Arrow S06E19 “The Dragon” REVIEW

Arrow S06E19 “The Dragon” REVIEW

0 comments 📅20 April 2018, 13:01

Airing Thursdays at 8pm on Sky 1

Writers: Spiro Skentzos & Elizabeth Kim
Director: Gordon Verheul

Essential Plot Points:

  • In a flashback, we see Diaz, in a Star City Orphanage being bullied by a kid named Jesse who burns him every time he does something ‘wrong’ then burns the one photo he has of his family.
  • In the present day, Diaz and Laurel (With AMAZING disguise hair!) are waiting for a meeting with the Quadrant, the crime bosses who run everything in America.
  • At Helix, Curtis and Felicity have a massively awkward few minutes back working together. A mere season late, Felicity apologizes and Curtis, because he’s amazing, gets back to work with her.
  • At the meeting, Diaz makes his play; he wants a seat at the Quadrant table in return for Star City. The Quadrant rep, Eric Cartier Jr, isn’t minded to do so, without an ‘audition’ first. Diaz has to find one of their guys, snatched by the Feds.
  • And then walks into the bathroom and punches the mirror.
  • He and Laurel find the address the prisoner, Balor, is being kept at. Laurel is frustrated. Diaz is worryingly calm and patient.

  • At Awkward Nerd HQ, Curtis discovers that Felicity was a little fired by Oliver. She explains the ‘back to basics’ approach Oliver has taken, and fills Curtis in. Curtis feels justifiably vindicated and also calls his friend on her nonsense; she is very far from fine about it.
  • Back at the Quadrant ‘audition’ Diaz reports back and is given his next test; break Balor out. Diaz is not happy and renegotiates terms. He’s assured this is the last hoop he has to jump through.
  • He and Laurel break Balor out. At which point Cartier Jr guns him and Diaz down.
  • Diaz is wearing a vest.
  • Diaz is NOT happy.
  • Calm, almost serene, Diaz goes back to the bar, empties it and confronts Eric Jr. He explains that the difference between the two men is that Eric has never been hungry. Eric’s men surround them and he tells Diaz he’s outnumbered. Diaz smiles. He brought Laurel…
  • Felicity continues to dance around what she really feels. Curtis, because Curtis is amazing, continues to gently push until Felicity finally, totally, loses it. To make matters even worse, a news story hits. The Green Arrow was last seen in a shootout in the glades, shortly before a massive explosion…
  • At the bar, Laurel toys with Eric, now tied to a chair and surrounded by dead thugs. Diaz interrogates Eric, who folds pretty much instantly. It was all Eric Sr’s idea. Worse still; the Erics never even bothered bringing Diaz’s proposal to the Quadrant. He was a nobody, he wasn’t worth it.
  • Diaz loses it. He beats Eric Jr. half to death and gets the location of the Quadrant meeting. En route, Laurel tries to remind Diaz that he’s a King, that being haunted by Jesse makes no sense. Diaz replies that the fear defines him, and that by being part of The Quadrant he’ll finally have undeniable power.
  • They arrive and throw Eric, bound and gagged and with an explosive on his chest, into the room. Before he can warn them, he explodes. Diaz and Laurel make their run.
  • They get through to the Quadrant and Diaz makes his pitch. He controls Star City, in entirety, and he’ll gift it to the Quadrant in exchange for a single thing;
  • A seat. On the Quadrant.
  • Eric Sr goads Diaz, calling him a loser. Diaz kills him and then, politely, points out a seat just opened up. The Quadrant want to hear more…

  • Laurel, now back in her old hair, points out Diaz is still uneasy. He tells her there’s one last thing he has to take care of.
  • Well, one last person.
  • Jesse.
  • Felicity arrives home, desperate to see Oliver. She sees a news story about the explosion, is terrified and…
  • Olly, unharmed, arrives back.
  • Felicity loses it. She feels powerless, helpless. Oliver points out that she’s never helpless and promises he will always come back to her.

  • On a rooftop, Laurel meets Jesse and Diaz. Jesse is badly beaten, bound, terrified. He has no idea who Diaz is and when Diaz realizes that he’s even angrier. He puts Jesse on his knees, douses him in petrol and sets him alight using the same sort of zippo that Jesse used to torture him with. He throws the last fragment of his old family photo into the fire and leaves.


