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     This week’s episode of Arrow, “Keep Your Enemies Closer,” was written by Ben Sokolowski and Beth Schwartz and was directed by Guy Bee. This is the second episode Sokolowski and Schwartz this season and the first for Bee this season. As we’ve simply come to expect the episode was beautifully shot with great fight scenes and all the reaction shots that we needed to see in this episode. I think that’s Bee’s strongest asset as a director – I never feel like I’ve missed a second of both the verbal and non-verbal action.

    We’ve waited a long time for a Diggle-centric episode, and David Ramsey did not disappoint. The episode also sets up some long term story lines. Given the careful story telling we’ve come to expect from the show, I’m really excited to see where we’re going. We start the episode with a flashback to last season when Oliver first had to go to the Russians for help. We see that his ability to call on them back then was in saving Anatoli’s (David Nykl) life. And in this episode, we find out that that link goes all the way back to the Island.

    First, a word about the storylines that are going to spread out from this episode – at least according to the breadcrumbs I’ve gathered. Diggle is captured and taken to Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) who is with A.R.G.U.S., who we already know Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) works for. But we learn in this episode, that A.R.G.U.S. is well aware of what Diggle and Oliver (Stephen Amell) are doing at night. Waller comes to Diggle when her superiors are willing to write off Lyla. A.R.G.U.S. in the comics is the US Government agency that supports the Justice League, so this is really one more step toward seeing the Justice League start to show up on the show – and hopefully another link to the projected movie.

    One of the other clues that gets dropped in the episode is Diggle learning that H.I.V.E. ordered the death of Diggle’s brother. We don't see Diggle tell the team about this, but I'm hoping that happened off camera. Again, turning to the comics, H.I.V.E. was a mysterious organization of high level assassins that Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) was also associated with. We see that Slade and Shado (Celina Jade) are still alive on the Island, but Slade is grievously burnt. It seems like the perfect reason for him to assume the mask – especially since the side of his face that is burnt is the side of the mask that is black. According to the comics, Slade volunteers to try a new serum that will turn him into a super-soldier. We learn in flashbacks that Professor Ivo (Dylan Neal) is looking for a serum that the Japanese had developed during WWII that would turn their soldiers into super soldiers. So, I’m anticipating that somehow or another Slade is going to end up taking this serum – maybe to relieve the excruciating pain he’s in or as an attempt to heal him?

    Turning to the episode itself, it was great to watch Oliver have Diggle’s back. I'm really hoping that Diggle isn't going to go off on his own now to track down H.I.V.E. We learn that Diggle was actually married to Lyla, and it looks like she may be back as a love interest for him. I really like Anderson, so I’m happy to have more of her going forward – she also provides a great contact for the team with A.R.G.U.S. The prisoner that Diggle is paired with in jail was played by Michael Kopsa – who also guest starred on Supernatural this week – and who played Captain Windmark on Fringe, if you were thinking he looked familiar.

    Naturally, the extraction doesn’t go as planned, and Diggle ends up having to rescue Deadshot (Michael Rowe) too. I have to say I haven’t been that impressed by Rowe, so I’ll be happy when Diggle can finally kill him. Even if someone else ordered the hit on his brother, Deadshot is still the one who killed him. Of course, this season is about Oliver moving away from revenge as a motivating force, so it may be that Diggle will move away from it too – but Deadshot is still a gun for hire and that in itself should make him a target to be stopped.

    In flashbacks, we see that Sara (Caity Lotz) is in fact a trusted member of Ivo’s team. The Captain (Jimmy Jean-Louis) actually implies that she’s actually calling the shot, not Ivo. I couldn’t tell if she really does still have feelings for Oliver or if she was playing him the whole time – certainly Lotz is doing a great job keeping me guessing. She does save Oliver’s life at the end though even while it’s clear she’s told Ivo that he’s actually Oliver Queen. We also see that Shado and Slade may be growing closer as she cares for him, so I wonder if that will create a rift between Slade and Oliver, building on the tension we’ve already seen with Slade warning Oliver not to get romantically involved with Shado.

    It was nice to see Oliver try to protect Roy (Colton Haynes). And it was really interesting to see Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) give Roy a get-out-of-jail-free card because he’s working with Arrow. I thought the plot of having Thea (Willa Holland) break up with Roy on the say so of Moira’s lawyer (Teryl Rothery) was pretty pointless. Why wouldn’t she just tell him what the lawyer had said and asked to take a break or be more careful? We do get to see Moira bring them back together and put her stamp of approval on the relationship, though.

    In other romantic news, we see a triangle potentially forming between Oliver, Isabel (Summer Glau) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). It was great to finally get to see Glau peel back some of the layers on Isabel. We learn that she actually identifies closely with Oliver as intelligent, driven, and lonely and that she is an astute judge of character. I loved Glau’s delivery of “Do I look like someone who needs to cuddle?” Isabel seems to indicate that she’s fine with having a one night stand, but why then does she rub it in Felicity’s face as she leaves Oliver’s hotel room. And the “I’ll see you in the office tomorrow” was delivered in a very coy way, so I’m not sure it really meant nothing to her. Juxtaposed as it is with Sara’s betrayal of Oliver in the past, I have to wonder if Isabel doesn’t also have a hidden agenda. We learn that she’s an orphan from Russia which could be important moving forward – after all, it’s interesting that she tags along with them to Russia. In the comics, Rochev is inspired as a child by Robert Queen and dedicates herself to becoming an equally talented business person. She comes to the rescue of Queen Industries to honor him – so this may be the real answer to Oliver’s question about why she’s so interested in saving his family’s company. In the comics, she also considers herself the true love of Robert Queen, so I wonder if she’s also going to be a problem for Moira (Susanna Thompson). She was obviously jealous of Felicity, commenting on him taking her off for a tryst in Tahiti for instance and commenting on his promoting Felicity because of their “relationship.”

    I can’t say enough about the amazing work Rickards does in this episode. She brings so much non-verbal language to the part. I loved her little “claws out” to describe Oliver and Isabel’s conversation at the beginning of the episode. It’s great to see how far Felicity has come – she’s not happy about being sidelined in Russia. She obviously doesn’t like Isabel any more than Isabel likes her, and I have to wonder if that is going to be a real problem for Felicity going forward at work. The look on Felicity’s face when Isabel comes out of Oliver’s room is heartbreaking – and only gets worse as she tries to put a brave spin on it. I loved that she couldn’t just let it go and points out to Oliver just what a bad idea it was – which it was! This woman just tried to take his family’s company away from them. The final scene between Oliver and Felicity is perhaps my favorite of the entire episode. Both Amell and Rickards knock it out of the park.

    Oliver is completely clueless when it comes to women! Telling Felicity that Isabel didn’t mean anything really doesn’t help. The look on Felicity’s face I think finally drove home for Oliver how deeply her feelings for him actually run. I think he is just beginning to realize that he just may have feelings for her too. He tells Felicity that it’s his life preventing him from really being with someone he could care about. Felicity then gathers herself and simply tells him that he deserves better. Rickards so clearly adds an unspoken ‘even if it’s not me.’ I think that Felicity still feels that Oliver is out of her league and that she would never have a chance with him. Isabel clearly sees Felicity as a rival, however – proving yet again, that she is an astute judge of character. I wouldn’t wonder if she didn’t play off of Felicity’s insecurities going forward.

    What did you think of the episode? Are you excited about the new elements they’re introducing? Do you think Oliver can trust Sara in the past or Isabel in the present? Are you pulling for Felicity? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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