Greetings, Arrow fans. I know what you’re thinking. She’s back! Well, sorry to disappoint, but that’s not actually true. While I toyed with the idea of dropping the show completely at the end of last season, I decided over the summer that I would let the Season 6 premiere determine whether I’d keep recapping Arrow. However, after tonight, I’ve decided this will be my last weekly recap. Now, to be clear, that decision doesn’t actually reflect my feelings on last night’s episode. I actually quite liked “Fallout.” I might even say it restored my faith in the show.
That didn’t, however, mean it was perfect. Part of why I found last season’s finale so obnoxious was that it felt like a big stunt that would actually bring very little change to the show. I was half right. On one hand, basically nobody died. Our heroes and their villains returned without so much as a severed limb amongst them. (Diggle’s (David Ramsey) gun-handling issues don’t count until we learn more). That said, where the show killed, it did so for maximum impact.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) illegitimate son storyline. Not because it’s, like, a threat to my ship or something, but because it makes every other storyline seem irrelevant. What are brooding superheroes compared to the life of an innocent child? So, it was very clever that the show chose to kill William’s (Jack Moore) mother, Samantha (Anna Hopkins), and leave him to raise the boy. Oliver has always been chronically, terminally unable to realize that vigilante-ing is actually the thing keeping him from growing and William forcing him to confront the inherent badness of his alter-ego forces him to question it in an entirely new way. He can’t make justifications like he has with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) or Diggle, he has to admit that continuing to put on the hood has a cost.
That said, the show still doesn’t quite know how to use William to maximum effect. Having Raisa (Kathleen Gati, who just became the show’s second luckiest day player after Rickards) around somewhat neutralizes the William Factor. Oliver–who probably was raised by people hired to do so–is too willing to let her deal with the big stuff considering the kid still hates and fears him 5 months in. More importantly, while the kid may have been traumatized by everything that happened last season, he does seem more infantilized than his age should permit. That he calls Oliver “The Bad Man” and can’t verbalize his anger in a more compelling way is going to be an issue if it doesn’t change soon. At least when Thea (Willa Holland) was a bratty little kid, she had a personality, you know?
Speaking of the youngest Queen sibling, she didn’t die, but she has apparently been in a coma for five months. I guess it’s nice that she didn’t get full-on fridged, but she’s definitely on ice at the moment. What this storyline will achieve other than to make Oliver feel guilty remains to be seen, but here’s hoping for a speedy (sorry) recovery and a nice, handsome CW boy for her when she wakes up. That girl’s been through too much and she’s starting to feel a bit like Earth-1 Laurel (Katie Cassidy) in that the writers seem to be running out of ideas.
Speaking of Ms. Lance, I have to admit, Black Siren’s kind of fun. If I had to pinpoint one reason why original Laurel never worked (and boy, is that hard), it would be that her characterization always felt too reactive to whatever the plot needed at any moment. No action Laurel ever took felt like something that came from who she was as a person. She put on a mask because she was always meant to, she became an alcoholic because her character needed darkness, etc. It was a debilitating weakness for a hero, but it’s kind of an asset for a villain. They exist to oppose the heroes. Obviously, another mysterious figure will eventually turn out to be the one pulling her strings, but for now, it’s really fun to watch her emotionally manipulate and snark at everyone.
Still, except for the way this episode was structured (they just had to find a way to keep the flashbacks, didn’t they), the villain vacuum was the strangest thing about the episode. Arrow typically uses its premieres to set up the season’s big bad. That didn’t happen here. Instead, we got something much better: Oliver has finally been publicly unmasked. Before that big, shocking reveal, the episode felt like it was lacking any sense of real conflict. There was a lot of small, personal dramas, but nothing big to keep us coming back for nine months. Arrow has wasted a lot of potential over the years, but I hope they stick the landing on this storyline. And while I won’t go on that journey with the show in recap form, I’ll still be watching. Trust is hard to regain once lost, but last night was a big step in the right direction. So who knows, maybe I’ll come back one day. After all, Arrow loves nothing more than to bring a character back from the dead.