Airing Thursdays at 8pm on Sky 1
Writers: Marc Guggenheim (Story), Ubah Mohamed & Tyron B. Carter (Teleplay)
Director: Andi Armaganian
Essential Plot Points:
- We open in Kasnia, where a group of soldiers are demolished by John Diggle, parascending into battle. Digg just THRESHES these guys and breaks a man whose face we don’t see out of their captivity. He needs his help back in Star City.
- Oliver runs the press gauntlet and has a sit down meeting with his lawyer, Jean Loring, accompanied by an openly corrupt cop. The news gets worse; the prosecuting attorney is Alexa Van Owen, a legendary prosecutor with a 99% conviction rate. She offers a plea, one count of manslaughter with a 15 year sentence. Oliver turns it down, despite Jean warning that the entire system is against them.
- At Team Newbie, Dinah and Rene butt heads about how much trial prep they need to do, Rene lays it all out; Oliver’s in this position because of something he did. They need to help out as best they can.
- Quentin is being interviewed and doing a great job of keeping the questions off Oliver. Laurel arrives and says she knows who Green Arrow is and will testify if subpoenaed.
- The trial begins and Felicity thanks Team Newbie for showing up.
- Van Owen starts her case and calls Diggle. He doesn’t show, and the Judge gives them an hour to find him before he’s held in contempt.
- Her next witness is an ER doctor who has frequently treated Oliver. She won’t break doctor/patient confidentiality. Van Owen asks who she saw the night Black Canary was brought in and she continues to evade.
- The hour is up and Diggle arrives just in time. He testifies that Oliver isn’t the Green Arrow, and Van Owen just isn’t buying it.
- Dinah is up next and Van Owen goes after her for the apparent murder of Sean Sonus, the Central City drug dealer she clashed with. Dinah pleads the fifth and the ordeal continues…
- Diaz brings Laurel in. He calls her on how distant she’s been since the rooftop murder and threatens her to keep her in line.
- At the courthouse, Felicity tries to reassure William and Resa. Resa gently, and firmly, points out that they both know he’s Green Arrow.
- Rene takes the stand, vowing to defend Oliver. And then, Diaz comes in with Rene’s daughter. Rene is terrified, locked between Diaz and Oliver. Oliver, silently, nods and gives him both permission and forgiveness. Rene, with no choice, comes clean. Oliver is the Green Arrow. Diaz leaves, nodding his thanks.
- On the court steps, Diggle and Dinah bounce Diaz and his bodyguard around until the Police intervene. Diaz lets them go. After all, what can they do?
- In private, Oliver’s lawyer asks outright; is he the Green Arrow?
- He agrees. And she pulls up a new strategy; jury nullification. Put every single time he saved the city out in public and DARE the jury to find him guilty.
- Oliver turns her down. Because doing so will put a target on his back and the backs of his friends and family and that means the mission will never end and he will never, ever have his life back.
- Oliver begs Felicity to not agree to testify, letting slip that he knows John has something planned. She refuses and takes the stand.
- Oliver’s lawyer has Felicity ‘assess’ a photo that appears to show Oliver in uniform. Felicity does brilliantly even when Van owen tries to bring in her father’s past crimes to discredit her.
- Oliver takes the stand, states that he’s not Green Arrow and refuses to ‘identify’ him. Van Owen shows Oliver a photo that’s clearly him in Russia during the time he was ‘marooned’. With no choice, Oliver comes queen and Van Owen asks what else he’s been lying about.
- And at that point the Green Arrow drops through the ceiling.
- And it’s TOMMY MERLYN!!!!!
- Tommy takes the stand and admits that he faked his own death in 2013. Van Owen has no answer. Neither does the judge. Tommy is arrested and Oliver will go to trial.
- On the way out, Tommy is taken to Diaz. He’s broken out by Rene and John and revealed to be, CHRISTOPHER CHANCE! THE HUMAN TARGET IS BACK, BABY!
- Oliver admits that he didn’t know Chance was using Tommy’s face and it rattled him to Felicity. Quentin warns them that Diaz is going to field Laurel as a rebuttal witness using information gleaned from when Cayden James bugged the bunker.
- Laurel takes the stand and is asked who the real Green Arrow is. She freezes up and, looking straight at her dad, says ‘Tommy Merlyn’.
- Diaz cooks off. Quentin takes his not-quite daughter to one side and she tells him he inspired her to stand up to Diaz. He tells her to get out of town and she does.
- The closing arguments are made. Terrifyingly, Van Owen sees through it all and tells the jury exactly what’s been done. Rene has an idea…
- William and Felicity get a few minutes with Oliever. Oliver tells his son what may be about to happen with immense kindness and patience. He also does this, very clearly, on the edge of bursting into tears.
- The verdict is in; Guilty.
- Oliver is going to prison.
- As a hail mary pass, Jean asks for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The standard for that is massively high and requires a verdict no reasonable jury could arrive at.
- The Judge finds it. He argues the massively conflicting evidence means no verdict is possible. It’s over. It’s done. Oliver’s free to go.
