“The Ties That Bind” really amps up the tension for this week’s Arrow episode. We open with a lot of domestic scenes: Oliver teaching William to cook as he and Felicity debate his war with Diaz; Diggle getting checked out by Dr. Schwartz as Lyla looks on; Curtis showing his new boyfriend Nick around the Helix lab; Rene and Zoe watching hockey on tv… and Dinah beating on thugs in an alley. I guess she doesn’t do domestic. They do several cuts between the various scenes, making us wonder when something’s going to happen, and then it finally does: a multipoint attack on everyone by an army of thugs from Diaz. Bullets fly, apartments get wrecked, and one innocent gets badly hurt.
In the aftermath, Raisa takes William to ARGUS protective custody, Zoe conveniently disappears, and everyone else meets up at the Helix/B-team base. From Helix, they watch the Lair get trashed (does that place really count as a “secret” base anymore?), Felicity wincing as some of the computers get destroyed. Everyone is ticked off and wants revenge. Oliver is trying to remain cool and calm so they don’t all get gunned down.
Felicity, who Oliver isn’t pleased didn’t go with William, works on a lead as to where Diaz might be hiding, while Lyla explains why they can’t just sic an ARGUS team on Diaz. Oliver plans out something he thinks the apparently omniscient Diaz might not see coming, and asks everyone to trust him. Oliver goes to what he hopes is his ace in the hole, and sets up the plan.
Diaz, for his part, is arguing with Miss Cassamento, the representative from the Quadrant. She’s not at all impressed with Diaz declaring open war throughout the city, which isn’t how the Quadrant operates. After they bicker for a while, she stalks off and Diaz and Anatoli exchange notes. As Diaz prepares to move to another location, Felicity wonders what the plan is if they win, since ARGUS can’t arrest him, the cops are useless at this point, and Lian Yu isn’t an option anymore. An excited Curtis gets to say, “Suit up!” and I guess Oliver had a spare costume and weapons hidden somewhere.
Diaz’s convoy gets ambushed in a unique way, but, of course, the heroes lose and have to retreat after one of them gets seriously injured and Cassamento shows up with more crooked cops. The heroes do at least learn about something that seems to be really important to Diaz. This leads to a really thin Plan B involving Lyla and Felicity.
Diaz freaks out after the attack and takes Anatoli into Captain Hill’s former office to express his displeasure. Diaz tosses suspicion everywhere, and Anatoli brings up an interesting possibility. Diaz is far gone enough that he’ll listen to anyone’s paranoia at this point. As this goes on, Oliver tries once again to get Felicity to go into hiding, and she once again refuses. She’s more than this, certainly, but Felicity really does define “plucky sidekick” sometimes.
Felicity and Lyla share an amusing scene with mission prep and marriage advice before Lyla goes in. She bluffs her way in decently enough initially, but Crosby, Diaz’s Felicity, detects something amiss, and things once again degenerate into a big firefight. There’s a lot of action and Felicity does what plucky sidekicks do, much to Oliver’s annoyance.
Back at Helix (there needs to be a better way to differentiate the base from the company), everyone gets back together to see if they can figure out what’s going on and let Felicity do her magic. After she gets done fighting with Oliver about what she did, anyway. Because we need more drama at this point. Felicity thinks the risk was worth it because she’s very excited about what she thinks they got. But, of course, there’s a “We need X amount of time” limitation, and we know that’s not going to go well. Curtis and Dinah get a good friendship scene as she urges him to learn from her mistakes.
Cassamento argues with Diaz over his accusations and Diaz resolves the argument in the manner we’ve come to expect. The heroes wait for the computer stuff to happen, and Diggle and Oliver make a backup plan. Oliver and Diggle don’t quite but almost argue about how Oliver is handling things with Felicity. It kinda seems like Diggle is arguing both sides, both what he’s telling Oliver now and what he said before quitting. Then, Diaz shows up, because apparently Crosby is almost as good as Felicity, which is not a great development for the team.
There’s another massive attack, and Diaz is adding gas this time. Most of the heroes fight their way out, but Felicity and Oliver stay behind to try and buy time for the computer issue to be resolved. Naturally, they fail. Again. There’s a lot more fighting, although the plague of “not wearing masks when they should be” has now spread to Wild Dog. Yes, Diaz knows who Rene is, but Rene’s helmet offers protection in a fight. Not a great move. Eventually, with some help from really fortunately placed explosives, Oliver and Felicity escape, albeit empty-handed, as the Helix base explodes. They’re running out of places to be.
So they move on to ARGUS HQ, which I guess Diaz will manage to attack next. Felicity and Oliver check in with William over the phone, and then Oliver apologizes for their latest spat. Diaz has a meeting with the rest of the Quadrant and shows he’s continually sliding further out of control. And the episode ends with Oliver doing something truly desperate that could get really ugly later.
What I liked: It’s nice to see the heroes remembering who they’re SUPPOSED to be fighting. I like Felicity doing what she thinks is right, and her scene with Lyla was great. Diggle and Lyla fighting together in the hospital was really slick. Those two make a great team.
What I didn’t: There’s enough going on that we don’t need Oliver and Felicity fighting, too. I’m getting really sick of Diaz being unbeatable and catching all the breaks, too. I really question Oliver going where he did at the end instead of reaching out to Barry.
I feel like this season has been dragging, and I’m ready for it to get better or just be done. I’m giving this one a low 3 out of 5. Let’s see how this next plan fails…