Arrow: 6.17 Brothers in Arms
With Roy, Thea and Nyssa gone we were back to the on-going war against Ricardo Diaz and sadly the magic of the last two weeks was clearly gone. The most frustrating thing about Arrow season six has been the whole divide between the vigilantes and after the frustrating and stupidly executed 'civil war' storyline of Collision Course, the series took it up another ridiculous level by tearing Oliver Queen and John Diggle apart.
The whole John being frustrated at not being given the promised mantle of the Green Arrow seemed petty and out of character - as Oliver and Lyla both pointed out - it was only a piece of cloth and he regularly saves the city as Spartan. Devoting so much of the episode to this was pointless and the attempt to build on this conflict by having John question every decision Oliver has made this season came out of nowhere and felt wholly contrived.
But the punch out in the Arrow cave was the last step. It was clearly signposted the moment they started to stand up to each other, but not in a tense, dramatic way. No, this felt forced and dare I say it, cliched. They was no subtle build up, the fight didn't feel earned and it made John, who up to this season has been one of the coolest and most noteable characters, seem like a fool. Yes Oliver was right to call him out on his drug use and association with Diaz himself, but then he played the fool himself by indulging in this fight.
Honestly, I have to question what the showrunners are doing this season (and yes the recent announcement of a new showrunner for season seven might be the breath of fresh air Arrow needs). They've forced great characters into frustrating, often ridiculous story arcs - Dinah and John particularly have not been served well by season six.
It's a shame as I quite like the Diaz storyline; Laurel playing Quentin and Diaz (I'm intrigued to see who that will turn out), Dinah's attempt to arrest Anatoly coming crashing down through the influences of the bought and paid DA and police chief and Oliver's attempt to out them falling on deaf ears - these were all great moments showing just how much power 'the Dragon' has over the city. He's not Deathstroke or Malcolm Merlyn or Prometheus, but his shadowy influences are keenly felt and the idea that he has already won is an intriguing idea. Star City has been taken without the Green Arrow and his allies even realising.
But it is all let down by these forced and tired conflicts between the protagonists; the fights, the disagreement, the crushing of the good guys should feel dramatic and earned but hasn't been done with any finesse. Plus you know the good guys are going to have to unite to defeat Diaz in the end, making this whole 'civil war' rather pointless. It's the same with the idea of John Diggle becoming the Green Arrow - you were just waiting for the moment Oliver Queen took back the mantle.
I'm not sure we're quite back into the over the top days of seasons three and four - Arrow has certainly retained its gritty, darker edge if nothing else - but the momentum is faltering long before the finish line. Given the way the storyline is going, I'm not sure season six is ever going to get quite back on track. Maybe the show needs a cast member cull or two to add some tension back into the proceedings?