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Comics Alliance Recaps ‘Arrow’ Episode 2.6: ‘Keep Your Enemies Closer’

Arrow

The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along to see how he fares.

This week, Thea worries about her associations, business tension reaches new highs, and Team Arrow is going to Russia!

Ollie and Isabel Rochev are having a big ol’ spat in his office at Queen Consolidated. He hasn’t been coming to board meetings, and she just can’t get enough of meetings. They’re the original odd couple!

Smoak awkwardly interrupts because Ollie’s got to get to the real business of meeting Roy Harper in an alley to catch some counterfeiters. The deal they’re stopping is a weird one. Some guys are giving some other guys a duffel bag full of money to buy plates with which to make fake bills. But if they already have duffel bags of real money, what exactly is the appeal? The cash rich aren’t usually the ones who turn to counterfeiting.

Anyway, Arrow shoots the money bag with a trick arrow and makes the money blow up.

Arrow

Then he beats all the criminals up and/or shoots them in their extremities. Roy tackles one of them while Dig helps keep a lookout. The cops arrive and arrest Roy. While Dig leaves, some paramilitary dudes pop up and hit him with a stun gun. This cold open was more eventful in about three minutes than most are in eight or nine. Pretty good!

Dig wakes up tied to a chair in a dark room. It’s just what people on Arrow do. In walks Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who is introduced via a long, long shot of her legs. This is not classic DC Amanda Waller by any means. She’s New 52 all the way. I like Addai-Robinson just fine, but there are a lot of “what could have been” thoughts going through my head right now. CCH Pounder as Amanda Waller? We could have had that.

Waller explains to Dig that ARGUS agent Lyla Michaels, a.k.a. Harbinger, has gone missing in Moscow while trying to find Deadshot. She also knows that Dig and Ollie are Arrowing it up. She’s got a real “Marvel movie Nick Fury” vibe going on, in that she knows everything. Waller tells Dig she needs him to go rescue her.

So, why did ARGUS have to go this whole kidnapping route to convince him? As we’ll see, Dig is pretty invested in Harbinger. They could have just called him in for a meeting and said it was about her, right?

Police HQ. Officer Lance is about to read Roy the riot act, but Roy mentions he was working for Arrow. Lance lets him go.

Arrowcave. Smoak and Ollie are watching a report on the Only News Network about this S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator they keep teasing. Looks like it might be kinda bad.

Dig enters and says he needs some personal days. Ollie asks what’s up and Dig explains. Ollie tells Smoak it’s time to take a “business trip” to Moscow.

S.S. Flashback. Professor Ivo introduces himself to Ollie and asks his name. Sara tells Ollie not to give his name. So Ollie says his name is Tommy instead. Ivo gives Ollie the third degree about the island, in particular the dead Japanese soldiers he, Shado and Slade found there. Ivo explains that the Japanese were developing stem-cell therapy as a super-weapon all the way back in World War II, and a crashed submarine near Flashback Island is the key to it.

The Japanese were creating super soldiers, basically, so I suppose DC’s Japan is the equivalent of Marvel’s United States.

In the present, Team Arrow arrives at the airport to head off to Moscow and are met there by Rochev, who doesn’t like business being done without her. “There was a business party and I wasn’t invited!” I wish she said.

They all arrive in Moscow, and just to prove that they’re really there, there are Russian flags in the background and Rochev is wearing a hilarious fur hat. Must be cold in that airport.

Arrow

The efforts the show makes in order to make it look like they’re in Russia on a CW budget are pretty wonderfully cheap.

Rochev says she’s set up a meeting in Moscow because she’s Mrs. Meetings. Ollie says he’s not as irresponsible as she thinks; Rochev says she’s pretty sure this whole trip was just a getaway for Ollie and Smoak, who anyone with a brain would think were lovers. Before Ollie can say, “No, wait, I’m a vigilante here to save my bodyguard’s secret-agent friend,” Rochev leaves.

Verdant. Moira’s attorney comes by to say Thea shouldn’t date Roy anymore because it might damage Moira’s case for her daughter to be dating a known felon. I’d like to hear a prosecutor argue that point.

