Arrow Season 4 Episode 7 Review: Brotherhood

19 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Arrow’ 4×07 ‘Brotherhood’ Review: Saving Andy.

“We’ll definitely be seeing Andy coming up in future episodes and we’ll get some pretty shocking answers about what happened to him,” executive producer Wendy Mericle recently told EW.

’s seventh episode of Season 4 – entitled “Brotherhood” – saw family reunited and friendships reaffirmed, but it ended on one hell of an ominous note as supervillain Damien Darhk stood in the daylight of Star City and set his sights on a decidedly non-green Oliver Queen.Oliver: “I need to believe that no matter what happens in our lives, no matter how much darkness infects us, I need to believe that we need to come back from that.” “Brotherhood” is the November 18 episode of “Arrow.” Warning, this article contains spoilers. First, The CW made the notably unfortunate decision of spoiling Andrew Diggle’s “Brotherhood” return by last week’s promo, not only undercutting most of the work Season 4 has put into laying that particular storyline to rest, but also helping frame the narrative against Arrow with a third major resurrection in almost as many episodes.

Darhk had upped the ante on his threat to Quentin earlier in the episode on the mere suspicion that Quentin is acting as a double agent; there’s no doubt that he’s willing to enact his own brand of evil on the life and loves of the new mayoral candidate who refuses to play ball. The episode begins with a delivery of bailout money to the city’s bank; unfortunately, the criminals hijack it, leading to an awesome exchange between Darhk’s cronies and the gang. Granted, we knew months in advance that Sara and Ray would return from the respectively ambiguous ends, but it seems such an ill-timed choice after Nyssa purposefully destroyed the Lazarus Pit, itself a bit of meta course-correction against Arrow’s reliance on surprise returns. The one thing about ‘Brotherhood’ is that though the plot is filler – building up to the eventual midseason showdown – tonight’s action is some of the best in Arrow’s history. It’s an increasingly awkward well for the series to keep running to, even if David Ramsey made the most of Diggle’s turmoil over Andrew’s return.

It looked as though they were trying to steal an armored truck full of cash, but when they destroyed it instead, it’s revealed that the money was meant to buy out Star City Bank. While there are the occasional slip-ups – missing and some awkwardly thrown strikes – the camera work, one shots and even choreography is top notch: this is thanks to longtime stunt coordinator and first-time director James Bamford. The other aspect worthy of mention, longtime Arrow stunt coordinator James Bamford finally got his turn in the director’s chair, easily elevating “Brotherhood” as the most action-heavy and visually-dynamic hour of the series, even if the end result felt a bit disjointed. Now, even though the good guys are able to dispatch the Ghosts, the villains are still able to blow up the cash: further preventing any support to the crumbling city.

Intrusive and elaborate camera movement occasionally distracted from the moments at hand, especially as the more involved takes would seemingly speed up the frame-rate, almost looking like a live episode, rather than anything particularly cinematic. If Oliver hadn’t already known that Darhk is a supervillain with so much disregard for human life that he kills with impugnity, and so much disdain for fashion that he’d deliberately wear a black shirt to a black tie affair, Darhk’s plan to use Oliver has a puppet candidate for H.I.V.E. might have even worked to a certain extent.

He was killed by Deadshot, who doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to claim he killed someone, get that name tattooed on his body, and then actually be lying about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love both Arrow and Bamford’s ambition, and the effort shone through more memorable sequences like Thea’s two-floor elevator fight, or smaller details like Laurel leaping down from a high surface in one take, but some instances clearly stretched Arrow’s ability to polish its visuals in such a short timeframe. As he gears up for a big banquet to honor the police department, and lobby for their endorsement, he also unveils plans to propose a massive cleanup of the bay area to create much needed jobs in the city. First, Felicity decides to take the found tooth to Palmer and see if he can help: this is both to push the story forward, while also showing why the Atom will depart from Arrow and eventually join Legends of Tomorrow. And to his credit, Bamford did a stellar job keeping emotions high in scenes without any major action, but I think either side of the hour didn’t end up interlocking as well as they could.

Meanwhile, John Diggle (David Ramsey) managed to extract a tooth from one of the Ghosts they took down and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) enlists the help of the recently rescued Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) to help them track the DNA. The billionaire is reluctant to announce that he’s not actually dead to the public, so he jumps at the chance to help and leads the team to a medical facility to look for leads.

