Instead of focusing on one really big plot point for the midseason finale this year, Arrow took a more varied approach, weaving a few different stories that will almost certainly play out for the remainder of the season. It wasn’t exactly tight and focused, but this deep in the game, Arrow has earned the right to play things a bit fast and loose.
Spoilers ahead for “Irreconcilable Differences,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired Thursday, December 7, 2017.
It’s all about trust.
After spending most of the past season and a half putting together Team Arrow 2.0 — filled with a roster of recruits like Mister Terrific, Dinah and Wild Dog — it all came crashing down in a web of subtle lies and mistrust. Oliver learns the prosecution trying to convict him of being a vigilante has an ace in the hole, namely a witness willing to testify that Oliver is absolutely, positively the Green Arrow. That carrot leads Oliver and Felicity to basically start spying on the rest of the team, where they discover Dinah has been secretly communicating with Vigilante (aka her old partner Vince). But, despite keeping a bombshell secret all her own, she wasn’t the FBI’s star witness.
It’s Rene, aka Wild Dog.
This isn’t the first time this show has played around with a “shocking betrayal from within the team!” (heck they did it just last season), but this one is handled much more delicately than a shock twist. Rene might be rough around the edges, but he’s loyal to a fault — and it turns out there’s a very good reason he’s signed on to likely be the final domino that could send Oliver to prison for the rest of his life: The FBI could apparently connect him to his alter ego Wild Dog, and if charged as a vigilante himself, Rene would lose any chance at staying reunited with his young daughter. So, faced with choosing between Oliver’s family and his own, he cut a deal. They play the nuance well, and even Oliver comes to realize Rene is making a decision he very well might make if put in the same situation.
But, like most things, it’s not the thing you did that causes the most trouble — it’s all the lies and deceit around it that really do the damage. For Team Arrow, it was Oliver, Felicity and Diggle’s decision to surveil the rest of the team that drives a wedge so deep Curtis and Dinah decide to quit working with Oliver following Rene’s eventual dismissal. As everyone keeps repeating over and over, it takes trust to put on a mask and go fight bad guys side-by-side.
With that trust broken, so is the team. It made for an interesting juxtaposition putting the OG Team Arrow against the new crew, and it was a quick reminder of how much this show has evolved over the years. It resets the board, in a way, and is the perfect catalyst to leave things in disarray for the midseason break. When the show returns in January, there are more than enough broken pieces to start picking up and piecing back together.
*Olicity is one of the most divisive words in fandom these days, but for fans who have been pulling for Oliver and Felicity to finally get together, the opening of “Irreconcilable Differences” was a long time coming. Following their surprise wedding last week, Oliver and Felicity take the news public with a post-wedding reception for friends and family. It’s basically a whole lot of dancing, reveling, and bad drunken speeches. After all the angst, it seems we’ll finally get a real relationship story between Oliver and Felicity. Here’s hoping marriage suits them.
*It’s easy to look past, but the friendship between Quentin Lance and Oliver is a beautiful thing. Lance positively despised Oliver when this series began, but now he’s the closest thing Oliver has to a father, to the point he gifts him his father’s watch, the same one Quentin’s own father gave him. It was a quick character moment, but still positively touching.
*It didn’t get much play, but we’re totally going to see a love triangle between Lance, Mama Smoak and Papa Smoak, right?
*The Cayden James threat also revealed itself a bit deeper this week, as we learn the ace hacker is working with pretty much every baddie on the board this season, including Richard Dragon and Anatoli, among a few others. Cayden also has a camera hidden in the Arrow Cave (seriously, did they not sweep that place for bugs after Black Siren broke in?) which should keep him a few steps ahead of Team Arrow.
*As fun as the Mission Impossible-style ARGUS heist may have been, the only thing I could think about was how pissed Lyla is going to be when she gets back and finds out. Seriously, Diggle is in the doghouse, right?
*Maybe Black Siren has a heart, after all? Evil Laurel has a heart to heart with Lance, and when pressed into possibly killing him, decides to cut him loose to let him escape, instead. If Dinah really is off the team, could Evil Laurel start the slow transition into becoming the new Black Canary?
Up next: Arrow is on hiatus until Jan. 18, 2018. But when it returns, we might get a rogue Team Arrow? And a lot of explosions?