Instead of simply taking the week off for reruns, Arrow set the table with a game-changing episode to celebrate Thanksgiving. Pun intended: “Thanksgiving” was definitely no turkey.
Spoilers ahead for “Thanksgiving,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired November 23, 2017.
“That was your biggest mistake? Mine was trusting you to be the Green Arrow.” - Oliver
It wouldn’t be the holidays without some family squabbles — and when that family also happens to deck out in tactical gear and beat up criminals for a living, they can be high-stakes and heated, to say the least. Diggle’s lingering nerve damage from the explosion on Lian Yu has been a subplot for much of the season, and it finally came to a head this week. After trying an experimental treatment from Curtis to cure the problem, Diggle literally collapses from fatigue in the middle of a mission, which turns out to be a dangerous mix of withdrawal from his old steroids and side effects from the new implant.
With Diggle in the hospital, we finally get the faceoff fans have been anticipating for weeks, as Oliver confronts him and lays all the cards on the table. These men have been through a lot the past six years, and seeing Oliver tell Diggle he’s disappointed in him for the first time in their friendship, it’s a brutal moment. Even if they do make up an act or two later. Ever since Season 1, John Diggle has been the heart, soul, and conscience of this series. Sure, he’s struggled along the way, but this is something different. Diggle knew he was compromised, covered it up, and put the team at risk — and almost got himself killed in the process. But the reason for all of it might be the biggest reveal of all.
Diggle pulls a throwback to last year’s alien-centric crossover where the team fought the Dominators, and came clean to Oliver that his perfect life (during the episode where a few of the team members were hooked up to pods that made their innermost dreams come true) found him under the hood as the Green Arrow. Even Diggle didn’t know it was his dream to be Star City’s savior, but when Oliver presented the opportunity, he did anything to make it happen. Anything. It’s a fascinating peek into the psyche of Diggle, and where Oliver decided to sacrifice the hood for his family, Diggle took the opposite track. Blame Oliver all he wants, but it was his call to take up the mantle. The real question is why, and that’s something we’ll almost certainly see explored through the rest of the season.
But that doesn’t mean Oliver is super dad, either. Far from it. With Diggle sidelined, he suits back up in an attempt to stop a bomb attack, then lies to William about it. Breaking his promise to no longer be the Green Arrow. Oliver is still working to build trust with his son, and the events of this episode will almost certainly come back to bite him.
*Thea is awake! It’s a Thanksgiving miracle. This show has struggled to figure out what to do with Thea for years now, and tossing her into a coma didn’t really bode well for her direction this season. But Thea miraculously wakes up just in time to eat some turkey, so it’ll be interesting to see how they reintegrated her into the narrative. Here’s hoping the writers spent that downtime working up a story to actually give her something to chew on.
*Along with Diggle and Oliver’s fight, Felicity and Curtis also butted heads over their new startup. They work amazingly well together, but communication seems to be an issue.
*Agent Watson’s investigation into Oliver came to an end this week, with the positively ludicrous move to arrest Oliver in front of his son, while giving a speech at a Thanksgiving food drive. Oliver threatens to sue her for malicious prosecution, and yeah, he’d certainly have a decent case. The real head-scratcher is that Watson claims to have a smoking gun to prove that Oliver is the Green Arrow. Sadly, that big reveal will be held back for trial.
*The mysterious hacker Cayden James returned this week, and we finally learned the apparent reason for his attacks on Star City: He blames the Green Arrow for the death of his son, though Team Arrow has no clue how they may be connected. As far as motivations go, this is one we’ve seen before with a few variations, so it’ll be interesting to see where they take it. Hopefully it’s not just a retread.
*So what’s next for Diggle, for real? Can they figure out a way to fix permanent nerve damage? Because if not, dude can’t be hitting the streets anymore. Which, yeah. They fixed Felicity’s spinal damage with McGuffins, so who’s to say they can’t solve this one, too?
*As if Oliver being arrested weren't bad enough, the anti-vigilante referendum passed, meaning there will be stiff penalties and ever harsher persecution for anyone who suits up. Cayden James manipulated the vote by releasing video of Team Arrow fighting fake cops (reality is perception, after all). What’s his stake in this? Just making Oliver’s life harder? How will these new laws affect the team?
Next week: Arrow will air on Monday with a special episode, as part of the Crisis on Earth X event. Don’t forget!