Past, present, and future collide in Arrow’s 150th episode.
It doesn’t feel like much time has passed since Arrow celebrated its 100th episode, but looking back on it now, episode #150 definitely feels a lot more special. This time, there is no need to serve a larger crossover storyline; it simply serves the series’ own needs.
“Emerald Archer” departed from the normal Arrow format, instead leaning on a This Is Spinal Tap/The Office approach to further the story along. It’s a gamble that paid off, just so long as you don’t ask why ARGUS would let cameras into their facility. It was also a great way to take a trip down memory lane and the past seven years in a new way. Not to mention, the perfect excuse to bring back some guest stars like Caity Lotz, Willa Holland, Grant Gustin, and even Joe Dinicol. Heck even, Paul Blackthorne came back to do the introduction to the “documentary”.
Despite being called “Emerald Archer,” this episode wound up being less about Oliver (Stephen Amell) and more about the terrible state Team Arrow was in post-season 6. Oliver believed he had finally found his true calling as a deputized member of the SCPD, but what about everyone else, especially former partners like Rene (Rick Gonzalez) or vigilante newbies like Emiko (Sea Shimooka)? Where episode #100 was about the crazy twists and turns Oliver’s life had taken since becoming the Green Arrow, #150 shows that he’s nothing without his team.
Diggle’s speech about bringing the team back together, having Oliver’s back, and learning from their mistakes set the tone for the episode, and possibly even the rest of the season moving forward. After all, John Diggle (David Ramsey) has always been Oliver’s much-needed conscience, his second in command. He’s always been there, helping Oliver whenever he fell out of step or needed to reevaluate his methods. And in episode #150, Diggle reinforced that with his speech, reminding us just how important John Diggle really is to Oliver Queen. It couldn’t have been anyone other than Diggle to tell Oliver what they needed to do.
After all, had been said and done, and Team Arrow had finally put down the bad guy, we still saw most of them getting arrested for being vigilantes. But in an almost predictable turn of events, not only did the District Attorney’s office decide not to press charges, Mayor Pollard (Laara Sadiq) decided to deputize them all after they saved her during the attack on the town hall meeting. Not a bad little twist, but we kinda saw that coming, didn’t we?
It was nice to see everyone working together for once instead of clashing as they had for the past season’s worth of episodes. And while it would be wonderful to have Oliver jump right back into the role of being a team leader, there’s much to be learned from him being part of a larger team that he doesn’t lead.
What really stuck out about this episode was the reintroduction of William (Jack Moore) after he’d been away at boarding school for all these months. It’s almost commonplace for TV shows to ship children off somewhere when they’re no longer needed. What isn’t so common is to see the after effects, the emotional fallout of that choice, and to show how it affects the characters. It’s not surprising that William is pretty pissed and hurt when he returns, as shown by his interactions with both Felicity and Oliver. “I think I’ve outgrown kiddo,” he tells Oliver upon his return, then he gets angry with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) after she uploads a virus onto his tablet. We don’t find out until the very end of the episode that he’s been hiding something pretty big from his parents.
Towards the end of the episode, we find Oliver closing everything out with the camera crew at the destroyed lair. Although his final speech is uplifting and hopeful, the episode soon transitions to a much darker glimpse of a ruined Star City. Connor Hawke (Joseph David-Jones) is back following his debut on Legends of Tomorrow Season 1. We also get the reveal that Blackstar is actually Mia Dearden (Katherine McNamara). It’s an interesting turn of events, one that hopefully allows the flash-forwards to regain their urgency in the weeks to come.
“Emerald Archer” served as a love note to the audience this week. It brought back old faces, had Team Arrow working together once again, and acknowledged Oliver’s journey through these past seven years as being one full of hardship and traumatic experiences he has had to overcome in order to become a truer version of himself, and that in spite of all that darkness, he’s grown by leaps and bounds from the Hood of old to the Green Arrow. Barry Allen, in his endearing inability to lie, may have said it best: “Oliver is an interesting guy, unbelievably damaged…he’s lived through a lot of darkness. All he cares about is making sure no one else has to.”
Photo Credit: Shane Harvey/The CW