Arrow: Divided


Can we go back to fighting the bad guys instead of each other?

At the mid-season break, Team Arrow was divided when Dinah, Rene, and Curtis quit the team. With Diggle still suffering from his mysterious nerve malady, that leaves Oliver in the field solo. While this episode does at least mention the long-missing Huntress, they don’t even seem to remember past allies like Roy Harper, Rory/Ragman, Katana, or Wildcat, who they left lying in a street and never even told us if he survived. Thea is still not back in the hero life because… reasons. The back half of the season picks up with “Divided,” and that was certainly an accurate title.

They open with Jerry Bertinelli at work in his office, and they work in the above-mentioned nod to Huntress, apparently his cousin. His busily plotting for illegal shipments gets interrupted when he gets uninvited company in the form of Caden James, Black Siren, and Ricardo Diaz (more on him later). Caden’s crew wants the docks, and they make various threats to drive home their point, including slamming Jerry into the wall via Siren’s sonic powers.

The title sequence still shows the various icons for the heroes, which is interesting since only Oliver suits up this episode. In the much-emptier Lair, Oliver is working on arrows while Felicity sprawls on the floor until John brings her coffee. It was nice to see Oliver tending to his gear; that’s something I’m not sure we’ve seen since season one. Essentially, the bad guys are winning what you could call a cold war: facial recognition for their systems is down, they can’t use their clever program to track Black Siren, and Caden James seems to have his digital fingerprints everywhere. As Oliver leaves, Curtis comes in for an awkward scene. While Curtis has quit the team, he is still trying to help John beat his remarkably non-specific injury that no one noticed him getting.

At City Hall, where Oliver is supposed to be, Quentin is in his office. He gets a much better visit than Jerry had earlier, when Thea comes by. After some general chatter, and her pushing a general forgiveness agenda, she eventually gets her old job back as chief of staff. So at least something’s going right for someone, and Thea isn’t just wandering around the edges of the plot with absolutely nothing to do anymore.

Curtis tries putting a new chip in John’s arm, because that went so well before. It doesn’t cure the tremors, but does produce some funky feedback. Diggle asks them to stop pouring money into a lost cause like his arm (where are they getting the money? Then again, that’s a recurring question for most of the characters on this show). While Diggle makes jokes about Halo, Felicity finally pieces together they’ve been bugged (more on that later, too). Dinah has a great day at work, as crooks are suddenly turning themselves in all over the place. We get a hint why when her former partner (on many levels) shows up. Vince, in addition to all his other history with Dinah, is also the regenerating Vigilante. They make a date for the next night.
Team Arrow, what’s left of them, meet outside. After Felicity sweeps Oliver for bugs, they break the bad news that the Lair has been compromised for a long time. Oliver isn’t thrilled. Not only does this mean Caden James knows everything they’ve been planning, but they all have not-so-secret identities anymore. How they missed this, with two major tech-heads (Felicity and Curtis) and two intelligence-trained operatives (Oliver, Diggle) I have no idea. With everyone that’s broken in over time, they don’t have a routine to sweep for bugs? That’s just amazingly foolish. Their debate over how to proceed gets broken up when they get a security alarm. Green Arrow responds to find Jerry Bertinelli. Jerry, after making a passing joke about the Bat-signal, shares his problems with James’ new demands. Apparently, Huntress has been undercover for months, so he can’t call her for help. Green Arrow reluctantly agrees to assist.

At their new alternate temporary headquarters, Team Arrow meets in a safe room at ARGUS. Oliver hands off a clue from Jerry to Felicity with his usual lack of social graces, and she at least calls him on it. They do manage to get a clue to possibly track down James and company.

Rene is loving having daughter Zoe back, although she’s worried about him not going to work. Smart kid, that one, and not just a plot device (looking at you, William the missing). Curtis comes by to visit, and Rene gets all angsty over his decision to betray Oliver to Special Obsessive Agent Watson. Rene comes up with a plan to maybe fix that, which Curtis isn’t thrilled with, but of course agrees to.

Dinah and Vince enjoy their date, walking along by the water and sharing stories about bad stakeouts, mostly from her. She states she quit being Black Canary five weeks ago, and wants a simpler life. Their tender moment gets interrupted when Vince gets called away to handle Vigilante business, but promises not to kill the bad guys.

Oliver and Thea have a scene in his office. She’s back on her job, and says she’s sorry she can’t help with the team situation, but she’s *sigh* “not there yet,” whatever that means. Oliver reassures her before going off to follow up another lead on Caden. Green Arrow fights a lot of thugs and makes a promising start, sneaking up on Caden, silencing Siren, and dropping another henchman. But then it seems he’s managed to wander into a major ambush as the hero learns that Anatoli and his Bratva gunmen are part of the Caden Collective. Caden sends pirated T-Spheres after Green Arrow, and he manages to down them before being attacked by Vigilante, as well as Ricardo Diaz and more thugs. Realizing he’s horribly outnumbered and outgunned, Green Arrow makes a hasty retreat via swingline. Caden tells the others not to go after him… because.

Shocked at hearing how deep Caden’s bench is, Diggle urges Oliver to reconsider the team. Oliver refuses. In addition to him not being a real forgiving guy, I will point out that every time Oliver has been pushed about taking on a team, bad things have happened. Anyone else remember Eve Sharpe/Black Canary III/Artemis? He does at least agree to share intel with his former allies.

