Spoilers ahead for “Vigilante,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow!
The short version: Vigilante starts dropping bodies ala Season 1 era Oliver Queen. The parallels are not all that subtle. Oliver meets Kovar in the flashback story. Quentin finally tries to face his demons. Oh, and Diggle is getting tired of life as a fugitive.
The good: Vigilante, Diggle and the big questions
Vigilante starts shooting up bad guys left and right, and takes advantage of a mask that is straight out of The Predator (though these fights aren’t all happening in complete darkness, so how does, oh, never mind, it’s awesome). It’s interesting to see the team question whether they should even try to stop him, considering he’s taking out murderous bank robbers and child traffickers, and those are themes that have recurred in this series ever since it began.
Filtering those questions through Vigilante was a capable allegory for Season 1 era Oliver, when he was still going by “The Hood,” as we see Oliver almost forced to fight himself (or at least his former methods) in Vigilante. And hey, Vigilante has a point — despite all the good Team Arrow has done over the years, Star City is still largely in shambles. That’s the nature of the beast when you have a superhero TV show set in your fictional city, sure, but he’s not entirely wrong. It’s also not surprising that Oliver questions himself a bit in the process, though he quickly remembers that it’s almost impossible to serve as an inspirational figure when you’re literally out dropping bodies every night. The system might not be perfect, and Oliver certainly questions it his fair share, but you have to trust it. Without it, all we have is chaos. Vigilante sees this as war, and Oliver seems to see a lot of his younger self in him. Glad they didn’t just wrap this story up in one episode. It’ll be interesting to see where Vigilante pops up next.
After putting Diggle’s story on the shelf for a few weeks, this episode also revisited the lingering plot threat that he is still a fugitive from justice. We learn the federal marshals are surveilling his house, and the poor guy had to miss his son’s (remember, his daughter became a son thanks to Flashpoint over on The Flash) birthday. He does not take it well. Keeping Diggle locked up in the Arrow Cave is about to drive him crazy, and cold cocking a weapons’ dealer might just be the start of how he deals with those frustrations moving forward. But, one note: He’s this upset about missing his son’s birthday, yet literally volunteered to remain in prison for a crime he didn’t commit a couple weeks ago? Also, why didn’t Diggle just think to have his family come and see him. We’ve seen Lyla there before, and she’s obviously an expert in losing a tail. C’mon, at least give us a little consistency, guys. Diggle is awesome. Just let him be awesome. Also, does Lyla really not have enough pull at Argus to just get Diggle’s name cleared?
The bad: Oliver is dumb, Lance’s struggles
We knew Carly Pope’s reporter character would be sticking around in a recurring role, but is Oliver really dumb enough to trust her? She built her career on hit pieces against his administration, and yes she’s giving him a chance, but is he really going to start dating this woman? Yes, Carly Pope is positively lovely, but a mayor dating a reporter is way too risky (and a major ethical conundrum, to boot). Which, maybe Oliver is just trying to keep her close so he can keep an eye on her? Time will tell.
Lance’s struggle with alcoholism took another step this week, as he told Thea about his blackouts and the throwing star he found in his house. It’s fairly obvious Prometheus is trying to set him up, or at least make him question himself, and the gang picked up on that, too. When the season started, I said Quentin’s story was a great opportunity to explore a person’s real struggles with this vice, but the handling so far hasn’t been great. Yes, it’s messy (just like in real life), but Quentin seems to have just been spinning his wheels the past few weeks. He’s a strong character, but far from perfect. It’s past time for him to start showing that strength and pulling himself out of this spiral.
Also, the gang fakes a bank robbery to draw out Vigilante? That is the definition of reckless. Sure, it’s played for a gag, but that is one heck of an overly-risky plan.
Other notes: Curtis vs. the salmon ladder is my new favorite easter egg. Keep it coming. You’ll get it one day, bro.
Line of the night: “Truth is a matter of perspective,” - Kovar
Lingering questions: Betrayal! Vigilante’s identity
The episode ended with one heck of a shock, as it’s revealed Artemis, aka Evelyn Sharpe (Madison McLaughlin), is secretly working with Prometheus. How? What? Huh? Yeah, there are a lot of questions here. Does she have some type of connection to the character? Is that why she’s doing this? Has she been brainwashed (wouldn’t be the first time)? Or is she just a bad guy, straight-up? That twist actually caught me off guard, which is a rare thing for a CW super-show. Well played. Let’s just hope they actually pay if off in a meaningful way.
On Vigilante: They’ve been setting up the hard boiled new DA Adrian Chase for a few episodes now, and comic fans are already well aware that he’s (traditionally) the man under the mask in the comic canon. They seem to be following the same tact here (See: His wild-eyed intensity while questioning the robber). Here’s hoping they don’t string that reveal out too long, since it’s fairly obvious at this point. Unless, of course, there’s someone else under that mask. But we doubt it.
Next up: Arrow is off next week, but returns the next week for the big ol’ crossover event “Invasion!” Woot, woot.