Arrow: 7.08 Unmasked

Talk about a jam packed episode. Oliver’s only just out of prison, and already he’s had a party in his honour, verbal fight with Felicity, gone back to his old ways (well kind of), taken down another criminal, and to top it, got himself a proper job. Elsewhere was just as packed, with the mystery regarding the new Green Arrow revealed, Diggle and Lyla asking for Diaz’s help and the flash-forward scenes going deeper down the rabbit hole. Usually when episodes are crammed with so much they don’t work (Black Lightning), but the execution and writing in Unmasked was excellent.

The opening scene revealing that the person dressed as the Green Arrow is, in fact, a woman, and one that’s clearly well trained and disciplined, was immediately very exciting. The tease was fantastic; but unfortunately the continuation and reveal of whom she is, lost all momentum. Finding out she is another child of Robert Queen had me groaning, the idea is unoriginal and dull. Her appearance would suggest that her mother could be someone like Talia or Shadow, but neither of them make any sense. If she is from another Earth, perhaps a friend/enemy of Nora from The Flash, and not traced back to the island Lian Yu, then okay, but I hold reservation until that reveal.

Stephen Amell’s performance was superb, playing someone who’s having trouble adjusting to normality, while still wanting to help, eased the character back into society nicely. A lot of this episode felt like it was rushing to get Oliver back in the saddle, due to the crossover event happening next week. I would’ve rather seen Oliver and everyone else deal with the ramifications of his Slabside ordeal a little longer. Regardless, the relationship dynamic with Felicity developed nicely, addressing that they have both changed and questioning their current compatibility. I haven’t been enjoying the bad-ass Felicity arc, but when the two play-off of each other, it’s far more enjoyable.

Getting Oliver suited up again was always going to be a hard task, what with the anti-vigilante laws and everybody knowing who he is. Making him an official member of the SCPD, allowing him to fight crime but on a more official level was genius, and if nothing else, the continuation of this plot has me intrigued, or laughing that technically Dinah is now his boss. I don’t fully understand what the Mayor has up her backside but she is going above and beyond to be nasty; I guess she is being forced into a villainous role. Whatever it is, I don’t like it.

Lyla and Diggle’s sub plot was very lifeless; okay, it cemented the return of the Longbow Hunters and confirmed that Diaz wasn’t killed by Oliver, but their deception and sneaky behaviour felt overly familiar and boring, although I get that they wouldn’t want to burden Oliver with this kind of information. The reveal that Diaz is still alive and that they need his help fell by the wayside, as the biggest talking point to unravel was Oliver’s new sister. Perhaps this should’ve been left for another episode to be more impactful.

The flashbacks are back and continuing to impress. The introduction of Blackstar was excellent, but what is most engaging is the idea of Felicity being bad, which is up for interpretation. While future Dinah reveals Felicity’s death and villainous activities, I like that it’s left up to the audience to decide, as the scenes in the present suggest she could be more of an anti-hero now. The explanation of the “mark of four” was very meh; I think it was built up too much, so it being a symbol for togetherness and “we will always help each other”, was a bit cheesy and soppy.

Unmasked is a very satisfying episode overall. It’s a fantastic follow on from Oliver’s prison storyline, has superb performances, excellent fight sequences and plenty to sink your teeth into. Rene’s potential political career, future issues with his daughter and whatever happens with the antagonists of this season, are all things that have been laid out nicely. I just hope they develop into something amazing. While I didn’t enjoy the reveal of the new Green Arrow, it has nevertheless brought a new element that, if done well, could elevate this series to a new level. The crossover event is close at hand and it will be more interesting this time around to see how the current story mixes with that. Keep up the good work Team Arrow!

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