Arrow: 7.17 Inheritance
A good flashback should enhance the story that follows, putting what we know in a new light; this was something Arrow itself lost sight of in its later years. But those early flashbacks were exciting moments, turning the show in its head and challenging the audience's expectations. This week's episode really felt like the Arrow of old, putting Oliver against a powerful new enemy while flashbacks gave us a completely difference perspective on his sister Emiko Queen.
As the show enters its endgame, it brought in a new formidable threat in the Ninth Circle, a powerful criminal organisations pulled from the more recent DC comics. Dante - we assumed - was at the head of this organisation with sister Emiko seemingly indebted to him after he helped train and raise her up after her and Oliver's father abandoned her.
For what has felt like a largely one note character, Emiko was developed tenfold as we saw her abandoned by her father at eleven and make that connection with Dante that saw her trained in fighting skills from a young age. The flashback where an young adult Emiko reconnected with her father and was then discarded in favour of his love for playing Oliver, was heart-breaking. As Oliver pointed out, there were so many points where she could have been good if she had just been given the live, support and opportunity he had.
Sea Shimooka clearly made the most of the episode, getting to play more than moody and secretive. Through her flashbacks we saw a vulnerability to her character and a strength too then went far beyond her 'wanting revenge for the death of her mother' storyline that has dominated her part in the season so far. And this was absolutely needed; by playing on the idea of Oliver trying to save her from Dante, it made the twist behind her motivations all the more impactful. Having her as the woman that had the Queen's Gambit destroyed - the event that kick-started Arrow in the first place - has made her an integral part of the shoe in its late run.
Having her as the woman in charge of the Ninth Circle did feel a little bit of a step too far, but I do like how she was able to manipulate Oliver and his team to the very end, setting herself up as the latest in a long line of evil archers for the Green Arrow to face. While she doesn't quite have the presence of Malcolm Merlyn or Adrian Chase, she has clearly shown just how ruthless she can be - in eliminating Ricardo Diaz and now destroying Laurel's fragile reputation as DA - and I'm looking forward to see how events escalate as the series heads into its final five episodes.
Whether she continues into the final season - like Diaz did between six an seven - remains to be seen, but the emotional stakes seems as high as the physical ones and what her actions means for the dystopian future we've been watching all season is perhaps the biggest hook for what has certainly been another return to form for Arrow.