Entertainment Magazine

TV Review: Arrow, “Keep Your Enemies Closer” (S2/EP6)

Posted on the 14 November 2013 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

Keep Your Enemies Closer


From Russia With Awkward Love -

Remember Diggle’s inside woman at ARGUS last season that routinely flirted with him and returned two weeks ago to do so again?  Yeah, that’s his ex-wife.  They married young and divorced.  He clearly doesn’t like to talk about it which is why we’re just finding out about this now.  Well, she went and got herself locked away in a Russia prison while tracking Deadshot.  He feels super bad about that, and his ex’s current boss at ARGUS, Amanda Waller, would like to have her agent back.  So, Team Arrow (Diggle, Oliver, Felicity) depart for Russia.  Of course, Oliver’s cover story is related to his job as CEO of Queen Consolidated, and Isabel Rochev invites herself to tag along as his business partner.

Oliver’s Russian buddy from his prison on the boat in the flashbacks is alive and well and a man of considerable influence in present day Russia.  He works with Team Arrow on a plan for Diggle to get imprisoned on purpose before breaking out with his ex-wife.  It gets a bit awkward when Deadshot turns out to be a prisoner as well, and even more so when Diggle actually needs his help in escaping.

Keep Your Enemies Closer

Talk about awkward, though, while that’s going down Felicity tries to retrieve Oliver from his hotel room only to find that he has had a quickie with Isabel Rochev.  Ultimately, it all turns out great except Felicity is a little hurt, and Diggle gets his ex-wife back but also something new to obsess over: Deadshot was hired to kill his brother by an organization called H.I.V.E.

Meanwhile, On the Island -

Keep Your Enemies Closer

Sara tortures Oliver when her bosses are around, but has some fun catch-up with him when they’re not.  You know, your standard, “We both thought the other had died when the Queen’s Gambit crashed?  That’s so funny!”  However, Oliver foolishly trusts Sara when she appears to grant him an opportunity to warn Shado and Slade back on the island about the ship.  In fact, he just accidentally confirmed their identities and gave away potential location to Sara’s bosses, who also know all about their new prisoner actually being millionaire playboy Oliver Queen.  For their brief bit, we do see that Slade has suffered severe burns to half of his face, and that Shado has far more affection for him than we realized.  Ain’t love grand.

Roy, Thea, Moira, Officer Lance-

Keep Your Enemies Closer

Roy gets arrested while helping Arrow, but gets out of it by giving Officer Lance the secret handshake all honorary members of Team Arrow know.  However, it becomes known in the press that the daughter of Moira Queen is dating a delinquent which will not help her forthcoming court case.  On the advice of Moira’s lawyer, Thea breaks up with Roy before Moira calls them both to visit her in prison where she gives them a good talking to, insisting they keep dating as their happiness is the most important thing to her.  Awww.

Oh, where’s Laurel?  They just didn’t have anything for her to do so she wasn’t around, although maybe a week off from her being asked by yet another person if she’s doing okay is not a bad thing.  So many actors, only so much screen time I guess.


Keep Your Enemies Closer

-I am not fond of where they appear to be going with this story line, but I did delight in seeing David Ramsey get some extended play in this Diggle-centric episode.  They even managed to make a “you’re a black guy?  in Russia?” joke kind of work.  Plus, don’t attack Diggle in prison.  He’ll straight up break your arm.  The notion that the woman from his past is actually his ex-wife feels retconned, but unlike Oliver’s “I actually lied about when I thought Sara had died” it’s not as egregious because they had hinted at a paste romance between Diggle and her in her brief appearances last season.  

-It would appear as if patience with what the show is doing with Isabel Rochev has been thin. They cast River Tam from Firefly to mostly be an ice queen?  Or so the early criticism goes for Summer Glau’s Isabel Rochev in the early goings of season 2.  As such, here she finally received an extended storyline that gave us a bit more of her background (which I’m sure intrigued those who know her comic book history).  Plus, through the apparent great social lubricant that is liquor they gave the character some different emotional beats to play beyond impatience with Oliver and general inscrutability.  In fact, she got to smile.  That was nice…maybe a little too nice.  More on that below.  

-Oliver has a funny way of saying please


-What the hell was that hook-up with Isabel Rochev?  Felicity said it best when she described their pairing as making no sense.  This is a storyline which appears to have been completely concocted for three purposes:

  1. Pay off later when Rochev’s true, likely villainous, motivations are revealed.
  2. Introduce conflict with the Queen Consolidated scenes between Oliver, Felicity, and Isabel.
  3. Conceive of a method by which Oliver and Felicity will be forced to discuss their feelings, if any, for one another.

In the process, though, they forgot to have Oliver actually behave in a truly believable manner.  It was just too difficult to believe he would hook up with Isabel at the same time he is minutes away from needing to leave to help save his best friend.   Moreover, it’s hard to believe the hook-up even without that.  The show’s argument is he did it due to loneliness as well as apparently deciding now to only engage in physical relationships with women with whom he has no emotional connection as that minimizes the risk for both parties given his life as the vigilante.   That’s still kind of hard to take, but even harder since neither aspect had in any way been established or re-established before this episode.  His love interests to this point have all served a vigilante storytelling purpose with understandable character motivations.

