understands everything he represents and everything he does to protect the people in this city. But the thing he also decided was that, he couldn’t be the Green Arrow anymore.

The way that Oliver felt he could do his best to make sure he doesn’t die and leave William alone is to step down as Green Arrow. Interestingly enough, we’ve seen Oliver do this before at the end of season 3. Granted, the “Arrow” had died, and he eventually rejoined as “Green Arrow.” But we have seen Oliver without being a superhero. And it hasn’t been a permanent fixture.

So Oliver sees it as: If I’m not out there putting my life on the line every day, then it lessens the chance that he leaves William alone. But Oliver also knows that the Green Arrow cannot cease to exist. He’s a representation of protection in this city, both for the people and the criminals that dare threaten it. If the Green Arrow were to disappear, who knows what would happen to the city?

And why shouldn’t Oliver go to Diggle? Of course he went to Diggle. Of course he should go to Diggle. Diggle is his best friend, his partner, his voice of reason, a parallel of himself. He knows that Diggle would do right by the city and by the mantle of Green Arrow. And on the surface, it makes complete sense that Diggle would take over as Green Arrow.

As we’ve seen with Black Canary, it’s not necessarily the person underneath that the ordinary person gets to see. All they see is the superhero persona. So it doesn’t necessarily matter who is under the hood so much as they’re representing the city and protecting it from those that threaten it. So much as they’re doing right by the name.

Yes, Diggle would be the right person to take over as Green Arrow. But, there’s a slight problem when it comes to Diggle following the Lian Yu explosion that makes this problematic.

Oliver wants Diggle to take over as Green Arrow, which makes this such a huge deal because…

Hitting a Nerve


As we saw in last week’s premiere, five months later Diggle is still struggling with the repercussions of the Lian Yu explosion. We saw that he was struck with shrapnel as he was making his way off the island, and we saw the residual effects that it had on him back in the field in Star City.

But we weren’t the only ones that noticed. Dinah noticed, too, and she made that clear last week. And this week, she practically screamed it in her Canary Cry.

Dinah was pissed, and rightfully so, that Diggle hadn’t owned up to what he’s been going through. He’s been lying not only to her but to the team, as well. And that’s a problem because when he’s out there fighting — at less than 100 percent — it affects Oliver and Dinah, as well. How is it fair for them to rely on someone that they believe has their back — and doesn’t struggle with pulling a trigger — when they don’t know what’s really happening?

But Diggle continued to be in denial. While he did finally open up to Dinah about being diagnosed with degenerate nerve damage, he insisted that he could manage it. Because he’s a soldier. That’s what he does. That’s what he’s always known. He has to keep pushing through.

But things take a turning point later out in the field when Dinah is almost killed because Diggle couldn’t reach for his gun. He hesitated, and he knew that he couldn’t make the shot. He feared something similar — but worse — happening to Dinah because of him being compromised out there. But Dinah was able to get out of it, but not before exchanging a telling look with Diggle.

And that was the wake-up call that Diggle needed. Diggle realized that he had been compromised. That he couldn’t compromise the safety of his team just because he didn’t want to bear his issues upon them. This was something that needed to be fixed five months ago. But better late than never, I guess. So just as Diggle is going to tell Oliver about what he’s been struggling with, Oliver just has to go first and ruin things.

So, back to Oliver wanting Diggle to be the new Green Arrow…

This is problematic. Diggle cannot be Spartan yet alone Green Arrow. He’s struggling to pull a trigger — and has put the lives of his team at risk every time he goes out there since. Sure, he was going to tell Oliver about it. But then Oliver dropped the bombshell.

Oliver wanted to step down for William. And how could Diggle deny him that? How could Diggle take away Oliver’s attempt at remaining true to his promise to William about not leaving him an orphan? Just as Diggle had put his issues aside after Lian Yu, Diggle put them aside again as he decided Oliver’s issues took precedence.

And, as we saw from the handshake, Diggle agreed to do it. Which leaves us with some questions moving forward: How is Diggle going to be Green Arrow? How is he going to look in terms of ability? How is Dinah going to react? How is the team going to react, assuming they learn about his nerve damage? And just how long until Oliver resumes the Green Arrow mantle?

