From Russia With Love: Goon Reviews Arrow “Keep Your Enemies Closer”

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I believe that there is really only two words that can best sum up this weeks Arrow, FIELD TRIP!

So, we have the bulk of this weeks episode focused on Oliver and Co. trip to Russia to rescue Lyla, who we have discovered is Dig’s ex wife.  Who knew? The change of scenery was a fun way to spice things up.  While the show does revolve around Oliver being the hero in Starling City, and he should not be spending to much time away from the home front, a change is always good, after all, variety is the spice of life.

What I thought was best about this episode was the small amount of time that Oliver spent in the costume.  His taking the back seat, and instead supporting Dig in his mission was a great change up from the usual.  Ever since Diggle found out that Oliver was the vigilante and joined in his mission, he has constantly been the support for Oliver, and on more than one occasion when he needed his help, Oliver wasn’t there.  Seeing Oliver’s sole focus for this episode being on helping Diggle save Lyla was fantastic.  We really got see just how important Diggle’s friendship and support has been for Oliver, and it allowed Oliver to finally start to repay Diggle for all the help he has given him.  Basically, the greatest part of this episode was that we got to see just how strong Diggle and Oliver’s friendship is and how much they have come rely on each other.  This is honestly great to see, last week we saw the episode end with Diggle and Olive sharing a drink, which was a fantastic closing scene, and this week see Oliver jetting across the world to help Diggle on a personal mission.  This season we are seeing much more of the friendship between the two, and I am hoping this a trend we see developing more as the season progresses.

The other big part of the trip to Russia was the reappearance of Deadshot.  It was honestly no surprise that Diggle would run into him, especially given that he was in the trailer for the episode, but in an episode that focused so heavily on Diggle it is a pretty safe assumption the character who is basically his nemesis would make an appearance as well.  And what an appearance it was.  Seeing the two of them having to team up to escape the prison was fantastic to see.  Throughout the whole sequence you could clearly see the look of rage on Diggle’s face over having to work with, and help, the man who killed his brother.  What was best about this was how Deadshot dealt with the whole thing, while he did get a few digs in (no pun intended) he wasn’t just  the trypical villain asshole you would expect.  He didn’t taunt Diggle with the killing of his brother, didn’t purposefully try to entice him, didn’t even attempt to betray him.  He just worked with him to achieve their shared goal, very much showing that he is basically just a businessman, granted his business is killing people, but he’s not a dick about it.  I honestly think he was one of the more interesting villains of the show, the fact that he is used so minimally helps with this.  It makes his appearances that much more poignant for Diggle.  The biggest reveal of course coming at the end when it is revealed that that Deadshot didn’t kill his brother by accident, but was hired to do so by H.I.V.E.  This not only serves to introduce to Arrow another big part of the DC’verse, it raises  all sorts of questions as to why they would want Diggle’s brother dead.

This episode also presented us with a new look at Summer Glau’s character, Isabel Rochev.  Up until now all we have seen of her is the cold and professional businesswoman, that first wanted to dismantle Queen industries  and then see it profitable.  Now we see get some of her history, and big surprise, she has a tragic back story.  We seem to be seeing a lot of those in recent days.  Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does make sense.  Bad things happen to people, that then has a profound effect on them, but in this case I honestly found it a bit annoying.  She brings up this whole idea that she and Oliver are more alike than he realized, that they are both driven and lonely people.  I think its interesting for the show to draw this connection between the characters, and I am not sure that I like it.  While I am in full support of the writers actually developing Rochev’s character, as Glau is a great actress and deserves a great role, I was much more enjoying her as this foil for Oliver’s businessman side.  She cared about the company being profitable, Oliver actually cared about the people that worked for him.  I wanted to see more this, more of them butting heads over the direction of Queen Industries, not jumping into bed together.  Now, this new revelation doesn’t rule this out, if anything they can play it up to add more drama to their interactions in the future, but we always see that more vulnerable side of her character that was shown in Russia, and I don’t think that will really help to sell her as the villain for Oliver’s civilian life that she has the potential to be.

And of course, the last big thing to come out of Russia, Felicity.  She was not happy about Oliver and Isabel hooking up.  I was honestly happy to see this turn.  Not because of the drama, I’m sure that will just end up annoying me before to long, but because I have honestly been pulling for a Oliver/Felicity pairing since she first joined up with him in the first season.  We never really got much in the past that would hint at a relationship between the two, just that they were two close friends.  Here, we see her upset over what has happened.  She can’t understand why he slept her, she doesn’t like that he did, and closes out the episode with stating that she believes he can do better than Isabel, maybe with a certian blonde computer nerd.  While I am not overly thrilled with the high potential for drama that this could bring, it does at least plant the seeds of a possible future romance between the two that I would honestly love to see.

Back home in Starling, we got a bit of Queen family time.  Thea is told by her mother’s lawyer that to help in her mom’s case she needs to dump Roy.  Now, anyone with half a brain can see that this is total bull.   I felt that this was only put in to add unneeded drama to the episode.  Really, it wasn’t needed.  Between the upcoming trial and Roy secretly working for Oliver, there is plenty there to make for dramatic moments, we really didn’t need a one shot, throwaway plot to add more.  If anything this was only good for the closing scene where Moira basically tells Thea that their needing to break is a moronic and that they should be together.   Moira actually sees just how important Roy is to her daughter and how much she has come to rely on him.  Instead of making the episode better by adding more drama, most of it was waste.  It closed out with solid Moira scene, but that was it.

To close this review out, the island flashbacks.  Or in this case, the boat flashbacks.  They were solid this week, we got to see more of Sarah, which I was thrilled about.  She is great character so far and you can really see just how conflicted she is about what she has to do to Oliver.  You can clearly see on her face just how upset she is over her having to lie and basically torture him.  All the scenes with her were solid and very well done.  We also got a bit of Oliver’s backstory revealed, specifically how he got his ties to the Russian mob, while not getting the full story, we got the basics and its not to hard to figure out were this is going.  Also it is revealed that Shado and Slade are still alive and kicking, if a bit extra crispy.  Nothing all that surprising  there, didn’t actually think they were dead, but it was nice to see them again, not thrilled about the possible implications of a love triangle between Oliver, Shado, and Slade, but this is a CW show, love triangles are basically their bread and butter.  The biggest part of the flashback this week was the full reveal of what Ivo and his crew are on the island for, super serum.  Now, this is an interesting twist, in the comics Ivo’s big thing was robotics, it’s interesting to see that he is after something like this serum.  Can’t help but feel that Slade will end up getting a dose of it, as if memory serves, in the comics Deathstroke did get shot up with a drug that does much of what this super serum sounds like it does.

Overall, very good episode, one of the best so far this season.  We got some role swapping between Oliver and Diggs and got to see just how important their friendship is, some hinting at a possible relationship, more of Moira being an awesome mom, and some great set up in the flashbacks.   I look forward to next week’s episode, where if the title is anything to go by, we will some resolution to the Moira’s trial plot.

Goon out.

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