has finally managed to set up Diaz as a serious threat and worthy successor to the tremendous villain that was Prometheus. Diaz might be finally in interesting place but the conflict with Oliver isn't any more personal. In this episode, "Shifting Allegiances" Arrow
tries to correct things by putting Diaz and Oliver in the same room for an extended period for the first time ever. It's not quite as successful as Diaz-centric episode "The Dragon" but it's an important step in the ever improving Arrow
The Green Arrow's Gambit
"Shifting Allegiances" begins with what appears to be a huge mistake by Oliver. Oliver tries to get Anatoly back to his side by fixing the problems between himself and the Bratva. The effort is appreciated (who doesn't miss the Anatoly and Oliver bromance?) but it doesn't work. Although Oliver gives Anatoly a chance to rejoin the Bratva, the former mob boss rejects it. He's aboard the Diaz train and no offer from Oliver is going to change it.
Anatoly tasers Oliver, ties him up and basically giftwraps him for Diaz. Although not after sassing Oliver appropriately, telling him he's an idiot for going alone and that Diaz is going to win. The Russian sarcasm should never die. Oliver does get to strike back at Anatoly though. Ollie tells his former brother that Diaz is a monster with no honor. He's the exact type of person Anatoly shouldn't be trusting and he's betrayed himself. This actually strikes home.
It starts to become clearer that this is Oliver's real plan. He meant to get caught and have this private audience with Anatoly and Diaz. It's still stupid but in the typical Oliver reckless way. He's had worst ideas ... like working all alone for instance. This is a bad move but Oliver wouldn't be Oliver if he didn't do it.
While Oliver is doing all the interesting stuff on Arrow, the showrunners throws a bone to New Team Arrow and Diggle. The two groups end up working together to take down a part of Diaz' new empire with the Quadrant. They don't plan on teaming up, it just sort of happens. Yet that doesn't change the whole B plot from being rather unsatisfying.
It doesn't help that the most unlikable member of New Team Arrow by far is back. Rene is out of the hospital and in the field. With his return to the field, it's Rene who is in focus in here. It's unbearable. He's still spouting off "hoss" every other word and taking no responsibility for his part in the Team Arrow civil war. Yet, because Rene has PTSD, from almost dying several times, there's an expectation to feel sorry for him. It's lame. In Rene's own words, "this doesn't change anything, hoss."
In broad strokes, the NTA/Diggle team-up is just another side quest that doesn't move the Diaz plot forward too much. To their credit, they are rather capable and prove that they do have some vigilante prowess. They end up discovering Diaz' new alliance with the Quadrant and striking a huge blow at the Quadrant's female leader. Obviously though, the Diaz problem is just kicked down the line until later in the season.
The Honor Game
Speaking of Diaz, Oliver does eventually get into a room with the mobster. Anatoly delivers Oliver to Diaz and of course, Diaz starts wailing on Oliver's face. With Oliver's words ringing in his ears, Anatoly convinces Diaz to be honorable. Diaz obliges. He tells Oliver that they will have a duel. If he wins, Oliver leaves the city. If Oliver wins, Diaz does the same.
The fight scene that occurs next is terrifically brutal. Arrow strips away all the music, edits and choreography. It's just Oliver and Diaz slugging at each other. It's not the most impressive fight scene but it might be among the most effecting the punches of Oliver and Diaz are really felt. Of course, the outcome of the fight is pretty expected.
Oliver wins the brawl but Diaz cheats and pulls a knife. Oliver collapses and is dragged away to be locked up while a horrified Anatoly watches from the side. Anatoly realizes that Oliver is right, Diaz has no honor and that's exactly what Oliver wanted to happen. Anatoly is convinced that he needs to get away for Diaz and he'll help Oliver get out too.
However, before Anatoly can free Oliver, Diaz makes his next move. Now that he has Oliver under his control, Diaz is going to make it that imprisonment more permanent and "legal." Diaz calls in the officers he has on his payroll and they put Oliver in handcuffs. Diaz is moving up Oliver's Green Arrow trial and Oliver is going away for life.
At least that's what Diaz believes is going to happen. Little does he know that everyone from Black Siren to Anatoly wants nothing to do with his thuggish ways.
But what do you think? Is Oliver doomed? What did you think of Diggle and NTA team up? Were you interested? Will Rene's PTSD become an even bigger deal and do you even care? Who will bring down Diaz? Will it be Oliver, Anatoly, Black Siren or a combination of all three?
(Image courtesy of The CW)