TV reviews

Arrow 6×03 – ‘Next of Kin’ – Review

Arrow explores new relationships within the team this week as a major status quo takes effect with Diggle (David Ramsey) taking over the mantle of Green Arrow.

At the end of the last episode, when Oliver (Stephen Amell) handed over his bow to Diggle it was a surprise twist, and one that I think we all know won’t last forever. Thankfully, it’s lasted more than just a single episode and looks set to be a major factor for the season going forward. Diggle stepping into his new role is the main drive of the episode, with Oliver’s developing relationship with William (Jack Moore) taking up the B plot, but finally getting some room to develop.

For the most part, Diggle’s story was a fairly formulaic and predictable one. He’s stepped into Oliver’s shoes (or hood), finds that he doubts his abilities to lead, restores his faith in himself, and leads the team to victory. Thankfully, a surprise moment at the end of the episode and some visually dynamic action moments elevate what could have been a very dull passing of leadership story.

Just like Oliver has so many times in the past, Diggle puts a lot of blame on himself during the episode, even leading to a moment when Oliver confronts him from brooding in the bunker. Sadly, much like Oliver, Diggle makes a decision that is sure to come back and bit everyone later on in the season, as the final scene in the episode shows him buying drugs to deal with his nerve damage.

This seems like a stupid decision. Why wouldn’t Diggle just talk to Oliver and tell him he’s not well? Thankfully, the episode goes a long way to explaining that when we see Diggle acknowledging that Oliver needs to step away from being the Green Arrow for his son. Any lingering doubts about taking over would easily then be quashed in a rather touching moment when Oliver tells Diggle that he’s the reason he was Green Arrow to begin with.

Calling all the way back to the first season, Oliver tells Diggle that without his friendship and guidance he’d have stayed a killer, a man simply crossing names off a list. It’s an interesting change to the Green Arrow mythology, but one that works well within the universe that the CW has created. It also makes the alternate future we saw in Legends of Tomorrow where Diggle’s son was the Green Arrow feel a lot more meaningful.

Whilst it’s always interesting to see Oliver playing the Mayor, and this episode has some interesting developments with the anti-vigilante bill, his role as a father is less interesting. I appreciate that the series hasn’t made William’s intergration into Olivers life easy, that would feel too cheap, but some of the tension between the two of them is starting to wear a little thin.

Thankfully, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) is on hand to be an important neutral party for William, someone with whom he doesn’t have that kind of emotional baggage and can just be a friend for him. The scene with the two of them doing math together was actually rather sweet, and the kind of thing I hope that we’ll see more of in future episodes.

The episode also found a little time to give its supporting characters time to do something outside of a fight scene this week. The episode further developed the relationship between Diggle and Dinah (Juliana Harkavy), thankfully moving them away from some of the antagonism that hung between the two of them in the previous two episodes. Instead, Dinah gets on board with the new status quo and gives Diggle her support. Whilst it did take the whole episode for Diggle to really earn this, her background as a police officer made her shift here more believable; she is a woman used to following orders after all.

The moment when Rene (Rick Gonzalez) goes behind Diggles back to Oliver is actually handled remarkably well. He and Diggle are friends, and Diggle understands that he only went to Oliver from a place of concern for the team and the mission. Where the show could have blown this up into an argument, or even a division between the two of them, it takes a very grownup approach to the situation.

With some interesting character development, some of which will surely develop into important stories later in the season, and some creative fight sequences (the limo fight is one of the best the series has done in a while) ‘Next of Kin’ ushers in a new era for Arrow.

Arrow Season 6 is now airing on Sky in the UK. Let us know what you think of the season.

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