Airing in the US on The CW, Fridays 9pm, No UK air date confirmed as yet
Writers: Ben Sokolowski & Emilio Ortega Aldrich
Director: James Bamford
Previously on Arrow!
- Rene confessed he was being blackmailed into selling out Oliver! Oliver fired him! Then let him back! Then Rene did something else he didn’t like! Oliver fired him again! The entirety of the newbie Team Arrow members quit in disgust! And now, spoilers galore!
Essential Plot Points:
- Jerry Bertinelli, the last mobster standing, is in his office when the anti Team Arrow arrive. Black Siren has a MAJOR haircut upgrade. They explain they want to buy him out. He is not minded to agree. Black Siren almost puts him through a wall as they mention they know his daughter attends Columbia…
- What’s left of Team Arrow are cleaning up the cave. Curtis is en route to help get Diggle back in the field and Feliciity is coming up empty despite pulling a string of all nighters. With no other options, Olly hits the streets.
- Thea visits Quentin to indirectly plead for Rene’s job. And also ask for her one herself, which she gets.
- Curtis implants the chip in John’s hand. Felicity’s voice briefly echoes from somewhere else in the cave and…no one really thinks it’s odd.
- Until it happens again.
- Felicity puts it together. The chip is a bust but, at last, they’ve got an idea of what’s going on. They’re bugged. They’ve been bugged for MONTHS.
- Dinah is working overtime as criminal after criminal hands themselves in. Vince appears and she realizes he’s scaring them off the streets as Vigilante. And that’s he’s flirting with her. Using justice.
- Olly, Felicity and Digg meet at Argus and Olly gets filled in. It’s bad. They’ve been compromised, Oliver’s secret ID is very far from secret anymore. And then, an alarm goes off nearby…
- Olly rolls out and finds, to his surprise, Jerry Bertinelli. He fills Oliver in and, suddenly, the enemy of the enemy is my friend. Jerry gives them information that leads to a license plate, and from there, to James.
- Curtis visits Rene at home. Rene levels with his friend; it doesn’t feel right, what he was forced to do. And Rene has a plan; all the evidence Agent Watson has on him is digitized. So, if it vanished…Curtis is of course in.
- That night, Dinah and Vince go for a walk. It’s getting romantic when Vince is called away.
- At work, Mayor Queen and his new Chief of Staff get to work. They bond and there’s a really sweet moment where Thea apologizes for not being field ready and Olly reassures her she’ll always be his Speedy.
- Then, Felicity calls in, they’ve found the numberplate. OIliver goes in alone.
- It is of course a trap.
- Olly rocks up, taking down the redshirt thug in the room and using a really cool choker arrow to disable Black Siren. James’ throws stolen T-Spheres at Olly and he takes them down. Felicity’s signal is jammed even at Argus and Olly is surrounded by the entirety of his allies.
- Olly runs.
- Team Arrow regroup and Olly still refuses to read any of the others back in because they can’t be trusted. He does, at least, agree to tell Dinah about Vince.
- Thea visits Lance and finds him going through a photo album. He comes clean about Black Siren and the way she seemed to react to him. Thea begs him to be careful.
- Diggle and Felicity meet with Rene, Dinah and Curtis. They fill them in and it goes VERY badly. Dinah storms out.
- Olly meets with Bertinelli who’s running. Olly begs him for help, promising that if they work together they can end Cayden James for good.
- Dinah meets up with Vince and it turns out she did believe Olly. She punches Vince, handcuffs him and he knocks her out. shucking the handcuff off and healing almost instantly…
- Oliver and John are setting charges at the docks. John continues to be one of the few adults in the city, pushing Oliver to talk about why he’s acting like this. Oliver finally explains why he’s so angry; he was arrested in front of his son because of something Rene did. The only people he trusts are Diggle and Felicity.
- Curtis is hacking the case files for Rene and discovers an audio file that’s key to the discovery of Rene’s secret identity. It’s a file that James created and leaked to Watson. James is behind it ALL.
