ARROW 7.01 Review “Inmate 4587”

Come for Felicity's child, you best not miss.

This post contains spoilers for Arrow.

After revealing himself as the Green Arrow, Oliver Queen finds himself with a hefty sentence for vigilantism. Slabside Maximum Security Prison isn’t the type one breaks out of anytime soon, but the former hero isn’t currently in any hurry to make his way to the outside. Though every day he spends behind bars is a day that Ricardo Diaz can get to his wife and son, breaking out would remove the very immunity that protects both Felicity and William, and the rest of Team Arrow.

So, Oliver Queen serves his time. He does so quietly, despite being surrounded by men that he put in the prison himself. Oliver silently suffers threats, beatings and more in hopes that his sentence will be reduced and he’ll be back to his family. Unfortunately, both Oliver and Felicity start the season with a tough lesson: sometimes the hardest fight is one that you don’t engage in at all. Seems safe to imagine that would be especially true if you fancy yourself a hero.

Oliver’s never fancied himself a hero though, has he? He’s been idealized as such by the public (or at least some of it), and told so by his family and friends, sure. But Mr. Queen would be the first to tell you that he’s no hero, and the version of Oliver we meet after what seems like months in Slabside seems to drive that message home. When he’s approached by a falsely accused inmate who’s unsure how he’s going to survive in prison, Oliver leaves the kid to the wolves. If you’re panicking that years of agonizingly slow progress are being undone, don’t panic too much just yet. Ultimately, Oliver was just trying to keep the kid from associating with him to stop him from being a target, and he did immediately regret letting the poor shrimp get all cut up.

Throughout “Inmate 4587”, Oliver is plagued by nightmares of Diaz finding Felicity and William, despite the two of them being under ARGUS protection. Before the episode closes, that nightmare becomes a reality. Sure, it’s not great that Diaz found them. But, on the other hand, we get to see Felicity Megan Smoak go ham on Ricardo Diaz with a coffee pot and a fire poker, so let’s just call it a wash?

While the Queen family’s minds are occupied by Diaz, Diggle and his B Team babies have a hooded copycat on their hands. There’s another Green Arrow in town, and he’s got Robert Queen’s list. The flip-heavy fight style points to Roy Harper, but the flashbacks lend themselves to another possibility. This takes us to the point where the entire audience uttered a “wait, what?” and stared at their screens in confusion for a few moments. Let’s try to break it down!

By the end of the episode, Felicity is done being passive. She’s done running, she’s done hiding, and she’s going back to the team to take the fight to the man coming after her son. Oliver protests, obviously, but before “Inmate 4587” ends, we see him throwing fists again himself (note: probably not the smartest idea to threaten the wife and child of a vigilante with nothing left to lose. Just a thought). Felicity joining the fray again means that William has to be put somewhere safe, no matter how much both of them hate it. As a token, Felicity gives him Oliver’s arrowhead, passed from Oliver to Thea, Thea to Felicity, and now Felicity to William.

Through the flashbacks we see some dummy trying to get on Lian Yu. Only Queen men are stupid enough to do that, but that doesn’t make any sense. This dude’s an adult. Does Oliver have a long lost brother? Is someone after the corpse of Robert Queen? No, both of those would have somehow have made more sense than the mystery man pulling out the arrowhead to show a stranded Roy Harper (what?) who he is.

Here’s the thing: it’s not really clear what’s going on yet, but it certainly has my attention. Are the flashbacks flash forwards this season? Did William time travel? Is that future Roy or current Roy on Lian Yu? What’s he doing there? Even aside from all that, what is Star City going to do with itself with its hero in prison? Dinah is desperately trying to restore faith in her boys (and girls) in blue, but they can’t be everywhere. The Glades are still crumbling and rife with criminal activity. Rene and Dinah both want to save their city, but both have fundamentally different ideas on how to do so.

Arrow has had “more of the same” issues in the past. It’s historically struggled from wheel spinning and backward steps after some of the most exciting character progress was made. But something feels different this year. Beth Schwartz is the head of the ship now and, while we have no idea where in the hell it’s headed, we’re excited to get there.

What did you think of Arrow’s return?