Things get complicated in “Promises Kept” on Arrow. A lot of the episode deals with Slade Wilson’s family history, which is a bit complicated on this show, and even more so if you’re familiar with his comic book history, which receives some major alterations here. They split their time between the Jackals in Kasnia, where Slade and Oliver are, and the rest of the team, dealing with problems back in Star City.
Picking up where they left off, the Jackals, and Joe, now revealed as their leader, try and figure out what to do with Slade. The man himself surprises everyone, including the eavesdropping Oliver, by offering to join the Jackals, claiming he has nothing left to lose. Joe and Slade agree they have some catching up to do, although this is no one’s idea of a father/son reunion.
Green Diggle leads Team Arrow against some thieving mercenaries, who are stealing high tech parts. It really does seem like high tech is the only industry in Star City. Diggle is doing what he can to play the part, even using some of Oliver’s trick arrows in his “Green Monster” crossbow. In the midst of the fight, Diggle starts getting the shakes again, and pulls the team out letting the thugs and their mysterious leader get away. In the inevitable debriefing at the Lair, they figure out the thieves stole “military grade 3D printing” components. Is that a thing? They could make weapons, drones, or other nasty devices from this. Dinah comes in saying there’s a new player on the streets, who goes by Dragon. After Felicity makes a few amusing remarks about his name, Diggle dismisses everyone to get some rest, and his tremors kick in again. I can’t believe he’s being this stupid.
While Joe makes vague statements about his upcoming plans to Slade, Diggle gets home and finds Lyla waiting up for him. They talk about his becoming Green Arrow being like her taking over ARGUS from Amanda Waller, and a good change for both of them. Diggle proves how not true that is by sneaking away to take his last dose of the medication he’s been taking, and then texting his supplier for more. Sounds like an addict hiding their habit to me.
Major Nylander continues to be just plain annoying as he taunts Slade about he and Joe being a big happy family now. Slade fishes for more details about what Joe and the Jackals are up to, but doesn’t get anywhere. He then gets surprised at learning that Oliver is still around, lurking in the shadows, and still going to help. I wonder how Oliver is covering his absence from the Star City government and a certain obsessive FBI agent? There’s a comment about Joe being dangerous, and that Slade was never a gun for hire… which is exactly what he was in the comics.
Slade does manage to find out that Joe is going to steal Symtex from the Kasnian army and also get a comm-link going with Oliver.
Diggle goes to meet a man in a designer drug lab, because there’s nothing at all shady about what he’s doing. The boss is Ricardo Diaz, and he gives Diggle a hard time, but finally agrees to give him more drugs. After some inane chatter, Diaz mentions the drug in question isn’t FDA-approved yet. That’s reassuring.
Joe and company set up an ambush. Joe even has a helmet/mask like his father’s. Slade is going for wounding shots, but Joe isn’t having that and finishes the wounded off. Oliver, back at their base, creeps around, fighting a few guards and snooping. Somehow, the wonderfully trained former secret agent-turned superhero-turned mayor doesn’t notice someone’s behind him.
Team Arrow isn’t getting anywhere, and Rene brings pizza to lift their spirits. That’s when they get an alert from PalmerTech (is it still called that with both Ray and Felicity gone? Are those idiots still running it?) and the team takes off to get them. Diggle freezes during the fight when he sees Diaz in one of the cars. Sucks when you unexpectedly run into your dealer; it’s so socially awkward. After that faux pas, Felicity manages to ID Diaz from some of the cameras, and runs down his history for everyone. Not having a choice, Diggle orders the team to go after him.
While Slade continues to not find out what Joe is up to, Oliver has been captured by Nylander. Slick move, Ollie. I guess it’s the week for both Green Arrows to screw up. I wonder if Roy Harper is doing something dumb, too? Oliver gets knocked out as Joe crows that his father can collect the debt Queen owes him. Diggle finally does something smart back home, and comes clean with Lyla, who is not at all happy.
Oliver wakes up with a knife by his eye, and Slade rasping about revenge. Joe is thrilled to see this, which shows you where he is at this point. Oliver tries to talk Slade down, and eventually, Slade frees his friend. Slade and Oliver manage to escape, but Joe is determined to hunt them down. Joe is going after the water supply which will kill half the country. That sounds like a very super-villain thing to do, but I’m not sure how it benefits Joe and his friends. Oliver tries to reassure Slade that Joe can still be saved.
The team is stuck on their search for Diaz when Diggle finally does the right thing. He gives them the lab’s location, claiming it’s from a source. Diaz is overseeing his operation when he hears the distinctive sound of a T-Sphere. Diaz orders everyone to burn things so nothing gets confiscated. Oddly, this is the first time I can remember Black Canary using a gun while she’s in costume. Diggle sees his hopes for scoring more drugs go up in smoke and the team has to call him away.
While Oliver takes on the Jackals, Slade and Joe have a talk about their relationship and what kind of man each of them is. Slade tries to explain that Joe, when younger, saw Slade on Mirakuru, not who he really is. Joe reveals a few surprising things, including that he saw Slade kill a man on their father/son camping trip (as seen last episode), and that he has a brother, Grant. Slade’s ex, Addie, hid Grant from him. Joe manages to escape, and Slade has some Oliver-level guilt before leaving.
Diggle goes home and he and Lyla have a talk. She’s proud of him, having heard about the lab blowing up. John says he has one more stop and apology to make. Felicity and William are gaming when Oliver makes his own homecoming, and everyone’s happy to see him. Oliver tells them that it’s a long, sad story about “his friend,” and tells Felicity he made the right choice to not be Green Arrow anymore. Felicity gets called away when Diggle asks everyone to go to the bunker.
Diggle tells everyone about his tremors and the drugs. The team forgives him, and Curtis points out that his genius created the implant that lets Felicity walk, so John really should have come to him. Dinah is glad Diggle came clean with everyone, and says they all have made mistakes. She walks holding the rose her ex-partner, now Vigilante, gave her. Diggle stares at the Green Arrow costume on the weird display mannequin as his hand shakes.
The flashbacks this week are all Slade’s, showing his training and recovering at ASIS. Slade has some bonding time with Joe, and makes him some promises. He’s also hallucinating Shado, and getting violent as seen when stick training with Joe (why does everyone train to fight with sticks and then never use them?). Finally, Slade flips out, steals new prototype armor, and leaves after killing everyone but Joe, who is shocked by this.
What I liked: While I hated the Diggle on drugs subplot, it seems to be over without dragging on all season. Oliver’s determination to help everyone and keep his word to his son shows what kind of man he is. I like that the rest of the team forgave Diggle so quickly, and Curtis made a great point about the chip.
What I didn’t: Diggle on drugs was just dumb. The weird family drama around Slade is wearing thin, and the changes from his original history are baffling. For one of the ultimate bad-asses of the DC Universe, Slade really isn’t that impressive here. I guess he’s not as good without the Mirakuru.
This was a decent, not great, episode. I’m giving it a low 3 out of 5.