Is Felicity working for the man?
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
One of the recurring questions with Arrow Season 7 so far is whether supporting characters like Rene, Curtis and Dinahy have outlived their usefulness. As much as the new status quo has reinvigorated characters like Ollie and Felicity, the rest of the former Team Arrow is starting to feel like so much dead weight. “Crossing Lines” doesn’t necessarily do much to change that perception. It delivers what is easily the most well-rounded storyline of the new season so far, but it does so by downplaying those characters.
Perhaps, as this episode suggests, the answer is simply to rely on Curtis, Rene and Dinah more sparingly. All three found their niches this week in terms of providing comic relief or a little added muscle against the Longbow Hunters. They’re very much secondary to Ollie’s prison ordeal, Felicity’s obsessive hunt for Ricardo Diaz and the deepening conspiracy at ARGUS. So long as the writers keep the focus on those three storylines and don’t waste too much time mired in the personal lives of these other characters, the series should be just fine.
It’s a testament to how effective this week’s three-pronged conflict was that I barely found myself missing the flash-forwards at all. That subplot may well be the most compelling piece of the Season 7 puzzle right now, but there’s a real danger in dwelling too much on what’s coming way down the road rather than what Ollie and friends are dealing with in the here and now.
The prison storyline continues to be engrossing in its own right. Ollie is fighting a losing battle to save his own soul as he gets his hands a little more dirty each day. The great thing about the prison storyline is that, not only is it being allowed to play out in an organic, in-depth fashion, the status quo is anything but stagnant. The relationship between Ollie, Brick’s gang and the prison guards continues to evolve with each new episode. New dangers continue to arise. And there’s a mounting sense of tragedy fueling all of it. Ollie may have brought himself one step closer to finding this “demon” tied to Diaz, but in the process he’s jeopardized whatever fading chance he might have had to be with his family again.
The prison scenes also continue to be a terrific source of brutal fight scenes. “Crossing Lines” kept up that high standard thanks to a pair of long-awaited rematches with both Turner and Sampson, the latter of which resulted in a Fight Club-worthy scene of broken bones and dislocated shoulders. Also appreciated is the fact that this episode really emphasizes Turner’s depth as a character. This show too rarely takes full advantage of the character in that regard. I suppose we’ll have to see if Turner will return this season or if that group of villains is being retired now that Ollie has graduated to Level 2.
Felicity’s short-lived alliance with the FBI also made for an engaging storyline this week. It’s nice to see Agent Watson herself gain a little extra depth, now that she’s no longer simply the gloating antagonist working to get Ollie locked up. The two characters forged a surprisingly entertaining alliance in this episode, which makes it a shame that Watson’s time in Star City seems to be over.
On the plus side, the series didn’t make us wait long for another showdown between Team Arrow and the Longbow Hunters. The actual payoff to Diaz’s CDC raid proved a bit underwhelming (all that so he could gain a little Mirakuru-style super strength?), but the battle itself didn’t disappoint.
While all three of Diaz’s new partners are entertaining, Silencer is really starting to steal the show this season. In terms of sherer badass factor, she’s one of the best villains Arrow has ever had. It’s really satisfying to see the series use sound mixing to maximize her impact. Even the score drops out whenever she activates her powers. There’s a huge amount of potential with this character that the new season has only begun to tap into, and it’s great to see this episode setting her up for an even bigger role in the weeks to come.
While a minor subplot relative to the rest of the episode, Lyla and Diggle’s Zurich vacation nonetheless set up some intriguing new struggles for both characters. Lyla’s journey this season is clearly meant to parallel Ollie’s, given her own habit of crossing boundaries for the greater good. The writers also seem to be using her to hint at a larger threat lurking in the background in Season 7. Given how much we’ve already seen of Diaz and the Longbow Hunters these first few weeks, it seems hard to imagine they’re going to be this year’s endgame. Is this new enemy Lyla is alluding to simply another shadowy power player in the criminal underworld, or could it have something to do with her slow transition towards becoming more like the Lyla/Harbinger of the comics?