For the first time since the season premiere, Arrow felt more like a show about Oliver Queen and less an extended springboard for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
This was an eventful night with some major developments and possibly a strong hint as to who will be occupying that grave come six months later.
Oliver had Team Arrow assemble at Sebastian Blood’s former campaign office to share the news he’s running for mayor. I loved Team Arrow’s skepticism as it mirrored my own and they hit him with questions he couldn’t answer. Forcing Oliver to express why he wants to run for mayor beyond being the only candidate who can protect himself will go a long way to making this subplot work.
Bummed at their lack of excitement, Oliver does get his team thrilled about the new HQ, located underneath Blood’s office as he needed the hidden space to carry out his secret agenda. Arrowcave 3.0 is souped-up with space for the five members to breathe without tripping over each other. The costume lineup definitely borrowed a page from Batman even though it seems like it would be more sensible to keep them concealed.
While Oliver and company are settling into their new digs, we see a corrupt squad of Star City cops bust up a drug deal just so they can steal the money and drugs. They run into some honest cops and kill them, putting them on Team Arrow’s target. With the revelation of crooked cops running around, Lance wants in on taking them down.
I enjoyed the trap setup as Thea connected with a former dealer and Diggle was back playing bodyguard as the cop squad shows up. Initially, I was a little thrown off with this cop squad laying the smack down to Team Arrow. After all, that was the same squad that went to Nanda Parbat and whipped up on Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins last season.
Eventually we learned the rogue cops were members of Lance’s Anti-Vigilante Task Force with equipment to handle even Team Arrow. I still think Merlyn needs to significantly step up his LOA training and two, why in the world would Lance have the AVTF equipped with any tech that could take out either of his daughter’s canary cry gadgets?
Beyond the crooked cops, Lance had another issue to handle as Laurel reveals she’s got Sara chained up in the basement. Laurel still can’t come off anything but ridiculously delusional in this entire subplot. She insists that Sara’s gonna be fine even after she attacks her.
Lance has his doubts and asks Damien Darhk for assistance. Thankfully giving Neal McDonough a break from playing the season’s mustache-twirling villain, Darhk tells Lance father to father that’s not his daughter and he needs to kill Sara. As the rumors start spinning about Darhk’s daughter, Lance actually has Sara in his gun sight, before Laurel talks him out of it.
While trying to track the AVTF, Oliver and Felicity spot that conversation on city surveillance cameras prompting Oliver to confront Lance. This was a cathartic moment as Oliver laid into Lance, the man who continued to insist he hadn’t changed and deep down was still the same selfish jerk who got his daughter killed … twice.
There was always the unspoken dynamic with Lance and Oliver that Oliver viewed him as a father figure he desperately sought approval and atonement. Now the roles were reversed would Oliver be able to do the same?
Before Jesse L. Martin was bringing it every week on The Flash, Paul Blackthrone was delivering the emotional heavy lifting on Arrow and this episode was a reminder of how fortunate both shows are to have them in their cast. Stephen Amell was especially strong in those moments with Lance as well as his character rarely gets the opportunity to have the moral high ground on the supporting cast. This week we got a rare quiet moment with Thea and Oliver as he explains what’s so great about Star City even with his doubts if it can truly be saved.
The AVTF squad leader Liza Warner (Rutina Wesley) knows Lance made them, but she insists they can’t kill cops despite her being the one that pulled the trigger killing the officers earlier. That was a major inconsistency and one that could have been avoided simply from having another AVTF member commit the earlier murders.
Liza wants to get out of Star City, but first, they’ll force Lance to open the vault with all the drug bust money. Team Arrow arrives at the vault in time to easily handle the AVTF in the rematch, but Liza gets the drop on Green Arrow. Lance talks her down insisting they can still save this city, but it has to be done the right way. While Lance’s speech was pretty darned good, I don’t know if it was good enough for Liza to do a 180, but I’ll go along with it.
With Liza in custody, Lance tells Oliver he’s going to face the music for his ties to Darhk. Oliver wants Lance instead to continue the alliance as it’s the only way Team Arrow can get close to taking Darhk down. The mole in these cases rarely makes it out alive, but Lance is willing to do it. I’m highly intrigued how this plays out.
Thea calls Oliver to his campaign office where a staff of interns are hard at work. Thea rallied some of her Twitter followers to help the campaign and she even wrote a speech off of Oliver’s comments about making Star City better, which Oliver delivers with impressive conviction. I wasn’t a fan of the Oliver for mayor subplot, but this episode turned it around for me.
Laurel returns for Sara’s next meal only to find her gone. Geesh Laurel, at least you could have made sure the chains were tight.
Stray shots: Not much on the flashback front this week besides Conklin, one of the mercenaries finally getting a bit suspicious about Oliver, and almost right away finding Oliver’s not so-well hidden laptop with mission directives. Curtis has gotten curious about the pattern in Felicity’s phone as it resembles a code Ray Palmer was working on.
Rating: 9 out of 10
The focus on Quentin Lance’s spiral resulted in the season’s best episode with terrific performances from Blackthorne and Amell. Liza’s redemption felt rushed and Laurel continues to be the poorest written character on all of the comic book TV shows.