WARNING: This review contains spoilers
No one stays dead long on Arrow. Oliver, Malcolm, Sara (x2), and Ray as examples, just to name a few. Now, another new face can be added to that list as Diggle comes face to face with a ghost from his own past.
Our episode starts with a man in an armed vehicle transporting money being hijacked by Damien Darhk’s Ghosts. They get him off the road when Canary’s screech stops them. Team Arrow tries their best to interfere, but the Ghosts get away. They don’t take the money though, they just set fire to it. The team’s confused, until they come to the realization that the cash was from the government to the city. Darhk doesn’t want this city to improve, he wants to help it die so H. I. V. E can use it for their own purposes.
Diggle takes an opportunity to privately share the file Lance gave him from Darhk on Andy with Oliver, who is shocked. Diggle seems to have come to terms with the fact that his brother was not the man he once though he was and was heavily involved in illegal activities, but Oliver remains skeptical and is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. They’ll figure it out, he tells Diggle.
Meanwhile, Felicity meets with Ray in hopes he can help them decipher the mystery of the Ghost’s DNA-missing tooth from several episodes ago. He’s eager to help, but Felicity also makes a point to remind him he should officially return from the dead and come back to his company, Palmer Tech. He’s not quite ready yet though, he tells her. The two, through an impressive amount of scientific and technical jargon, determine that the DNA has somehow been manipulated and in order to unscramble the DNA markers, they need a specific chemical, one that’s unfortunately been patented by a company by the name of Wolfman.
So Arrow, Speedy, Black Canary, and Diggle find themselves breaking into the company in search of obtaining a sample of said chemical, where rather unfortunately they wind up coming across several Ghosts. Black Canary and Diggle make their way to the laboratory, where Laurel finds what they’re looking for while Diggle takes down a Ghost. He removes his mask and, shocker, it’s his (presumed dead) brother Andy. He’s taken aback in surprise and Andy makes a run for it.
Back at the Arrow cave, Diggle can’t believe what he just witnessed and is unsure what to do next. The answer’s clear to Oliver though. They need to get him out of H. I. V. E., no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Diggle unexpectedly resists the idea. The team tries to remind Diggle that he’s family, but considering what he now knows about Andy, Diggle wants nothing to do with him anymore. “The man who was my brother is dead,” he tells them.
Diggle has always been one of the most noble and moral characters on the series, so it’s surprising to see him react this way, but it’s also very human. It cannot be easy to reconcile the heroic martyr figure he’s always had of his brother with this image of a corrupt criminal and killer, and just like in real life, sometimes it’s easier to ignore these kinds of brutal truths than face them.
Thea’s been dodging calls him from Malcolm, but can’t avoid him when he shows up inside her apartment. He claims he wants to help with her bloodlust, but she says she has it under control. According to Malcolm though, it’s uncontrollable. The effects of the killings in Nanda Parbat are wearing off and soon she’ll need to kill again. He comes to her with an option. A pedophile who’s never been convicted lives a few blocks down. The world could use one less pedophile, he tells her, and she needs another month of peace, an idea she immediately rejects.
Oliver, promoting his run for mayor, makes an appearance and a gallant speech at a gala type event for the Star City police department. Oliver is hoping Lance can use his connection with Darhk to get him the location of the Ghosts. That could be hard though considering he has become rather suspicious and distrustful of Lance due to last week’s events. He does reveal though that he saw something on Darhk’s desk about a location on the docks, which may be helpful.
At the event, Diggle and Laurel bond over resurrected siblings. She’s been in a similar situation she says, and urges him to appreciate the fact that his brother is still alive. Diggle isn’t interested in wasting the energy hoping he’s still decent, that Andy doesn’t deserve that. Laurel agrees he probably doesn’t, but that Dig does. Part of him died when his brother did, and this could be his opportunity to heal. On the verge of tears he confides in her that the months after Andy died were the darkest in his life, remembering having to tell his nephew he’d never see his father again and wishing he could trade his own life for his brother’s.
Darhk introduces himself to Oliver, a meeting that goes much differently than their confrontations while he’s in his Green Arrow suit. Darhk mentions his connections and tells Oliver that the power structures have shifted in Starling City and that’s something he needs to be aware of. He’s read Oliver’s planned proposal to revitalize Starling Bay and urges Oliver to leave the bay as it is. Otherwise, he’ll no longer be running unopposed.
