If it felt like Arrow was spinning its wheels the past few weeks, we finally know why — they were saving the big guns for the milestone 150th episode. We got a big concept approach, some major plot action, and the team-ups we hadn’t realized we were missing so much this year.
Spoilers ahead for “Emerald Archer,” the 150th episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.
To survive this long, Arrow has changed a lot over the past few years. Team Arrow has spent pretty much this entire season broken apart, with each member either working for Argus, working for the cops, retired, or in prison (for a while). Even when Oliver got out of prison and started working for the cops, Team Arrow was never reassembled. This latest season has moved the story forward with the former players all finding new roles in this world.
But all that changed this week.
With a mysterious new baddie out hunting vigilantes and using their masks as trophies, Team Arrow decides to come out of retirement to catch the criminal. The choice of villain — a one-dimensional take on Chimera, a name that’s been used a few times across DC Comics but is pretty much just a one-off here — holds a particular relevance to “Emerald Archer.” The episode is partially framed around a faux documentary into the rise of vigilantism across cities like Star City, National City and Gotham City (ahem), but with a key focus on the Green Arrow.
That setup serves as a great way to revisit allies and heroes of years past, with everyone from the late Quentin Lance to Thea Queen to Rory Regan popping up giving brief testimonials on camera. It also dabbles into the larger questions of vigilantism at its core, whether it’s morally right to “break” the law to do some good, and whether they’ve done more harm than good in the long run. It made for a clever way to look at the show’s legacy through an outside lens, while also looking at the origin of not just this fictional hero but the entire Arrowverse as a whole he has birthed along the way. It even opened with a Warner Bros. Pictures logo to set the mood.
The villain turns out to be a mental patient who is obsessed with vigilantes after being saved by the Green Arrow several years ago, a tidbit we learn in a throwaway line. He clearly just exists as a foil to rally Team Arrow, but it begs the question how this random guy came up with such a formidable battle suit and tactical abilities that allowed him to capture heroes such as Ragman, Helena, and Emiko along the way. Speaking of which — this is the first we’ve heard of Rory and Helena in quite a while, and their fates are left open-ended when the screen fades to black. It’d be a shame to kill these two off-screen, especially considering Rory was an interesting character with a fascinating power set during his very brief tenure on the team.
With a threat so real, Team Arrow reassembles to set a trap to take him down. After some excellent action, the plan works, though everyone but Oliver is arrested once the clash comes to an end. But the mayor has a change of heart after being saved by Dinah’s canary cry, and makes the surprising decision to instead deputize the whole gang. That’s right — Team Arrow has gone legit. The story ends with the team returning to the abandoned Arrow Cave vowing to rebuild it bigger and better.
Of course, that’s not the end of the story. We finally make a jump to the future in the episode’s closing moments, to a version of the future where Oliver’s documentary has apparently been banned. We learn this moment in history is apparently the beginning of Star City’s downfall, as vigilantes are blamed for the city’s failure. Again, there’s a lot we don’t know about the future here.
William is also finally back in town, after apparently being expelled from his private boarding school. There’s still a lot we don’t know about this story, too. He tells Felicity he’s hurt about being sent away, so expect more from that story moving forward.
Emiko survived her run-in with Chimera, and the fallout seems to have only solidified her partnership with Rene. Could a little more than a professional partnership be brewing there?
So does the re-emergence of Team Arrow mean Diggle is leaving Argus? Or will he just moonlight with the vigilantes and keep his day job?
NEXT WEEK: The action looks to take a more horrific twist, with an episode that plays into classic horror movie tropes.