I have been disappointed in a lot of this season of Arrow. I’m finding the split teams story long and drawn out and often poorly written. “Doppleganger” finally shows signs of improvement in this slump. Part of that is, I think, the absence of Rene/Wild Dog, who has been the whiniest and most child-like of the complainers. Another part is the return of a character I liked who has been missing for a long while.
Oliver is in his office, with the news in the background covering Caden James’ death. Thea comes in with his attorney, Jean Loring, who has actual good news for Oliver. This has been so rare that Oliver doesn’t believe it at first. The way this season has gone, I don’t blame him. Naturally, this happy moment is brief, as Quentin comes in with a “police emergency.” He tells them that Laurel is at police headquarters, claiming to be their Laurel, which shakes up Oliver and Thea. They go to see for themselves, but find she’s already talking to the press. Oliver gets her away from them just as they start asking about whether Oliver is really Green Arrow.
Hiding in the one conference room the PD seems to have, “Laurel” meets with Oliver, Thea, and Quentin. There’s a lot of talk about her motives, and, of course, the missing money. Oliver shows himself to be a bit naive when he asks her why they’d go along with her plan. Laurel has a short and simple answer that Oliver should have seen coming a mile away.
The hits keep on coming as Captain Hill pulls Oliver aside to talk about pay issues, since the city is still broke (thanks, Laurel). She has a plan that I’d think was shady even if I didn’t know about her other boss. They do make a passing reference to what sounds like the end of Roadhouse. Meanwhile, Dinah hears about Laurel coming back and is far from pleased. She manages to get herself inserted into that mess to further her own agenda.
Curtis goes to Rene’s place where his daughter Zoe is disturbingly alone, and she’s nowhere near old enough for that. He brings her some bad news which makes me wonder about her future. Meanwhile in judge’s chambers, Loring’s news is being undermined by a change in the witness list. Rene has been struck off, which now negates the whole mess that created the fiasco with the two teams in the first place. The replacement witness leaves Oliver blinking in surprise: Roy Harper.
Down in the Lair, the team is surprised, worried, and confused. Thea wasn’t even able to find Roy for the wedding reception (a nice explanation as to why he wasn’t there), so none of them knew where he was or what he was doing. I’m not entirely clear on what he’s been doing either. They variously make it sound like he’s been just plain living on the run and/or sort of being a hero off on his own. Diggle, trying to be the voice of reason, suggests they let the lawyer handle this, to avoid making it look like they are tampering with witnesses. As usual, the voice of reason is ignored. Oliver figures it has to be either Diaz or Anatoli behind this. They decide to go do some recon where they think Roy is.
At the hospital, Quentin has a talk with Laurel. He’s not buying her trying to be like “his” Laurel, as much as he wants to. Dinah looms and glares menacingly in the background, pacing like a tiger being kept from its next meal. Dinah talks to the doctor about how Laurel could possibly be back from the dead, and the doc mentions the world being different since there was a man who can run faster than light. Quentin pulls Dinah aside for a talk, and points out, among other things, that if Laurel outs Oliver as Green Arrow, she probably won’t stop there. As they argue, Laurel gets taken from virtually right under their noses.
Green Arrow and Spartan check out the hotel, and see Roy isn’t exactly a happy guest. Roy has apparently been on the run for three years now, and Oliver feels partially responsible because he’s Oliver, really. Of all times, this is when Diggle brings up Oliver not giving him the hood back after Diggle recovered from his nerve injury.
Anatoli and Laurel have a snarky conversation about his recent past. Anatoli is another one of those characters who, while unquestionably a bad guy, is usually pretty entertaining. As they catch up on old and new times, Team Arrow meets up at the Lair. Oliver is trying to plan, and Thea is just focused on getting to Roy. She decides to suit up, which everyone but her thinks is a bad idea. They mount a rescue attempt which goes badly, although Roy and Thea get to see each other for a few minutes. Oliver pulls the plug on the mission without saving Roy, and Thea sulks.
They debate what to do next, and start to uncover the depths of Diaz’s influence in the SCPD. They are starting to make Gotham look clean and aboveboard. They get a new lead on a way to rescue Roy, and make a new plan. Dinah and Quentin look into Laurel’s disappearance, finally, reluctantly, agreeing that neither one of them did it. Oliver takes them both into that same conference room, asks them to put aside their differences, and has them look into the corruption throughout the police. They agree, and Dinah puts aside her vendetta for now. Obsessed with revenge as she is, she really should team up with Huntress. Maybe they’ll be a CW version of the Birds of Prey?
Anatoli and Laurel talk about Diaz, and watch him train. He’s finally starting to seem as dangerous as the DC comics character Richard Dragon he’s supposedly based on. Diaz finishes his fight, goes over his grievances with Laurel, and pitches his new plan. All she wants to do is run off and live in peace, or so she claims, but he has other plans.
After Diggle and Felicity talk about Oliver not stepping back down from being Green Arrow, the team tries to free Roy again, and falls for another distraction. We see where Roy ended up, and the team tries to figure out how they got fooled again. Thea frets about Roy while Oliver admits he’s not sure why he hasn’t given the costume back to Diggle.
Diaz makes a pitch for Roy joining him, and I’m not at all surprised by Roy’s answer. Diaz tries a few other approaches, and comes up with a great new nickname for Speedy. While Dinah and Quentin work on their new assignment, they get a surprise visitor: Laurel, who claims to know where Diaz is.
Oliver’s next attempt to talk to Thea goes badly, and he finally makes a suggestion that surprises her. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it would resolve a few things on the show. The team finally decides to go after Diaz, and Oliver snubs Dinah’s offer of help. I don’t blame him at all for that.
Working off the “third time’s the charm” theory, the team goes after Roy again. There’s a lot of fighting, with Speedy back in action, and Felicity guiding them along via computers. Diaz pops up as a smirking, annoying presence as the team uses some actual teamwork to mow through the thugs. It ends up being a mixed bag. They finally get Roy away from Diaz, but have to retreat when the real, non-corrupt cops show up. That damn anti-vigilante bill makes the team fair game for them. I wonder if Diaz had a hand in that, too?
Roy gets checked out and more time with Thea, which they both need. Oliver goes to see Laurel, and at least admits she didn’t set them up. They have a fairly civilized talk and he leaves, after which we get a hint as to what Laurel is really up to. If it’s what it looks like, I have to say this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Thea brings Roy home to her loft, and their enthusiastic reunion is observed by someone reporting in, invoking a title we haven’t heard in a while. Because things in Star City aren’t complicated enough, I guess.
What I liked: I’m glad Roy is back, even if it appears Colton Haynes hasn’t been keeping up on his training. I liked Oliver refusing Dinah’s help. That made perfect sense. John’s frustration about not getting the mantle back is a valid point they haven’t really touched on until now. It was nice seeing Thea in costume again, but more on that below. It was nice seeing Dinah and Quentin mature enough to put aside their differences and work together. I’m glad they finally addressed the issue of Zoe Ramirez being alone. Roy asking Thea if she was wearing his hood was funny.
What I didn’t: I’m still not clear on how Diaz located the un-findable Roy Harper, or what he hoped to accomplish by putting him on the witness list. While Thea as Speedy was nice to see again, I’m not sure I buy it when she’s been saying this whole time she wasn’t ready to go out again. The reveal of Laurel’s agenda at the end doesn’t really play for me.
This was their best episode in a while, and it had almost none of the Team vs Team drama. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think Rick Gonzalez is doing the best he can with what they give him to work with, but, much as I hate to say it, the absence of Wild Dog seemed to be a key part of making this one better. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.