Arrow S06E20 “Shifting Allegiances” REVIEW

Arrow S06E20 “Shifting Allegiances” REVIEW

0 comments 📅27 April 2018, 12:41

Airing Thursdays at 8pm on Sky 1

Writers: Wendy Mericle & Rebecca Bellotto
Director: Alexandra La Roche

Essential Plot Points:

  • Oliver goes to Russia to work off a debt. He has a plan involving Anatoly…
  • Rene’s out of hospital! And reunited with Zoe, Curtis and Dinah. Rene instantly wants back in.
  • Meanwhile, Dig, back in uniform, is briefing Argus troops on how much control Diaz has over the city. He’s deploying 24 hour surveillance on Diaz’s lieutenants because, sooner or later, he’ll surface. And when he gets word an arms dealer is en route, from the Quadrant, Dig sees a chance to take him out…
  • Diaz tells Laurel that he needs to bring Quentin into line now he’s the mayor. Laurel is not happy…
  • Anatoly is watching baseball with his men. He gets up to get a beer, hears a noise and…they’re all down. Anatoly sighs, drinks his beer and chats to Oliver who steps out of the shadows. He reveals that he has paid the Bratva a debt, and in doing so, given Anatoly the opportunity to go home. Anatoly considers it, then tazes Oliver unconscious.
  • With Oliver bound, he and Anatoly chat. Oliver explains his plan to go back to basic principles and Anatoly tells him he may be even bigger a fool than he thought.
  • Back at Team Newbie, they brainstorm possible leads. They come up with something too; the Scorpions, Diaz’s old gang.
  • Laurel takes Quentin out for a meal. She’s nervous, edgy, apologizes and then…Diaz walks in. He congratulates Quentin, asks him to sign a piece of real estate into his possession and makes it clear Laurel is with him. Quentin is furious. And powerless.
  • Team Newbie place a laser microphone outside the Scorpions’ HQ and get the location of the next drug shipment.

  • Team Newbie storm the delivery and find out it’s guns, not drugs. They get caught in a crossfire, make a run for it and…are cornered. Rene freezes up, flashing back to when he was shot. All seems lost until John abseils from the ceiling and pulls them out.
  • At Argus, John and Team Newbie share intel. It turns out that they were working the same case from two ends, and that neither of them knew the truth; it was an ambush.
  • John, because he’s basically the only adult in this show, apologizes for how things went. Team Newbie are surprisingly chill. When Quentin shows up, they put the final piece in place; Diaz was wearing a Quadrant ring. He’s working with the Quadrant and wants the building from Quentin as an armory.
  • Anatoly heads out to meet Diaz. Oliver accuses him of betraying everything he’s ever believed in. It hits home, but Anatoly leaves anyway.

  • John and Rene talk on stakeout. Rene admits that he’s terrified, and John reassures him that everything he’s feeling, the PTSD, is healthy and understandable. Then they get the intel they need and it’s not good; Diaz isn’t bringing guns into the city, he’s using the city to sell guns FROM.
  • Laurel goes to see Quentin to try and get him sign. He’s furious, disgusted that she’s working with Diaz. She admits she’s terrified of Diaz and begs her not-quite-father to sign. Quentin throws her out. Of his office and his home.
  • At Team Newbie HQ, John calls the play; tag the arms trucks so Argus can take them out, destroy the weapons separately. Curtis and Dinah are ready to go but Rene is…not. He absents himself from the mission, worried he’ll do more harm than good out there.
  • Quentin comes home to find Laurel moving out. He tells her about what happened to his Laurel, about how terrified he sees she is. And he signs the document. On one condition; he helps Laurel get away from Diaz. She tells him that Diaz isn’t human. She tells him about Jesse’s murder. Both terrified, both desperate, they agree to protect each other from Diaz.

  • At the raid, Curtis tags the trucks as the drone commences its attack run. The fight is close in and nasty and the last truck almost gets away. Curtis throws a T-Sphere at it, the drone targets the truck and blows it up. It’s a win.
  • Anatoly takes Oliver to see Diaz who is furious about the loss of his guns. Diaz beats Oliver up and Anatoly is disgusted that Diaz is working over a bound man. Anatoly accuses him of being weak and it works; Diaz takes his jacket off, Anatoly takes Oliver’s chains off and Diaz makes it interesting; whoever loses leaves town.
  • The fight is close but Oliver takes Diaz down and locks him in a choke. He screams at the other man to yield and…Diaz stabs him in the chest. Oliver gasps ‘You have failed this city’ and passes out.
  • Anatoly brings Oliver some painkillers and Oliver thanks him. Anatoly smiles and points out he’s realized Oliver’s plan; everything that’s happened up to and including the fight was meant to show Anatoly what sort of man Diaz is.
  • At Team Newbie HQ, the others are decompressing after the first good mission in a long time. They ask if he wants to join them and John says no, but also makes it clear that they’re on good terms. And that Curtis and Dinah need to make sure they’re looking after Rene.
  • Curtis goes to see Rene at home and he makes it clear that he can’t get past the fear of Zoe losing him. And then Zoe rocks up and tells them she knows EVERYTHING and she’s cool with it and it is adorable.
  • Laurel delivers the signature to Diaz who admits it was never about the building. It was just about seeing if Quentin can be trusted.
  • Oliver is brought in and Diaz admits that he’s had a change of heart. Oliver can stay. For 25 to life. Diaz has him arrested.
  • The others watch on the news in horror as Oliver, in handcuffs, is walked into the station.


