Review: Arrow 7×08 – “Unmasked”

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

Director: Alexandra La Roche

Writers: Oscar Balderrama and Beth Schwartz

Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Echo Kellum, Rick Gonzalez, Juliana Harkavy, Colton Haynes, Kirk Acevedo, Katie Cassidy, Katherine McNamara, Marcus Rosner

Summary

Felicity stands by the actions she took for the sake of her family while Lyla and Diggle investigate the Dante painting Curtis found in Switzerland.

Positives

Big reveals, long overdue talks, and big surprises topped this week.

Let’s start with some reveals. For weeks the writers have set scenes from the future up against the present day activities of the new Green Arrow. Everyone, including me, thought it was going to be William come back from the future taking up his father’s mantle. What did we get instead? It’s a woman. And not just any woman but we’ll get to that part later. Seeing her train with gymnast equipment is an interesting parallel to the punishing training sessions we’ve seen Stephen go through. This could account for much of the acrobatics. It was clever on the costume designers part to make her suit completely analogous. No curves at all. When you look back at her last few appearances, the voice disguiser tech gives off certain sounds and tone that aren’t consistent with a man’s. The fact she put Ollie through his paces sells the notion to the audience that she has the goods to do this job, right down to the motorcycle. More on her later.

Now to overdue conversations. With Oliver finally reunited with his wife, he learns firsthand the changes to Felicity. Emily’s authoritative voice at Max Fuller’s hired assassin even took me by surprise. She was channeling Stephen a little with the gruffness in her tone. The clash afterwards between them puts this couple’s future in doubt. Felicity lost a piece of herself in that encounter with Diaz, but the writers were smart in addressing the clandestine manner in which Oliver made his deal with the FBI. He consulted no one, not even his family. He shut them out thinking that this was all started by him the moment he went after Adam Hunt all those years ago. It was selfish and it has affected his wife to the point she sees her former self as weak. Even though she admits the new version of her may not be good for her marriage, Oliver has to look deeper if he’s going to recognize the woman he fell in love with.

Speaking of relationships, there are hints of a possible hook up between Rene and Dinah. They have good chemistry together and given Dinah is Zoey’s mentor in the Flash forward sequences, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities. It is important to note, with regards to the future sequences, that it’s an equally intriguing dynamic developing between future Dinah and William. She’s doing for him what Oliver had done for her decades earlier following the particle accelerator explosion. The significance of the tattoo is deep and it’s pure Oliver Queen. Where William goes from here is proving to be as intriguing as Mortal Bones Katherine McNamara’s character of Blackstar and her role in Felicity’s master plan.

The decision to deputize Oliver is a believable albeit sensitive arrangement to permit him to aim a bow again. Retaining him as a consultant for the SCPD in the face of the Anti-Vigilantism Act makes for good conflict with the new mayor. It also has Oliver working for the first time without a mask. While strange, it also speaks to Ollie’s character; he’s willing to step into the light to be the hero his city needs again and denounce the negative publicity the mayors office throws at vigilantes. Having a former antagonist from season one upgraded to legitimate threat to Oliver’s new freedom was smart and symbolic. What’s also symbolic was both the destroyed bunker HQ as the location for Diggle to give Oliver a new suit – the one he had given him – and leaving the mask behind. Plus it’s just Oliver and Diggle like it was in the beginning. Everything, including his marriage, is different and he has to adapt. It’s a new game and a new set of rules now that Oliver’s identity is known. This tenuous arrangement also puts Dinah into conflict with the mayor but, as she noted, snarky “frenemy” DA Laurel Lance will throw interference. Realistically there was no other way Oliver could take care of business.

Finally, big reveals. The new Green Arrow is not only a girl but Robert Queen’s illegitimate daughter. More symbolism with who we now know to be Emiko Queen having a conversation with Robert’s grave on the grounds of the destroyed Queen estate, a facade of a perfect family burned away. The grave is another callback to season one and is another of Oliver’s father’s wrongs he may have to right somehow. Given she knows Robert well enough to tell him that he and her half-brother aren’t that dissimilar is another sin; Robert had a genuine relationship with Emiko before the Gambit sank. It leaves one to wonder what else will be revealed in her origin and what led her to this.

Negatives

I’m not sure I’m down with the notion of Lyla’s investigation directly linking up with Oliver’s battle with Diaz and the Longbow Hunters. It’s a big world out there and this seemingly-disconnected investigation into ARGUS’s shady dealings hooks right back up with The Dragon? I think there are better ways than this to keep Acevedo in the series. His character has proven capable of infiltrating any infrastructure, so why could they not just limit his influence to prison at this point in time? And up until last year’s season finale, the LBH’s were not even heard of and yet it takes Lyla a few minutes on the computer to decipher their activities via a law firm with so little information on them thus far?

Verdict

I’m digging the new direction for Oliver and company but not the level of coincidence and the manner in which the writers continue to make use of the cockroach nature of Diaz. The Olicity relationship is examined as it should be given how many changes have been made to Felicity’s personality; it would’ve been unrealistic for Oliver to note take notice or have issues with them. Sidenote, I really did enjoy the prologue to the upcoming crossover and the return of the OG flash from the 1990s. Especially the subtle cameo, or corpse, of Smallville’s version of Green Arrow. It really is a multi-verse. Looking forward to some laughs 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.