A New Partnership


It feels as if I’ve been waiting an eternity for the beginning of Smoak Technology or Smoak Industries or whatever name they wanna give it. With all the Easter Eggs dropped on Legends of Tomorrow and in alternate alien realities, I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for Felicity to begin her ascent to success.

It wasn’t until the final minutes of the episode that I finally began to understood that Arrow was laying the foundation for this following an hour where Felicity was hounding Curtis about having a “secret job.”

Obviously Felicity and Curtis are both incredibly smart individuals that double as superheroes. Obviously, Felicity and Curtis are friends. Obviously, Felicity and Curtis work well together. So Felicity proposed that she and Curtis collaborate.

“Think about all the good we can do, all the cool stuff we can do, all the cool things we can make.”

And Felicity’s right, of course. These are two very intelligent individuals that work very well together. Hell, they even helped save the world together. And given the arrogance of Palmer Tech, there’s no reason why Felicity and Curtis couldn’t succeed — and be even better than Palmer Tech.

So, it looks like Felicity and Curtis are starting a company.

I’m just wondering why this can’t be a solo venture for Felicity? She hasn’t needed someone before, why should that start now? I had a feeling they were going to tie Felicity and Curtis together through this.

But we’re on the road to Smoak Technology/Smoak Industries. And I’m all in.

Trouble on the Horizon


Following the leak of a photo showing Oliver Queen as the Green Arrow, there was obviously going to be some repercussions as a result. And not just from the media. Surprisingly, the FBI got involved — and Agent Watson proved she isn’t someone that’s easily charmed, fooled, or swayed.

This isn’t the first time Oliver has been accused of being a vigilante. In earlier seasons, Detective Lance had sent the force after Oliver attempting to prove he was the Arrow. Oliver managed to get out of that, and then there wasn’t a question whether or not Oliver was the Arrow. Because the Arrow was “dead.”

But, as Watson reminded Oliver, that was the Arrow. This is the Green Arrow.

Most of the hour was spent as Watson became more and more convinced of Oliver Queen’s guilt. There was no way he wasn’t the Green Arrow. Even in the end, when Felicity and Curtis managed to have the photo declared “digitally doctored,” Watson was not backing down. In fact, she was stepping it up even more.

If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s this investigation is far from over. Buckle up, Oliver.

7 Things About “Tribute”

  1. Is anyone really surprises by the Bruce Wayne name drop in the episode? Hasn’t that been alluded to off-screen several times?
  2. That scene where William confessed his true fear — of Oliver leaving him, dying, and making him an orphan — was really well done by both actors. It’s moments like that where I like to believe I can truly start to care about their relationship and this storyline.
  3. Then there was that conversation between Oliver and William in the car when Oliver told his son to “go for the nose” when going after a bully. And it was a thing of beauty. A+ parenting.
  4. Are we finally getting the start of Smoak Industries?! I’m beyond excited about that, but I’m still wondering why this is something that’s going to be tied to both Felicity and Curtis? This is a storyline that’s been in the cards for Felicity since it was alluded to last season. Felicity doesn’t need anyone to be a success. I just wish the show would allow her to do just that. But then again, I guess they need a storyline for Curtis.
  5. Also, yes, the order does matter. It’s “Overwatch and Mister Terrific, not Mister Terrific and Overwatch.”
  6. I really loved that scene between Anatoly and Oliver where Anatoly explained why he’s still an honorable man in his own eyes. While he’s doing bad things with the Bratva (what did you expect, Oliver?), he’s still a man that’s not going to blow up William’s school or torture him. And I think that really drove home the point that honor isn’t necessarily defined by what’s right and wrong.
  7. Wow, Arrow is really delivering on weekly cliffhangers so far this season. Just when you thought Arrow couldn’t top the Green Arrow photo leak, we get that cliffhanger where Oliver asks Diggle to take over as Green Arrow because he’s stepping down. It’s not only the fact that Oliver is stepping down, it’s that Diggle isn’t in the right state to be Spartan yet alone the Green Arrow. This is gonna be intriguing.

Arrow airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.

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