Arrow, ‘The Ties That Bind’: End-to-End Action Buoys a Sinking Plot

Arrow, Season 6, Episode 22, “The Ties that Bind”

At different points in this episode, the characters onscreen seemed to echo the audience’s sentiments when they asked why didn’t Diaz just attack Oliver and his allies weeks ago? This action-packed hour brought more drama and tension than last week’s courtroom episode ever dreamed of bringing. And if one was willing to set aside that the team’s breakup was ultimately six episodes of filler, this was the most enjoyable one of the series since Cayden James was still kicking. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Arrow:

What’s the scoop:  Just when all of Star City’s vigilantes decide to take the night off (except for Dinah, who I think really just has a thing for leather), Diaz picks that night to strike against everyone who ever allied themselves with Oliver Queen. The heroes make it out with only minor collateral damage (RIP Arrowcave) thanks to a heads-up from Anatoly. During their counteroffensive, they discover that Diaz is especially protective of a piece of bling that contains a flash drive. Getting the data from that drive seems to be everyone’s best hope of finding any leverage against Diaz. It’s going to take a risky plan to gather that vital info.

Meanwhile in B-plot land: There wasn’t a ton of time or opportunity for a proper secondary story. The closest the episode came was showing Anatoly’s attempts to take down Diaz and The Quadrant (Motto: Not as complicated as a pentagon) from the inside. Anatoly was able to cast enough suspicion on the gun-runner corner to weaken Diaz, and strengthen his own position.

Sex and the Olicity:  In between at the explosions and gunplay, Oliver and Felicity were able to spend some meaningful time onscreen together. Most of it was spent debating Felicity’s role, now that she is a stepmother to William. It gave Felicity the opportunity to give voice to the frustrations that I’ve had concerning Ollie’s “I need to work alone” phase. After the climactic battle where everyone barely made it out unscathed, Oliver was freaking out that Felicity risked her life to retrieve her gizmo, and it once again reminded him of his need to work alone. To her credit, Felicity stopped him short pointing out that the effectiveness of working alone is a fabrication of his imagination, and that the rings and vows they exchanged means they are a team –- in all facets of their lives. Someone’s parental status doesn’t excuse them from doing their part for the greater good, no matter how dangerous the situation may be.

What about the action:  The climactic battle sees Diggle’s wife, Lyla (the head of ARGUS) walk into the thick of Diaz’s stronghold at the SCPD to plant Felicity’s tech sniffing gizmo. Diaz’s own tech nerd just happened to be working on Diaz’s necklace when all this goes down, so he catches the espionage attempt. All hell breaks loose from there. There’s a huge gun battle between the crooked Star City cops and the reunited Team Arrow. I was very concerned about Lyla throughout the episode, because she was in the fray often, and in that sweet spot of secondary characterdom that we often forget she exists, but it would be a gut-punch if anything truly bad happened to her (think Agent Coulson in the first Avengers movie). Diaz nearly gets the drop on Felicity before Ollie saves her bacon with an exploding arrow. In the end, when the police station explodes, all the heroes make it out alive. One of the Quadrant members dies in the explosion, and it appears that Diaz’s power is consolidated, but in truth his empire is clearly built on a foundation of quicksand.

What’s next: The enemy (FBI agent lady) of Ollie’s enemy (Diaz) is his friend.

Last impressions: Taken individually, this episode had all the pieces that a good episode of Arrow has. There was well-choreographed action, solid pacing, characters interacting and behaving in proper ways, and the feeling of real stakes and characters in real danger. Any misgivings I had about the episode stem from the overall mismanagement of the back half of the season and at this point, are best voiced in the wrap-up next week. In a season as inconsistent as Arrow‘s, it’s just best to celebrate the bright spots because you don’t know when the next one will come.

Craig Wack

For a weekly discussion of comic book TV shows please join Craig Wack and Tatiana Torres for the Agents of GEEK podcast updated every Friday and now on iTunes

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