“Call everyone. We’re going to war.”
After the shocking events of Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) trial, his “not guilty” verdict has pushed Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) to his limit, forcing him to adopt a far deadlier plan to rid the city of the Green Arrow.
While it appears that life for Oliver Queen and his family has returned to normal, breakfast for dinner at Chez Queen brings with it some unsavoury dessert, as Diaz strikes everyone that Oliver loves. With rapid gunfire, and a complete disregard for the price of replacing floor to ceiling windows, Diaz’s team carry out a simultaneous attack on Oliver, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), and William (Jack Moore), as well as John (David Ramsey) and Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson), Dinah (Juliana Harkavy), Rene (Rick Gonzalez), Zoe (Eliza Faria), Curtis (Echo Kellum) and his ex-cop boyfriend Nick (Evan Roderick). However, all is not as bad as it could have been, as Oliver receives advanced notice from his reformed ally Anatoly (David Nykl).
With his family and friends in danger, Oliver knows that they must put everything aside to beat Diaz, but with only seven team members and what’s left of A.R.G.U.S. they know that there’s no way they can beat the entire city’s police force and whoever else is on the Dragon’s payroll. So, they must use their inside man to undercut any and all plans that stand in their way. And with Diaz having torched the Arrow Cave and destroyed all of Felicity’s tech, the gang must regroup at the sub-team’s bunker to pool their resources.
Coming face-to-face with Diaz, Oliver finds that there is something his enemy is holding onto harder than this revenge – and that’s a mysterious encrypted necklace, which the gang believes contains all the records of Diaz’s bank transfers, and therefore, the names of all those on his payroll. They must find a way to get a hold of those records, but Felicity cannot copy the data unless someone can get within a certain distance of Diaz – which is next to impossible. Enter one of Arrow most underused characters: Lyla Michaels, who stands in the face of danger as A.R.G.U.S.’s big boss, walking straight into the Dragon’s den for the greater good.
‘The Ties That Bind’ does a great job of highlighting the differences between John’s relationship with Lyla, and Oliver’s relationship with Felicity – the Diggle family are military through and through – in all aspects of their life, be it work or home, they think about each and every step, calculating the risks and the reward before they take any big steps forward. Whereas the Queens are more impulsive, they take risks that they believe are for the best without really considering how it will affect those they care about – single players in a multiplayer game, neither Oliver or Felicity enjoy being told what to do, and this immovability seems to cause nothing but problems in their vigilante adventures. However, this episode also sees Oliver and Felicity finally come to some kind of agreement about the roles they play in this team, and how, while it may be dangerous, it is necessary for them both to be out there doing what they can.
Relationships aside, ‘The Ties That Bind’ gives Anatoly time to shine and shows us how Diaz is far more easily swayed than we’ve been led to believe. No fool, Diaz notices quickly that someone must be leaking information to Oliver’s team, and confronting the former Bratva leader, Diaz is sure he has his mole. However, Anatoly shows off the skills that got him to where he is now, quickly convincing Diaz that his problem lies with Lydia Cassamento (Gina Ravera) the Quadrant member that has been camped out in Star City since he joined the organisation, who Anatoly convinces him is ready to kill him, now that the Quadrant have Star City. Frustrated by Oliver’s freedom, and concerned for the safety of his operation, Diaz seems more reckless than ever in this episode, and though we start the episode with four Quadrant members, only half make it to the end.
Though in fact there is little in the way of story progression in this episode, it does a good penultimate episode job of setting up the finale’s events, by putting all the pieces in place to come crashing down. To thwart Diaz’s plans, Oliver has to put himself in danger, but will it all be worth it in the end?