Brothers in Arms
Tonight opens with the Ghosts hijacking an armored truck only for Team Arrow to show up to intervene. Despite the team’s best efforts though, the Ghosts successfully burn all the cash inside the truck, which had been Federal money intended to bail out the struggling Star City Bank.
Back at Arrow HQ, the team tries to figure out their next move against H.I.V.E. and they decide to ask Ray to take a look at the Ghost tooth they recovered a few weeks ago to see if they can figure out what they’re dealing with. Once the rest of the team has left, Diggle confides in Oliver what he found out about Andy’s dark past a couple weeks ago. Oliver is willing to give Andy the benefit of the doubt but Diggle still feeling the sting of betrayal is not.
The next day at Oliver’s campaign office, he makes plans to attend an upcoming SCPD fundraiser and to also announce a plan to restore the Star City Bayfront. Oliver thinks it’s a solid plan that will add hundreds of jobs though Alex is skeptical, feeling that the voters and the media won’t find it interesting. Before they can discuss further, Felicity calls him away for a Team Arrow mission at a place called Wolfman Biologics (is it me or is that not such a great name for a lab?).
The team naturally come up against some more Ghosts and eventually Diggle is able to temporarily incapacitate one of them. When he takes off the Ghost’s mask to ID him, he discovers that it’s none other than his supposedly dead brother Andy (Eugene Byrd). Diggle is understandably shocked by this revelation and Andy uses this confusion to make his escape.
Afterwards, Diggle is more convinced than ever Andy isn’t the man he thought he was, though Oliver thinks the only way to know for sure is to hear Andy’s side of the story. When Laurel rightfully asks how they’re supposed to do that, Oliver suggests getting Andy out of H.I.V.E. Diggle is dead set against the idea though saying that the brother he knew is dead.
Team Arrow’s troubles continue as Damien begins to suspect that Captain Lance is working against him since Team Arrow had been able to find Ray shortly after their meeting last week. After Damien gives Lance a warning to “tread carefully”, Lance notices a post-it on Damien’s desk that says “Starling Dock Slip 52” and never in my life have I wanted more to do my best General Ackbar impression and yell “It’s a trap!”
Later at the SCPD fundraiser, Oliver gives a speech thanking the police for putting their lives on the line and even Lance seems to enjoy it (though he notes it wasn’t quite as powerful as his Green Arrow speech). Afterwards, Lance warns Oliver that Damien is beginning to suspect him but also passes on the information he saw on Damien’s post-it. Oliver is then “introduced” to Damien, who offers to help out Oliver’s campaign. In exchange for his support, Damien wants Oliver to withdraw his plans to restore the bayfront and if Oliver refuses he will “no longer be unopposed.”
Back at Arrow HQ, Oliver suggests the possibility of using his campaign to go undercover against Damien to Felicity, who immediately shoots it down, calling it the worst idea he’s ever had. She reminds him the last time he went undercover against an evil organization was a complete disaster (isn’t it nice when even the writers admit Season 3 pretty much sucked?) and that the whole point of his campaign in the first place was to give Star City hope, which he can’t exactly do as a Damien Darhk toady, undercover or otherwise.
Oliver and Diggle go to do some surveillance at the dock Lance told them about where they witness some new H.I.V.E. recruits take a yellow pill that makes them more obedient to Damien. The two are spotted soon after and Oliver sustains a minor injury in battle but they manage to get away.
Afterwards, Oliver and Diggle have a huge argument with Diggle being unable to understand why Oliver is so insistent that they believe in Andy. Oliver says it’s because he needs to believe that no matter what happens to them and no matter how much they get consumed by darkness that they can come back from it. Diggle counters that if he really believes that then he shouldn’t even be considering getting into bed with Damien. He says that if Oliver really wants to do things differently like he promised he would when he came back then he needs take on Damien in the light of day and not in the shadows.
Thanks to some help from Ray, the team discovers that the Ghosts are operating in an abandoned loony bin and Team Arrow go to extract Andy but Diggle thinking it’s a bad idea refuses to go along. The team has a rough go of it at first but the mission is ultimately successful thanks to some unexpected back-up from Ray and a last minute save from Diggle saying “My brother needed me. The green one.”
Once the team makes it back to Arrow HQ, Diggle confronts Andy about the stuff he’s read about him in Damien’s file and asks him if it’s true. Sadly, Andy confirms that it is indeed all true.