Ollie and Dig go to a seedy club that looks more like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark than anything in Europe. There, they meet up with Anatoli Knyazev (David Nykl), who is neither a member of the KGB nor a beast. He’s a ranking member of the Russian mob, like Ollie is.

Arrow

As it turns out, he was also the dude that was being held in the cell next to Ollie on the Amazo. And speaking of prisons, Knyazev knows where Harbinger is. She’s being held in  the worst gulag in Russia, which is called “Nightmare.” Arrow does have a knack for place names.

Harbinger tried to break into the prison to find Deadshot, but she didn’t get out. Knyazev says there’s no way out, and the only way to get in is as a prisoner. But Dig inspires him with his gung-ho spirit, and they concoct a plan involving a guard who owes Knyazev a favor and Dig going in as a prisoner.

In a hotel room that I believe was also a safehouse on Homeland, Dig gets set to go out and get caught with a huge bag full of drugs. If there’s a theme to this episode, it’s “bags full of stuff.”

Smoak briefs Dig about the guard he needs to contact and where to meet them after the break using her tablet with Windows 8 Technology Featuring Swipe Unlock. Smoak wonders aloud whether this plan is worth it; Dig reveals that Harbinger is his ex-wife. They got married when they were in the Army and he still loves her. It’s handled well, David Ramsey underplays it, and it’s a nice addition to Dig’s character.

So Dig just goes and sits in the street with the drugs until the police come and arrest him. You’d think there’d be a trial or something, this not being the Soviet Union and all, but nah. He just goes directly to the gulag. Lucky for him it’s the one he wanted!

The guards make a huge effort to take Dig’s jacket and put it in a bin (wonder if that’ll come back up) and throw him in a cell with a corrupt bureaucrat, who reminds Dig that he’s black, and that’s not the most well-regarded thing in Russia. Also lucky for Dig he got a cellmate who speaks English and has some degree of racial tolerance!

Ollie, Smoak and Knayzev stand around at a factory that’s trying really hard to look like Russia, waiting for some mobster dudes to show up for a payoff. The mobsters threaten them. Ollie whispers some stuff in the leader’s ear. The guy relents.

S.S. Flashback again. Sara comes by and tells Ollie not to let on he knows her. Ollie says he needs to get a warning to Shado and Slade, who are still back on the island. Slade’s still pretty burned up, but Shado’s fine. (It was real dumb to run out into those mortar blasts, guys.) She’s helping treat Slade’s burns.

Present-day Verdant. Thea asks Roy for some space. She’s pretty transparent about it.

Back to the gulag. In the cafeteria, Dig asks his cellmate about the guard he’s supposed to be looking for. The cellmate points him out. Then some gang members come up and start a fight with Dig. Dig breaks a guy’s leg and some guards drag him away. You could put a bunch of prison-movie tropes into a machine and it’d probably spit this scene out.

The guards take Dig to a freezer and chain him up. And, wouldn’t you know it, there’s Deadshot! A lot of things are conveniently falling into Dig’s lap here. Deadshot says he knows Dig is there for Harbinger, but I’m really distracted because both he and Dig have fake water vapor coming out of their mouths. They couldn’t put them in an actually-cold room?

At the hotel, Ollie and Rochev are hanging out and getting drunk, even though she’s upset he missed yet another meeting. Rochev reveals that she’s given up a lot to be a businesswoman, and that’s why she’s so driven. She’s lonely, too. It’s easily the most appealing Summer Glau has been in the role, because she actually gets to act like a human being.

Rochev learns Ollie can speak Russian and that leads to the inevitable. They go back to the hotel room and get to it.

The inside-man guard comes into the gulag freezer and lets Dig out. As they’re leaving through the corridor, Deadshot, who somehow escaped his bonds, kills the guard with an icicle. Dig says he should kill Deadshot right there, and then Deadshot gets the most dialogue he’s ever gotten on the show up to now. It’s a mistake.

