The sixth season of The CW’s Arrow might be the most ambitious yet when it comes to shaking up the status quo of the long-running series, and the latest episode took us deeper down what is proving to be a fascinating narrative rabbit hole.
Spoilers ahead for “Next of Kin,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired Thursday, October 26, 2017!
“I was never sure. Not one time.” -Oliver
Turns out it’s not easy being the man in charge. The entire concept of Arrow took a turn in the final moments of last week’s episode, when Oliver announced his retirement to spend more time with his estranged son and passed the Green Arrow mantle to his longtime partner Diggle. Diggle accepted, and “Next of Kin” featured his growing pains from executing orders to actually giving them. The crux of the A-story finds Diggle freezing when it comes time to make a tough call in the field, and working to overcome that anxiety and fear. Yes, the execution is a bit clunky and cheesy at times, but it’s still a compelling story — and actually offers up a new hero’s journey now that Oliver is more than busy balancing his family and mayoral duties.
Fans have been following Diggle’s story for six seasons, but we’ve never seen him step into the spotlight like he is now. He helped Oliver build Team Arrow the past few seasons, and now he has the reins to actually run it. Oliver made that juxtaposition abundantly clear when he popped by the Arrow Cave and found Diggle in a pose that was all too familiar: Sitting in the corner, brooding, just like Oliver has done off and on every season, dating back to his grand escape from Lian Yu. Oliver has the opportunity to give Diggle the same type of pep talk the former Spartan has been dolling out for years.
Diggle has thrived in a supporting role, and though this story is still in its early stages, it’s great to see him get a chance to grow in a new direction. It also pushes Oliver into a mentor role he’s shied away from in the past, passing on what he’s learned in his tenure under the hood. To thrive, these characters need to change and grow — and this year is already bringing it in spades.
As for Oliver, he’s keeping plenty busy trying to save Star City in the light of day as mayor (while staving off an FBI investigation into his alleged vigilante activities), and actually pulls a clever political move to combat plans for anti-vigilante legislation. When the writers made the decision to have Oliver enter the political realm a few seasons ago, it represented extremely fertile ground for storytelling — and by benching him as the Green Arrow — they finally have the freedom to explore it.
There’s a whole team to handle the action, the set pieces, and catching the bad guys. No Oliver required. He's still fighting for Star City, just in a way that actually brings something fresh to a series that’s been on television for more than half a decade. Thanks in large part to that, Season 6 feels as fresh as ever.
We also get a wider window into Oliver’s personal life. He’s connecting with his son, and finally decides to bring Felicity into that part of his life after seeing how well she connects with William. Olicity fans have been patient, and it looks to be rewarded now. The power couple are back together, and though you know something will eventually go horribly wrong, for now they look to be one big, happy family.
*Diggle’s new crossbow hybrid bow is awesome. It’s a testament to how he’s keeping the legacy alive, while putting his own spin on it. Can’t wait to see that thing in action.
*That jump/throw/Canary cry move in the opening action scene was insane. In a mostly good way.
*The baddies this week were mostly C-grade and generic, but their plan really made no sense. At all. They’re a rogue black ops team that stole a bunch of gold. Got it. Then, they track down defectors from their team to cover their tracks. That also makes sense. They use poison gas to kill two of them, then attack Kord industries for more gas to kill the third guy. But, why go to all that trouble to get gas for the hit? Why not just put a regular ol’ hit on the guy and take him out? Onyx even does just that, and pulls a gun on the remaining witness, after the gas plan doesn’t work. Why bother with the gas at all? Trying to steal it just looks like a needless risk when all you really want to do is kill a random witness. Just sayin’.
*The line: “I really hope he’s not making decisions based on animal code names,” from Felicity was pretty great.
*So that FBI investigation isn’t going anywhere, and it seems the agent is quickly piecing together the members of Team Arrow. You know Oliver will eventually suit up again, and it’ll be interesting to see how this investigation eventually intersects with all of that.
*Uh oh. Diggle has been hiding nerve damage, and for a while, it looked like it wasn’t going to be a problem — at least until that final scene. Turns out Diggle is purchasing a shady drug on the streets to hide the tremors caused by the shrapnel in his shoulder. This is not going to end well. At all.
Next week: Evil Laurel is back, which makes sense, considering we already knew she’d eventually be a series regular again. But… how? That’ll hopefully be the fun part.