Quentin and Thea talk more at Quentin’s office. He’s mooning over pictures of his Laurel, and comparing her to Black Siren/evil Laurel. He’s so sure there’s some spark of his daughter in there, and wants to reach out to her. Thea thinks this might not be the best idea, and I agree. Shouldn’t Gypsy or her dad have shown up and busted her for being on the wrong Earth by now?

There’s a tense reunion of the sundered Team Arrow. After some initial snark, Diggle tells them about the bugs from Caden. Rather than thanking them, Dinah fusses that they waited 24 hours to tell her. She’s even less happy when Oliver tells her that Vigilante Vince is working with Caden. There’s a lot of bickering before the inevitable storming off. I’m with Oliver: either stay solo or get some other help at this point.

Not having a lot of options, Oliver starts plotting with Jerry Bertinelli about how to trap Caden and Company. Elsewhere, Dinah has apparently gotten over her earlier denial, and punches out Vince. They argue, she cuffs him, and he then promptly kicks her ass and escapes.

Oliver and Diggle are planting charges down at the docks, and Diggle again expresses his reservations about Oliver going it alone. Oliver reminds Diggle that, because of Rene, he was arrested in front of his son. I can see that being hard to get over. Oliver claims that since they started this with “just us,” he’ll be fine. What Oliver isn’t thinking about is that, when he started off his crusade, he was going up against corrupt politicians and industrialists, not geniuses and supervillains.

Rene is urging Curtis to do more hacking, and Curtis points out that, with the recent discovery of bugs, they might not want to say that kinda thing out loud. Curtis then finds an audio file about how Watson got leverage on Rene in the first place. Since we never hear it, I’m assuming there’s a big reveal coming about that later in the season. Dinah comes in, looking roughed up from Vince, and after snark about knocking and locking doors, they start talking about forming their own team. I wonder if they’ll borrow one of Batman’s former team names. The Outsiders seems like a decent name. In the bunker, Diggle and Felicity talk about Bertinelli bringing on reenforcements, which of course Caden overhears.

Everything is a multilevel trap, as a huge fight ensues. Bertinelli’s men fall with almost every shot, as the Caden Collective just steamrolls over them. Then Green Arrow shows up, and wades equally easy through Caden’s thugs. Of course, Caden has better help, and GA manages to get himself captured. There are more twists, turns, and explosions, and then eventually the archer runs away to fight another day. The rest of the fight goes about how I expected: Caden and crew seem to be unstoppable.

Oliver gets back to the Lair, which Felicity happily pronounces bug-free. Oliver isn’t in the best of moods, since he accomplished nothing. After trading Bull Durham quotes with Felicity, Oliver agrees that he can’t buck that much of a stacked deck. They take another shot at reconciliation, and I swear, the hypocrisy in the room was overwhelming. Rene feels betrayed by what Oliver did? Really? And Dinah decides to overlook her own lies about Vince so she can keep up her righteous anger. All that’s resolved is that Oliver gives the others his blessing to operate as a team without him, and they would have done that anyway. Only Curtis has a halfway decent point here about the team members being treated differently.

They wrap up with several short scenes. Thea agrees to help Quentin try and get through to Laurel. Great, the two non-combatants are going to be going to play with the only genuine supervillain on the bad guy’s team. Curtis shows off a new headquarters, which at least makes use of a previously established set in a clever way (again, where’s he getting the money to set all this up?). Caden and Vince have some tension between them over Dinah. And Curtis manages to pull off something cool for Diggle.

What I liked: Oliver is determined, I’ll give him that. Felicity and Diggle are doing their best to help out. Curtis is managing to stay civil with both sides, which speaks well of him. Caden is smart, ruthless, and focused on whatever his nebulous plan is. Zoe was actually a character, not a plot point. I’m always glad when Special Annoying Agent Watson doesn’t show up.

What I didn’t: Most of it, sadly. Back in the days of Star Trek: The Next Generation, some friends of mine and I coined the term Worf Syndrome. Worf was supposed to be this amazing fighter from a race of warriors, and lost just about every fight he was in. That seems to be Oliver at this point. He’s not winning anything, and is barely managing to run away. Caden is too perfect and too omniscient, just like they did with Prometheus. Rene and Dinah are acting like angry children. Where’s all the money coming from? Where are all their former allies?

And now to my biggest gripe about this recent series of episodes: the former designer drug dealer Ricardo Diaz. Somehow, he’s being billed in the credits on IMDB as Richard Dragon. Dragon is an obscure character in DC Comics, but a great one. He’s the world’s best fighter, easily as good as Batman, and has helped train many heroes, including Huntress, both Questions, Tim Drake the third Robin, and more. This seems like such a tragic waste of a great character. Then again, they kind of did that with Dragon’s comic book friend and comrade Bronze Tiger (if you’re asking “Who’s that?” you’re helping prove my point, since he’s been on the show), as well as tossing away names like Kate Spenser, among others. In the comic, she’s the hero Manhunter, on this show, she was a lawyer who became cannon fodder.

I’m really not liking much of this. They can do so much better. I’m giving this a low 2.5 out of 5. Better than Flash’s bad return, but behind everything else at the moment.