Arrow S06E22 “The Ties That Bind” REVIEW

Arrow S06E22 “The Ties That Bind” REVIEW

0 comments 📅11 May 2018, 15:32

Airing Thursdays at 8pm on Sky 1

Writers: Ben Sokolowski & Oscar Balderrama
Director: Tara Miele

Essential Plot Points:

  • The Queens are doing breakfast as dinner. Which is adorable right up until Felicity and Oliver argue. Felicity makes the point, sensibly, that Oliver is acting like everything is fine when it really is not. Oliver points out he wants a night off to remind him of what he’s fighting for and they make up.

  • At the hospital, Digg is being given a clean bill of health thanks to the microchip.
  • Curtis is showing his new boyfriend, Nick, (yay!) around work.
  • Rene is having a night at home with his daughter.
  • Dinah is working, which mostly involves beating some information out of one of Diaz’s lieutenants.
  • The Queens sit down to breakfast and…the phone rings. Oliver gets it and, it’s Anatoly. He sends a text message:
  • At which point commandos abseil in and open fire.
  • Oliver runs inference, taking two guys out with a lamp while Felicity and William run for it. The second wave hit, Olly grabs a gun and takes them down.
  • Felicity puts the word out. Across the city, kill teams hit every single one of them.
  • At the Queen’s, Felicity updates Oliver. Everyone’s okay aside from Nick who’s been rushed to surgery. Oliver calls Raisa to come get William and Felicity and Felicity makes it clear she is not going ANYWHERE.
  • Oliver reassures his son that nothing is going to take him away from him and William leaves with Raisa.
  • At Team Newbie’s bunker, the team regroup and watch Diaz’s men total Oliver’s bunker. The good news is that William and Raisa are safe in the NORAD facility in Colorado. The bad news is Oliver and Felicity have to watch their home for years get destroyed.

  • Curtis arrives and gives them the good news; Nick is going to be okay. Curtis is terrified and FURIOUS. Lyla offers lots of armed support but Oliver is a few steps ahead. They can’t go to war. Diaz has the numbers. Diaz has the city.
  • And Oliver has Anatoly.
  • Probably.
  • Oliver begs the team to trust him, and stand down, until he gets a meet with Anatoly.
  • At the meeting, Anatoly reveals SCPD have a kill order out on everyone in Oliver’s family. Anatoly suggests they hit Diaz on the move and Anatoly offers to ‘motivate’ Diaz to leave his safe house.
  • At Diaz’s safehouse, Lydia Cassamento from the Quadrant i not happy. Diaz is ITCHING for a fight and Lydia backs down…for now.
  • Anatoly arrives and ‘counsels’ Diaz to pick a better spot for the fight. It works…
  • A construction crew stop Diaz’s truck. Team Arrow make their move and Diaz runs for it. Curtis takes him down, furious at his boyfriend being hurt and gets his ass absolutely handed to him. SCPD reinforcements are en route and with no choice, and no Diaz, the team bug out.
  • They regroup. Curtis is benched with a serious but non life-threatening injury. Felicity figures out why he isn’t dead; in the fight, Curtis knocked Diaz’s necklace off and he was more concerned with that. Because it isn’t a necklace, it’s an encrypted military hard drive. If Felicity can get close enough, her ‘digital sniffer’ can read and copy the drive.
  • And as the head of a federal agency, Lyla has to be let into the precinct. Diaz has to keep up appearances after all. That’s their in.

  • Diaz arrives at the precinct and has his tech guy check out the drive. He takes Anatoly to one side and cooks OFF. He’s put it all together. All of it. But he can’t quite believe that it’s Anatoly. Especially when Anatoly points out that Cassamento showed up to the fight without being asked…
  • At the bunker, Felicity picks up on Oliver’s discomfort about Felicity being there. She’s calm and direct and absolutely not there for his nonsense. And she assures him that she’ll only be hacking remotely.
  • So she’s clearly going in.
  • As they prepare to go in, Felicity asks Lyla for advice. She sets her straight and starts her run.
  • The good news is that they’ve got Diaz’s books. Every financial record, every account. The bad news? Lyla’s made.
  • The others collapse in on the precinct and Felicity weaves her way through the massive untidy fight and gets the job done.
  • Back at the bunker, Oliver tries to tell Felicity how bad this almost got. Felicity responds that it DIDN’T get that bad. And, at last, Diaz is vulnerable.
  • Curtis rocks up to help hack the drive. Dinah and Curtis have a really sweet moment about their different approaches and how they’ve backed each other up over the loss or wounding of their partners. Dinah turns him around and tells him to go back to the hospital to be with Nick.
  • At the precinct, the hacker tells Diaz he’s traced the location Felicity’s fallen back to. Cassamento is furious at the thought of Diaz going to war again. So he kills her and rolls out.
  • Diggle comes to Oliver, who is happily brooding in the upper level of the bunker. Oliver is frightened, angry. Diggle, because he’s amazing, points out that throwing away everything and everyone that gives Oliver strength isn’t going to help.
  • Diaz rolls up and begins gassing the building. Felicity refuses to leave before the encryption is complete and Oliver orders everyone out aside from him. As they go, Rene gives him the  detonator for the self destruct charges Curtis rigged the building with.
  • The others fight their way out and it gets ugly. With 5 minutes left on the hack, and the building flooding with gas, Felicity refuses to leave. The gas floods the room and, with no option, they leave. She and Oliver make for high ground, and are confronted by Diaz. He takes Oliver apart until Felicity hands him the detonator and they basically punch Diaz in the face with an exploding building. They get out and watch as the entire building explodes, apparently killing everyone inside.
  • Except, as they find out at Argus later, Diaz’s body was not recovered. And with the hack incomplete before the explosion, they’ve got nothing.
  • Felicity and Oliver get back on the same page in a deeply adorable manner. And Oliver has an idea for what’s next…
  • At the precinct, a scarred and burned Diaz asks the other Quadrant members in. He explains what (he thinks) Cassamento did. And then he explains that he doesn’t want in on The Quadrant, he wants ALL of The Quadrant. He kills one member and the last one standing agrees to join him.
  • Oliver’s idea, it’s revealed is Agent Watson. She asks two things from in return for her help. The first is a confession he’s the Green Arrow. The second…we find out next week.


