Arrow: 205-206 “League of Assassins,” “Keep Your Enemies Closer” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
There’s one thing I can take away from the two most recent episodes of Arrow: as bonkers as the show is at the moment, it’s looking as though it’s only going to become more insane in the near future. I’ll get into the meat of why this is later on, but for now I am going to introduce a new feature to this review: the Villain Count, in which I will point out all the villains and potential villains being introduced to the show, just to point out how crazy Arrow is going to get.
So without further ado, let’s get on with the episodes!
Episode 205 – “League of Assassins”
After the shocking revelations of the previous week’s episode, “League of Assassins” follows Sarah’s story through from the moment the Queen’s Gambit sank to her reappearance in Starling City, albeit with a few notable omissions. Turns out she was rescued and brought aboard the Amazo, where she met a sinister fellow named Anthony Ivo: this character is presumably a version of Professor Ivo from DC Comics, a mad scientist whose crippling fear of death lead him to becoming a master of cybernetics and developing an immortality serum, and also the holder of the dubious honour of being this episode’s first villain). Then, at some point she became a member of the League of Assassins, was trained by Ra’s al Ghul and then fled to Starling City, where she was unfortunately followed.
The League of Assassins (villain number two) turns up as a man dressed like Malcolm Merlyn attacks Oliver and Sarah in the mansion, a man later revealed to be Al-Owal (a name that sounded far too much like ‘LOL’ for me to take him entirely seriously), the man who trained Merlyn. Oliver manages to incapacitate Al-Owal, but he threatens Sarah’s family and forces her to reveal herself to Quentin, taking him back to her clocktower hideout where the League attacks again and Sarah kills Al-Owal in front of her dad, officially making the Lance family more dysfunctional than the Queen family. Sarah then elects to leave Starling City in order to keep her family safe, and Laurel (who still has a somewhat inexplicable issue with pill-popping and uncomfortably throws herself at Oliver only to be instantly and sensibly rebuffed) is left none the wiser.
It’s a fun episode, albeit one that seems to be more interested in setting potential story elements up for the future than in making something which really hangs together as well as it could do. In fact, that feels like a problem in Arrow as a whole at the moment: I’m currently struggling to work out where the show is going, there are so many new plot elements introduced each week. But I have faith that things will become slightly simpler as time goes on, or at least each dangling plot thread will have some element of closure at some point.
Episode 206 – “Keep Your Enemies Closer”
After hanging back in the shadows for most of the season so far, Arrow provides us with a Diggle episode, and one which, as I hoped for, begins to provide some closure for his ongoing storyline. During a fairly routine bust with Oliver, Diggle is abducted by A.R.G.U.S. (an organisation they are steadfastly refusing to refer to by its full name, the ‘Advanced Research Group Uniting Superhumans’) and ordered by Amanda Waller (a character who, in the DC Comics, sets up a supervillain team named the Suicide Squad, making her potential villain number three in these episodes) to track down and rescue Lyla Michaels, the agent Diggle had flirty banter with a couple of weeks back, who has gone missing while following a lead about Deadshot’s whereabouts.
Remember Deadshot, the assassin who supposedly never misses and then did almost nothing but miss every target he aimed at during his time on the show? He’s also the guy who killed Diggle’s brother and is now the target of his righteous vengeance, as well as being villain number four.
Anyway, as it turns out Lyla is being held in a Russian gulag and Diggle has to infiltrate it and then bust out with the help of Oliver, Felicity and a Russian dude Oliver helped in flashbacks. It’s nice to see Oliver’s Russian mob connections, introduced way back at the beginning of season one, coming into play, and it’s also nice to see Oliver playing the sidekick while Diggle gets to be the man of action for this episode.
Once inside the gulag, it turns out that Lyla had not just found a lead on Deadshot, but had found the man himself, also imprisoned in the gulag, and naturally Diggle has to team up with him to get Lyla out. It all works out swimmingly, and the entire crew escape, before Diggle finally confronts Deadshot: he lets the assassin go, but not before he is informed that his brother was the target of the contract killing and Deadshot was ordered to carry it out by a group named H.I.V.E. (another organisation from DC Comics whose full name they probably won’t ever reveal, as it is incredibly silly: the Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination, also known as villain number five), and thus the subplot thickens.
Meanwhile, on the island, it turns out that Ivo and the pirates (who may as well count as villain number six at this stage) are looking for a super-soldier serum developed and lost by the Japanese during World War II, and Sarah tricks Oliver into speaking to Slade (whose face is covered in some pretty nasty burns) and Shado, revealing that they are still alive and must be killed. Ivo orders Oliver’s execution, but Sarah stops it from happening and Ivo tells Oliver that, much like Jack from Lost, he has to go back to the island.
Oh, also Isabel Rochev ends up tagging along to Russia to meet some Queen Consolidated international business partners (or something, I don’t know business very well), and she and Oliver hook up, much to Felicity’s chagrin; and I empathised, because Oliver and Felicity have the most chemistry out of any pairing on the entire show, certainly more than Oliver and Laurel, and I think there’s a good chance they will end up together at some point in the future.
Villain Count: Six (over two episodes, so an average of three per episode)