Arrow: 7.14 Brothers & Sisters
Like season six, Arrow season seven seems to be introducing a new big bad well into the second half of its run. It's a technique that has worked well so far; rather than being bogged down by a powerful villain introduced far too early and the dragged out to the limp finale, we saw terrorist Dante (Adrian Paul) make a bold entrance after weeks of build up through Lyla and John Diggle's secret ARGUS investigation.
It wasn't perfect - the Ghost Initiative still feels a redundant attempt to replay the Suicide Squad - and Dante didn't have the impact of previous villains like Prometheus, Damien Darhk or even the Dragon. But I suspect like Ricardo Diaz, there's plenty more to come, particularly given his connection to new Green Arrow Emiko. While Sea Shimooka needs to demonstrate more presence in the role, the idea of Oliver going up against an evil sister version of himself is an intriguing idea.
At least the Ghost Initiative got to have one brief moment in the spotlight as they were sent on a mission to locate Dante's right hand man Virgil. They even got to display some impressive fighting skills as they took out the various goons with their guns. The following mission to capture Dante himself offered a few surprise twists, with Diaz succeeding in destroying the chip in his head and betraying Lyla. Dante ruthlessly eliminating the traitorous director and the corrupt princess and then besting Oliver in battle, showed that he truly was a man not to be messed with.
I'm really enjoying the developing friendship between Felicity and Laurel, who learned of the pregnancy before Oliver. She has come quite a way (admittedly with a few forced narrative leaps) but acting as a confident, somewhat more ruthless of her Earth one doppelgänger continues to develop Laurel into a more engaging character. Talking Felicity out trying to kill Diaz was a surprise, mature move and the eventual stand off with the Dragon offered some much needed tension before John took him down.
The future storyline continues to intrigue, though it does feel a little that it is starting to drag its feet. The exploration of Mia and William, the brothers and sisters of the future narrative against Oliver and Emiko in the present was a nice thematic narrative on which to base the episode on, offering more hints of the chaos to come. Certainly Oliver and Emiko's growing bond in the present is sure to break spectacularly now that her allegiance to Dante has been revealed to the audience.
Brothers & Sisters was a decent episode of what continues to be a solid seventh season. It doesn't have the dull incredulous feel of last year's 'broken team Arrow' storyline but it appears confident to take its time with the twists and turns of the narrative. What it also did was dispatch another main character two weeks in a row. After last week's low key exit for Curtis, Diaz went out in a far more brutal fashion as a oil was pumped through the sprinklers in his cell and a mysterious figure through a light, burning the Dragon alive. it was a nasty end to a nasty villain, but one that I will quite miss.