- Dinah arrives and explains what happened. Team Newbie brief each other and make the call; they’re going to take James on themselves.
- At the Arrow Cave, Oliver, Felicity and John get word that Bertinelli has recruited a death squad. The war for the docks is on and the collateral damage will destroy the port.
- James, of course, is watching.
- This is, of course, a trap.
- Bertinelli shows up at the warehouse Olly and Dig were rigging with explosives. James’s army shows up and all Hell breaks loose. Olly demolishes the Diaz faction of James’ men before being taken down by Black Siren. Diggle sends in the cavalry; Curtis’ T-Spheres that he flies remotely.
- Olly is cornered by the Bratva and inadvertently saved by Vince arriving and trying to kill him.
- With Oliver pinned down, James makes Bertinelli an offer. Bertinelli looks regretful for a second, draws a gun on Oliver and…the final charges explode and Oliver escapes. Exhausted and annoyed, Bertinelli hands the port over. And is executed anyway.
- Back at the Cave, Olly is battered, bruised and thoroughly annoyed. Felicity evokes classic baseball movie Bull Durham to reassure him and Olly admits the truth. He cannot possibly survive out there with the vast numbers advantage the bad guys have.
- Olly makes a call.
- Team Arrow reunite and Oliver levels with everyone. He doesn’t actually apologize, but it’s about as close as he’ll ever get. Diggle offers them a clean slate and…
- they say no. Curtis takes the lead explaining that the lines that were crossed can’t be uncrossed.
- Felicity is furious. Oliver wishes them good luck. Before they leave, Curtis gives Felicity a drive. He thinks he’s figured out what’s wrong with John’s chip.
- Thea gives Lance the photos she has of his daughter and tells him that Malcolm changed so perhaps this Laurel can too. She offers to help and Quentin gratefully accepts.
- Curtis takes Dinah and Rene to the old Helix building. It’s their new lair and they toast to being partners they can trust.
- James confronts Vigilante about Dinah. He’s not happy she knows but Vigilante, loading a massive table of weapons with ammunition, isn’t concerned. He can get this done.
- At the Arrow cave, Felicity finishes fitting the chip with Curtis’ mods. John’s hand stops shaking, Oliver throws him a gun and he cocks it with the speed and confidence he’s lacked for months. Team Arrow are back…
Where Arrowverse stable mate The Flash stumbled a bit in its returning episode. Arrow’s mid-season premiere does a lot of things extremely right. It also sets up not one but two major conflicts for later in the season and gives Quentin Lance and Thea one of the most interesting things they’ve had to do in a very long time. And it all works because of one decision; not pushing the reset button.
It would have been so easy for Team Arrow to be back on the same page an episode after they were torn apart. It would have been even easier for James’ bug to go unnoticed and everything to carry on exactly as it was. Sokolowski and Ortega are to be absolutely applauded for their refusal to do this as the episode, and the season, are both far more interesting due to that choice. There’s a downside, and we will get to that, but for the most part this works brilliantly.
Firstly, it explores the idea of legacy and succession which is something the show has been playing with for a while now. Star City needs heroes, that’s clear. But what this season seems to be examining is the idea that those heroes don’t have to be anyone in a green hood with a fondness for archery. The decision by Rene, Dinah and Curtis to go out on their own reflects what seems to be the start of the torch being passed and the show’s all the more interesting for it. Of course it may not take, and the horrible possibility they’ll all be killed to prove Oliver’s point, remains present. But for now it’s an interesting, and successful, way to map legacy heroics onto the small screen. Plus they’ve all get interesting side plots under that umbrella arc; Dinah vs Vince, Curtis and Felicity trying to figure out if they can still work together and Rene and Oliver violently being on the same side at one another. Plus some form of Team Newbie/Team Arrow throw-down is just a matter of time.
The fact the arc plot gets blown wide open this week is fun too. Team Arrow (And Team Newbie) now know that James is working with basically everyone from previous seasons who isn’t Slade Wilson. The surveillance sub plot is resolved, Team Newbie have a new lair, John’s back in the game and for all the massive developments, no one is any the wiser about what James is planning. This is a masterclass in how to both resolve and progress serial storytelling and it’s a pleasure to see on this show especially.