Laurel is the symbol of his potential for domestic bliss and general happiness if not for his need to pursue vigilante justice via his alter ego. Huntress was a foil who represented an inferior moral code than Oliver’s.  Det. McKenna Hall indicated Oliver’s arrogance in thinking he could balance his life as Oliver Queen and the Hood, serving as an almost worst-case scenario outcome for what might happen with Laurel, i.e, the girl gets hurt because of Oliver.  Shado is mostly used to reaffirm Oliver’s love for Laurel, until this season where they’ve totally dropped that.

This is not a moment where I am surprised and exclaim that I can’t believe Oliver did that, but instead, more crucially as it indicates a lack of trust in the writers and their grasp of the characters, I’d argue more that I don’t believe that he’d do that. However, their choice was effective in that it did get an Oliver and Felicity talking about their emotions moment as well as introduced definite conflict from this point forward between Isabel and Felicity.

-Roy and Thea breaking up.  It seemed pretty obvious this was a temporary storyline that wouldn’t last past the end of the episode.  As such, it was hard to get too worked up one way or another.

-I am still wrapping my mind around the fact that Arrow is now the type of TV show where our heroes will just go to Russia, pal around with the Russian mob, get imprisoned on purpose, and then break out while killing people left and right even though our hero isn’t supposed to kill anyone anymore.  If last season was Batman Begins, then this was their opening of The Dark Knight set in China.  However, while Arrow is becoming a much bigger show it is starting to feel like a completely different show altogether with long-lost sisters/ex-girlfriends and never-before-mentioned ex-wifes and secret organizations with names like HIVE, ARGUS, and The League of Assassins flying at us left and right.  They’ve maintained that their attempt is to always ground this show in reality ala Christopher Nolan but I wonder how concerned with that they really are anymore.  This year they are just fully embracing soap opera, and most viewers seem to so far love it.  However, it does worry me a bit.   


There is a lot to geek out over as well as debate with this week’s episode.  I was not on board with the Isabel-Oliver hook-up nor was I particularly moved by the island scenes, as they were of a more table-setting variety this week.  However, David Ramsey shined in his storyline, even if its becomes increasingly convoluted.


1. Comic Book 101: Amanda Waller, Task Force X & The Suicide Squad

First Appearance: 1986

Background: In comic books, you’ve got your superheroes, villains, love interests, family members, sidekicks, etc.  Then you’ve got your faces of bureaucracy, who are very much so normal without any super powers.  These are the individuals in positions of leadership in organizations which have been formed explicitly because of the existence of super heroes, be they helping to coordinate the efforts of the heroes or preparing for the possibility of conflict with the heroes.  That face of bureaucracy of D.C. is often Amanda Waller, who has been put in positions of authority at various such organizations.  Her most notable stint was as the leader of the Suicide Squad, a team of incarcerated villains who perform dangerous missions with low chances of survival for the U.S. Government in exchange for reduced prison sentences.

Waller is a no-nonsense figure who quite often functions similar to villain but is more of an anti-hero.  She was played by Pam Grier on Smallville, and Anglea Basset in Green Lantern. The best version so far has been the one voiced by C.C.H. Pounder on Justice League Unlimited where she somewhat justifiably created her own team of super heroes as a line of defense should the League ever turn on Earth.  Waller is traditionally drawn as being overweight, making her one of the most notable females in comics with a non-idealized body type.

Cynthia Addai-Robinson played Waller this episode of Arrow.  The commando guys that captured Diggle referred to themselves as Task Force X, another name for the Suicide Squad in the comics (kind of…it’s complicated).

2. Comics 101: H.I.V.E.

First Appearance: 1980

Background: They are a basic team of supervillains, counting Deathstroke, Talia al Guhl, and others among their members.  Many are likely more familiar with them from the animated series Teen Titans, which depicted H.I.V.E. as having its own Hogwarts-esque school for teenage supervillain-hopefuls.   Considering that Teen Titans was a kids show about teenage sidekicks of superheroes, this decision made complete sense.  In the Teen Titans version, the leader of H.I.V.E. was Brother Blood, who was hypnotizing everyone.  Later on, five students from the H.I.V.E. academy became a recurring group of villains for the Titans, and these students were normally referred to as H.I.V.E.  This has carried over into the current animated series Teen Titans Go!.

3. The Biggest Tease About Flash Yet

I haven’t been doing a good job of keeping track of these in my reviews (sorry about that), but so far they have been dropping little hints and there about a controversial STAR Labs experiment, mostly via quick TV clips Oliver or someone happens to briefly watch.  This week was the biggest one yet was Oliver and Felicity are watching a news story about an experiment said to have cataclysmic consequences.  The assumption is that this is all laying the groundwork for the eventual experiment which will grant Barry Allen his superpowers as Flash.

4. I Totally Called It

Both in the body of prior reviews as well as in discussion with readers in the comments section, I argued that in all likelihood Felicity’s promotion from IT girl to Executive Assistant would be met with speculation by others that she slept her way to the top.  From a real world point of view, her promotion would make absolutely no sense.  So, that would be a logical reaction.  From a storytelling standpoint, this would be an organic way to force Oliver and Felicity to discuss their relationship and create some fine moments for those rooting for those two to get together.  It turns out I was right, although I was not unique in making such an argument.  It just took them longer to address it, and I expected it to be centered around Felicity (not Oliver and Isabel) as she would be the one to feel the effects of the rumors most directly.  It’s a damage to her professional reputation she is incurring due to her dedication to Oliver’s life as Arrow.  


What did you think?  Like it?  Hate it?  Let us know in the comments section.

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