We’re in the endgame now and it’s shaping up to be massive. This episode gives us big clues about what season 7 will look like and establishes a lot of really fun new dynamics. We especially liked Diggle and Team Newbie being back on the same page and the Diggle and Rene scenes especially.

That sense of new relationships forming is necessary after Oliver pushed everyone away but it’s also something of a pleasant surprise. Oliver in particular has rarely been more interesting than he is here. The perpetually strained, grumpy do-gooder has been replaced by a man who may not be damned but has certainly made his peace with the idea. His plan is equal parts masochistic lunacy and genius, thinking six steps ahead of his opponents. It’s also notable that the only person he truly trusts this episode is a criminal. Oliver is at home in the darkness and if, as seems possible, that darkness becomes prison, it’s going to be interesting to see how he does there.

Elsewhere the emotional weight of the episode is carried by Quentin, Laurel and Rene. The first two seem, finally, to be on the same page and are united in their fear of Diaz. This plot has been a slow burn but it’s starting to build to something interesting and both Blackthorne and Cassidy are clearly relishing the chance to do something intense like this. Likewise Rick Gonazalz who brings a lightness of touch to the episode but total emotional honesty too. And that in turn make Zoe’s reveal at the end all the more touching and earned.

Arrow has stumbled all season but here, at last, the show knocks it out of the park. A strong run of episodes up to now allows this week to absolutely soar. The end of the season is going to be pretty bad for Oliver by all accounts but if it’s this well done? No one’s going to want to look away. The best episode yet of this strong run.


The Good:

  • The conversations between Oliver and Anatoly are fantastic. Two men living in a moral grey area, trying to work out how to find common ground.
  • Rene. It’s so good to have him back.
  • The entire John and Rene scene is fantastic. Not just because you have the two veterans on the cast bonding but because of the raw emotional honesty there. These are good men, doing a difficult thing that may kill them. They do it anyway because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Zoe. Who in one scene has more to do than William has had all season.
  • John Diggle, who looks so happy working for Argus it’s kind of amazing.
  • Anatoly! Who after a season of being a collection of comedic Russian mobster stereotypes is suddenly fun and interesting again!
  • The raid is really well shot, especially the moment where we see the drone’s eye view of the trucks and Curtis jumping free as they explode.

  • The Diaz/Oliver fight is clearly something that’s been worked on for a while and it shows. Locked off cameras, lots of close in work and lots of crunchy, efficient, nasty blows. When you give this show’s stunt team room to shine, they SHINE.

The Bad:

  • Star City really does have one police precinct and one interview room doesn’t it?

The Random:

  • Basically no Felicity at all. Not necessarily a bad thing but given how much time everyone else gets this week, it seems a little weird.
  • Diaz basically challenges Oliver to a ‘loser leaves town’ wrestling match. Has he never seen professional wrestling?! Those never go well for the Heel!
  • Rebecca Bellotto has previously written for Arrow episodes like ‘Disbanded’ and ‘Promises Kept’.
  • Wendy Mericle has written for Vixen, Arrow, Desperate Housewives and gloriously weird lawyer/prophet/musical Eli Stone.
  • Alexandra La Roche has directed for Eureka,The Dead Zone, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

Best Lines:

  • ‘Leave some room for the guns. And remember, the muscles are getting bigger.’
  • ‘There’s no place like bunker.’
  • ‘I’m really sorry.’
  • ‘Well let’s hurry it up, I didn’t get a severance, really shouldn’t be gambling.’
  • ‘Maybe we should tag the targets?’
    ‘Olympic decathlon medallist here. I got this.’
  • ‘It’s like Captain Planet! Or the Power Rangers! Or, whatever reference you guys understand.’
    ‘Star City Rockets’
    ‘Is that like a sports team?’
  • ‘Even if I did join, you’d still be down a team mate.’
  • ‘Seeing if there’s anything I could do to speed up that compartmentalization?’
    ‘It’s been half a day, Hoss!’
  • ‘I’ll be brave, just like my little girl.’-OUR FEELINGS, RENE ALL OF THEM. OUR FEELINGS.

Review by Alasdair Stuart

Read all of our Arrow reviews

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