Arrow S06E17 “Brothers in Arms” REVIEW

Arrow S06E17 “Brothers in Arms” REVIEW

0 comments 📅06 April 2018, 16:53

Airing Thursdays at 8pm on Sky 1

Writers: Sarah Tarkoff & Jeane Wong
Director: Mark Bunting

Previously, on Arrow:

  • Dinah figured out who Diaz has on the pay roll in the Police Department! Dig made it clear he wants the hood back!

Essential Plot Points:

  • Dinah is leading a small force of trusted cops on a raid against one of Anatoly’s operations.
  • Dig and Olly have overwatch and they’re not needed. Anatoly and his men are busted. And so is Olly when Felicity asks why he hasn’t told Dig he isn’t getting the hood back yet…
  • Dinah and Olly get through about 70 seconds at the police station before sniping at one another.
  • She gets Olly a few seconds with Anatoly who makes it clear just how much trouble they’re in; Diaz doesn’t just own the police department. He owns EVERYTHING.
  • And that’s when the DA kicks the case out.
  • Team Arrow figure it out. Diaz owns the DA. At the cave, Dig sensibly asks why Olly wants to split himself between being the mayor and being Green Arrow.
  • Oliver tells him he isn’t giving up the hood. He is, this being something that requires emotion and nuance, massively terrible at it.
  • Diaz and Anatoly kill one of the cops who arrested Anatoly.
  • At the cave, the team start to investigate and figure out one of Diaz’s primary funding streams; a Vertigo distribution operation. Diggle is driven, competent and clearly both very upset and fuming. When Felicity tells him this, it’s like Oliver is a dog being shown a card trick.
  • Dinah and Curtis are working on protecting the other cops. And Curtis has a boyfriend now! Woooo!
  • Dig checks in with Lyla for some extra intel. She gets him to talk about his feelings and Dig admits not being Green Arrow is bothering him way more than he thought it would.
  • Oliver pulls a truly impressive play. He meets with the DA and the Chief of Detectives and tells them he knows exactly who they work for. They both come clean and are being blackmailed by Diaz. He offers them protection, they turn him down and…he fires them. Which is about a 5/10 on the human scale but it’s season 6 Oliver so that’s like a 7/10 for normal people.
  • Laurel strings Quentin along while keeping Diaz in the loop.
  • Oliver returns to the cave and, finally, tries to talk to Oliver. He apologizes which is kind of massive for Oliver. He explains that the hood makes him feel complete and Dig, clearly still hurt, takes it on board.
  • The bust is…a bust. Dig tries to intimidate the information out of him only for their possible source to be shot in front of them. The two heroes almost come to blows and it gets worse at the cave when Dig accuses Olly of not backing him up because it wasn’t his play.
  • Diaz and Laurel meet and Diaz points out that Laurel is buying into being ‘Laurel’.
  • Dig goes to see Lyla and comes clean; that he’s worried about how he reacted and that somethinf is wrong. Lyla, because she’s amazing, points out that he’s struggling with the feeling none of the terrible things that have happened would have if he was still Green Arrow.
  • Curtis’ boyfriend doesn’t like vigilantes! Oh no!

  • Dig returns and lays it all out. That Oliver is too self-centered, that his leadership style has alienated everybody and everything.
  • Oliver takes this incredibly badly. Like unbelievably badly. To the extent that he screams that Diaz showed up on Dig’s watch. He cooks OFF, and the two men are yelling at one another before they’re fully aware of it.
  • And then Dig mentions William’s mother.
  • And then Oliver points out his trail of bodies doesn’t include his own brother.
  • And then Diggle punches him the face.
  • The two bounce each other through a good chunk of scenery before Felicity, who is an adult for basically the first time this season, gets them straight and puts them back to work.
  • Curtis and Dinah have moved all the cops in the opening raid to a safe house. Which is safe for about two minutes before Diaz’s men swarm it and Curtis takes a bullet from a corrupt cop.

  • And his boyfriend finds out he’s Mr Terrific and is mostly okay with it, yay!
  • Felicity finds the Vertigo warehouse and Olly and Dig go in. As Dinah and Curtis get the cops out of the fight in their plot, Olly and Dig blow up the warehouse.
  • And then, back at the cave, Dig explains that Oliver is a better man, but a worse leader and, for Dig to be the best version of himself, he has to leave.
  • At Rene’s place, Dinah is helping Curtis clean up, and deal with the fact Nick is going to dump him.