The next day, Oliver holds a press conference to formally announce his plans to restore the bayfront,which Oliver points out to Alex has a surprisingly good turnout. Among the members in the audience is Damien and you can pretty much see him and Oliver stare each other down while Oliver is making his speech. For better or worse, Oliver is now officially on Damien’s radar.
Thea’s bloodlust has begun to surface once again and Merlyn stops by Star City to offer up a solution to her problems. He suggests that Thea take her aggression out on a local pedophile but she refuses.
Later, while out on a date with Alex, some creep starts hitting on her and she nearly beats the guy to death only to be stopped by Alex (though to be fair when the guy says to Thea “you look like the kind of girl where no means yes”, even I thought the guy had it coming). Alex is of course freaked out by this and while their budding relationship isn’t over yet, it’s certainly on some pretty shaky ground at the moment.
During the mission to extract Andy, Thea gets confronted by Damien. He tries to kill her with his touch of death but much to even his surprise it backfires on him and Thea manages to get away. As it turns out, whatever Damien did to her put her bloodlust back in check for a few more weeks and she enlists Merlyn’s help in trying to make that condition permanent.
Even though Ray doesn’t serve a whole lot of purpose to the episode’s overall plot, some screen time is dedicated to him trying to figure out what he wants to do next. Felicity suggests that he makes his return public and go back to running Palmer Tech but Ray feels that what he did there didn’t amount to much. He points out that in the six months since his “death”, the company he built is on the verge of bankruptcy and the city he vowed to save is now in worse shape than before. He hasn’t figured what he wants to do just yet but happily offers his occasional services as a superhero if Team Arrow needs him in the meantime.
Oliver and Conklin make their way back to base camp with Conklin chewing out Oliver for killing Vlad. However, Oliver correctly accuses Conklin of making Vlad attack him in the first place, though Conklin denies this. He tells Oliver that it’s more likely Vlad came after him for “killing” his sister Taiana, the woman Oliver has been hiding away in a cave (and I seriously think this is the first time her name has actually been said).
Once Oliver and Conklin make their way back to Reiter, they both start blaming the other for Vlad’s death. Luckily, Reiter has what appears to be some kind of voodoo lie detector to discover that Conklin did in fact have Vlad attack Oliver and has Oliver whip Conklin as punishment. Yeah, I’m still trying to figure out what Conklin expected to accomplish here.
Oliver goes to visit Taiana in the cave and breaks the news to her about Vlad’s death, though he leaves out the part where he was the one that actually killed him and says that it was Conklin’s fault (because he apparently learned nothing from his incident with Slade about the sins of omission). Taiana immediately wants to avenge her brother but Oliver tells her the real isn’t Conklin but Reiter. He informs her that Reiter is looking for something on the island and to figure out what it is, he’s going to need her help.
Okay, the fight scenes in this episode were absolutely brilliant and possibly the best of the show. Now the fight choreography was certainly good but what really sets it apart is how it’s shot and edited. Instead of the usual quick cuts that can occasionally make things difficult to know what’s going on, we have entire fights often being shot in one continuous take that will likely remind some people of the infamous fight scene from Netflix’s Daredevil. The two highlights in this episode (and trust me this is saying a lot) are Oliver and Diggle’s fight against the Ghosts at the docks and Thea’s fight against Andy at the loony bin.
At first, I found it kind of weird that Oliver of all people ended up being the voice of reason in the Andy situation and it was equally weird to see Diggle to be the one that needed to be reasoned with. The more I thought about though the more it actually made sense. As we saw last season, Diggle can carry a pretty heavy grudge against somebody that betrays him, especially if it’s somebody he’s close to. It was one thing when Oliver broke his trust last season but it has to be a whole different level of hurt to find out everything you thought you knew about your brother was a lie (though honestly I still have my doubts on that one).
The only real downside of the episode is that Andy being alive doesn’t really have the impact that it should. Then again, I guess that shouldn’t come as too big a surprise since death has had less and less meaning on this show as time goes on. Already we’ve seen several characters either fake their deaths or come back from dead which at this point include Andy, Merlyn, Thea, Ray, Roy, Slade and Sara (twice) and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
Arrow will be taking a break next week for Thanksgiving but come back in two weeks as Green Arrow and the Flash team up to take on Vandal Savage in ‘Legends of Yesterday.’