Their first encounter saw Oliver soundly beaten, and the second saw Oliver only escaping thanks to an overly long villainous monologue that gave him time to regroup. So after a small scene where Oliver and his adviser fight over his reservoir plan, Thea and Alex talk about their relationship and then the siblings leave with an awkward dental excuse, the gang finds out that the tooth contains a specific substance that can only be found in one particular place. Darhk has clearly singled out the Green Arrow as his masked nemesis of choice, and the other members of the current Team Arrow run the risk of becoming collateral damage. Ramsey admirably nailing every color of the spectrum this week, Diggle made a strong point with Oliver’s family blindspot, and it was especially affecting to see Diggle so resigned to his brother’s heel-turn, focusing on the damage done to the man’s wife and son, rather than hope for redemption.

While this set piece is the weakest of the group, it is still pretty good: there is an awesome one-shot of Green Arrow and Speedy fighting henchmen, which has a sweet transition back to Laurel finding the liquid. Of course, the more team-based dynamic surging around the Arrow lair this year effectively overruled Dig’s decision to leave Andy’s memory be, and that same focus on keeping family in play ultimately pulls Oliver away from making the same lone-wolf decisions as last year. Laurel is probably safest of the members of Team Arrow to be targeted because of Oliver, but John as Oliver’s bodyguard and as brother to the ghost who just so happens to have gone missing doesn’t provide much cover. Diggle has come to terms with the fact that his brother wasn’t the man he thought he was, but finding out that he allowed his family to think he was dead for all these years makes him beyond redemption.

With this said, his return further cheapens death on the show: an observation perfectly brought to light by Felicity as she said, “Even death is not permanent anymore.” But this is a comic book show that has not had stakes in a long time, so bringing back John’s brother does not really bother me. The urge to kill isn’t exactly new territory for Arrow; we saw more of the same with Roy in Season 2, but Damien Darhk’s surprising magical backfire against Thea made for an interesting wrinkle to an otherwise dead-end story, one Malcolm’s return and interest in solving helped lend some heft to. This man abandoned his family, was a monster and was obviously hiding all of his evil ways: this fact is beaten into the viewer, as John has this conversation with three separate people – Laurel, his wife and Oliver. And while it should be heavy-handed, David Ramsey really portrays the pain of a man that does not know what to believe anymore: it is understandable why Diggle cannot forgive Andy.

That said, “Brotherhood” definitely offered another highlight to the season, which thus far seems at its best with strong directorial choices like Lexi Alexander or James Bamford. Now, this directly leads to Oliver having to give a speech at a SCPD event: he has to show his support and promise to appropriate more funds to the police. Felicity Smoak is practically begging to be used as collateral to seize control of Oliver Queen, and she has already been flagged as a possible target for her off-the-book heroics. The other shining moment about tonight are the Felicity one-liners: the death line is great and her little bit about dressing up in leather and tying up bad guys is fantastic – the reaction of the passing old woman is hilarious.

After his speech, Quentin talks with Oliver, revealing that Darhk no longer trusts him – Damien’s advisers think that the captain led the heroes to him last week. Oliver may have decided in “Brotherhood” that he intends to fight Darhk in the light of day, but no amount of good intentions will be able to save those he loves if Darhk decides to stop the villainous monologuing and take somebody down. Still, he was able to see a note on the villain’s desk, suggesting that something is going on at the docks: this reeks of a trap against Lance, but the viewer can only wait and see.

However, the party is quickly interrupted as the two are spotted: again, this leads to more awesome action, with the camera constantly moving and portraying the impact of every punch and kick. However, the group refuses to give up on his sibling: so when Palmer, who is having identity issues himself, figures out the Ghosts’ main hideout – a psych ward – then the whole gang decides to bring Andy home. Long ago Diggle said that he would be Oliver’s conscience, and that still stands true, and now Oliver has Felicity to make sure he is staying on the right track.

On top of this, it is great to see the Atom back – even if he is leaving after this episode – and finally something weakens Darhk: when he tries to kill Thea, his power gets corrupted and also kills her bloodlust. Also, the exchange between Andy and Diggle is absolutely chilling: the simple, “It’s true, all of it,” is the perfect amount of details for now.

As for the other two sub-plots, Thea viciously beats a man in a bar and does not get arrested: however, I am always willing to welcome Malcolm Merlyn back to the show – he is simply an entertaining bad guy. When the fight is over, she’s approached by Damien Darhk who tells her that he recognizes her fighting style as that of her trainer’s trainer, Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). Don’t worry Damien it happens to every guy… Ray and Oli are fending off the countless number of ghosts, and Oli tells Ray to go help Laurel with Andy.

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