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Oliver faces himself, plus a surprising guest star, in a mind-bending Arrow

Contributed by
Apr 13, 2018

With the final face-off with Ricardo Diaz looming, the latest episode of Arrow aimed to get Oliver’s mind right for the battle by scrambling it. Turns out all that tripping helped him find a realization, though the jury’s still out on whether it’s a good one.

Spoilers ahead for “Fundamentals,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired Thursday, April 12, 2018.

The big surprise was, of course, the shocking return of Adrian Chase. When Oliver kept hearing random banging in the Arrow Cave, it seemed to be a telltale sign that things weren’t what they seemed — and that became clearer than ever when Chase burst out of the elevator guns a-blazing. The dynamic between those two characters has always been electric, and having a version of Chase just hanging around in Oliver’s subconscious was a whole lot of fun. It had shadings of the old Harvey/Crichton dynamic from Farscape (sorry, deep cut there) and helped peel back some layers into Oliver’s deeper fears and motivations.

It’s not often that Arrow dabbles in stories with an unreliable narrator, and though it didn’t lean as hard as it could have into that type of mind-bending story, it did leave some lingering questions over exactly what’s real and what isn’t along the way. It seems Oliver’s fears are complicated, ranging from abandonment issues of those around him to a deep-rooted anxiety that he’s lost sight of his original mission along the way. Not to mention fear that the decisions he’s made have hurt those around him, from Laurel to Rene. It’s interesting that all this leads to a revelation that you really have to wonder is the right one. Oliver exits his makeshift vision quest with the idea that he needs to take his mission back to basics and take on Diaz completely alone, in the same way his mission started way back in Season 1.

No Diggle, no Felicity, and no Team Arrow. But, it seems Oliver’s forgetting that Diggle has basically been backing him up from the jump. He was there in early Season 1 and quickly became a part of this mission when it was still in its infancy. Oliver has literally spent seasons coming to the realization that having people around him, and trusting people to have his back, isn’t a bad thing. To have the epiphany of this episode be that he should actually be going it alone just rings somewhat hollow. But who knows where this story might be heading — perhaps Oliver realizes the same thing in the end, and assembles all the disparate pieces of Team Arrows past and present to save the day?

Assorted musings

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*Pulling out the old “Hood” uniform, complete with the eyeblack, was a nice touch to show how Oliver is being affected to push his mission back to the beginning. And hey, taking the show back to its roots is certainly not a bad thing — it just has to come in a natural way that’s true to where the characters have gone in the past several years.

*It’s amazing just how much power Diaz has seemingly amassed in Star City, literally setting up shop in a police station surrounded by an entire precinct of dirty cops. They don’t delve too deeply into the politics of that, but it certainly raises some interesting questions about what to do when the institutions literally designed to govern and protect the people are corrupt beyond the point of being salvageable. Are vigilantes, rebellion, the only course of action left?

*So Oliver has officially been impeached, leaving Quentin Lance as Star City’s new interim mayor. It’ll be interesting to see how Quentin handles his transition into the role, especially considering the corrupt mess he’s inherited. On the flip side, this could be a really interesting story for Lance if they lean into it.

*Having Felicity talk Oliver down was likely a love-it or hate-it scene for fans, but true to the narrative, it reflects their marriage and relationship. Like it or not, Olicity is law now.

*In case you might’ve forgotten, Black Siren is still kicking around and seemingly still in bed with Diaz. Is she really playing both sides, though? Only time will tell.

Next week: Diaz pretty much rules Star City, and the city’s heroes don’t take too kindly to the idea.