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There are spoilers in this review.

This season has been so consistently good. I think the last half of season three was a misstep for sure, with some good things sprinkled in some bad, but it feels like Arrow is back where it should be. And even better, in a lot of ways, because these characters have really grown and changed in believable ways. Their relationships have deepened and gotten through dark and difficult times. I admire how the show doesn’t let itself be dumb superhero fun. They take their characters and conflicts seriously, while poking a little fun at itself here and there. Also I haven’t given the stunt work a shout out in a long time, but damn is it impressive in this episode. The stunt coordination was the first thing on the show that drew my attention, because it’s always been movie quality work. This episode showed all of the characters kicking some serious ass, and they give their actors quite the work out. Previously on Arrow, Damian Darhk is causing trouble in Star City. Quentin was working for him, but now he’s undercover for Team Arrow. Oliver’s decided to run for Mayor in order to change his city for the better in the light as well as in the dark.  Thea’s suffering from Lazarus Pit bloodlust but determined to keep it at bay. And a long time ago Diggle’s brother was killed by HIVE and he’s been obsessively searching for revenge. Except now he knows that his brother is alive and not a good person. Yikes.

Diggle has the main story and conflict here, and Ramsey does a great job with it. Diggle’s coming to grips with his brother being alive, but he’s alive in the worst sense, because he’s also a bad person. He feels like he never knew him in the first place, and he’d been mourning a person who didn’t exist. Oliver on the other hand is determined to give Andy the benefit of the doubt, because he wants to believe in redemption for anyone. This is important to Oliver, having stayed “dead” for some time and wrestled with his dark side for years. Again I really enjoy that the show is letting him express his inner thoughts more, so he can connect with Diggle. And Diggle manages to talk Oliver down from thinking about working with Darhk as a cover. Darhk tries to win Mayoral candidate Oliver to his side and does a little threatening. Diggle firmly reminds him that he said he was going to fight in the light of day, and this was Ra’s all over again. Oliver needs to learn from his mistakes and do it differently this time. It also helps that the whole team is on Diggle’s side giving him support and risking their lives to bring Andy back safely. They have Andy now, but it doesn’t look like Diggle is going to get the answers he wants right at once. So can he be redeemed? Is he purely bad now? I guess we’ll see. I’m sure there’s a lot more to the story. Huzzah for another character getting a turn in the spotlight. I love Oliver, but all the characters have plenty of great layers to explore.

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Thea, for example! Her bloodlust is back on the rise, and her father being in town doesn’t help too much with her temper. During a date with whatshisface, she loses it and nearly beats a guy to death in public. Uhhhh. I really think that would stop any dating? Seriously, dude, no matter how cool she seems otherwise, that was intense. I’m starting to think he might be secretly evil. Poor Thea, it would be just her luck. A solution appears to her in the form of Darhk! When he tries to possess her, instead he magically takes some of her bloodlust away. For real. She tells Merlyn and it looks like the two of them might try and find a way to work this to their advantage. Ray’s around this episode mostly being glum and trying to think about what his next move is. He doesn’t want to go back without a plan for his future. It seems he’s lost his way and guess what is going to give him a new path? LEGENDS OF TOMORROW. They are launching it very soon, starting with the Flash-Arrow crossover happening post-Thanksgiving.

Also, in news no one cares about, Oliver’s flashbacks are still pointless and I tune out for most of them. He has to kill one of the slaves, the dude in charge has a magic stick that says the guy who set it up is lying, and Oliver gets to punish him. And the slave was the woman he rescued’s brother.  Darhk is not going to like Oliver standing up to him, so trouble is definitely coming. The thing is, I can’t imagine he can keep his identity secret for long. It seems ridiculous Darhk hasn’t figured it out; I think it’s silly no one else has too. But Darhk in particular seems very genre savvy. It won’t take long for him to put the pieces together if Oliver gets attacked and defends himself easily. Maybe this season will end with Oliver admitting who he is in public. I would like to see that, honestly. Secret identities are getting a little old. The Avengers are all public. It could be an interesting storyline. In any case, the show is doing exceptionally well. There’s angst and drama, but in realistic and interesting ways. I wonder what the show is going to be like once they finally launch Legends of Tomorrow and they can focus solely on their plot and not setting up for another one. And “My brother needs me. My green brother” may be my favorite moment of the season so far. The feels!

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