Oliver has spent most of the season figuring out what it means to not be the Green Arrow, and that arc took a huge step forward this week in “Reversal.” Thankfully, he’s assembled a team more than capable of saving the world while he’s stuck in the bunker as mission support.
Spoilers ahead for “Reversal,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired November 2, 2017!
“I didn’t do it all by myself. I had you.” - Oliver
It’s taken a few too many years, but Oliver Queen has grown — a lot — as a person this season. The decision to hand over the reins of Team Arrow to Diggle so he can focus on parenting and being mayor obviously wasn’t easy, but “Reversal” made it abundantly clear just how much has changed over the past few weeks. Diggle is growing into his role leading the team, the other heroes are rallying around him, and even Felicity gets a side mission only to have Oliver mess everything up with his best of intentions.
Oliver spends the episode almost as a spectator in his own adventure (though he does get a nice butt-kicking sequence when he inadvertently blows Felicity’s cover), falling back into a support role while Diggle, Felicity, and the team do the heavy lifting. After everything he’s seen and done, and knowing what challenges await him outside the hood, he makes the transition gracefully. He gives Felicity the same pep talks she’s given him over the years, and even steps into her nest in the bunker to provide tactical assistance when the mission heats up.
Sure, you almost know he’ll eventually take the bow back up at some point, but it’s a fun ride to see how this team functions with him on the sidelines. And after years of seeing Oliver brood and brood and brood some more, it’s an excellent change of pace to see him actually happy and embracing this change.
It was obvious the writers were doing some heavy lifting laying the groundwork for the Helix group of hacktivists, and that finally came to a head here, when we learn the group’s leader Cayden James is actually up to no good. Those stakes hit especially hard on Felicity, who helped free him from an ARGUS last season. Turns out she made the wrong call and set an extremely savvy criminal loose. James is played by Lost alum Michael Emerson, and he is (as expected) deliciously menacing in the role.
James’ plan gets into technobabble territory, but he’s essentially trying to take down the entire internet. But that was all just a ploy to trick Felicity into hacking into it for him, which she does, and he plants a nefarious piece of code in a techno-vault, which will almost certainly come back into play later in the season.
*Black Siren’s mysterious benefactor turns out to be none other than James, who is apparently the mystery man who saved her when Lian Yu exploded (how on earth he fits into all that, and would know to be there, is still anyone’s guess). We knew Evil Laurel would be back this season, though most fans assumed she’d switch sides and join the heroes at some point. But for now, she’s just too good at being bad.
*James’ plan apparently revolves around some equally mysterious project Arclight, about which we learn pretty much nothing this week (aside from its apparent existence). Again, this all looks to be planting seeds for future stories. The fallout of the Helix story looks to be far from over.
*Fans clamoring to see Oliver and Felicity back together had a lot to love this week. Olicity is alive and well, and though they’re obviously living busy lives, the duo seem to be making time for another to get this relationship back on track. You mileage will obviously vary depending on how you feel about these two, but if nothing else, it’s encouraging to see the writers actually pulling the trigger after all the “Will They/Won’t They” over the years.
*The burgeoning start-up with Felicity and Curtis also gained some momentum this week, and after their exits from Palmer Tech, it’s good to finally see them developing something outside of Team Arrow. And hey, thanks to all those evil hackers, they even have a name: Helix Dynamics. It looks like they’ll be working to develop a way to mass-produce Curtis’ scientific MacGuffin that allows Felicity to walk (following her gunshot to the spine a while back). Which, yeah, seems pretty obvious.
Next week: One of the show’s most beloved supporting players, Slade Wilson, is back in action searching for his son — and he’s taking Oliver along for the ride. Setting these two off on a road trip could be the perfect change of pace for a season that has spent a lot of time focusing on the folks around Oliver.