Most interesting of all though is the C plot. Thea and Quentin have been background characters for a while now but its great to see them both being given something so chunky, and emotionally resonant, to do. The recent, and excellent, Crisis on Earth-X crossover did a great job of sketching in the emotional consequences of alternate selves. This plot looks set to go deeper into it and we’re looking forward to where it goes.
But there is a downside and it’s a biggie; the ideological clash that splits Team Arrow apart. We understand Oliver’s behavior even if we don’t like it. He’s a horrifically traumatized emotionally closed off ninja/veteran who has been continually betrayed. It’s ENDLESSLY tiresome to see him still not understand how badly he comes across at times but it’s at least contextualized.
Felicity is a different story. She, and to a lesser extent Dig, are on the wrong side and both should know it. Instead, Felicity seems intent on lecturing the newbies every chance she gets and it’s the one time the episode falls down. This doesn’t play like a clash of ideals or approaches, it plays like arc-mandated drama. The sooner it’s resolved, or we’re given better reasons for it, the better.
That aside, ‘Divided’ is a really strong opener for the season’s second half. Smart, assured and frequently fun action storytelling it’s a good episode and goes a long way towards setting the occasionally slightly wobbly first half of the season back on track.
- Felicity’s lipstick.
- Continuity! Great use of the Bertinelli family! And always lovely to see Louis Ferreira.
- Dinah’s offhand reference to it being five weeks since she was the Black Canary is a smart way of showing time passing.
- While Olly as off-duty Arrow is becoming increasingly tiresome, Mayor Queen is a delight. Stephen Amell has a great line in long-suffering deadpan comedy and we wish the show would let him use it more.
- The offhand way Olly puts an Arrow through one thug’s shoulder to keep him down, and all the close up bow work, is a great way of showing just how scarily good Oliver is.
- Lance trusting Thea is a lovely, low key moment. In fact that entire plot is shaping up very nicely.
- The closing fight, especially Oliver’s walk of destruction down one side of the gunfight is just beautiful, John Wick-level work.
- If Felicity has pulled 21 consecutive all nighters she’d be dead. Or have died a few weeks ago.
- Speaking of Felicity, her hard-line stance is really difficult to understand. She’s been where the newbies are and yet she can’t see Olly is massively overreacting?
- Dinah better have some payback coming for that single shot knockout she suffers this week.
And the Random:
- The Bertinelli crime family are also the relatives of Helena Bertinelli, the vigilante best known as Huntress. She last appeared on screen in the season 2 episode ‘Birds of Prey’ but she gets mentioned regularly on the show.
- Louis Ferreira, who plays Jerry Bertinelli, is best known in genre circles for his role as Everett Young in Stargate Universe. He’s currently playing a recurring role in the new TV version of S.W.A.T., starring Criminal Minds alumni Shemar Moore.
- James Bamford is a long term Arrow staffer both as a director and stunt coordinator. He’s also done stunt work on everything from Watchmen and Stargate: Universe to the short-lived Flash Gordon TV show.
- Ben Sokolowski is another Arrow veteran, starting as a writer in season 1 and being made producer in season 4. He’s also written for The Flash and got his start on JJ Abrams show What About Brian.
- Emilio Ortega Aldrich has written for Arrow since 2015 and also wrote for the upcoming Freedom Fighters: The Ray series.
- ‘I remember the last time you got into bed with a Bertinelli it did not end well.’-The look on Olly’s face when Felicity says this is amazing.
‘Fine I’ll do it we both know I’ll do it.’
- ‘Your old is my delicious.’
- ‘Don’t you knock?’
‘Don’t you lock your doors?’
‘You look like you’ve been in a fight. YOU HAVE BEEN IN A FIGHT! Are you ok?’
- ‘I’m concerned. And the feeling doesn’t suit me well.’
Review by Alasdair Stuart
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