Arrow changed course a bit this week and let a character other than Stephen Amell’s title hero take center stage. It’s been a strong showing for the sophomore season so far, so a departure episode like “Keep Your Enemies Closer” is worthwhile for character development since the main storyline has been so rewarding. Even though Oliver Queen isn’t the main focus this time, he still gets in on the action (in more ways than one), thanks in part to the show’s use of flashbacks that help drive the central story forward. We also got a brief introduction to another fan-favorite character from the DC Comics who’s likely to pop up again in the future. Hit the jump for my recap and review, and remember that what happens in Russia stays in Russia.
Taking the lion’s share of the spotlight this week was John Diggle (David Ramsey), who got knocked out and kidnapped by members of A.R.G.U.S. while he was helping Arrow take down some crooks. Who was behind the order? None other than Amanda Waller, aka “Mockingbird” (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who is one of the most powerful non-superpowered characters in the DC universe. While I’m looking forward to seeing her more in the future, Waller was only used to set up Diggle’s conflict in this episode. Turns out that one Agent Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson) was compromised overseas and it’s up to Diggle to bring her home safely. OH! And she was busy tracking Deadshot (Michael Rowe) at the time. No problem, right?
Well the fun part of this episode was the road trip that Diggle, Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) took to Moscow, with an unexpected guest in tow: Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau). Didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but it set up a bit of an extra conflict on Oliver’s end along with a rare chance for some romance on the show. Other than that – and an opportunity to show off some Russian language skills – Isabel’s presence there was a bit goofy, especially when she didn’t ask why they came home with an extra person or why everyone was all beat up … but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Normally, Diggle would have taken any opportunity to bring Deadshot – the man who killed his brother – to justice, but an even greater threat hung over his head this time around. He revealed that Lyla wasn’t just his friend and comrade from the service, but actually his wife. It was his love for Lyla that kept him from killing Deadshot on the spot when he inevitably found him deep within the bowels of the Russian gulag. The setup and execution were a bit rushed but, of course, Diggle ended up rescuing Lyla with the help of Oliver, Felicity, Anatoli Knyazev (David Nykl) and, surprisingly, Deadshot himself. The biggest reveal of the episode is that Deadshot didn’t accidentally kill Diggle’s brother, he did it on purpose as part of a contract kill taken out by someone known only as H.I.V.E. (Which you probably can’t find by just searching on Bing.)
Arrow took a bit of time out for another smaller storyline this week, tying the relationship between Thea (Willa Holland) and Roy (Colton Haynes) to the impending court case of Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson). It was all pretty self-contained and probably won’t have any ramifications in future episodes, but there’s just not much for those three to do right now. Laurel (Katie Cassidy) wasn’t even on screen this week, so hopefully she’s laying off those pills.
Now let’s talk about Oliver’s time on the island, or more accurately, the freighter ship. Oliver is being interrogated by Ivo (Dylan Neal), who is looking for a lost World War II-era Japanese submarine that carries the secret to a serum known as “Miracle”, which causes increased strength and cell regeneration. Sara (Caity Lotz) appears to be helping Oliver off the ship and back to his friends, but she double-crosses him. Ivo now knows that Shado (Celina Jade) and Slade (Manu Bennett) are alive and know the location of the remains of the Japanese soldiers. Not good news for all involved, but at least they’re keeping Oliver alive for the time being (it’d be tough to carry the show on without him, after all). Place your bets on who ends up finding the serum and who becomes a test subject!
Quotes & Quivers:
Just a reminder that the particle accelerator controversy is still in the background.
Oliver/Arrow: “You killed my friends.”
Rochev: “What were her qualifications other than an abundance of short skirts?” Queen: “Her skirts aren’t that … short.”
Anatoli Knyazev: “We have no word for ‘optimist’ in Russian.” (оптимист)
Diggle: “Felicity, Lyla isn’t my friend … she was my wife.” Felicity: “Explain that sentence.”
I love it when writers/actors actually take the time to learn and speak Russian.
Oliver: “I need to warn my friends.” Sara: “You said they were dead.” Oliver: “They’re not that easy to kill.”
Slade’s burns aren’t looking too good. Maybe he should think about getting a mask.
Rochev: “Why do you try so hard to make me think you’re a lazy idiot?”
Felicity: “What happens in Russia stays in Russia … even when it makes no sense whatsoever.”
So much for not killing people anymore: An explosive blows a hole in the prison wall and kills most of the guards in the vicinity before Diggle, Lyla and Deadshot shoot down the rest.
Deadshot: “That’s the thing about honor, John. You can’t turn it on and off.”
Diggle: “Thank you. You had my back.” Oliver: “And now you know what it feels like.”
Oliver: “Because of the life that I lead … I think it’s better that I not be with someone that I could really care about.” Felicity: “Well I think you deserve better than her.”
Check out a promo for next week’s episode, “State vs Queen”: