Arrow: 6.03 Next of Kin
Having Oliver Queen sit out of vigilante duties to focus on being Star City's mayor and father to William was never going to last for long. But the third episode of Arrow's sixth season certainly kept up the pretence without reverting to the status quo by the end. In fact, Next of Kin was actually quite entertaining, focusing on the new dynamic of John Diggle as the titular hero and lead of team Arrow.
The epic takedown of returning villain Alex Faust was a high octane opening and the action continued to deliver as the team faced a rogue black ops team led by Chastity Dotson's Onyx Adams. From the moment Black Canary 'soniced' Diggle across the buildings, this proved to very different team. In fact, the changes made last season have generally paved off. Wild Dog's new costume is much better and there is greater level of maturity from Rene Ramirez, particularly the moment he made the decision to sensitively voice his leadership concerns about to Diggle to Oliver.
Juliana Harkavy's Dinah Drake / Black Canary continues to shine as the best character introduced in the last couple of years. Her detective role is just as badass as her Canary and she has wisdom and experience to boot, supporting Diggle as the leader all the while helping him to manage his PTSD from Lian Yu. If anything, she is the leader the team really needs now and who knows, if Diggle's issues truly come to light and Oliver doesn't return straight away, team Black Canary would be a worthy substitute.
Onyx and her team weren't exactly the strongest run of villains, but they certainly demonstrated some intelligence, using flash grenades to stun and take on team Arrow. This of course forged two very cool moments; Diggle and the team in shades as they fought off the attack (Diggle's green Arrow in sunglasses might be the coolest image the show has ever done) while the car fight between Diggle and Onyx was spectacular, all from the point of view of the backseat passenger. Arrow continues to deliver excellently-choreographed action and this was certainly one of the show's best fight sequences.
Plus there was also some well needed humour too, the shot of Diggle's Green Arrow in the front seat of the truck listening to bad music was very funny. But that wasn't to say that Oliver took a complete backseat from the show; the presence of a kid on the show hasn't ruined it and I'm enjoying see a more mature Oliver adapt to parenthood while still making bad decisions. His 'just chill' to William who recently suffered the trauma of losing his mother and was now struggling with a new school, was cringe worthily tragic. Brining in Felicity was a nice move though, first to help her coach William and the reigniting their romance after a season and a half-long break. These two getting back together feels earned and demonstrated the maturity of the show as it enters its sixth run.
There is also the interesting plot line of the anti-vigilante legislation and the continuing investigation into the Green Arrow by FBI special agent Samanda Watson to keep Oliver's storyline interesting outside of his Green Arrow persona. Pushing the legislation into a public vote will finally determine on just where on the murky line between hero and criminal the Green Arrow and his team sit after five years of uncertainty.
This was a much stronger episode of Arrow after last week's lacklustre instalment. It's obvious that Oliver won't stay out of the fight forever, but I'm interested to see what direction his storyline takes. There's also some interesting stuff for Diggle too, who has always been the moral centre of the show but seems to engaging in something very suspect as he seeks to cure his issues with a mysterious drug. Just how long will it be before his new team falls apart?