Arrow heads into slasher movie territory…
This week Arrow went full horror-movie vibe and it was camp and fun as hell. Subtlety definitely wasn’t in the ingredients as team Arrow hunted down a mysterious killer leaving chilling notes to his victims. But then as season seven hits its groove following Oliver’s release from prison, there is a real sense of the show going big for the rest of its run.
After Dinah, Diggle and Rene received mysterious notes from an archaic typewriter, the discovery of several victims drugged with their throats slashed saw them enter a literal house of horrors complete with creepy dolls, chilling monkeys, musical boxes, red lights in the basement and the wall of stalking horrors as Dinah discovered pictures of her and Oliver plasted over the altar-like display. It was delightfully OTT, but a welcome bit of black comedy that Arrow doesn’t always manage to achieve as the serious member of the Arrowverse shows. Curtis referencing 90’s slasher movie I Know What You Did Last Summer as Diggle ordered the group to split up was a nice bit of kudos to the genre the scene was homaging.
I can’t decide whether Dinah getting her throat slashed was shocking or not; certainly the attack on one of the members of the team was expected and she had been targeted at the start of the episode, but given her role in the future Star City storyline, it was dampened by the fact that she had to survive (assuming of course the future events actually end up playing out as presented in the flashforwards). Curtis’s latest gizmo was a complete cop out to cauterize the wound, but then a little bit of leeway can be afforded if you have a character like Curtis or Sisco in the scene.
Brendan Fletcher’s Stanley Dover, last seen in season seven’s excellent (and very violent) The Slabside Redemption, made a welcome return as Slabside’s now escaped psychopath. Gassing Oliver, Felicity and William with a neurotoxin as they ate dinner, he made a bold entrance in the gas mask. The scene was probably a little too silly to be to tense, but I enoyed it, Fletcher flitting between manic declaration at being Oliver’s best friend to violently declaring his hatred for anyone who wanted to harm him.
And talking of Oliver, we saw that his attempts to play happy families while running around Star City with the SCPD as Green Arrow was never going to work out as planned. In just his second episode since his expulsion from boarding school for employing his father’s ‘defence techniques’ William almost become another victim of Stanley’s deranged attack. The arrival of his maternal grandparents really seemed the responsible option for him since the start, though I have to wonder where they were in the time since his mother was killed on Lian Yu and the whole living in witness protection debacle with Felicity to escape Ricardo Diaz. I’m glad that the show addressed the futility of Oliver trying to keep William part of his life in Star City, particularly now that his identity has been exposed.
And he wasn’t the only departure this episode; after limping along in the somewhat bloated cast all season, Echo Kellum’s Curtis Holt exited the show in the most lacklustre way possible. I think I would have preferred his shock neck-snapping demise teased a couple of episode’s ago but this departure – taking a job in DC after his conflict with Argus – at least seemed to offer room for a return performance in the future. Still, the way it was done, with little to no fanfare or goodbyes to the team, seemed a little too half-hearted to give the character – and Kellum – the service he deserved.
The flashforward scenes in 2040 continued to keep the audience on their toes with more members of Arrow: The Next Generation revealed. Katherine McNamara and Joseph David-Jones’s characters introduced last episode went head to head with William, Zoe, Dinah and Roy, only for the twists to keep coming in the reveal that she was Mia Smoak, daughter of Oliver and Felicity and he was Connor Hawke, son of John and Lyla Diggle. Fans of Legends of Tomorrow might remember that their son was the new Green Arrow when they took a trip to Star City way back in season one.
While just a little bit ludicrous, I’m rather enjoying the energy and mystery of the future storyline and the tragic legacy of the Green Arrow it presents – particularly in light of the show’s impending ending. The big question is whether this will all come to pass – Dinah training Zoe and Felicity discovering she was pregnant certainly reinforced that idea in the present day – gives the season a real impetus as we head into the second half. And for a show nearing its end, keeping the audience on its toes is proving that Arrow still has plenty to give before it ends next season.
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