Arrow finally gets a new direction with Oliver out of prison as we get two story lines that work for the title, “Unmasked.” The show opens with a woman going through a very impressive workout routine, something new and different from Oliver’s salmon ladder. We don’t get her name, but her wardrobe choice at the end of the scene tells us who she is.
In the shower, Oliver enjoys his new freedom, shows off his new scars, and shows he’s not dealing well with surprises, freaking out him and Felicity both. After a passing reference to William to explain his absence, they talk about plans for the night, Oliver not wanting to go, and a special, more private, celebration.
At the big reception, Rene is chowing down on appetizers and railing about people who should be helping the Glades and aren’t. Dinah is amused by his passion and eating habits, and makes a suggestion that likely plays into the timeline future William is going through in the flash-forwards. Oliver comes in and runs a gauntlet of press, which Felicity handles deftly. Oliver runs into an old acquaintance who is impressed at his heroic career, Max Fuller. Felicity is not impressed with the man. Team Arrow gathers around a table at the gala, and we learn Oliver’s first meal on getting out, which the team approves of. Rene asks if he’s going to suit up again, but Oliver has other plans. The group is surprised when Laurel shows up, and Felicity speaks up for her. Laurel makes a comment about Felicity that doesn’t sit well with Oliver, and then he gets called up to speak. His new views on justice get interrupted by a surprising attack.
The mayor wastes no time bad-mouthing vigilantes to the press, while Rene defends the new Green Arrow. Oliver appreciates everyone else’s confidence in the new archer, but wants to be sure. Oliver offers to consult with the police, and Curtis makes a Mentalist reference, a show he (and I) enjoyed. Dinah, not liking the slant of the conversation, just tells everyone to go home.
At Rene’s place, once again with no sign of the Incredible Vanishing Zoe, Rene and Oliver go over everything they have on the new Green Arrow. Rene fills Oliver in some of what he’s missed, and Oliver is sorry he didn’t get to see some of it. Dinah joins them, warning that Mayor Pollard is on the warpath, and that the evidence collected so far does point at the vigilante archer. There’s no useful security footage, and they work out who the intended target of the arrow was. Rene points out how this new information clashes with the Green Arrow’s methods so far. Leaning on Rene’s intermittent contact with the hero, they come up with a plan to move forward.
Diggle visits Lyla, back at work finally, and they discuss a lead on something else they are working on. The meeting with the bow-slinging vigilante doesn’t go well when the archer takes exception to Rene brining Oliver and Dinah along. There’s a great action sequence going back to Oliver’s early parkour days, but the hero gets away.
At the Star City PD, reporters harass Oliver again. Dinah reminds them they aren’t supposed to be inside the building and that the SCPD doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations. Rene has no such qualms and gives his own statement, annoying Dinah and angering Mayor Pollard, not that she needs help on that front. Clayton Ford, the intended target at the gala Oliver was speaking at, was killed while they tried to talk to Green Arrow, so they’ve at least cleared the vigilante. They discuss Ford as Pollard storms in, displeased with everything, which seems to be her default setting. They argue a bit before she sweeps out, and Rene gives a great description of her. Oliver resolves to start working on his own to spare Dinah any political fallout.
Oliver goes to visit Fuller at his new club, which I wonder is what used to be Club Verdant. Fuller boasts about the place while Oliver pumps him for some information on a lead they’ve discovered. Fuller wonders why Oliver cares, with everything he’s been through, and Oliver makes a comment about old habits as he leaves. Oliver goes home to Felicity, who just has time to realize her security system isn’t working when they get attacked by a crazed hitman with a bow, arrows, and a grudge. We get to see a few pieces of Felicity’s home improvements, and Oliver is shocked at the lengths Felicity goes to in the fight.
The police work the scene and Dinah gives Oliver some joking advice she’s addressing to the wrong person. Oliver and Felicity have a tense discussion about the changes in her since he was in prison, and Felicity makes some very good points. The talk ends on a note that doesn’t bode wonderfully well for their future.
Rene brings Dinah some Big Belly food, and she wonders if Pollard is going to fire her over the way things are going. Dinah is questioning her own effectiveness, and Rene takes a surprising stand on the issue. The evil bowman is identified, and as far as I can tell, is a cheap throwaway original character with a name from a different villain entirely. Oliver figures out who hired him, and between them, Rene, Oliver and Dinah come up with a plan. Dinah takes a stand on an important issue in the planning, and Oliver mentions he needs to make a pit stop.
Oliver goes to the very mothballed Bunker, meeting Diggle. Diggle brought him some needed equipment and talks about how none of them used the place after Oliver was arrested. I’m not clear if the authorities discovered the hideout or not. Oliver makes a decision to leave something behind, and turns down Diggle’s offer of backup. Isn’t that what people were getting mad at Oliver for before, acting alone? Old habits indeed, Mr. Queen.
In a modified costume, Oliver goes after Fuller in his club. Why he couldn’t wait until after closing so there were fewer innocents around, I’m not sure. It’s a big action scene showing Oliver with his bow for the first time this season, and he’s not at all rusty, as Dinah worried at one point. Why Felicity isn’t acting as Overwatch is never brought up. Oliver wins the day, a nice, simple, clear cut victory that’s been lacking on the series for a while now.
Returning to SCPD, Dinah has a showdown with Pollard, and smugly mentions an ally she thinks will back her up, further infuriating the mayor. Lyla and Diggle do something they’re hiding from everyone else that’s going to cause no end of problems among the former teammates if they ever find out about it. Felicity and Oliver had another ominous talk that sounds like the show is descending to cheap relationship drama that doesn’t need to be there. The show closes by telling us who the mystery woman from the opening scene actually is.
In the flash-forwards, William, Zoe, and Dinah follow up on the clues about Felicity’s last call. Roy isn’t with them, supposedly for fear of him being recognized. They find the mysterious Blackstar, who isn’t what they were expecting or at all like the DC Comics character of the same name. they figure out Blackstar isn’t telling them everything they need to know. Dinah gives William a pep talk and tells him about a few things he missed. The group decides on where they have to go next, which doesn’t please Zoe and leads to interesting speculation about Rene in this time.
What I liked: It was great seeing Oliver in action again, especially the return to parkour. Dinah’s suggestion to Rene was interesting, and he got some great lines. I liked Dinah standing up to Pollard, although she’s been a bit inconsistent on her position on vigilantes. I did like Felicity not being a damsel in distress, but…
What I didn’t: I don’t like more relationship drama for Oliver and Felicity. It’s possible to write a show where the heroes have a healthy love life. The villain this week was forgettable and didn’t make a lot of sense. The future story really isn’t grabbing me. All I was really liking about it was seeing Roy again, and he called in this week.
I’ll give this a 3 out of 5. It was unevenly written and had a few issues.