“I asked the best man I know to help. His name is John Diggle and he is the Green Arrow.”
Last week saw Oliver (Stephen Amell) hand over the mantle of Green Arrow to best friend and Team Arrow original member, John Diggle (David Ramsey) – however, “Next of Kin” sees many characters, including John himself, questioning if this is the right decision.
While it was understandable that Oliver would hand over his bow and quiver in favour of protecting his son, the problem this leaves us with is that Amell has become something of a spare part in his own show. Mayoral decisions and parenting issues aren’t as exciting vigilante action, no matter how hard they try – plus, the absence of our central character being the hero has left the door open for something it seemed like this season was putting on the backburner: Olicity. Yes, the romance has returned, but this time brings with it way too much focus on maths. Because nothing brings a couple together like maths. Although, refreshingly, this episode seems to portray Oliver as Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) love interest rather than the other way around.
John’s first outing as the Green Arrow doesn’t go as planned, and it becomes clear that his leadership leaves a lot to be desired. Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) is still the only one to know about the nerve damage plaguing the new hero, and though John insists that the tremor is gone (and it seems to be) we are left to wonder exactly how he has overcome his ailment in such a short time – and the answer is more than a little worrying.
As concerns mount about John’s abilities, Rene (Rick Gonzalez) pays a visit to Oliver, trying to persuade him to return to the team, and put on the hood once more. However, adamant that he cannot return to the fight, for William’s sake, Oliver instead heads for the Arrow Cave to do for John, what John has done for him on many occasions – give him an inspiring pep talk. He explains that John is the reason the Green Arrow (not to mention the team) exists – which is true, as for the first five seasons John spent almost every episode trying to convince his friend that he could do good with his vigilante persona, not to mention the fact that he basically forced him to bring Rene and Dinah onto the team. And so, by the end of the episode John is really getting into the swing of thing – as he wields the “Green Monster”, a badass crossbow which proves that though John can’t shoot with the bow, his aim is every bit as perfect as Oliver’s.
“Next of Kin” also brings us an incredibly forgettable antagonist, and a plot which involves a rogue Black Ops team, who, after stealing a shed load of gold, are hunting down the team members who returned to the CIA and killing them with military-grade nerve gas. Their leader, Onyx Adams (Chastity Dotson) does an awful lot of damage alone, with some ‘flash bangs’ that you’d be forgiven for thinking were Curtis’ (Echo Kellum) stolen T-spheres prototypes – though if you were hoping for a connection to Black Siren’s mystery boss, you’ll be left wanting, as so far as we know from “Next of Kin” this was a solo operation, so we’re no closer to finding out about the big bad – who is most likely connected to upcoming villain Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo).
Elsewhere, the FBI are still hoping to unmask Oliver as the Green Arrow, as Agent Samanda Watson (Sydelle Noel) is watching the Mayor closely, not buying that the Green Arrow who’s out on the streets is the same one that was out there a week earlier. At this point, the FBI should just bug Oliver’s phone or office or something, because he does a lot of Arrow-talk out in the open, and they could have what they needed in a day. Instead, to try and throw them off the scent, Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) tries to persuade Oliver to join with another councillor to enact a piece of anti-vigilante legislation – which unsurprisingly, Oliver does not want to do, and when his hand is forced, he puts the decision in the hands of the people of Star City.
Once again, the fight choreography is second-to-none, with an incredible flight trick which sees Black Canary using her power to push Green Arrow through the air, and onto the rooftop of a building. Also, the use of slow-motion as John makes a Green Arrow entrance, makes for one of the coolest shots from this season so far.
“Next of Kin” had a lot a potential, but for the most part, didn’t really deliver. While the Team Arrow action was as good as ever, the story let the episode down, and Oliver without the Green Arrow persona leaves a lot to be desired.