Felicity is upset to learn he’s even considering throwing in with Darhk, labeling the worst of his many, many bad decisions. Oliver maintains that he’s only using Darhk to get at H. I. V. E. and since Lance has lost Darhk’s trust, this is the only way. She reminds him that he decided to run for mayor to give the city hope, something he can’t due if under the thumb of Darhk.
Thea’s enjoying a date with Alex, when he excuses himself to take a call. When he returns she punching a man uncontrollably. He was making unwanted and rude advances towards her and her bloodlust took over.
Diggle, at home with his wife, continues to grapple with the news that his brother is alive, questioning whether or not to tell Andy’s wife. He used to daydream of Andy returning after learning of the Lazarus Pit he tells her, but he never imagined it could actually happen and now that it has he’s at a loss.
Oliver shows up and tells him of Lance’s intel. The Ghosts are planning something at the docks that night, and more than likely his brother will be a part of it. Diggle isn’t willing to risk their lives, but Oliver says they’re offering. Diggle agrees, but just wants it to be the two of them. They show up to see Dahrk giving a group of Ghosts a mystical pill, but are quickly spotted and attacked. They managed to escape, but Oliver is hurt badly.
He’s not willing to let Andy go though, despite the fact that Diggle very clearly is. Oliver tries to give him the benefit of the doubt, but Diggle’s had it. This is about family to him. And about how Andy abandoned his entirely, letting them believe he was dead for eight years, which is inexcusable. Oliver fights him on it though, and asks him to hold out hope because he needs to believe that people can always come back from darkness no matter how hard things get.
Diggle flips the conversation on him and reveals Felicity told him he’s thinking about going into business with Darhk, something he also highly disagrees with. He suggests Oliver take him down in the light of day, rather than trying to fight with him in the shadows.
I feel I must call attention to David Ramsey’s performance here. He always makes the very most of what he’s given, but often he’s not given much. Here though we see Ramsey rewarded with a juicy arc, and he nails the emotional performance. We see Dig’s pain, frustration and anger in equal measure. His walls come down farther than we’ve ever seen, but he still retains that stoic personal we’ve come to know and expect from ex-military man John Diggle.
Felicity pays another visit to Ray. He still hasn’t seen anyone or looked into coming back to the company, which she can’t understand. Ray reveals he’s been catching up on the last six months and realizes his life really didn’t amount to anything. No one missed him or cares and his business is now on life support. As for the tooth, even with the chemical he’s unable to recover the DNA. Once it’s been altered, it’s gone. However, he is able to somehow trace their origins to a defunct psychiatric hospital.
The arrow team sans Diggle is suiting up and preparing to infiltrate the hospital for a rescue mission. Diggle shows up and tells them he doesn’t want to see them risk their lives for Andy, who he believes doesn’t deserve it. They disagree, and as Thea puts it, it isn’t his choice.
With the help of Ray, Team Arrow battles the Ghosts in their headquarters. The action scenes in this episode, especially this scene, were filmed particularly well. With lots of swift movements, excellent fight choreography, and quick, jarring shots. At one point, Speedy finds herself cornered by Darhk himself, but when he tries to use his powers on her, they’re ineffectual. Diggle shows up to support his brother, but he’s not talking about Andy, he’s referring to Oliver. After a great, long physical fight between Speedy and Andy (her transition to hero has been a great one), she takes him down and they get him out of there.
Once they make it back to Arrow HQ Ray tells them it felt great to be useful again. Felicity asks if that means he’ll be back at work tomorrow. He tells her no. He decides if he’s going to come back from the dead he needs to something different, though he doesn’t know what quite yet. It will include the occasional superhero adventure if they need him though, he says.
Dig goes to have a conversation with Andy, who they have locked up. He refuses to respond to him though, except to confirm that everything in that file is true.
Meanwhile, Thea may have found a new way to deal with her bloodlust. After Darhk tried to use his powers on her it went away, at least temporarily. She asks Malcolm to help her determine why.
in light of his conversation with Diggle, Oliver decides against going in cohorts with Darhk. Instead at a press event he announces his continued support of his save the bay program, promising that the fight to save this city will be fought in the light of day, ending the strong episode in a triumphant, defiant way.
More Arrow news: Colton Haynes is returning to Arrow as Roy/Arsenal in a future episode this season!! The actor tweeted his excitement upon arriving in Vancouver yesterday to begin filming. Roy was a key member of Team Arrow and his and Thea’s relationship was one of the show’s best, so it will be wonderful to have him back, even if it’s only briefly.