Oliver finally got his one-on-one fight with Diaz this week in a positively bone-crunching brawl for the fate of the city, but as expected, it wasn’t quite that easy. Oh, and New Team Arrow is even newer, now with a whole lot more Diggle.
Spoilers ahead for “Shifting Alliances,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired Thursday, April 26, 2018!
A major theme the past few episodes has been Oliver’s push for a “back to basics” approach, which has led him to alienate his team and even kick his wife Felicity out of the Arrow Cave. Which makes it rather strange that his plan this week was to basically have himself captured by Anatoly as a way to get closer to Diaz, basically putting his fate in Anatoly and the hope that he could reconnect with him and appeal to his friendship and honor. For a guy looking to go it alone, he sure is rolling the dice with an old friend on this one.
Oliver’s plan works in some ways, and he really does start to nag at Anatoly’s honor by pointing out how much he’s given up by getting into bed with Diaz. He makes it into a room with Diaz, and even manages to beat him in hand-to-hand combat — until Diaz breaks the terms of their agreement and knifes Oliver in the side. It might have cost him a few pints, but it did make his point crystal clear to Anatoly: Diaz is not a man who can be trusted.
Which begs the question: Is Oliver completely wrong here? Anatoly tells him as much, noting his epiphany (the decision to drop his team and go solo) is pretty dumb at face value. The fact that Oliver’s big solo move this week ended with him bleeding from the side and behind bars is a fair testament that going it alone doesn’t always turn out so well. Anatoly makes plans to potentially bust out Oliver, but that’s before he’s summoned and limps into a room with Diaz and Black Siren. As for Diaz, he finally uses all his immense power within Star City for something useful, and has Oliver formally re-arrested for vigilantism and has the courthouse push his trial up to next episode, err, week.
This show has been trying its hardest to make Diaz into an evil, inhuman force to be reckoned with — but after facing off with everyone from a near-immortal assassin to a magical killer with a lot more juice on paper, it’s still a tough sell to give the Dragon that much menace. Laurel is positively terrified of him, but this is a woman who has stood beside metahuman speedster baddies like Zoom and not really missed a beat. Yes, Diaz is clearly dead inside and capable of anything — but he’s still just a man. That’s not meant as a fault to the job Kirk Acevedo is doing with the character, just a symptom of where you end up after season upon season of oneupmanship. Sure, it’s a nice throwback to have a human villain who is simply ruthless to face off with Oliver, but it still can come off as a bit toothless when someone like Black Siren — who, as Quentin points out, could turn Diaz to goo with a whistle — is so terrified of the guy.
This week also affords up a peek into how Quentin is settling into his new role as Star City mayor, and after running the gamut of emotions, he decides to capitulate to Diaz to protect Laurel. Which, as he even points out, rings a bit familiar these days. We’re still waiting to see where the chips fall for Laurel when push comes to shove, but at least for now it looks like Quentin is playing the long game in an effort to keep himself, and Laurel, alive.
*New Team Arrow is back in business this week, with Rene finally out of the hospital and suiting up as Wild Dog. He faces some PTSD from almost being killed in the field, and after briefly stepping away, decides to come back after getting a pep talk from his daughter. After a season of angst from Oliver over being a superhero parent, this was actually a welcome change of pace. Zoe tells Rene that she’s clearly figured out they’re all vigilantes, and she wants her dad on the streets fighting for the city and standing up for what’s right. It’s a nice sentiment, and looks to be just the push Rene needed.
*New Team Arrow also had a fresh team-up this week, as Diggle and his new ARGUS crew helped out to tag and destroy a large shipment of weapons that were part of a deal in Diaz’s new relationship with the Quadrant. Introducing ARGUS resources into the mix makes for a new dynamic, though you have to wonder why we’ve never seen ARGUS do much up until now in this fight? Does Diggle simply have the authority to retask agents to help clean up Star City, apparently? If it’s this easy, why didn’t Team Arrow reach out for some extra resources months ago?
Next week: It’s the People vs. Oliver Queen. The only problem is that Diaz owns the court system, so it’s going to take a miracle to get Oliver out of this one. Luckily, he has one heck of a WTF twist in the making: The apparent return of Tommy Merlyn, who shows up sporting a Green Arrow costume in the teaser for next week. Is this an alt-universe version of Tommy, or is the show actually looking to bring the character back? Hey, they have said they’re going back to basics, right?