“You won’t, because I’m na th’ only one who knows where your little GIRLfrieeend is,” he says in the most grating way possible. He is anything but intimidating.

Arrow

He talks (and kind of looks) like WWE NXT wrestler Enzo Amore.

Post-coitus, Ollie tells Rochev he needs to leave and she’s kind of like, “Yeah, cool.” Smoak sees Rochev walking out of the room and seems really hurt about it. It’s been established that Smoak has a crush on Ollie, but that’s all. He’s widely regarded as a playboy. Why would she be so upset? It’s kinda forced.

S.S. Flashback again. Sara lets Ollie out of his cell and takes him to a radio room. Ollie calls Shado and she answers. As soon as she does, Sara grabs the radio away from him. Ivo and the pirate captain come in to say this was all a trick to get Ollie to prove Shado and Slade are alive. Wah-wah.

Present-day Dig and Deadshot make their way out of the prison while Ollie, Smoak and Knyazev wait outside in guard uniforms. Deadshot leads Dig to the cell where Harbinger is being held and Dig opens it. He releases her. Meanwhile, one of the guards is trying on Dig’s jacket. It explodes. Dig, Deadshot and Harbinger rush out of there, but not before Deadshot can grab a gun.

Everyone makes it outside; Ollie’s there to meet them too. A short gunfight/fistfight ensues, but they all get out. Once they’re clear, Dig tells Knyazev to stop the truck and yells at Deadshot to get out. He threatens to kill him, but can’t.

As Deadshot is leaving, he tells Dig that Dig’s brother Andy’s death wasn’t an accident. He was hired to kill him by H.I.V.E., or the Heirarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination. Deathstroke and Talia al-Ghul have both been members in the comics, so it might tie back into the main League of Assassins/Flashback Island stories in a neat way (though I can imagine a lot of people thinking Deadshot said “Ive” and thinking it’s Ivo, because he can’t talk so good).

Team Arrow, Harbinger and Rochev return to Starling City’s airport. Rochev doesn’t seem at all curious about the extra passenger that came back with Dig, nor does she care to talk to Ollie about their one-night stand. If it ain’t meetings, she ain’t having it!

Thea goes to see Moira, and Roy’s there, too. Moira says the attorney going to see Thea was a mistake and that she should stay together with Roy. Two things: 1. This was the thinnest c-plot you could ever imagine. 2. Why would Moira ever want to leave prison? She’s a much better person when she’s there, and she seems to know it.

Dig and Harbinger celebrate their freedom with some lovin’ and pillow talk about Dig’s brother’s killer. Harbinger leaves for the bathroom and Dig decides to check out Bing for any info about H.I.V.E.

Arrow

“Take the Bing challenge! We bet you’ll find out more about the shadowy, super-secret evil organization that killed your brother than with Google!” That picture is almost as funny to me as Thea’s amazing text from a few weeks ago.

Queen Consolidated. Smoak’s still feeling weird about Ollie knocking boots with Rochev. Ollie says he can’t get attached to someone he could really care about (unspoken: so I sleep with my kinda icy business partner).

S.S. Flashback. The pirate captain’s about to kill Ollie. Sara stops him and says Ollie could be useful for finding the submarine. Ivo tells Ollie he’s going back to the island, and that Sara spilled his real name to them. Wasn’t that kind of implied with the double-cross? Not too great of a closer, show.

Final thoughts

This week’s episode didn’t quite live up to the potential of last week’s, but it was still pretty good. I like David Ramsey and Dig, so an episode with a lot of focus on him is good. Summer Glau got her first opportunity to be human. The meta-plot is kind of tying together, or so it seems.

Of course, this episode was goofy as hell, too. This version of Deadshot just doesn’t fit anymore. Arrow has basically thrown out its whole first season playbook, and that’s great, but it makes the times they bring back last year’s stuff stick out that much more. And this is still a show on The CW, so there was a lot of factories in Vancouver doubling as Moscow in this and weird CGI breath. It’s sort of half endearing and half obnoxious.

And that Bing thing. That had to be an intentional joke, right?

 

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