- At the bunker. Chance reveals he was the Judge. Oliver thanks Diggle but he reveals it was Rene’s idea…
- Oliver visits Rene to thank him. Rene apologizes. Oliver apologizes. The air between the two teams is finally, finally cleared.
- Elsewhere the real Judge is brought before Diaz. Diaz executes him and then Laurel shows up. She kills Diaz’s guards, is all set to scream Diaz’s brain into mush but…too late. He’s carrying a counter-measure. He captures Laurel and tells her he’s moved onto Plan B. Killing Oliver and everyone he cares about.
Another fantastic episode in the books as Arrow continues to systematically make up for the sins of the earlier episodes this season.
Court case episodes are always tough because they have, by definition, to move much faster than actual court does. This one works much better than most, especially due to the context it’s put in. We get a genuinely chilling look at just how much control Diaz here, with the Judge, the Jury and every police officer on active service in his pocket. We also get a lot of dangling plot resolution and more importantly, this episode cauterizes the numerous personal wounds of the earlier episodes. We’re not saying Team Arrow is getting back together, but, after this episode, everyone is at least talking again.
That means this episode serves as both escalation and deck clearing. Escalation because for the second week running Diaz has been beaten and that’s going to drive him wild. Deck clearing because after this week Laurel’s loyalty, Oliver’s court case, Team Newbie’s relationship with Team Arrow and Rene’s court case are all off the table. There’s still a chance Oliver’s going to prison anyway (The last episode of the season is called ‘Life Sentence’) but for now at least it’s nice to see things going right for once.
It’s also nice to see an episode full of great performances. Amell, who is incapable of turning in bad work, is especially great here but the entire ensemble step up to the plate and give the episode the significance and weight it needs. The result is an episode that feels, and is meaningful. To the extent that the welcome return of the Human Target (Hey, Chris!) feels like what it should be, an added bonus.
Two episodes to go and it’s all to play for. If the season can pull off two more episodes this good, then it’s going to be one of the greatest comebacks in superhero TV. Even if they don’t, episodes of this calibre should be celebrated especially in a show’s sixth season. Great work, Team Arrow.
- HOLY BUCKETS THAT ENTIRE OPENING ACTION SEQUENCE.
- In an episode where everyone looks sharp (Diggle’s suit! Rene’s suit! CURTIS’ suit!) Dinah wins Fashionable Vigilante Of the Week with some excellent lipstick.
- The silent ‘It’s okay. I get it. Do what you have to do.’ moment between Oliver and Rene is lovely.
- The look on Oliver’s face as Felicity takes the stage! AWWWWWW!
- Amell is universally great this week, especially with a bunch of great silent acting. The combination of joy and horror on his face when he sees Tommy is heartbreaking.
- Colin Donnell! And he’s so much fun this week too playing Chris Chance playing Tommy playing Green Arrow!
- Oliver and Rene shaking hands was something we needed more than we were expecting.
- Christopher Chance! Just in general! We know the Arrowverse docket is pretty full right now but we’d be fine with him turning up more often.
- It’s a small point but when Curtis has that line about how big the case is, he’s very clearly looking at a not entirely full, and not especially large, room.
- Christopher Chance is weirdly similar to John Constantine, in that he has an incredible ability to keep turning up in DC TV shows but never quite sticking around. Mark Valley played him in the excellent 2010 series but the Arrow version is played by Will Traval. Travel’s previous experience includes a pivotal turn on Jessica Jones as Officer Will Simpson and a short, brilliant cameo in an episode of the much-missed Leverage.
- Always a pleasure to see Teryl Rothery back on the show as Oliver’s attorney, Jean Loring. Rothery is an all-time great of genre, and has done everything from voicing Princess Abi in InuYasha to her iconic work as Doctor Janet Frasier in the Stargate franchise.
- Catherine Dent is a genre stalwart best known for her years of superb work on The Shield. She also played General Hale on this season of Agents of SHIELD, Melissa Geary on Fear The Walking Dead and Sally Clarke on Taken.
- Andi Armagnian has shaped the aesthetic of TV superheroics throughout her career, working as an editor on everything from the Arrowverse shows to Smallville and even the pilot for the abandoned Aquaman series. Their directorial work includes this episode and Supergirl‘s ‘In Search of Lost Time’ with no doubt, many more on the horizon.
- Marc Guggenheim is the creator of Eli Stone, co-developer of Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow and a comic and screenwriter with a raft of credits.
- Ubah Mohamed has written for Legends of Tomorrow with the excellent ‘The Curse of the Earth Totem’, as well as Cold and The Whispers.
- Tyron B Carter has also written for Legends of Tomorrow with ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and ‘Amazing Grace’.
- ‘Curtis please tell me you don’t have FOMO because you haven’t been subpoenaed.’
- ‘Guys, thanks for coming.’
‘Well…THEY were subpoenaed.’
- ‘If watching every episode of Law and Order has taught me anything, it’s that you never plead the fifth.’
- ‘If it’s any consolation, my team IS going to extract me before I ever get to prison.’
- ‘That was a pun right?!’
‘I don’t do puns.’
- ‘Always happy to help. Just…try not to need me again? For at least a year?’
- ‘Legal system in this country…it’s going to Hell…’
Review by Alasdair Stuart