ARROW “THE TIES THAT BIND”
BY JUSTIN CARTER
The penultimate episodes of Arrow usually make us feel that things are truly bad for Oliver and team. Whether that’s Prometheus kidnapping everyone he holds dear, or all of Star City being plunged into absolute anarchy as Slade’s Mirakuru soldiers terrorize its citizens, it needs to feel like things have really hit the fan and everyone will have to be at 100% to come out of this one alive. Which is why it’s all the more perplexing that “Ties That Bind” presents itself like any other episode.
Sure, Diaz indeed makes good on his declaration to bring the fight to Team Arrow in the cold open by having his men attack them while they’re with their families and loved ones. And yeah, he manages to hospitalize both Curtis and his boyfriend Nick, but it doesn’t feel like things have properly escalated, if this makes sense?
All things considered, there was nothing really stopping him from pulling this on any member of Team Arrow within the last couple of weeks (Dinah herself even points that out), and the resulting actions feel scattershot and underdeveloped. The only tangible thing to take note of that man, the cops in Star City are incredibly corrupt and the Quadrant is a badly run criminal organization.
Case in point: Diaz kills two members of the Quadrant by episode’s end and effectively takes it over all for himself. It’s supposed to make him look more evil and unhinged, but the Quadrant is way too poorly defined that their deaths can’t really garner a genuine reaction beyond just how quick he is to dispose of them. Even when he’s thinking about gutting Anatoly when he’s suspicious about the Russian being a double agent, Anatoly’s life doesn’t feel as in danger as it should because we don’t really see them interact together all that much.
“Ties” almost falls into messy territory by having characters interact stupidly, but self awareness is what saves the day here. The conversation between Felicity and Lyla took me by surprise–I honestly can’t recall if just the two of them have ever actually interacted before, just by themselves?
The conversation about how Diggle and Lyla balance their marriage with being soldiers is an interesting one that we’ve seen comes down ultimately to balance and living in the moment. Oliver and Felicity have never really gotten a chance to do that, despite being a thing off and on for three years, and Oliver’s overprotective nature now that his wife is a parent is rooted in having nearly lost her once before and the death of William’s mother. If it weren’t for the Diggles giving them short pep talks on how to contend with being coworkers and a couple, the episode easily could’ve suffered from the Queens bickering back and forth about how they’re a literal power couple. That happens a little bit, but not the extent that it very well could have.
Ultimately, “Ties That Bind” is just…enough. It doesn’t really do anything for the series beyond reunite both halves of Team Arrow and reintroduce Agent Watson (hey, remember her?) so she can help the team deal with Diaz next week in the finale. Which, I forgot that next week is the finale, and that does not say anything good.
- Raisa doesn’t just deserve a raise, she deserves the best insurance the Queens can give her.
- Watching Diaz fly so far as the New Bunker exploded right next to him was funnier than it should’ve been.
- Oh hey, Caity Lotz is showing up next week.