Arrow, Season 7, Episode 12, “Emerald Archer”
In a Very Special Arrow, the 150th episode of the series, we see Oliver and his merry band of vigilantes — how most of the world sees them –- through grainy security cam feeds and shaky documentary footage. A documentary crew is following Oliver, and the episode is an Easter Egg-laden trip down memory lane, ending at a destination that corrects a severe flaw — gets the band back together. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Arrow:
What’s the scoop: Everybody who was anybody on Arrow came back to make a cameo appearance. Sergeant Lance, Thea, Roy, Ragman, Sara Lance and Barry Allen are just a few of the luminaries who are interviewed for the documentary. Once the episode settles in there’s more opportunity to go back to the past, because Emiko has gone missing, and an exo-suited psycho is kidnapping vigilantes to take their masks for his trophy room in the Abandoned Warehouse District (another classic Arrow callback, in my book). Oliver has his hands full with the camera crew, and the mayor is breathing down Ollie’s neck about his very existence on the force.
Meanwhile in B-plot land: William is back in boarding school and he’s a veritable anger-ball (and not even like in a sulky teenager way). He’s pissed at the world (being left alone during Christmas will do that to you), hates his parents, and has been expelled from school. The only thing that brings him a hint of happiness is seeing Rene’s daughter, Zoe, who he’s been texting on the down-low for months.
On the island of the future: We get a lot of stealth future this hour. The episode cuts between the finished documentary and behind the scenes footage that’s no different from a regular episode. The climax occurs when we see Blackstar in the future, watching a bootleg copy of the since-banned documentary, and she gleans the location of the Arrowcave. It’s logical to assume that all the finished documentary footage we saw was being watched by Blackstar, in the future. She doesn’t have much love for vigilantes, but does have plans to squat in some sweet, new digs.
Sex and the Olicity: Ollie and Felicity don’t get much screen time together, but another longtime show relationship is rekindled when Diggle and Ollie take some time to catch up, in the most tactical manner, of course. It is Diggle who sees the value in reuniting the team and using Ollie at a public forum to draw Chimera out. Ollie doesn’t like the idea of knowingly putting the innocent in the line of fire, but there’s really no other choice.
What about the action: It’s amazing how a little change of perspective can make a world of difference. About the same amount of plot moved this week as last (i.e. very little). While last week’s episode was as exciting as watching a Super Bowl known for its punting (looking at you SB LIII), the shaky cam and unusual angles added a sense of excitement to what was at its essence, a monster-of-the-week episode. The major set piece was the reunion of Team Arrow, and it did not disappoint. Everybody got a little chance to shine, and Dinah had to reveal her true self to the mayor in order to save the lives of a bunch of people. It’s not easy, but the team eventually shuts down the bad guy. They are all immediately arrested for illegal vigilante activity. Lucky for them, they know somebody in the DA’s office, and a grateful mayor begrudgingly tells Dinah to shove her resignation in her Canary hole, and deputize her friends.
What’s next: The fake documentary worked so well, next week they’ll try their hand at horror. No, really. There are sinister manual typewriters and everything.
Last impressions: Arrow does love a callback episode. It was great to have our memory jogged by the callbacks. We forget how hard it is for Paul Blackthorne to do an American accent. We forgot about Sara’s sidekick from the tactical bustier/clock tower days (her name is Sin, and I totally had to Google it). We totally wonder if Willa Holland made the production do her scene in LA by refusing to set foot in Canada again. Despite all the distractions and camera tricks, the purpose of the episode is to correct a mistake the series has been making for about a season and a half. The show suffers when the members of Team Arrow are in separate orbits. Sure, they would form smaller teams from time to time, but there was something special about the big group even when Ollie was being a moody jerk and everyone was fighting. With some distance made, it’s clear that Big Team Arrow put the “fun” in dysfunctional. The show is better when the heroes work as a team. Hopefully, Dante or whoever the next big bad is will be worthy of the full team’s efforts.