The villain of the week this episode is Lonnie Machin (Alexander Calvert), who comic fans may know as Anarky. His Anarky alias doesn’t become apparent until the end of the episode when he leaves the Anarchy “A” mark on something. Did the events of the episode drive him to become Anarky? Or was he Anarky all along? That’s how hard it is to care about or follow the main “threat” of the episode. Also he was a member of some other organisation and was then let go, which could come up again. But besides Neal McDonough’s continuing stellar performance as Darhk it’s hard to care about this bit of plot.
Darhk has hired Machin to take care of a mayoral candidate, Jessica Danforth, a Queen family friend who I think has been introduced for the first time this episode. Obviously because of the whole attempts on her life thing it doesn’t go too well, and the Arrow team have to help out with all that. It sparks some interesting points the show seems like it will explore later on, but there’s nothing of particular note about all this taken on its own.
There are some good character moments throughout the episode, though. Diggle is still mad at Oliver over the whole kidnapping his wife and leaving his baby alone in the house thing. It’s interesting to see conflict arise between Diggle and Oliver and it to feel so legitimate and continious. Usually the patch it up pretty quickly, and one of them seems pretty obviously in the wrong — but it’s clearly not great for either them here. It’s also good to get to see them both deal with it in their own ways, from Oliver confiding earnestly in Felicity which we’ve not gotten much of before, to Diggle and Laurel having a heart to heart. In general Diggle, Laurel and Thea really do seem to have come together quite a bit over the 6 month season break. Along with Oliver’s chillness, it’s nice to see legitimate progression like that.
As with the mayoral stuff there’s some more overall season stuff going on too. Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) is introduced as a recurring character, a clever PalmerTech employee that Felicity seems to take a shine to when they both have to struggle with board pressure for mass layoffs at the company. Seeing Felicity have to deal with her own large plot elements is nice to see, especially seeing as she started off with such a small role. Here we see her struggling with how to honour Palmer’s legacy. It’s nice to see her dealing with things in a way that seems uninterrupted and gives her some focus and drive, in prior seasons her having a lot on her plate was often seen as a gag, her struggling to keep everything together while doing lots of work for lots of different people.
The island plot gets going a bit more as well, but it seems to be going quite slowly. He’s task with infiltrating the bad guy camp on the island that are making the drug. He does this fairly easily somehow because Reiter (Jimmy Akingbola), the group’s leader, takes a liking to him for some reason. But he does get a haircut, making him look more like present day Oliver. How’s that for progression? This seems like it will take some queues from the Green Arrow: Season One story, which also involved being stranded on an island with drugs. But even now it’s playing quite differently so who knows? Arrow is always pretty liberal with its interpretations of the material, which all part of the charm.
Oliver reveals to Thea the reasons for he increased bloodlust too, and she starts to have to come to terms with how the Lazarus Pit could have affected her, taking Laurel in particular into her confidence. As with the Diggle/Laurel stuff, it’s nice to see how the three have come together, Thea now even living with Laurel. It leads to a great hook at the end of the episode too, and it’s not the only one. It’s an episode filled with hooks, slamming down into the ground to come to bear later, and you can feel the gears whirring pretty fast setting everything up for the season. But it’s too bad all the mechanisms are simply doing their thing around a pretty boring story. While it might be necessary to get the pieces where they want them, they could have done a better job with it.