Review: Arrow 6×22 – “The Ties That Bind”

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Director: Tara Miele

Writers: Ben Sokolowski and Oscar Balderrama

Starring: Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Echo Kellum, Rick Gonzalez, Juliana Harkavy, Katy Cassidy, Paul Blackthorne, David Nykl

 

Summary

Outraged by Oliver’s acquittal, Diaz targets his loved ones while Oliver himself struggles with Felicity putting herself in harm’s way to put a stop to it.

Positives

What works for this episode is the pacing at the beginning; all of Diaz’s targets are featured in their comfort zones before all are simultaneously struck. The fact that Anatoly is the one responsible for the survival of both Teams Arrow and Canary goes a long way to redeeming him in the eyes of both Oliver and the viewer. While it may also be a foreshadowed sealing of his fate, he demonstrates that he is a man of honor whereas Ricardo is not.

The episode sees a parallel between that of the protagonist and antagonist. Where Oliver and company (Disney pun not intended) are forced to put their differences aside to work together in order to survive, Diaz is determined to enforce his will on Star City regardless of who he has to eliminate. And that list includes his very subordinates and partners in the Quadrant. What he views as discipline is really desperation to hold on to power because he feels it slipping away. The shocking way he disposes of two fellow members of the group demonstrates a Napoleonic agenda, as in “I am The State.” He doesn’t want to belong; he wants to rule. The writers do an excellent job making Diaz’s presence strongly felt and demonstrates through both big and small ways – blackmailing that computer expert with his grandmother’s life – how ruthless he is.

At the same time, what works is the fact that Oliver’s marital problems with Felicity are still present and not all is forgiven or resolved. By cutting his wife out of his activities as Green Arrow, Oliver also thoughtlessly cut Felicity out of a very important part of how their rapport began and was supported. It’s how their chemistry was established. Before Iris and Barry were sporting their “We Are The Flash” mantra in The Flash, they were living that symbiotic relationship themselves. Emily and Stephen’s amazing chemistry always works when they have these moments, and this week’s installment was no different. This was couple’s counseling on the job, albeit under duress and tear gas. Felicity’s efforts to remind Oliver of how integral she is to their original dynamic was on the same level of the dangers his life brings through Diaz’s assault on Team Canary’s facility.

What also works is that Ricardo’s vengeance is total; the destruction of Oliver’s facility carries a Ragnarok feel. Another way of looking at it is it’s the end of an era for both teams; that’s where they trained and that’s where they fractured. In terms of character growth, Dinah’s counseling of Curtis after suffering near tragedy because of this onslaught is a deviation from the vengeful Black Canary born from Vigilante’s death. Seeing the usually-balanced Mr. Terrific become vindictive showed what he was truly capable of when pushed.

And now we come to the cliffhanger; after a year of dogging the FBI, Oliver admitting to Agent Watson his secret in order to gain her help in taking down Diaz. This promises collateral damage when this season wraps up next week because it would take a miracle for Oliver to not face criminal charges.

Negatives

While I applaud the heightened level of panic in this episode, I fail to understand how a crime lord can operate so openly within a police department; surely not all of the cops in that precinct have been bought, otherwise Mayor Lance will have to host a major employment drive. Also, there are more members in The Quadrant so why aren’t they banding together to oust this loose cannon they’ve allowed into their ranks? And what happened to Laurel? Last time we saw her, her attempted assassination of Diaz failed and she was cornered by his goon squad. Is her fate perhaps being reserved for the season finale and possible exit of Quentin Lance?

Lastly, shouldn’t Zoe be placed under A.R.G.U.S. protection alongside William? She virtually vanished after the attempted murder at Rene’s apartment. Also, I was hoping to see Raiza have a private moment with Oliver and confide in him that she knows his secret and is proud of him either way.

 

Verdict

The reunification of both teams and fast-paced action serve well and is balanced with Oliver’s further compromises. As previously stated, Oliver admitting the truth to Agent Watson and the facility being leveled gives off the impression of the end times for Green Arrow as we know him. I’m greatly looking forward to the finale next week.

 

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Jay

I'm an Ontario-based news writer, as well as graphic illustrator with his own commission business. I've been a comic collector since I was ten and have enjoyed the lore of these larger than life figures ever since. I graduated with an HBA from the University of Toronto in Humanities and have worked for both local and online news outlets.