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ARROW “Thanksgiving” Review

By on November 24, 2017

Arrow — “Thanksgiving” — Pictured (L-R): Jack Moore as William Clayton, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance, and Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake — Photo: Dan Power/The CW

 

ARROW “THANKSGIVING” REVIEW

 

BY JUSTIN CARTER

 

 

Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s gained notoriety as a time in which families go for one other’s throats over just about everything. (Christmas has the benefit of being able to distract everyone with gifts and snow from said throat-tearing.) In that way, it should come as no surprise that an episode of Arrow with the holiday title would feature Team Arrow bringing long simmering gripes to light and saying things they rather shouldn’t.

It’s all Oliver’s fault, in a way. FBI Agent Watson finally does what she’s been promising to do for weeks and straight up arrests Oliver for his tenure as the Green Arrow, in broad daylight in front of hundreds of cameras. His arrest extremely public, Oliver figures that it’s best to actually wait things out in order to continue avoiding suspicion, while the Team has to deal with Cayden James and Black Siren stealing components to make a powerful bomb. Furthermore, Oliver finds out about Diggle’s condition, which actually worsens thanks to Curtis’ experimental drug; Felicity’s not too happy about Curtis making said experimental drug; and Oliver gets arraigned and faces trial in a few months. This episode is the poster child for the phrase “everything happens so much,” and while there are moments that could do with more room to breathe, or establish foundation, it all mostly hangs together.

Character dynamics have largely driven last and this season of Arrow, so in a way, “Thanksgiving” is very fitting in the characters that it decides to pair together for their own mini-stories. These pairings aren’t anything we haven’t seen before — Diggle & Oliver, Felicity & Curtis, Lance & Dinah –but the festivities and history between each makes their grievances relatively fresh. The only one that doesn’t really work in the general sense is Felicity and Curtis’ hostility; he’s upset at her for grilling him about giving Diggle their experimental tech, which dovetails into some resentment about how she’s just pulled him into the startup game with no real consideration for him. This is one of those stories that feels like it needs some preparation first. There’s still barely any real definition of what their startup really is, so it just comes across as a pipe dream, currently…just a pipe dream currently $5 million short, since Felicity used it to get her boyfriend out of jail.

Fortunately, the other dynamics work. Case in point, when Oliver gives Diggle grief for keeping his health problems a secret, Diggle points out that the two men have put the Queen family over Diggle’s during this mantle change. Oliver, in turn, pulls the ultimate Mom Line on a man who is easily four or five years older than him — ”I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.”

It’s not hard to see how Dig would be right in saying that, nor is it hard to see that he took up the Green Arrow mantle because of his alt-reality version during last year’s crossover. That fantasy world gave him more of a sense of agency and purpose than being Spartan or a soldier did, and to him, the nerve damage and the threat of paralysis is small potatoes compared to being the Green Arrow. Power fantasies aside, though, Diggle is very clearly unable to continue on donning the hood and bow, so Oliver does what he only can do: he becomes the Green Arrow again! But as a part timer, so he’s not technically breaking his promise to William.

At the end of the day, being a superhero is still a fantasy that a lot of people have. There’s just something cool about being a guy with a bow and arrow that can swoop into danger and take out five bad guys with no effort, and that feeling is intensified if, like Oliver, you’ve got a team of equally awesome partners at your side. It’d be a fun life, but that also doesn’t win over everyone, which is how you end up in a situation wherein the Team beats up a bunch of James’ team (while they’re disguised as cops) and gets recorded on live video, spurring the city’s anti-vigilante act. So now, in addition to their weekly deluge of villains, the Team will have to not get shot and arrested by cops. Another day at the office.

Not helping matters is the part where it turns out that James’ bomb turns out to be a giant dud. All he wanted was a face-to-face meeting with Green Arrow, who he wants dead because the Team is involved in the loss of his son. As far as reveals go, it’s a fairly unsurprising one — Arrow loves its revenge stories almost as much as it loves its characters to hate themselves — but the fact that this encompasses the whole Team rather than just Oliver really makes it feel like a larger and more ominous threat. That’s not to say previous villains like Slade or Damien Darhk weren’t, but their arc-long goals always came back around to ultimately being about them vs. Oliver. Having James want everyone dead makes the tension higher, and with Michael Emerson in the show’s back pocket, James is a compelling villain. With him, nothing is sure to be boring this season.

Additional Notes

  • I didn’t bring up Lance and Dinah’s dynamic, and that’s because there wasn’t much there for it. They have a conversation about him declaring Siren a lost cause, and she talks about how Vigilante was her ex, which hilariously shows how out of the loop Lance has been lately.
  • This show never really forgets to remind you that a majority of its cast is jacked, and man, Diggle’s arms are massive.
  • Oh hey, Thea’s out of her coma!
  • Billy Joel is in the episode near the end, and Rene is a fan. I am deeply enjoying how they’ve turned him into a secret weapon for comedy and emotional depth.
  • Katie Cassidy doesn’t get a whole lot to do as Black Siren this week, but I did enjoy how increasingly annoyed she’s getting James.
  • See you next week for the crossover!

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