Arrow: 7.05 The Demon

It’s difficult to say, considering how great this season has been, but this episode is moving into dangerous territory by not elevating its subplots enough to stand alongside Oliver’s prison ordeal. The Demon focused on prison injustice, and the concept of prison as a whole, as Oliver goes further down the rabbit hole on level two with Dr Parker. Felicity believing that Oliver is safe from corruption in prison belittles her character; seriously, do you mean to say that with all she’s been though over seven seasons she still has faith in the justice system?

The entire concept of Oliver having feelings for these criminals and how they are treated, given that outside of prison he had zero hesitation to physically assault them, is ludicrous and lots of screen time was wasted on it. Dr Parker and crew experimenting on inmates and indirectly killing them, all off the record, is something that’s been done before and a whole lot better. These sequences attempt to make you feel empathy for violent criminals and shudder at the thought of it happening to our hero; the tension wasn’t there and the tackled concept fell flat

Regardless, the prison storyline was still enjoyable. The reveal of Talia Al Ghul as the demon was predictable and lacked originality, but the dynamic between her and Oliver more than made up for it. The fight between the two was mesmerizing, it bordered on dancing, but the fluid motions worked superbly well. It was fighting without physical power and was eloquently executed. Talia’s mention of Gotham City is the second within the Arrowverse (the other in FThe Flash); I guess this is alluding to the crossover event later this year, of which the groundwork is being laid nicely.

Parker’s attempt to rehabilitate Oliver by making him say his name as inmate 4587, brought on such a fantastically cheesy but satisfying fist-pump moment. We’ve heard the phrase “my name is Oliver Queen” many times, mainly in the opening credits, but never has it been delivered in such a powerful way as Oliver saying it to doctor Parker after refusing to comply, like Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation or Winston in 1984.

Struggling to place and effectively use supporting characters seems to be a theme for this season, and The Demon is no exception. This episode centred a lot on Curtis, as ARGUS place him in the field in a disguise to take down a criminal, as he once again puts his life on the line. While this subplot did little to boost his relevancy, it delved into his psyche, as he explains to Diggle the scars left behind from Team Arrow, subsequently leading to an uplifting discussion of Curtis not having to kick ass in order to be Mr Terrific. The writers deserve credit for bringing him closer to the forefront, but at the same time they did so at the expense of Rene and the flash-forward scenes that were completely absent from this episode. It’s like they’re admitting to having too much to handle.

The subplot surrounding Laurel, Felicity and Dinah, in which they team up to help Oliver was frustrating. On one hand, the three-way dynamic worked well, the madness and dysfunction between them brought some comedy and a strange but hypnotic alliance. On the other, the story was pointless, the outcome would remain the same regardless of what they did. Talia is the one that delivers the evidence they need to bring down the illegal operation, so their rummaging through old paper police files, Laurel arguing on the phone as if she is the real DA and Dinah technically breaking the law, allowing Felicity to view classified files, added nothing to the overall narrative. There was no hoorah! moment and nothing was resolved.

It’s beginning to become a recurring quote from me that the supporting cast are letting this season down. While anything involving Oliver pushes the story forward and keeps things entertaining; everything else falls by the wayside. Although the lack of Rene made little difference, the loss of the future scenes was noticeable, especially when last week revealed Rene’s daughter to be a new vigilante, among countless other unanswered questions. Focusing on Curtis allowed the character to shine for the first time, but it was a throw away arc, it’s not something that’s going to change the fate of the overall plot. This series is struggling to juggle countless amounts of story and character all at the same time, but only now is it beginning to affect the overall tone.

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