Arrow 's midseason premiere-any midseason premiere, really, but especially those of the punch-kick-wear-cape variety-to-be-full of fireworks. Explosions, massive fights, slow motion, daring escapes, that kind of thing. But "My Name Is Emiko Queen" has something else in mind. It sets out to establish a new status quo, and it mostly succeeds in that, frankly moving it into a position and adjusting the balance in a fundamental way. Arrow 's midseason premiere needs are of the narrative and the emotional sort. It's a new day in the Arrowverse, and more things change, the more they'll certainly stay the same.
What is most impressive about "My Name Is Emiko Queen?" Oliver at or near the center of this hour, contending with a major revelation and (briefly) adjusting to his new role at the SCPD, but he is neither the driving force nor the target of that force. His role is to react, but largely internally. What's more, while we see every current member of Team Arrow at least briefly (nice cameo, Curtis), the team itself has little to do with the proceedings. Instead, Arrow establishes a whole new set of allegiances, mysteries, conflicts, and character shifts to explore. All without letting the balls tossed in the air in 2018. It all continues, and it's all changed.
Arrow's new Arrow team and the Queen family drama that ensues. This first exploration into the life of Emiko Queen (Sea Shimooka) feels like a series-shaking paradigm shift, and yet, it's all classic Arrow . Emiko's got her list, her bunker, and her training montage. She's got her "rahhhhh I have to grahhhhh" mindset. She's got loads of Robert Queen-related baggage, a tenuous partnership begun in part because of an unexpected injury, and a fanatic drive to take down bad guys. Sound like anyone we know? Yet it still feels new, because after this introduction, the show will never be the same again.
Oliver has his own baggage to contend with, and like Emiko's story, it feels like new and comfortable familiar, because the show has, at long last, found a way to reintroduce Queen family drama again. And if you're going to do it, why not go big? Off-shore bank accounts. A secret family, a letter to Walter, Moira's name attached, a secret family, a promise unfulfilled, reminder that by the way Thea was actually Malcolm Merlyn's biological daughter, a secret family, and a secret family . Felicity is no stranger to skeleton in the family closet, and she's totally floored.
This storyline is just the sort that suits Stephen Amell the actor (not Stephen Amell the stage combatant) perfectly: It asks him to dig deep Oliver is by the constant flow of shit that flows his way, and that exhaustion often asserts itself in the form of wry amusement. There are only a few things that have been here in the past, and it's always welcome.
All that family drama finds in the current and future storylines for René, who we see acting as Emiko's John Diggle in the present and as the morally bankrupted mayor of The Glad in the future-one inadvertently tied to the apparent murder of Felicity Smoak, no less. Zoey makes excellent use of Arrow 's familiar (though now very different) time jumps, but what's achieved is much less Arrow than it is This Is Us . How does this loving family, and this affectionate friendship, become so corrupted? How does the team that got matching tattoos splinter- again ? And when does the vigilante championing Rene become asshole in a nice suit and a very dramatic wig?
Whatever the cause, and wherever he's headed, this new direction for Wild Dog is one reason among many to remain optimistic about Arrow phased out the word "hoss" from his vocabulary. Rene's office, and the new status quo within the SCPD. There's just one new or evolving storyline about which it's tough to get excited, and that's the new Suicide Squad-sorry, Ghost Initiative starring Ricardo Diaz.
Look, Kirk Acevedo is a damn good actor, and I will gladly eat my Diaz happen actually works. But it often feels as though Arrow is a lot more interested in keeping Diaz (and Acevedo) around than it is in keeping up its momentum. At a certain point, you've got to make a new story to tell. The rest of Arrow seems brand new, even as it feels original recipe. It's just the Diaz storylike that feels like it's just past its expiration date.
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- " Before you ask, no, it's not Thea."
- TAMVP: This is a tough one, honestly. Juliana Harkavy did a really nice job in her few scenes, as did Andrea Sixtos, but it might have to be Rick Gonzalez. He's got me totally off-balance. No idea what future Rene is up to.
- Salmon ladder watch: No, there was no salmon ladder, but we did not get a training montage. Love those.
- Rene's ominous friend (played by Raj Paul) is named Kevin Dale. Inspiration?
- Next week: Black Siren time!