Old friends, hidden agendas and multiple cage matches make for another thrilling Arrow episode. The Arrow showrunners are doing something really special this year as they directly set up the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths and serve as a satisfying wrap up to the past seven seasons.
This week, Oliver and company are piecing together a Pulse Wave Generator that will supposedly stop the Monitor. Their mission takes Oliver, Mia, William, and Laurel to Russia to reunite with an old friend, Anatoly.
The Russia setting challenges Oliver to dive back into a world and past he’s continuously tried to leave behind while trying to shield his kids. When their search brings them to a Russian fight club, Kapiushon has to get into the ring. This gives us a cool moment where Mia sees some of the darkness and power that Oliver usually tries to hide.
Obviously, his attempt to protect them fails immediately as he and Mia are captured. Much of the episode involves Oliver coming to grips with the fact that his children aren’t kids anymore. The scene where he reflects on the last time he saw the present versions of them is another really powerful one.
Finally, he is able to accept their help after some wisdom from Anatoly and throw Mia into a six on two cage match. This is another really great fight. I especially enjoyed that at no point does Oliver try to come to Mia’s aid. She struggles once or twice but is able to get herself out of it and Oliver is able to trust that she will. He also trusts that she’ll be able to pull off a badass smoke bomb exit.
Oliver and Anatoly have gone through some serious ups and downs over the series so it was definitely necessary to get one final (probably?) look at where their relationship ends up. The season where Anatoly was a villain was a difficult one and it is good seeing them back on good terms. Having them say their goodbyes as brothers was a fitting end and felt well earned.
Meanwhile, Diggle is in charge of making a quick run for some plutonium and enlists the help of Jason, er, Roy. Roy has gone into semi-exile to avoid losing control again like he did last season. We get another possible timeline change as Diggle explains that in the future, Roy is able to get control of his rage and help save the city by being part of a team. Roy even acknowledges it is a bold move to try to make this happen 20 years early. Thankfully, the move works and it looks like we’ll have Roy back for a bit longer.
Laurel’s story reached a breaking point this week as Lyla/Harbinger presented her with her Monitor mission: steal the plans that Oliver is trying to get. Throughout the episode we see her struggling with this decision. Anatoly claims that a snow leopard can’t change its spots. On the opposite side, Mia tells Laurel about what she is like in the future and insists that she is and always has been a hero. Finally, Anatoly admits he was wrong about Laurel, which clearly means a lot to her.
Her decision to stand by her new family has huge ramifications as she turns down the Monitor and tells John and Oliver that Lyla is working with him. The episode ends with Laurel, John, and Oliver being tranquilized as they confront her. The full confrontation between John and Lyla next week is going to be especially interesting.
While this episode worked to set up the ongoing Crisis and mission to stop the Monitor, it was still able to spend most of the time looking back on some major Arrow milestones and characters, deepening the new relationships set up this season and building some great character growth. We have only two episodes left until Crisis and I can’t wait to see how this story concludes.