This post contains spoilers for Arrow.
Check out last week's review here.
Arrow didn’t pull off two good episodes in a row, but “The Ties that Bind” isn’t necessarily bad either. It’s got a little bit of team building, a little bit of stupid Oliver, and a few nice family moments before everything goes to shit. Ricardo Diaz has given up his plan to out the Green Arrow, so he’s moved on to plan B: murder everyone.
The good news is, this whole “kill everyone” situation has the teams working together once again. Things are a little too functional to be believable, but since everyone’s exhausted by the storyline it seems reasonable to not bring up additional drama. Pushing Anatoli back onto Oliver’s side of the chess board meant that they got a warning before things hit the fan, and manages to give them one last ace in the hole against Diaz.
We’ve seen Diaz bounce back and forth between interesting and chronically boring this season. Sometimes he’s cool, clever, and calculating, while in others he’s just another thug. That thug is who we saw this week and, unfortunately, that thug is the boring side. He almost offed Curtis, mercilessly murdered two out of four members of the Quadrant, and almost took out Anatoli, and yet there’s still nothing interesting about this version of him. Dude lit a man on fire on top of a building, but because his motives are so chronically flat, no major action he takes resonates. We do get to watch him get blown down a flight of stairs, though. It’s not meant to be funny, but the speed at which he flies makes it hysterical.
That seems like a good segue into the stakes of “The Ties That Bind”. Because it’s mostly just an episode to build up its finale, nothing that goes down really seems to matter. The exception to this rule is, of course, when Oliver tells the FBI that he’s the Green Arrow because Team Arrow is up a creek and has no plan. Boy spends an entire season trying to keep that from happening, and here is spilling the beans all willy nilly. Cool. Let’s hope the FBI decides to keep that information to itself. He can’t be tried again, but dealing with a Star City that knows Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow sounds exhausting.
“The Ties that Bind” might not have been the most exciting of episodes, but it gets the bare minimum accomplished to set up the finale. Perhaps all that exposition was tossed in this week so they can come out swinging in a way last year’s season finale failed to. Even while sitting somewhere firmly in the middle of “good” and “fine”, it does pull off a shining moment or two. Oliver is a giant jerk to Felicity and apologizes almost immediately! Watching him, Felicity, and William try to figure out their family dynamic has been a surprising treat, and seeing the other families flourish has been nice here and there as well. Arrow’s penultimate has a surprising lack of Black Siren, particularly after last week’s run-in with Diaz, but we’ll likely get some answers in the finale.
If you had thoughts on this week’s episode, you know what to do!