What a deeply strange episode of Arrow this is. So much of it works brilliantly. The parts that don’t work though, totally fail.

Let’s rip the bandaid off first. The ending is MADDENING. Not because it’s a cliffhanger, we’re fine with those, but because of what it almost certainly is. Oliver is going to be given a short leash to bring Diaz in and will then, having confessed, stand trial for his ‘crimes’. It’s clunky and obvious, especially as it makes Oliver look like a chump. Even backed into a corner like this he’d never agree without knowing both conditions. It’s script driving character rather than vice versa and the show is better than this, or it has been for a month or so.

Then there’s the Nick problem. We’ve seen Nick twice(?) and the second time he’s almost killed saving Curtis’ life. That’s not quite fridging him but it’s not a great look for the only gay couple on the show. Especially given the effortlessly great work Legends of Tomorrow has done in that field for seasons now.

Then there’s the Curtis vs Diaz fight which is a solid piece of action but it’s designed solely to bench Curtis. Again, it feels obvious, and having the gay lead character Hulk out presents as tropey even though it may not be.

There’s also some directorial problems this week. That last fight makes it far from clear that Lyla has soldiers on the field so her being cut up about their loss at the end doesn’t make too much sense. Likewise the fact she apparently can’t spare too many resources and then later in the scene offers the team any weapon they need.

But that being said, when the episode does work? Holy wow does it work.

First off the stunt team deserve raises this week. Every action scene is well-choreographed but the precinct raid is flat out brilliant. You get a visual representation of the difference between how Felicity and Oliver’s theaters of operation complement each other despite being different. Oliver bouncing guys off desks as Felicity sneaks around in the background is great and the crescendo on the scene is perfect.

Then there’s Oliver and Felicity themselves who have, for a lot of this season, been immensely unlikable. That is officially no longer the case and the complex emotional algebra of their relationship is now actively interesting and sweet instead of intensely tiresome. It’s also nice to see Oliver’s ‘Lone wolf who wolfs alone’ approach being derided for being stupid by basically everyone.

Plus the good guys lose. Badly. And at this stage of a season that’s an immensely brave thing to do. Of course it ties into that deeply frustrating ending but you can’t have everything.

So, next week is the final round. If it’s as good as this episode’s best bits it’s going to be great. Fingers crossed.

The Good:

  • Lila and John trading off a gasmask is adorable in a profoundly terrifying way. Also their synchronized life saving.
  • You know how Felicity and Oliver haven’t been remotely likable for a lot of this season? This episode pretty much makes up for that.
  • Unusually great central performance by Amell, even by his high standards.
  • The action scenes. (Mostly) Holy wow!
  • The opening sequence is just a note perfect escalation of dread.
  • Everyone gets some good moments this week. Quentin aside…

The Bad:

  • REALLY? A data sniffer with LED lights on it, hidden in a main corridor? In plain view? REALLY?
  • The Quadrant really aren’t that threatening for a continent-wide syndicate. Diaz kills three of them with no consequences whatsoever.
  • As mentioned above, the direction walks all over Argus’ role in that last fight, which is a shame.
  • The nerd hacker kid is a stereotype rather than a character. We’d be happy never seeing him again.

The Random:

  • Tara Miele has directed for Hawaii Five-O as well as the movies The Lake Effect and Gone Missing among others.
  • Ben Sokolowski has written for The Flash and Arrow, as well as a run on the New 52 Green Arrow comic.
  • Oscar Balderrama has written for Drop Dead Diva, The Mob Doctor and Arrow among others.

Best Lines:

  • ‘When all this has settled down, I’m getting us the best seats in the house.’
    ‘You know they’re like 400 bucks, right?’
    ‘And they will have obstructed views.’
  • ‘Are they dead?’
    ‘NO! But…they’re down!’
  • ‘Ohhh….you were just the bait.’
  • ‘Don’t look, Peanut.’
  • ‘You know the cool thing about soundwaves? They BOUNCE.’
  • ‘Can I say it? For old time’s sake? SUIT UP’
  • ‘Also, getting divorced helps.’
  • ‘Honey? You better get in here.’
  • ‘We’re married. We’re supposed to be each other’s strength. So there is no alone for us anymore.’
    ‘It’s not that simple anymore.’
    ‘GOD! I’m really gonna need you to start seeing it that way.’
  • ‘A deranged madman tried to kill everyone I hold dear to me. I’ll nap later.’
  • ‘I’m sorry she thinks I’m changing the rules for her, but I AM changing the rules for her, because things have changed!’-That is a chewy, ugly line that Amell makes sing because he’s so damn good at this.
  • ‘It’s good to know after all these years that you can still learn something.’
    ‘I still have a ways to go.’
    ‘That’s true.’-This is roughtly 15000% more adorable than they’ve been all season.
  • ‘Let’s try this again. May I?’

Read all of our Arrow reviews

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