After this season’s best episode, Arrow’s immediate follow-up, The Dragon, was an…interesting way to go. This wasn’t a bad episode, but it would have had a lot more impact if we got it when Diggle’s Team Arrow was first tracking him down. I get the attempt to flesh out the man who’s made Oliver’s life miserable this season, but it feels like an upside battle at this point at episode 19.
We get a rare flashback of a young Diaz getting harassed at an orphanage by a bully. The writers telegraphed their intentions a bit much here especially as Diaz’s first monologue to Black Siren is he’s a patient man and can wait plans out. After all, he’s been working on something for five years.
That something is a seat at the table of The Quadrant, an evil syndicate with its claws throughout the country. The notion that there’s a super secret, clandestine group operating nationwide that ARGUS has never mentioned or Felicity stumbled across in a random hack session was ludicrous. I’ll say this for The Quadrant though — they are a very diverse evil syndicate.
But the four heads of the family like their exclusive membership. Diaz and Black Siren get roped in to doing some grunt work for the privileged son of one of the leaders. Kirk Acevedo’s measured and cool line delivery makes Diaz a unique entry in the Arrow villain realm. It’s taken this season way too long to give Acevedo this kind of showcase episode. With a better take on Diaz, there’s no doubt Acevedo could have made him one of Arrow’s best villains.
Black Siren makes for a useful enforcer and Katie Cassidy has a cool dynamic with Acevedo, but there still seems like something’s missing from Diaz. And it didn’t help that the series’ best villain returned last episode to remind everyone how a formidable adversary should be done.
The idea here was similar to how he cozied up to Cayden James before betraying him, Diaz wanted to get a seat before taking over The Quadrant. That’s fine and all, but at this late point in the season is there enough time for that and why are we expected to care? So Diaz just wants to do what he’s already done. Gotcha.
That’s not exciting enough an agenda for the main bad guy. Six seasons in, it’s safe to say now that the best Arrow villains have some sort of personal stake against Arrow. Dark Arrow, Slade and Prometheus all spent all of their respective seasons tearing down Oliver. Diaz is basically piggybacking off of Cayden James’ plan — not to screw over Arrow, but to simply control Star City. It’s not as satisfying.
Diaz could just as easily accomplished this plan in Freeland and nuisance Black Lightning. In a weird bit of timing, Arrow used a trick we just saw on Black Lightning with the villain using a patsy as a bomb mule.
One thing that’s becoming clearer — Black Siren is losing her stomach for Diaz’s actions. She didn’t enjoy watching Diaz burn his childhood tormentor at all. I’m expecting her to have a full on Anakin moment when Emperor Diaz tries to force lightning Quentin. Diaz claims he controls the dragon, but he sure did seem to appreciate starting the fire. Maybe an arsonist gimmick would have helped make him stand out more?
Following Fundamentals’ drastic status quo change of having Oliver go it alone again, the subplot focus on Felicity and Curtis was a horrible decision. Felicity’s fretting and worrying about Oliver out on the streets alone while putting on a happy face to Curtis felt unnecessary. And a little out of character.
With Oliver apparently battling Diaz next week, I’m worried we’re not going to have much Lone Arrow before he comes running back to Team Arrow to help him. Short of the Diggle Arrow period so little of the first half of the season seemed to matter. Now it feels like the writers are speeding through the main part of the season that needs more time to play out.
File Closed: Cool dragon logo opening aside, this episode tried a little too late to provide some backstory to this season’s main villain.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: The CW