'Arrow' 7×05 Review: 'The Demon'

Do you guys see that? There in the distance? It looks like a light. Like a light at the end of the tunnel that involves Oliver imprisonment and subsequent separation from his family.
We’re almost there.
For five episodes where Oliver has been separated from everyone meaningful in his life, notably Felicity and William and Diggle, this season of Arrow has been solid. Not great. But good. I’ve been impressed with how they’ve handled this prison storyline in a way that didn’t have me falling asleep like I did during “The Dragon” last season. (Seriously, if you have insomnia, watch that episode. It works wonders.)
But for as much as I’ve enjoyed parts of this storyline, including Felicity’s agency and how the writers finally stopped looking at her as more than a love interest, I’m more than ready for Oliver to come back to the real world. Mostly because I need Olicity back in my life. But a close second is so that Oliver can kill the lizard and we can be done with it all.
“The Demon” was an episode that served as a means for a solution. A solution to Oliver returning to Star City. And a solution to dealing with NTA: Just get rid of them. Seriously, the fact that this Curtis storyline even exists is like a blinking neon sign for “WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE.” Just get rid of the Newbs already.
You know that we’ve got a problem when Arrow manages to make me like Black Siren more than I’ve liked Dinah, Curtis, or Rene in quite awhile. Or ever.
But I digress. Let’s focus on that light. Remember? That light at the end of the tunnel that gets us one step closer to being rid of that annoying and harmless lizard that Arrow just can’t escape.
Let’s break down “The Demon,” including the truth about Level Two, the answer to how Oliver will get out of prison, Felicity and Laurel’s awkward yet endearing dynamic, and the mess that is Curtis.

The Truth About Level Two

Arrow — “The Demon” — Image Number: AR705a_0067b — Pictured (L-R): Josh Blacker as Magee and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

We finally got the answer to: “Who is the Demon?” And welcome back, Talia al Ghul! Seriously, I didn’t see that one coming. Bravo, Arrow.
In “The Demon,” Oliver was reunited with Talia (who basically staged everything that happened in Level One in order to get him down to Level Two so that he could help her escape.) Sounds pretty manipulative and brilliant, right? Right.
But as Oliver first refused to help, he learned the ugly truth about Level Two. Not that he hadn’t already known firsthand, after Dr. Parker’s horrendous treatment the week prior. Turns out Dr. Parker has been experimenting on criminals in a way that either A) erases them (who they are, in their minds) or B) kills them. And from the sound of it, the latter is the better option.
Once Oliver agrees to help Talia escape, he does so under one condition: Help him to expose what Dr. Parker is doing. Yes, these are awful criminals who have done unspeakable crimes. But what Dr. Parker is doing to them — erasing them or killing them for the hell of it — doesn’t sit right with Oliver. “No one deserves that,” he says. Well, I might disagree that “no one” deserves that. There are some pretty horrific people in the world. But I digress.
Outside the walls of Slabside, Felicity, Laurel, and Dinah were uncovering some unnerving details about this Dr. Parker themselves. How he experimented on a child to the point where there was extreme amnesia and the child eventually forgot who he was. And Felicity put it together: “They’re trying to erase Oliver.”
Back in Slabside, Oliver and Talia brilliantly staged a way to get into the Room Where It Happens in order to collect evidence of Dr. Parker’s wrongdoings. And while Dr. Parker might’ve thought he’d made even a sliver of progress, we got a signature “MY NAME IS OLIVER QUEEN” from Oliver and it was thrilling. Oliver proceeded to kick Dr. Parker’s and the others’ asses before transferring data of his invisible program onto a flash drive (that was so conveniently placed in the top drawer as if waiting for him.)
Once Oliver and Talia had torn those horrific bracelets off, they made a run for it. And successfully fought their way through a slew of corrections officers. And again this show reminded us that Oliver doesn’t need a team to take on one or even a couple of baddies. He can do it himself. It’s nice to be reminded of that. Since the only way out of Slabside is through the morgue (ha haha ha), they make their way there poised for escape. Could it be this is Oliver’s way out? Nope.
While Talia takes the morgue as her exit — promising to deliver the flash drive to Felicity, as well as news that his stubbornness is still intact — Oliver remains behind long enough to be transferred back to Level One. Let’s discuss…

The Answer to Oliver’s Escape From Prison

Arrow — “The Demon” — Image Number: AR705a_0057b — Pictured: Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

While that flash drive Oliver had delivered to Felicity managed to shut down Dr. Parker’s secret and deadly experiments — and deliver him back to Level One — it also turns out that it might just be the answer to how Oliver gets out of prison. And when I say “might” be the answer I mean “definitely” will be the answer.
With the Elseworlds crossover looming, it was only a matter of time before Oliver gets out of Slabside to be reunited with his family, friends, and mission to take down Diaz. And also to be ridded of that horrific goatee beard thingie. It’s gross.
So as we head into next week, we’ll see Oliver’s appeal in full swing. That’ll be six episodes into the season, which gives them enough time for Oliver to be freed from prison, reunited with family and friends, and then sent to another world where he’s Barry Allen. Uh, okay.
Also, good call, Oliver, on choosing to remain at Slabside rather than escaping with Talia. You’d be a criminal that if he stayed a little longer would’ve been freed.