We would watch an entire season of this. By shifting the focus off Oliver and the artists formerly known as Team Arrow, the show does more in one episode to humanize its villain than the entire season managed with Cayden James.

Diaz is a monster. An articulate, driven, highly intelligent and broken monster and this episode shows us everything. Kirk Acevedo, giving one of the best performances of his career, balances rag with a serenity that makes him an absolute joy to watch even as he’s doing terrible, terrible things. In his hands, Diaz doesn’t feel like Oliver’s equal. He feels like his better.

That, and the introduction of continental super syndicate The Quadrant suggests this season may not end well or conclusively for Star City. We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it, but for now this is an exceptional hour of TV. A lot of that is down to Acevedo. The rest is down to Katie Cassidy whose Laurel is the perfect foil for Acevedo’s Diaz. A hyper-violent criminal Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, they’re a great double act we hope the show does more with.

Rounded out by some truly great stuff with Felicity processing her feelings and some distinctly portentous stuff with Olly, this is another strong episode in this strong last run. We’re increasingly convinced that massive changes are afoot next season and we talk about them below. For now though we’re delighted that the ride has smoothed out and we, and the show, are having Arrow’s unique brand of nasty fun again.

The Good:

  • KIRK ACEVEDO. Endlessly great actor who manages to balance the calm and rage that Diaz has in every single scene.
  • Katie Cassidy is also fantastic this week. She’s driven and curious, outside her comfort zone. And she and Acevedo are a vastly fun double act.

  • Laurel’s disguise hair is amazing.
  • Action as character is always fun on this show. Witness Laurel’s exuberant ‘kick the door in, beat them to death’ approach contrasted with Diaz’s focused precision brutality. Also clearly Diaz has seen the John Wick movies a LOT of times.
  • The quiet little smile Diaz gives in the confrontation with Eric Jr is TERRIFYING.
  • The fact the dragon is now rising behind the logo is cool.

The Bad:

  • ‘Talk as if your life depended on it. Because it does.’
  • Having a character mention how convenient a plot event is does not mitigate that event’s convenience or excuse it.
  • The final scene with the Quadrant is a bit forced. Not only does it look like the set is actually one room, shot from two angles, but it’s all both telegraphed and distinctly ’90s straight-to-VHS Dolph Lundgren movie. Still, nice to see Diaz get his shot though. Well…we say nice…

The Random:

  • The red splatter that used to be Eric Jr is a little…gooey for this show.
  • Oliver has now promised the two most important people in his life he will always return to them. This of course means he won’t. The final episode of the season is called ‘Life Sentence’ and there’s a lot of speculation that it will see Oliver sent to prison, thus adapting by stealth the old ‘SuperMax’ unproduced Green Arrow script. We’re not quite there yet, but the coda this week certainly makes it seem we’re heading towards some drastic changes for Arrow‘s 7th season..

  • Ashton Holmes, who is supremely smarmy this week as Eric Cartier Jr, has previously appeared in The Pacific, The Divide.
  • Gordon Verheul has previously directed for Arrow and Andromeda.
  • Spiro Skentzos has previously written for Grimm. Chadam, George Lopez and others.
  • Elizabeth Kim last wrote for the show with ‘Dangerous Liaisons’. She’s also written for Freedom Fighters: The Ray.

Best Lines:

  • ‘That’s not an issue anymore.’
    ‘For you.’
  • ‘WOW Okay ummm Well I am going to not to take satisfaction from that.’
    ‘Try REALLY HARD.’
  • ‘What happened to your hand?’
    ‘I got angry at someone.’
  • ‘You just can’t trust anyone these days.’
  • ‘Plans are like men. It’s best to avoid the complicated ones.’
  • ‘When you get knocked down, you give up. I get up.’
  • ‘Satisfied yet?’
  • ‘Somehow we’ve moved past complicated and straight into crazy…’
  • ‘You might not be their favorite person in the world considering what we’ve just done to the Prince of Hair Gel’
    ‘C4 killed your son.’
  • ‘You aren’t helpless anywhere. Ever.’

Review by Alasdair Stuart

Read all of our Arrow reviews

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