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Stepping away from the Lance family drama that’s dominated the last few episodes, Arrow gives John Diggle (David Ramsey) some time in the spotlight. And of course there could only be one reason to bring Diggle back in to focus: Deadshot (Michael Rowe). Diggle’s government connection, A.R.G.U.S agent Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson) has gone missing and Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) wants him to get her back. What? Not enough DC Comics name-dropping for you? Don’t worry, there’s more.

Lyla was chasing another lead on the whereabouts of Deadshot as a favor to Diggle when she went missing. Oh! And by the way, Diggle and Lyla were totes married! After working together abroad they just couldn’t keep the relationship going back home. But considering Lyla is Diggle’s ex-wife it doesn’t take much to convince him to go looking for her. Not that Amanda Waller doesn’t try blackmail, her go to tactic. Waller knows Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is The Arrow, and she knows Diggle’s his right hand man. Not surprising, really. I wouldn’t expect any less of her, but I wonder how quickly we’ll see Waller and A.R.G.U.S. pop up again in Ollie’s affairs? And while we’re on the topic of Waller, it sickens me Arrow chose the skinnier and far more conventionally pretty version of Waller we now see in the New 52. I know, I know. It only makes sense, brand synergy and all that, but whenever I see Amanda Waller looking more like a top model and less like that formidable juggernaut, I get a sad.

Keep Your Enemies Closer

“Keep You Enemies Closer” is an opportunity for Oliver to play backup for Diggle, which he does by providing a plausible alibi for traveling to Russia, plus the means and contacts to break into the gulag holding Lyla. However, their alibi isn’t water tight and Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) comes along as she would also like to inspect Queen Consolidated’s Russian holdings. Smooth move guys, bringing the boss along. Unless it was Ollie’s plan all along to sleep with her–oh yeah, he tapped that. Are you shocked? Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) was, and her outrage over having caught Ollie and Isabel has me really worried the show is seriously considering developing “Olicity” (the accepted ship name for Ollie/Felicity). It’s not that I’m opposed to it, I’m just really tired of the forced and contrived love triangles that are a staple of every CW drama.

Using his contacts within the Russian mafia Oliver is able to get Diggle arrested and sent off to the same gulag, cutely named “Nightmare”, that Lyla is in. And guess what? She’s not alone! After getting in a fight with another inmate Diggle gets put on ice–literally. While handcuffed in a freezer Diggle comes face to face with… DEADSHOT. Oh, I never saw it coming. Except when every promo reminded us Deadshot was in the episode so, of course, Deadshot’s in a Russian gulag.

In order to escape the gulag and rescue Lyla, Diggle and Deadshot must work together. And if it were any sweeter I’d think we were watching an after school special. Though their time together does come with a surprising revelation: Deadshot didn’t miss his target that fateful day when he killed Diggle’s brother. Asserting he never misses, Deadshot reveals his brother was the target, and of a contract hired out by H.I.V.E. Yup, yet another DC Comics’, super secret organization with an acronym. Though I’m hoping this one doesn’t involve assassins in bee suits.

The hunt for Lyla, confrontation and eventual cooperating with Deadshot gives Ramsey quite a bit to do this episode, far more than we’ve seen from Diggle this season. He handles it all with aplomb but is never able to hold my attention the way Caity Lotz and Paul Blackthorne did last week. It was a nice try of Arrow try to flesh out Diggle’s character, make him more than The Arrow’s sidekick, and perhaps his new investigation into H.I.V.E. will allow for more starring roles, but this time it just didn’t hit the mark.

Keep Your Enemies Closer

Speaking of sidekicks, we do get yet another instance of Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) proving how terrible he is at this whole vigilante business. After tipping off The Arrow to some money laundering or whatever Roy get’s himself arrested, again! Lucky for him all he need to do is name drop The Arrow and Quentin Lance lets him go. Which is a bummer, because had Roy stayed in custody for the course of this episode we’d likely have been spared the awful B-plot of his and Thea’s (Willa Holland) relationship and how it could endanger Moira’s (Susanna Thompson) court case. Don’t fret, even though Thea breaks it off with her felon boyfriend, Moira makes it all better by convincing them to not think of her but rather their happiness and–dammit, Moira! Why couldn’t you just leave it alone.

For an episode that didn’t grip me in the same way the previous in this season did, “Keep Your Enemies Closer” sure did come with a lot of revelations. Another was the true reason Professor Ivo (Dylan Neal) is so keen on that Japanese submarine Shado (Celina Jade) and Slade (Manu Bennet) are – hooray, not dead! – hunkering down in. He’s looking for a miracle. No, really, that’s what it’s called. It’s a super-serum created by the Japanese from their extensive research into stem cell genetic therapy and it’s called Miracle. How clever. What connections it may have to Miraclo, the drug DC’s Hourman would ingest to receive super powers for one hour, remain to be seen. But it’s a likely connection given the CW is developing a series based on Hourman.

Oh! And what last bit of DC Comics lore is slowing working its way into Arrow–Deathstroke. At least that’s what I’m thinking since Slade is alive but very, very badly burned. And what better way to hide your disfigured face than slipping on a half black, half orange mask, amirite?

Arrow airs Wednesday nights at 8pm EST on the CW.

Category: Comics, Featured, reviews, TV

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