After transforming into the Slade Wilson Variety Hour for the past two weeks, Arrow is finally back to being Arrow in this week’s strong episode, as Oliver’s Thanksgiving celebrations are interrupted in a major way by both Agent Watson and Cayden James. Watson strikes first, arresting Oliver for being the Green Arrow at a Star City fundraising event he attends with Felicity and William. While Oliver is able to get out on bail for the time being (thanks to the money that Felicity was supposed to use towards her and Curtis’s start-up), this fight is far from over, as a huge trial looms in the distance, a trial in which Watson has some type of evidence up her sleeve and no one can seem to figure out what it could be.
At the same time as Oliver’s arrest, Cayden James, along with Black Siren, steals materials used to create a massive bomb that can essentially “pressure-cook” the thousands of people in attendance at a Billy Joel concert at Starling Stadium. By episode’s end, it’s revealed that the bomb threat is all a ruse, simply a way for James to get a face-to-face with Oliver as the Green Arrow so that he can tell him that he cost him his son. When “Thanksgiving” is over, it’s still unclear who exactly James’s son is and what Oliver, and by extension, the team may have done to him in the past. However, James’s plot does serve one other purpose: by releasing footage of Team Arrow taking down his henchmen disguised as police officers, James convinces the people of Star City to vote for the Anti-Vigilante Referendum, ensuring that protecting the streets is going to get a lot harder for the team as Season 6 continues.
Despite how important some of these major plot developments are, though, they aren’t what make “Thanksgiving” stand out as a solid episode of Arrow. After two uneven installments that failed to connect with me (and other fans) emotionally, this week’s hour delivers some of the most powerful scenes of the season so far, and the best part about these scenes are that, for the most part, they include Oliver Queen, who has felt like a supporting character in his own show for the past two weeks. Fortunately, “Thanksgiving” not only puts Oliver back in the Green Arrow suit and throws him out into the field but also gives him some dynamic sequences with the people who are most important to him.
The two standout scenes from “Thanksgiving” feature Oliver and Diggle sitting in Dig’s hospital room when Oliver confronts his best friend after Felicity tells him the truth about John’s nerve damage. The conversations that follow are rich and complex; aside from Felicity and Thea, Oliver and Diggle are the only two characters on Arrow with as much depth and as much history that can discuss these huge issues in such personal and intimate ways. The discussion over John’s health (which worsens throughout “Thanksgiving” due to withdrawal from the experimental steroid he was taking and Curtis’s new implant) becomes a battle over trust and sacrifice between the two longtime friends; Oliver tells Dig that this is the first time he’s ever been truly disappointed in him, while Diggle fights back, saying how he’s risked everything for Oliver and his family throughout the years. “I don’t owe you a damn thing,” he tells him.
After their initial blowout, cooler heads prevail for both Oliver and Diggle. When Oliver returns to the hospital, he apologizes to John for taking him and his loyalty for granted over the years, while Diggle is honest with Oliver about why he really took on the mantle of Green Arrow, referencing the dream world from last year’s crossover. It wasn’t a selfless act he was taking for his friend; Diggle wanted to be the Green Arrow for himself—it’s what makes him the happiest, it’s what makes him most complete. The real reason why he hid his nerve damage for so long wasn’t because he was worried about letting Oliver down—he didn’t want his health to strip him of this opportunity to be the team’s leader, to be the hero of Star City.
And that’s an opportunity that Dig will have again as soon as his health improves. Oliver will begrudgingly be the Green Arrow again until his best friend heals because the team needs a leader, and with Cayden James out for revenge, that’s what’s most important right now. However, family is also incredibly important to Oliver Queen. How long will he be able to lie to his son?
Oliver has made it clear that he wants to be honest with William and spend time with him; he wants to be the best father he can be, and being the Green Arrow doesn’t allow him to do that. Will there ever be a time he can be both? Oliver doesn’t seem to think so right now, but you can tell that he’s not truly sure. Thankfully, though, he’s got a sister who’s pretty good at giving advice, and she has just woken up from a coma. Thea Queen is back, everyone, and I can’t wait to see how she fits into this new version of the Queen family. If that touching final scene in “Thanksgiving” is any indication, I’d say pretty damn well.
- My apologies for the lateness of this review. While it was a nice Thanksgiving treat to have a new (and good!) episode of Arrow last night, it also made it pretty difficult for me to find time to watch and write about the episode because of traveling and spending time with my family. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with yours!
- Oliver and Diggle aren’t the only characters butting heads in “Thanksgiving.” Felicity and Curtis also verbally battle with each other when she learns that he used their tech to try and help John without her knowledge. Curtis counters, saying that Felicity has made any and all decisions about the company without involving him, and while their actions aren’t really that comparable, they do expose a more important truth: the two of them need to do a better job communicating with each other. Fortunately, it seems by the end of “Thanksgiving” that they realize that, which means that we will get more fun, exciting scenes at Helix Dynamic in the future and less bickering between its two owners.
- Also, Felicity is awesomely proactive in this episode when it comes to dealing with Oliver and his case, and I love how, even though you can tell that he disapproves when she reveals that she’s paid his bail using company funds or hacked into the FBI database, Oliver doesn’t even try to argue with her about it. He understands that she’s going to the same lengths for him that he would for her. Plus, Oliver also knows that no one tells Felicity Smoak what to do.
- Another terrific scene in “Thanksgiving”: Dinah and Quentin bonding over Vincent and Laurel. I really appreciated the honesty and empathy that both characters show throughout that scene, and I just love the bond that has been forged between them this season. Along with Diggle and Dinah, it’s one of my new favorite relationships on the show.
- Did anyone else think having clips from an actual Billy Joel concert felt odd? It stood out for me. And not in a good way. And I love Billy Joel!
- So who do we think Cayden James’s son is? Would love to hear your guys’ speculation and theories.
- Who’s happy that Thea Queen is back? This guy is! I don’t know exactly how many episodes Willa Holland is signed on for in Arrow Season 6, but I hope she’ll be around for at least half the season. I can’t wait to see Thea interact more with William, and I also can’t wait to see her response to this more fatherly and mature version of Oliver. Hopefully, she’ll have some solid solo storylines as well, and maybe even get back into the filed as Speedy. I mean, she suited up for last year’s crossover. Why not this year’s?
What did everyone else think about this week’s episode of Arrow? Are you excited for next week’s two-night, four-part crossover? Comment below and let me know.
[Photo credit: Dan Power/The CW]