What’s old is new again this week, as a few former members of Team Arrow are back in action (though one is admittedly a self-professed doppelgänger) as Diaz starts to make his play for the soul of Star City.
Spoilers ahead for “Doppelganger,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired Thursday, March 8, 2018!
This one had a lot of moving parts, though the headline was almost certainly the return of Colton Haynes’ Roy Harper, who basically pops in for a few scenes to get beaten to a bloody pulp. Diaz is proving to be a weirdly omniscient crime boss, having pieced together the identities of Team Arrow and even tracked down Roy, who had been living incognito across the country. It’s easy to forget just how much this show has changed and evolved over the past few years, but tossing Roy back into the ensemble really drove the point home. Oliver has recruited and trained an entirely new team (and subsequently seen them go rogue) in the time since Roy left. It’s great to have him back in the fold, but awkward all the same.
As for the endgame for pulling Roy back into Star City? It seems his re-emergence could potentially serve as an exit strategy for Thea, a character the writers have struggled to support in the years since Roy left town. In the post-Roy era, she’s been kidnapped, brainwashed, and put in a coma, and that’s just scratching the surface (a point Thea herself not-too-pointedly points out). If the writers do opt to have Thea run away with her true love Roy, it’d arguably be one of the best options to bring the character some closure. It’s been a long time since they’ve written her with any real agency, and at least having her reconnect with the love of her life would send her off on a happy ending. Or, who knows, maybe she’ll stick around and Roy’s return will help spur some better stories for Thea in the long run.
Along with Roy’s re-emergence, Black Siren has gone public and taken the late Laurel Lance’s name and identity — taking the “hide in plain sight” approach to try and protect herself from Dinah’s quest for revenge. Katie Cassidy has been a part of this cast from the jump, and having her evil Earth-2 counterpart join the series full-time has been a clever way to keep her in the fold. But the character needs to move the needle at some point. Quentin has been trying to rehabilitate her most of the season, an effort that has seen fits and false starts. Now, after helping Team Arrow rescue Roy, it seems she might be working with Diaz anyway. There are only so many times you can dip back into that well and keep it interesting. Here’s hoping it's headed somewhere clever.
*Well, the cat is out of the bag: Team Arrow knows Diaz has been pulling the strings all along, and the breadth of his operation is starting to come into view. Dinah and Quentin are looking into the extensive police corruption (which actually reaches all the way to the chief), and Diaz is certainly shaping up to be a formidable baddie.
*We don’t get much follow-up on Rene after his hospitalization, though we do see Curtis visit Rene’s daughter to tell her about his injury. It seems New Team Arrow is taking a bit of a break this week, with Dinah more than busy enough with her official business at Star City PD.
*It’s kind of funny that so much crazy crap has happened in the Arrowverse that the doctor who conducted an autopsy on Laurel isn’t even all that surprised to see her back alive.
*Oliver gets to grapple with some big ethical questions this episode, but they didn’t really get the attention they deserved. He questions if he really learned anything from letting Roy take the fall for him as the Green Arrow a few years ago (he really hasn’t), and brushes off Diggle when he tells him he wants to take up the Arrow mantle again. The show has really written itself into a corner here, evolving Oliver to the point he’d want to retire as a vigilante to be a better father, while simultaneously grappling with the fact that you can’t really do that and still have a show. It’ll be interesting to see how those opposing forces collide.
*An ethical question: We see Oliver and Diggle shoot and seemingly kill at least some of Diaz’s goons (including some who don’t even see it coming), yet Oliver won’t pull the trigger when he has Diaz dead to rights. Yes, this show has dealt with the ethics of killing in the Damien Darhk story a few years back, but the conviction and seriousness of that oath seems to weirdly come and go as-needed.
*That stinger scene makes it clear the League of Assassins is still kicking around, and it seems Thea will be recruited back in the fold as the one surviving heir of the most recent Ra’s al Ghul — her birth father, the late Malcolm Merlyn.
Next on Arrow: The series returns on March 29 with Thea taking on (or joining?) the League of Assassins.