Felicity & Laurel, An Awkward Yet Endearing Dynamic

Arrow — “The Demon” — Image Number: AR705b_0002b — Pictured (L-R): Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance/Black Siren, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Look, I’ll be the first to point out several things. 1) Felicity Smoak is a badass who is too good for anyone, including Oliver, on this show; 2) Black Siren, Laurel, from Earth 2 is not the Laurel Lance she’s pretending to be; 3) I’m not a fan of forced friendships. But at the same time, I’m not going to lie. And the simple fact of the matter is that I’m kinda, actually, mildly enjoying these Felicity/Laurel dynamics.
Felicity and Laurel’s relationship works — in a weird, awkward, endearing way. Their chemistry works, and that’s partly based on the two actors. But that doesn’t erase the fact that this partnership began because Felicity had literally no one else to go to for help in catching Diaz, including her actual so-called “friends.” Or that Black Siren tried to kill her. Or that Black Siren is an actual murderer. Or that Black Siren partnered with the very man they’re now trying to take down.

Let’s Talk About Laurel’s Redemption

Arrow — “The Demon” — Image Number: AR705b_0079b — Pictured (L-R): Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance/Black Siren — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

But just as I can’t ignore the person Laurel of Earth 2  is/was — a murderer that partnered with Diaz and at one point tried to kill Felicity — I can’t ignore that Laurel has been the one person thus far that has actually helped Felicity. Even when she didn’t want to, she helped her. Be it for selfish purposes or what not, Laurel is the one person helping Felicity.
Now, that doesn’t excuse her resume. Being a murderer, pretending to be someone she’s not. But I think we’ve seen that on Arrow anyone is capable of redemption — if they want it. And if Arrow is so keen on redeeming Black Siren, they’re going to need to make her work for it. That doesn’t mean just one favor to Felicity. Or working on “empathy” for one episode. I’m talking consistent, progressive work towards becoming a better version of herself. It’s attainable, it’s just not instantaneous.
I’m assuming that this is the arc for Black Siren this season. Redemption. For Quentin (the man that wasn’t her father but this show has acted like he was at times.) For herself. And I’d actually like to see that. But like with Oliver, we’ve seen that redemption isn’t an episode or several or even a season. It’s a work in progress with setbacks always looming.
Honestly, I wouldn’t mind some flashbacks to Laurel on Earth 2 to see how she became the person she was. We heard it. But seeing it is entirely different. Not going to lie, Black Siren is a helluva lot more interesting this season. Especially when you take the Newbs into account.

Let’s Talk About Felicity’s Determination

Arrow — “The Demon” — Image Number: AR705b_0082b — Pictured: Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

While Laurel is seeking redemption, Felicity is determined to bring down the man that has ruined her life and the lives of her family. Since the season premiere, we’ve seen Felicity with a fierce determination and doing whatever she has to in order to bring Diaz down. Because when someone takes everything from you, you do the same.
While we might not have a visual indication like we do with Oliver and his photograph in prison, everything Felicity is doing is for her family. She’s fighting for them. Every. Episode. Her focus is on taking down Ricardo Diaz and, quite frankly, there’s nothing that’s going to stop her. Even now as Oliver is aware that Felicity is actively pursuing Diaz. Not that he can really do anything about it. But even if he could, she wouldn’t stop. This is her fight more than anyone’s right now. And she deserves the opportunity to handle it.
To be fair, Felicity went to Diggle for help first. Then Dinah and Curtis. And even Rene helped for a little there. And Dinah has helped a tad. But it’s Laurel that’s actually been the biggest help. SHOCKING, I know. But just as Felicity is entrusting Laurel’s help in taking down Diaz — and Oliver’s situation, this episode — I find myself opening up to the idea. Because Felicity has this under control. And, basically, Felicity has been left to catch Diaz ALONE. AND even Felicity is aware that she needs some help in certain regards. So the fact that Laurel has been an asset more than a nuisance (which is more than some others can say) is actually working for this storyline.
Felicity Smoak-Queen will stop at nothing to protect her family. Always has, always will. It’s what makes her a hero among costumed or super-powered heroes. It’s that hero’s spirit she possesses that makes her presence and her storyline and her fight all the more important.

Why the Hell is Curtis’ Storyline a Thing?

And more importantly: Why the hell is Curtis being treated as more important than Diggle?
No, seriously, I know something happened with Curtis’ storyline and Diggle was there. And I think he was pretending to be someone else. Like in the field. And Diggle was there. Again, being used as a prop rather than a central storyline. Because, duh. *insert eyeroll here*
Arrow has no idea what they’re doing with Curtis. Or Dinah. Or Rene, who no one missed in this episode. And the fact that they’re choosing to force Curtis and Dinah (and sometimes Rene) over an established character like Diggle, who has a ton of potential to be explored, is so freaking frustrating.
I mean, hell, even last season this show had an idea of what they were doing with NTA. Sure, it made them look stupid as hell and made them hated by literally everyone. But you have to admire that they had a plan. There’s no plan here.

Arrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.

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