Arrow, ‘Spartan’: It’s Diggle’s Turn in the Spotlight as We Run out the Season Clock

Arrow, Season 7, Episode 19, “Spartan”

Pardon me while I mix my comic book universes here, but there’s a running gag in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 where Nebula keeps trying to eat a piece of fruit and other characters knock it out of her hand, saying it isn’t ripe yet. I bring this up because right now Arrow is much like that piece of fruit. It feels like the conditions are right to pull the string and string all the season’s plots together, but there are still a handful of episodes left in the season order so we are left in a holding pattern until the right time. For now, we’re being treated to episodes featuring characters who have not been in the foreground much lately. Last week it was Black Siren; this week it’s Diggle. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Arrow:

What’s the scoop:  In an effort to foil the Ninth Circle’s latest plot on their quest for world domination that involves the Archer system and biological weapons, Team Arrow enlists the help of Diggle’s stepfather, an influential general with a black ops background and a person who Diggle has never mentioned or had reason to cross paths with until now. Diggle and General Stewart don’t get along because Diggle is convinced the general played a role in his father’s death. Related to this is Felicity’s struggle with the moral implications of the Archer system. After following the science without thinking of the consequences of what she’s creating, Felicity has been able to take a step back to see what might happen if this system falls into the wrong hands.

Meanwhile in B-plot land:  Oliver spends another episode running parallel to the main story. While he’s all for getting dangerous weapons off the street, he’s mostly concerned about telling Emiko that Dante killed her mother and Ninth Circle is just using her.

Sex and the Olicity: With Ollie busy trying to redeem his sister and Felicity dealing with technological issues, there wasn’t a lot of time for tender moments.

On the island of the future:  Future Felicity is trying to hack the helmet of the soldier they scored last week, though she needs a special metal to get around the failsafes. Mia and Connor set off on a scavenging run, and spend most of the time fight-flirting while dodging the cops. The mission gets accomplished and Felicity soon discovers the full capabilities of the helmet, which causes grave concern because Galaxy One is building an army of nearly omnipotent supersoldiers to impose their will on the greater Star City metro area.

What about the action: There’s nothing especially groundbreaking about the action sequences in this episode. They were solid as always, but nothing Arrow hasn’t covered before. Much of the struggle this week is internal. Diggle and Stewart are captured and interrogated by the Ninth Circle, which helps Diggle see firsthand that his wicked stepdaddy might not be so bad after all. Oliver learns the truth about the circumstances behind the death of Diggle’s father, who met a less than heroic end as a result of his own incompetence. Stewart covered all that up for Diggle because sons need to believe their fathers are heroes. It’s a revelation that puts Diggle and Stewart on hugging terms. Oliver tells Emiko about her mother and at first, she doesn’t believe it. After the two sides go their separate ways, Emiko angrily pumps Dante full of arrows, and he admits he did the deed to sever her last ties to her pre-Ninth Circle life and turn her into the ruthless terrorist she’s become.

Last impressions: For all that went on, the most important piece of the episode is that Felicity may have been cleared of causing the apocalyptic flash-forward. Despite a deep-pocketed investor interested in the Archer system, Felicity fries the only working device she had because it had fallen into Ninth Circle hands. Just before she flipped the switch, Alena downloaded the root code to Archer. Felicity tells Alena to trash it and they’ll start on their next thing, while that part of the episode closes with Alena pawing the flash drive in her hands, dollar signs in her eyes.

This was an episode designed to keep us distracted while we wait for the main story to ripen on the vine. It admirably tried to accomplish the mission; unfortunately, with time running out this season and a short final round of episodes scheduled for next year, it feels like there could be more constructive things the series could be doing with what little time it has left.

Craig Wack

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