  • Nick shows up and explains that every non-corrupt cop has just been fired. Dinah leaves and the two men discuss their relationship. Which, brilliantly, is very much an ongoing thing…
  • At Argus, Lyla offers John a job and with it a chance to keep fighting.
  • In the city, Team Arrow is just Oliver and Felicity. Felicity comforts him and Quentin calls, telling them both to turn on the TV.
  • The DA is giving a press conference, demanding Oliver be impeached…


Time to call it a comeback, folks. This is the second great episode of Arrow so far this season.

What’s clear now is that season 6 is all about breaking Oliver down. The city is broke. The city is corrupt. The Newbies are driven away. Thea and Roy have left and now Team Arrow is just John, Felicity and Oliver.

Well, given that Felicity actually said ‘I’m not going anywhere’ this week, that may not stick either.

The result of this is a show that feels like it’s doing the same thing The Walking Dead is doing this year; burning its lead down to their most basic elements before building them back up. The difference is that this week especially, that process is both front and center and absolutely in line with what the viewers want. Oliver has been a deeply unpleasant guy to be around for a full half season now and pretty much every word that Diggle says is one we agree with. His focus is split, he’s self-centered, he’s doing too much and it isn’t working.

Amazingly, given how terribly Oliver’s been written (but never played, Amell genuinely doesn’t know how to turn in bad work), we see his side of things too. Olly’s right, there is too much going on. Olly’s right, Diggle is partially responsible for what’s happening.

But Dig’s right too. And the fight, when it comes, has a weight and emotion to it that nothing else this half season has come close to. This is Oliver with his eye off the ball, and he doesn’t see it yet. Whether he does in time to stop anyone being added to his trail of bodies remains to be seen but honestly we wouldn’t bet on it.

This is the episode Arrow has needed to have for a while now. It makes it clear that what we see is what the characters see; that Olly is in serious trouble. It could so easily have been a forced, operatic disaster filled with the bad choices that dominated the miserable Team Arrow/Team Newbie civil war. Instead it feels emotional, grounded, earned and serious. Just as it should be. A great episode anchored by great performances that you, and the characters, won’t soon forget.


The Good:

  • The little Russian sting in the music when Olly and Anatoly have a chat is nice.
  • Amell is brilliant this week. He’s always at his best when allowed to portray Olly as an endlessly pained PTSD case who REALLY WANTS to be normal but has no idea how to be. Look at the calm, measured way he says that terrible, cruel line about Dig’s brother. He thinks about it, he formulates it. He WANTS it to hurt. And it does. And Amell shows us that.
  • Kirk Acevedo, ladies and gentlemen. One of the finest character actors of his generation excels this week. Plausible, compassionate, terrifying and a worthier villain than the show has had in some time.
  • David Ramsay is also amazing this week. He’s calm and measured and the exact foundation stone the show, and Team Arrow, desperately need. It’s very tough being a good man and making him interesting. Ramsey excels at it and we’re honestly excited to see what happens with Diggle next.

The Bad:

  • Bless him that Central City Detective is not subtle about his comms.
  • Did…Did Dinah’s driver just run a guy down? Isn’t that…a bit…crimey??
  • Felicity specifically says it will take ages to find Diaz’s operation if at all and then…finds it in like 3 seconds? Really?

The Random:

  • Jeane Wong has written for The Vampire DIaries, Arrow, Graceland, White Collar and more.
  • Sarah Tarkoff has written for Arrow, Vixen, Freedom Fighters: The Ray, Video Game High School and more.
  • Mark Bunting’s primary directing work to date has been Arrow but he’s also worked in various directing capacities for Due East, Dark Angel, Men In Trees, Smallville, Chronicle and more.

Best Lines

  • ‘You understand I’m going to be punching people in about sixty seconds, right?’
  • ‘That’s the moment you were waiting for? THAT ONE?’
  • ‘Where’s all that Russian vengeance I hear about?’
    ‘Is new suit’
  • ‘He’s cute and I don’t want him to get murdered. So sue me.’
  • ‘If I was the Green Arrow, I don’t think you’d want to be in this room.’
  • ‘It was actually a good apology.’
    ‘Wow, that’s not Oliver’s strong suit.’-IT’S NOT JUST US THANK GOD
  • ‘She’s right.’
    ‘She usually is.’
  • ‘It’s not what it looks like…Okay it is what it looks like.’
  • ‘Thanks for having my back.’-Amell says this like he’s saying ‘goodbye’. And he is.
  • ‘I should probably find a reason to leave.’

Review by Alasdair Stuart

Read all of our Arrow reviews

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