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Arrow, Season 4, Episode 7, ‘Brotherhood’ Review

[This is a full spoiler review for Arrow Season 4, Episode 7, so be warned.]

Arrow’s doing something new. A lot of things new, actually, although you wouldn’t believe it when the episode opens with a truck heist. Or when that heist is stopped by a mob of masked vigilantes. Or when some characters make stubborn decisions that don’t seem to make any sense.

Despite all these tired cliches that have come to personify this show, it is actually going in some fresh and new directions.

First, before I get to the actual episode, my hat is off to Gordon Verheul. Gordon has directed almost 2 dozen episodes of Arrow at this point, but there was a marked style difference in this episode, with several attempts at some single take fighting sequences a la the hallway fight in Daredevil.

Although none of the sequences were quite on that same level as Daredevil, it was fresh and exciting to see some more imagination put into the choreography and camera work. There was a fight with Thea that went from a hallway to an elevator down a level to another hallway and through some different rooms with what I would consider the best camera work I’ve seen from Arrow, and a style that I didn’t even expect to see attempted on this show. I had to go back and watch the sequence several times after watching the episode. I would love to see more of that.

As far as the plot goes, we got a lot of the same old character points, but some fresh directions and a few breaks for the normal character issues go a long way towards moving the narrative forward this season.

After Captain Lance gave Diggle the folder of information about Andy from Damien Darhk, Diggle is shocked to learn that Andy was implicated in several criminal activities, and naturally accepts that the information from Darhk must be 100% legitimate.

Diggle is having trouble coping with this new found information, only to discover that Andy is still alive, and a part of H.I.V.E. Since he doesn’t question the evidence, he’s ready to turn his back on Andy, before Oliver steps in and makes the case for capturing Andy and seeing if he’s redeemable.

First impressions suggest no, but Damien Darhk is having his men take special yellow pills that makes them more obedient to his will, so who’s to know where Andy will stand if the effects of the pill were to wear off?

Outside of the masked fighting, Oliver is running for Mayor, providing some much missed Oliver Queen. Sure, he’s been around, but mostly just with other Team Arrow people. The actual Oliver Queen character hasn’t had a chance to shine for a few seasons now, and his Mayoral campaign is just the right way to do that.

The politics of his campaign are a little confusing, though. Oliver’s main campaign issue is a Starling Bay renovation project that would create jobs, gentrify neighborhoods, and generally uplift starling city, but his campaign manager, Alex, calls it too “hippy crunchy.”

Obviously, this is Arrow, not House of Cards, but a waterfront restoration project isn’t usually considered “hippy crunchy.” Oliver has been traditionally described as politically liberal in the comics, so this is clearly an attempt to push him in that direction, but something like a homeless housing project may have been more along the lines they’re looking for… Oh well. It’s a superhero show, not a political drama. No big deal.

Anyway, Damien Darhk, the opposite of what I think about when I think “hippy crunchy,” approaches Oliver and proposes an unholy alliance that will help save the city, and get Oliver into office. The only condition? Go back on his Starling Bay plan. He’s considering going through with it, until Diggle saves the day and reminds him we already saw that in season 3, and we don’t want to see it again.

Oliver decides not to “fight Darhk in the shadows,” proclaiming that the fight to save Star City is going to take place in broad daylight. The political aspect of the writing could definitely be improved if that’s the direction it’s going to go, but the good news is it’s not a retread. Besides, with all the other masked crime-fighters in Star City, who needs Oliver to fight in the shadows anymore?

Although Thea might not be the best person to entrust Star City to just yet. She’s still fighting the blood lust, and it doesn’t go very well at the beginning. Pro tip: if you have an uncontrollable urge to kill people on a regular basis, maybe don’t carry a sword with you when you go crime fighting.

Malcom comes to town to try to assist Thea with the blood lust, offering up criminal scum that have escaped proper justice, giving her what may be an acceptable target for her to satiate her thirst, but Thea declines, still wanting to find a way to overcome the urges an not just find a “more appropriate” way to satisfy her thirst.

Unfortunately, that urge is hard to fight. While out for drinks with Oliver’s campaign manager, Alex, she is left alone at the table momentarily, only for some drunk guy to immediately appear and tell her she appears to be “the type of girl who’s no means yes,” causing her to go off. Fortunately, (somehow) it seems that Alex is the only on that saw anything even happened, and he’s keeping mum. Which is nice.

During the attempt to capture Adam, Thea has a run in with Damien Darhk, who attempts to use his powers to suck the life out of her, but something weird happens and it backfires on him. Thea later reveals to Merlyn that this might be the key to sating her blood lust without actual blood shed (except for maybe Darhk’s, depending on what her idea is).

Meanwhile, Ray Palmer is back from the dead. Definitely a welcome return to the cast, as he brings some charisma that isn’t as common with everyone else. He’s helping the team with science and technology related things, but has to figure his life out before returning to the public.

If this episode can be considered a trend, then I’ll take it. Not only did we get some technically adventurous work both in front of and behind the camera, but we also got some significant plot motion in a very fresh and new direction for the show.

With the crossover with The Flash fast approaching (ha), and Legends of Tomorrow also on its way, we have a lot of DC content on The CW to get hyped about!

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