By Justin Carter
Heist and prison break episodes are generally fun hours of television. They allow the cast to bounce off each other, develop Ocean’s 11 style banter that’s as cheesy as it is entertaining, and have some fun set pieces. Sure enough, that’s what we get with Arrow this week, with not one, but two prison breaks provided. (There’s also a heist, but it’s not seen and is incredibly short and straightforward.)
With Diggle still behind bars after being framed by his commanding officer a few weeks back, Lyla goes to Oliver for help in breaking him out. The newbies are too inexperienced, Felicity isn’t enthused about their plan, and Thea and Lance have to run the city while he does the prison break thing solo. It’s not a smart plan at all, but as far as bad ideas go, Oliver’s certainly had worse, and it’s nice that he just casually admits that he’s doing this partially because he needs his friend back instead of the show trying to treat it as some grand revelation. Sometimes you just miss your friend, and of everyone on the show right now, Diggle is the one who knows him best. Even though neither Oliver or Felicity really have the upper hand during their argument, it’s a fair trade off because sometimes, things just aren’t clear cut like that.
As with all heist and prison break setups, there comes a point where the main hero is questioned by the others as to whether he’s doing the right thing, and we get that here. Controversially, the show doesn’t use Oliver handing his team’s asses to them as a moment before they come together to save him from a jam. (For all her smarts, Felicity really should have known that Curtis, Evelyn, and Rene going up against a guy trained by assassins and mobsters wouldn’t end in their favor.) Instead, the show lets the two groups go off into their own storylines, and it’s a smart decision on the writers’ part. The cuts back and forth between Oliver and Diggle and the rookies makes it so that it never feels like either plot line is crowded for time or losing momentum, and both contrast each other well in terms of respective prey/predator vibes. At least until Tobias Church shows back up and goes full predator in every scene he’s in.
Chad Coleman’s time on this show is limited (I imagine that Prometheus has him on an incredibly invisible, though nonetheless tight leash), but he’s definitely making the most of it here; much like Vinnie Jones back in season three as Brick, he’s chewing the scenery as an average guy with a surprisingly competent group of henchmen at his disposal. As much as this some will dread this comparison, think of him as having the strength and brutality of Kingpin from Daredevil with the smarts and manpower of Cottonmouth from Luke Cage, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this guy’s all about. He may not smash in Rene’s head with a car door after he’s captured him, but he’s also smart enough to recognize the value that comes with having a member of Green Arrow’s crew lying at your feet.
Oliver’s temporary departure and Church’s raid on the SCPD for extra guns, and later to go after the DA means that all hands are deck, which also means that it’s time for Ragman to come back into the fold. Him quitting the Team should have happened in last week’s episode, if only because seeing him resign after the open feels like a holdover. That said, it was cool when he showed back up to help the others go up against Church’s men, and the visual of him using his own rags as a bomb shield is awesome. It likely has to be expensive for the CG on his rags with each episode that he’s in, but here’s hoping that he gets to do more them like that blast shield.
Arrow’s more or less been on an upward swing this season, and here’s hoping that it continues. The new cast additions work like gangbusters, it’s nice to see the old guard just be people, and like I said at the start, the heist/prison breaks here are well directed and staged. Here’s hoping they keep it up.
- Rory: “Does he just wait for an entrance line?” Curtis: “No, he’s just that cool.”
- As good as the action is this week, there’s definitely moments where the editing wasn’t up to par and it looked like the hits weren’t landing at the right time, primarily noticeable in the opening action sequence.
- Thea and Lance are starting to lean on each other more, and I’ve a feeling that he’s going to wind up calling her his daughter on accident in the next few weeks.
- Lyla should be brought into the show more, she’s nicely used here, and as ARGUS head, her resources would certainly help the team, especially when Oliver has to go off on his own.
- Next week: Oliver gets shot!