Arrow ended the first half of its season on a rather weird note. In very short order, too short in fact, Team Arrow completely imploded. Dinah, Curtis and Rene were on one side and Oliver, Felicity and Diggle were on the other. At the same time, the newest Big Bad, Cayden James, revealed he had his own team of villains to attack Oliver and the gang. In the winter premiere, “Divided,” both story threads are picked up … albeit in a frustrating (if logical) manner.
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One Man Against an Army
Arrow does make the wise decisions at the top of the episode. The remaining members of Team Arrow find out very quickly about (some of) Cayden’s advantages. Felicity and Diggle learn that the bunker has been bugged. (Likewise, Curtis discovers that Cayden was behind Rene’s identity as Wild Dog leaked to the FBI.) Shortly thereafter, Oliver and his original allies also learn that Cayden has built his own team of supervillains. This knowledge isn’t much of a victory because Oliver is even more outmatched than he was previously against Cayden, knowing he has evil back-up.
Oliver is greatly outnumbered but he refuses to go back to Dinah, Curtis and Rene to make amends. This just feels like a huge step back for Oliver’s character in season 6. Oliver as a dad has brought out a much measured side to him and this feels like the overly emotional Oliver of early seasons. Oliver should betray, and it makes sense to regress, but it’s also frustrating to watch. There’s also no sense that this break-up is going to last, so everyone being selfish and childish just feels like it’s dragging out the inevitable.
In any case, Oliver does agree to share what he’s learned with the departed trio. This lets Dinah know that Vigilante is working with Cayden James. Which, at least, puts the horrible storyline of Dinah seeming like a lovestruck idiot with Vince to bed.
Deals with the Devil
Still without a team to count on (and with Diggle still out of commission with his tremor) Oliver makes a risky move. He aligns himself with Jerry Bertinelli. Jerry’s the cousin of the Huntress (from all the way back in season 2) and the head of a crime family, who Cayden James is trying to muscle out of control. Oliver makes a temporary alliance with Bertinelli, hoping that his hatred of Cayden will be enough to keep Jerry from betraying Oliver. At least that’s what Jerry believes to be the case.
In reality, Oliver manipulates Jerry and Cayden into one big brawl to take out each other. Oliver hopes that he’ll be able to defeat Cayden or one of his people with Jerry, but he’s not so foolish to totally rely on a mobster. It’s a necessary move for the episode to make. Oliver might be a prideful jerk, but he’s not a moron.
Even with his preparations, Oliver’s plan goes completely to hell. In an incredible fight scene (which is the highlight of the episode) Oliver tries to take out as much as Cayden’s army as he can. He does an impressive job but it’s not enough. Sadly, two metahumans, a super-genius and a guy with a neck tattoo are too much for Oliver. Oliver flees and Bertinelli is killed.
Oliver’s defeat at the hands of Cayden’s armies does convince him to try to make nice with the departed members of the team. They come together and Oliver, finally, seems much more like the level-headed and mature man he’s become in season 6. Oliver makes a surprisingly persuasive argument for why the departed trio needs to come back. On top of that, Oliver apologizes for how he treated them.
It’s still not enough, Dinah, Curtis and Rene can’t go back to the same roles, but they won’t abandon the city. They’ll start their own team and Oliver, maturely, lets them go.
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This is a much better way to deal with this team fracture. It obviously won’t last but the entire storyline won’t be the two halves of Team Arrow sulking at each other, which is the case for most of “Divided.” At best, the break-up can also allow Arrow to develop Dinah, Rene and Curtis outside the shadows of the Original Team Arrow. Something that could make their eventual reunion that much stronger.
The Black Siren Redemption Rises
However, the formation of the two Team Arrows is far from the best mission launched in the episode. That mission belongs to those without costumes, Thea and Quentin.
Thea, finally, returns to work as Oliver’s Chief of Staff. Thea also uncovers that Quentin is struggling. Quentin is still conflicted about the fact that Black Siren let him live and he believes, even if the effort might kill him, that he can save this evil Laurel. Thea, having her own experience with evil family members who redeemed themselves, agrees to help.
Honestly, Arrow can throw out most other season 6 plotlines. This needs to be the focus. Thea and Quentin’s mission to save Laurel’s soul is up there with Oliver as a father and Diggle as Green Arrow.
But what did you make of the episode? Are you invested in the break-up of Team Arrow? Were you annoyed by the way everyone was acting or did it make sense for their characters? How long will the break last?
Arrow season 6 will return on Thursday, January 18 at 9/8c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Arrow Facebook page!
(Image courtesy of The CW)