Arrow’s season premiere was rough. Expecting it to continue at the same level of excellence as last season might have been unrealistic. Thankfully, it only took one week for a course correct. Tribute was a terrific episode that was much more in line with the higher standards set from last year.
Oliver has made a lot of enemies over the last six years, but his best villains have always been the ones with a personal stake. Merlyn, Slade or Prometheus wouldn’t have been as interesting without that personal connection. While he’s not at that same level, Anatoly is another adversary who was once a close ally and friend.
That’s what’s made his transformation into a new threat so tragic and compelling. Anatoly continually helped Oliver in the series and it’s led him down a road where he’s in exile and resorting to kidnapping Markovian delegates for ransom. Tribute also featured some strong fight scenes, which I’ve come to appreciate much more after watching Inhumans.
I really like that even after all the grief and Anatoly’s men gunning down innocents, Oliver is still too conflicted to harm his old friend. Typically, heroes place the greater good above their feelings, but Oliver still has a deep loyalty to Anatoly. It’ll be interesting if that comes back to haunt him this season.
It was a smart move for the writers not to endlessly drag out what’s wrong with Diggle. The shrapnel has left him with degenerative nerve damage. Rather than a huge body count, Prometheus left some lasting damage to at least one member of Team Arrow.
Diggle’s scenes with Dinah still have a lot more sexual tension than a teammate concerned about her partner. Their interaction comes off like Diggle cheated on Lyla and Dinah is low-key mad at him for ending their affair and going back to his wife way more than his bum arm.
Initially, Felicity and Curtis’ subplot over his side job was exasperating. Occasionally, their super genius/super nerdy conversations get obnoxious. But the payoff in Tribute was well worth the setup with the prospect of the two forming a business. That has some interesting possibilities.
The only Team Arrow member who really seems directionless is Wild Dog. Rene doesn’t really add much to the fight scenes and his position as Lance’s aid also seems unnecessary. Outside of bringing Hoss back, I’m not sure what he’s contributing at this point.
I really wasn’t interested in another prolonged storyline where Star City questions if Oliver is Green Arrow. That’s been overdone and it almost seemed like the writers realized this wasn’t a storyline with legs.
The federal investigation probably won’t be over with, but at least it’s not going to be a prominent plot point this year. At least it provided one great moment with the Bruce Wayne reference, which was almost shocking to have a legit Batman shout out.
Oliver has no real clue on how to be a father so it makes sense that he’s botched it so often. Whether it’s leaving William hanging in mid conversation to put out another fire or making the unrealistic promise he won’t be alone, Oliver is not passing Fatherhood 101.
That made Tribute’s final scene such a great moment. I assumed Oliver called Diggle in to ask him to be William’s godfather. To raise him as his own if something terrible happened.
Instead, Oliver wants to retire and hand the hood to Diggle, who accepted! It definitely seemed like Diggle was going to tell Oliver he needed to quit thanks to his arm, which will clearly be a factor if he’s shooting arrows.
That was very unexpected and I’m very excited about the direction this twist will take the season. Obviously, Oliver will return as Green Arrow, but will it be after Diggle or another member of Team Arrow gets killed first?
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: The CW