Reviewed: by Tyler Olson
***The review below contains minor spoilers.***
Normally each week's story focuses on Oliver's new plight as he tries to pick up the pieces of his shattered city, but lately it has been his friends' turn to be the focus of attention, and this week it was all Diggle.
Even from the very beginning, John Diggle has always seemed to be a supporting character, even when the story revolves around his history, but Keep Your Enemies Closer made him look like the star of the show, and it was exactly what we needed. Of course it had to do with his own vendetta with Floyd Lawton (Deadshot), but it went further into his past by revealing his history with Lyla, too. I never thought that those two would have so much history, but, now that we know, the previous conversations between have a much deeper meaning.
What was even more surprising was how powerful Diggle's morals are, which was demonstrated repeatedly during his time in the Russian hell. He has always been the voice of conscience when his friends venture down dark paths, and even though he sometimes takes a journey into the shadows himself, as we were shown this week, he still has a line that he refuses to cross, no matter the cost. I am thrilled that this means that the assassin is free to return in future episodes (possibly even as an ally), but the thought that Diggle's quest for vengeance has just been redirected to HIVE means that this storyline is far from over. I wonder how long it will take before they show up in the series so that his story can continue? Could HIVE and the Keep Your Enemies Closer could be the same thing in this series, or is there yet another dark criminal group hiding out there? Also, what did his brother do to attract their attention?
While Diggle was enjoying his experience with the Russian Penitentiary System, Oliver did the unthinkable and thawed out the ice queen. Is it possible that Isabel isn't going to be an evil character on Arrow? Sure, she seemed to have a twisted agenda at the beginning, but we've seen nothing that even hints that she is part of any evil corporation. I just hope for Oliver that he decides to put some space between them before she learns of his secret, though. It's bad enough that A.R.G.U.S. knows.
One thing is for certain about Isabel, she has likely become enemy number one with Oliver/Felicity shippers. I don't think those two should be anything more than just friends, but even my heart ached a bit when Felicity found out what happened with Isabel.
The last present day drama was typically Thea and Roy, which went a lot smoother than I expected. Not only did Quentin suddenly do an about face with Roy, even Moira was showing her approval for Red Arrow (it is obvious that this will be his hero alias). I am a bit disappointed, though; I hoped time away from Speedy would have given him time to learn about Oliver and train with him.
Of course, more details on the past were revealed too. I am very pleased that Shado and Slade survived the attacks, but it is now obvious that Slade already has a good reason to put on the yellow and black mask again. The deep mental scars almost always seem to begin with a physical one, although I doubt this will be enough to twist him into a dangerous assassin. If Ivo's next attack goes badly, we might have a new Deathstroke on our hands.
I really love how we are starting to see characters who are in both the past and present stories this season. First it was Sara, and now Anatoli (who will obviously be a larger part in the coming episodes). Who are we going to meet next? Could Ivo be making an appearance? I am beginning to fear for Shado and Slade, though. Something tells me they might not have survived their island getaway.
With all the excitement and twists this week, I hope what happened in Russia doesn't stay in Russia, and hopefully this is just their first visit to the land where money can buy anything.