ARROW “TRAINING DAY” REVIEW
BY JUSTIN CARTER
Last week saw the rather sudden announcement that Arrow’s upcoming eighth season in October would be its last, its typical episode run shortened down to a mere 10 so it can end in December.
It’s hard not to look at this week’s episode in that light, as what originally seemed like a pair of stories with a good amount of potential — Team Arrow cozying up to the SCPD, in turn setting up the dystopian future for Oliver and Felicity’s future children William and Mia — will now be truncated in some fashion to acclimate to the sudden upheaval.
This especially feels egregious with Team Arrow having to work with the SCPD and all coming to the unanimous agreement of hating their deal. They have to ditch their gear and use traditional cop equipment. They can’t just hack into satellites to provide Overwatch, they have to use the city’s systems to do their work. Obviously, this wasn’t going to last long, but it feels like the show just breezed through all the tropes of this alliance rather quickly so Team Arrow could function as the police’s “black ops” team, getting to wear their costumes and operate out of the Bunker while also maintaining their alliance.
Still, what does work, despite how rushed, it is is the very relatable drama of Oliver and Felicity wanting to make Star City crime free for their kids. After all they’ve been through, it makes sense that they would be even more determined than usual to fix the city, and the flashbacks do a solid job of showing that they failed without it feeling depressing. There is a certain weight that comes with watching Mia and William in the future side by side as they take after their parents in different ways, with William’s technological genius matching nicely with Mia’s brute force tactics.
However, it’s a shame that the flash forwards this week don’t feature Dinah at all, because this feels like an episode that could use them. Throughout the whole season, we’ve seen her having to grapple with wanting to set a new example for the SCPD while also having to shoot down her friends’ desires to suit up again and tackle things just like old times. This episode, we learn that following her throat slashing, she can’t use her Canary Cry anymore, and there’s something to be said for the clear anguish she feels upon divulging this to her friends. The constant hamstringing of Mayor Pollard, combined with her now lack of powers, makes the sight of Dinah with Team Arrow dressed in her Black Canary costume one well earned, I just wish the show was as interested as clearly laying out her arc and internal struggle as it has so many times for Oliver and Rene. On some level, that’s to be expected. After all, we’re being shown how it directly affects Oliver and Rene’s kids specifically, but it still feels like Dinah is sitting in the back seat of a story that certainly should have her riding shotgun.
I don’t know if “Training Day” is a good episode, but it’s one that maybe needed some time to let its semi new status quo settle before creating another one. Everyone is attempting to move forward in this episode, but some of them just need to take a breath and relax before doing so.
In the past, I’ve said that I wished Arrow and the other shows in its universe all had shorter seasons akin to Black Lightning or Legends of Tomorrow. Now that we’re finally getting that in the next season, I’m curious what its story will end up looking like, and how the writing team responds to trying to end the show with nearly a dozen episodes. Since we’re to believe vigilantes teaming up with cops was a bad idea (at least only in the vaguest of ways), Team Arrow’s new position may be more bad than good. And now that the end is truly in sight, we need to actually see how that came to be.
Oh, Emiko was the one who set Diaz on fire, of course. Laurel’s the only one who finds it out, but Emiko’s plan to blackmail Laurel into keeping her mouth shut seems not the smartest, considering Laurel’s been able to BS her way out of trouble many times in recent years.
Michael Jai White returns very briefly as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger, solely for the purpose of revealing that it’s his son Connor who Diggle and Lyla will adopt later on. (He calls Connor “my little Hawk,” and while it’s cute, it’s incredibly on the nose.)
The cast of Arrow, past and present, have had some very kind things to say on social media following the announcement of the show’s end.
Next week: an episode set in the past!