Arrow Review – S4E7 Brotherhood
I know I know. I’m two weeks late on this review. I’d like to make up some excuse as to why it’s taken me so long but the truth is, I was just lazy. With The Flash, Agents of Shield and Arrow all being off last week, I really just procrastinated on writing this review. Don’t take my laziness as an indictment against this episode though. Brotherhood is one of this season’s best episodes.
I don’t argue with people about Season 3 of Arrow. While I enjoyed it, I definitely understand why some others didn’t. There was a drop off in focus from Season 2 and there was lot going on. Season 3 was definitely a transition season and those seasons are generally disappointing for fans. I believe that Season 4 of Arrow has really stepped it up and corrected a lot of the issues from Season 3 resulting in a more exciting viewing experience.
Brotherhood has some of the best action sequences of Arrow’s entire run. I thought that last season the stunt work dropped a bit but this season has raised the bar back up. This season has done a great job of making sure they include more than just Oliver in the fight scenes. Last season was plagued with Roy’s unnecessary flips that had no purpose in a fight. This season we’re getting more deliberate movements and strikes and it leads to really exciting scenes. I’m also loving seeing the ladies getting more involved in the action. Since Oliver trusts his team now, we get to see them confidently put in work. Thea’s fight with Andy in the elevator was well choreographed and executed. Laurel also had some really great fight scenes this episode and I’m hoping that means her fight skills continue to improve (So people can stop complaining about them). The more inclusive team is evident in subtle things like Laurel being Thea’s backup instead of Oliver rushing to do it all.
This episode was directed by James Bamford, the fight coordinator for the show and he did a great job bringing everything together. Now I’m not naïve enough to think that every fight coordinator for a show can put together an episode like this, but I think it’s been beneficial for Arrow to bring in new directors. Another great episode this season was directed by fan favorite Lexi Alexander. Getting new directors in for episodes has definitely brought some freshness to the show. While you can definitely see the benefit of having a fight coordinator putting together this episode, I think what makes this a great episode is that the story is matching the action. This season Arrow is getting back to the basics of the show and dealing with family and it's doing it by fleshing out the characters around Oliver. We’ve gotten 3 years of Oliver Queen and his journey and this season is now turning the focus on the journeys of all the characters around him. It’s interesting because in this season, we have a reversal of roles, with Oliver playing the rational, level headed friend while Diggle and others fight to separate themselves and try to do things on their own. I know folks don’t like Laurel but I would hope that this episode brings the earlier episodes with Laurel trying to bring Sara back from the dead in perspective. Diggle’s reaction to finding out that Andy was alive was the exact opposite of Laurel’s. Where Laurel was willing to do anything to bring Sara back, Diggle has pretty much turned his back on his brother. Diggle was so closed minded he wasn’t even trying to consider plausible reasons why Andy would be with Darhk. Laurel even had a good point about how she understands the position Diggle is in because Sara was also a member of an organization dedicated to killing and destruction. It’s going to be interesting seeing how the relationship between Andy & Diggle develops in parallel to Laurel & Sara.
Oliver’s growth this season and particularly this episode is one reason why this season has been so good. We’re not seeing Oliver making the same mistakes he’s made for 3 seasons and we’re actually getting him really living up to the opening monologue and becoming something “more”. Deciding to fight Damien Darhk in the light while running for Mayor is a new direction for Oliver. Oliver’s already tried the whole “from within” thing last season. He’s tried being only a vigilante in season one and two. Neither of those methods worked and it would be a step back for the character if he continued to try that. It’s nice to see the show really embracing Oliver as changing and trying to do the right thing.
I thought it was also a great idea to include a line from Thea about how they aren’t really sure what Darhk is up to. If there’s one big complaint about this season it’s that while we know Darhk is a problem, we’re not really sure what he’s up to. It could be that this season is focusing too much on the Legends of Tomorrow set up or it could be that the mystery of Darhk’s plan is all on purpose. By having Team Arrow acknowledge that we’re 7 episodes in and Darhk’s plan is still a mystery to them, it makes me feel better as an audience member. It’s the show telling us the audience “Yes, we’re being purposely secretive about Darhk’s motives”.
The writing this season is doing a good job of throwing misdirection each episode as to who is in the grave we saw in the flash forward in episode one. Stephen Amell recently said that he doesn’t even know who it is himself. Each episode they give us reasons to believe it could be a certain character. This episode, the two that stood out to me were Diggle and Thea. Diggle and Oliver have healed their relationship and are back to being close. Diggle even called Oliver his brother. Thea on the other hand, has reason to believe that Darhk holds the key to ending her bloodlust. Working with her father (Malcolm) could put her in harm’s way. Remember, Oliver didn’t say that it was Darhk that he was going to kill. Now that I think about it, we could also add in Captain Lance since it seems that Darhk might be on to the fact that he’s helping the Green Arrow. And Felicity is always going to be on the list. At this point I think it could be any of these four and there are legit arguments.
Only complaint I have about this episode? No Curtis. Come on man. That’s like having an episode of The Flash with no Cisco.