Oliver faces his own mortality and chooses fatherhood in the latest Arrow

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Mar 26, 2021, 9:00 AM EDT (Updated)

The big story this year at the heart of Arrow is Oliver’s struggles becoming a father to his estranged son William, and Star City’s homegrown vigilante made a surprising decision this week when the rubber hit the fatherhood road.

Spoilers ahead for “Tribute,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired October 19!

Pretty much everyone comes gunning for Oliver this week, and a very pissed-off Anatoli leads the charge, kidnapping a visiting businessman in an effort to squeeze Star City for $20 million. Oliver has to juggle that crisis with the PR nightmare of having a photo of him circulating while fully suited up as the Green Arrow, but it all leads to the realization that Oliver isn’t just putting his own life on the line every time he pulls that bow. He’s now putting his son’s life, and his son’s future, in the crosshairs. William has already lost his mother — what will happen to him if Oliver is arrested, or killed?

That’s a question Oliver has to actually face this week, and he makes the decision many parents would in the same situation. Surprising as it may be. The episode ends with Oliver asking Diggle to take up his mantle as the Green Arrow, effectively paving the way for Oliver to retire from the role to focus on his duties as a father (and mayor, presumably). Making sacrifices for your kids is part of being a parent, and though most of us aren’t hanging up a cowl, the well-being of one’s family often does play a key role in tough decisions.

Slade warned Oliver last week that it’s pretty much impossible to live effectively in both of these worlds, and we saw that play out fully in “Tribute.” Every heart-to-heart Oliver has with William is interrupted by a ringing phone, while Oliver is more than an hour late to a meeting thanks to his hood (and fatherhood) duties. It’s not just burning the candle at both ends, it’s burning it from the middle out.

Seeing Oliver have those moments with William, and labor over the promises he makes to his son and how his decisions will affect him, makes for some of the strongest character growth this series has seen in years. It’s a story that’s been long in the making, and it looks like it will finally get its due.

To see Oliver make that decision to pass the torch is a brave creative mood, and the peek at next week show’s Diggle settling into his role as the new-look Green Arrow. Of course, that status quo probably won’t last for too long (Stephen Amell is still the star of the show, after all), but it’s an exciting direction, regardless. Oliver’s biggest challenge this season isn’t someone like Prometheus or the Dark Archer, its fatherhood. Handing over the bow and arrow to Diggle should free up his schedule a bit more to take it on.

Of course, having Diggle become the new Green Arrow presents its own set of problems. Diggle also has a wife and child, and just because it’s not Oliver under the cowl, that doesn’t mean the FBI will stop hunting the Green Arrow. If anything, he’s just painted a bullseye on Diggle’s back. It’s a cool gesture, but it doesn’t make a lot sense when you start picking it apart. Diggle should have the same familial concerns as Oliver, right?

Assorted musings

*We knew it was coming, but that Batman easter egg was still a lot of fun: “They could’ve put Bruce Wayne’s head on that body.” No, it doesn’t mean we’ll actually get to meet the Dark Knight, but it does do a whole lot to enrich this universe and establish that these A-list characters do exist in the Arrowverse.

*The mystery over who sent the photo of Oliver remains a mystery, though we do learn it apparently came from within the TV news station. But who is trying to sabotage Oliver’s life?

*FBI Agent Watson’s investigation into Oliver’s alleged superhero-ing looks to be sticking around for the foreseeable future, but one question: Couldn’t ARGUS just pull some strings and make this go away? ARGUS outranks the FBI, right? Why not at least have Lyla put in a few calls to see if it helps?

*We learn Diggle was hit by some shrapnel during the explosion on Lian Yu, which is the reason he’s been getting the shakes whenever he pulls his gun. He has degenerative nerve damage, which means Diggle’s superhero-ing days could be numbered. That’s not good news for a guy taking over as the Green Arrow.

*The Human Target gets a namedrop! The team points out he could definitely help take the heat off Oliver, but alas, he’s out of the country.

*It was interesting to see where they left the relationship between Oliver and Anatoli. They’re clearly at odds, but there’s still a level of respect there. Their connection in the flashback arc was one of the highlights of those over the years. It’s great to see him sticking around in the modern day.

*William doesn’t want to learn how to fight from Oliver, but sheesh, who better to teach a kid to defend himself, right?

*What kind of arrow did Oliver use to blow that door off its hinges? A magic, door-exploding arrow? Cool scene, but yeah, that was a bit far-fetched.

*Felicity and Curtis go into business together, which makes so much sense, and might finally help explain where these folks get their money. Nice to see Curtis asking the hard questions — like what does Diggle do for work, again?

Next week: Star City has a new Green Arrow. The Green Diggle.