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Tommy Merlyn returns for an Oliver Queen therapy session in the latest Arrow
Emiko dropped a building on top of Team Arrow last week, so we got to see everybody dig out this time around — and an old friend came back to offer Oliver a bit of wisdom as he takes on the Ninth Circle.
Spoilers ahead for “Living Proof,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired Monday, May 6, 2019.
“You are living proof that people can change. And you’ve got to find a way to see that in her, too.” -Tommy Merlyn
Most of Team Arrow was largely left unscathed after being crushed by a building, but the Green Arrow himself was pinned pretty good under some concrete and rebar — to the point he conjures the memory of his dearly departed pal Tommy Merlyn to help him face the existential crisis of how to take on a family member who is trying to kill him. It’s presented as a hallucination, but in a sense, Tommy serves as a guardian angel for Oliver in these moments. It’s a story they’ve told a few times — with Oliver flirting with the line of just how dark he should go to save the day — and in this moment Tommy steps into the breach to remind Oliver he’s changed since those Season 1 beatdowns he used to dole out to thugs.
Most of Oliver’s story follows him trying to blow a way out of the building — though it turns out he’s actually still pinned under debris, hallucinating these failed escape attempts — but it serves up a simple but effective metaphor of how Oliver is trying to face the problem at its core. He’s seeing red after learning Emiko killed their father, and wants to blow through the problem and simply kill Emiko to stop her reign of terror.
But Tommy tries to remind him there’s another way. Oliver has spent most of his life in a cycle of violence, and Tommy urges him to break free. Oliver is more than his anger and fury, as Tommy tells him to lean into the good parts of what he’s become as a hero. His loyalty, selflessness, courage, and compassion. Emiko knows no other way to process her pain, and Tommy at least believes Oliver can show her a better way. The jury’s still out on whether that will actually work, but for what it’s worth, he doesn’t pull the trigger on Emiko when given the opportunity.
Outside of Oliver’s mind, things are not going well. The team spent most of last week’s episode lying to the SCPD to cover for Roy’s murder of two security guards (in his defense, though, Roy was pushed by the same blood lust that derailed Thea a few years back, after he was revived using a Lazarus Pit). Emiko stole the security footage of Roy beating them to death, and sends it to the cops. So at this point, the entire team is on record lying to the police. It’d stand to reason that vigilante team-up is up in smoke. Emiko takes things a bit further by framing Oliver for a raid on the SCPD to steal a weapon.
There’s obviously a lot still happening here, but the fallout from this will not be good — and could even be what sets up the anti-vigilante future we’ve seen following in the flash-forwards.
Speaking of that future, Felicity’s new plan is to take down the future version of her Archer program that powers the Glades’ police state. That plan goes sideways when William’s rogue undercover mission is compromised, and a team of Galaxy One thugs bust into the future bunker.
The present-day team isn’t in much better shape, as the SCPD surround them after they help shut down Emiko’s assault on the precinct.
Next week: Arrow wraps up its penultimate season with a final face-off with Emiko and the Ninth Circle.