Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Arrow 6x02 Review: “Tribute” (Sisterhood of the Traveling Green Arrow Suit) [Contributor: Jenn]

Original Airdate: October 19, 2017

I’m not a parent.

I don’t plan to be one anytime soon, but from what I hear, everything changes once you hold a newborn baby — your baby — in your arms for the very first time. You want to give them the world, your priorities shift immediately, and your thinking is altered forever. Oliver Queen never really experienced that particular part of parenthood. He was flash-forwarded in time when his son was older, had already established a bond and relationship with his mother. William didn’t see him as a provider or protector or even as dad. He was just the guy who knocked up Samantha (my word, not William’s).

At the end of last week’s episode, we saw William take a small step toward Oliver. It’s understandable that the kid is hesitant to bond with someone he doesn’t know, but this week we explored an even deeper level of hesitancy with Oliver and William — the young boy is fearful that Oliver won’t come home one day. And then he’ll be alone.

So Oliver spends this episode figuring out, in the midst of the leaked photo of him as Green Arrow, how to be a father, a mayor, and a superhero at the same time. Meanwhile, Diggle and Dinah basically hash out the former’s physical injuries and issues when he fails to protect her in the field. And then Curtis and Felicity spend most of the episode being pretty adorable and productive. Let’s dive in, shall we?


I really like that Arrow had Oliver talk to Rene this week about fatherhood. Last week, we got to see conversations between Quentin and Oliver, and I have no doubt there will be more of those in the future as well. But as I pointed out in my review of the premiere, there is quite the “dad club” already among Team Arrow and the writers making the decision to switch up pairings is actually quite refreshing. I’m not generally the biggest fan of Rene, but this season so far, the show has been utilizing him really well — he’s no longer that irritatingly rebellious-for-the-sake-of-rebellion team member; he’s genuinely being helpful and productive.  Moreover, he’s giving Oliver some good parenting advice, and a shoulder to lean on. And if there’s one thing Oliver needs these days, it’s a shoulder to lean on.

Oliver is navigating parenthood in the best way he possibly can. But he’s also serving as the Green Arrow. And he’s the mayor of Star(ling) City. It’s not easy juggling three very different responsibilities. At best, it’s a recipe for disaster. At worst, it can cause irreparable damage. As most things do, Oliver’s face being outed as that of Green Arrow’s has consequences attached. The FBI begins an investigation into the claims that he’s a law-breaking criminal/vigilante, and this time it doesn’t seem like they’re willing to turn a blind eye. Even when Oliver seemingly is absolved of the conviction (thanks to Curtis and Felicity’s clever skill set) and it’s deemed to be a doctored photo, the FBI is relentless. Oliver will always have someone looking over his shoulder — and that’s in addition to the numerous people who want to kill him.

Furthermore, “Tribute” basically asserts that in order for Oliver to truly get this parenting thing down, he needs to spend time with William. He needs to be present and not phone in their relationship. And he needs practice. Oliver is so used to lying that he feels guilty when he tells William he’ll always come home. He confesses this to Rene — he can’t promise that to his son. He doesn’t know whether or not some bad guy will kill Green Arrow. Rene reminds him that all parents lie to their kids to some degree if it’s for their wellbeing. It’s essentially Parenting 101 — your kid thinks the world of you and you want to paint the best picture of the world as possible. You have to believe you’ll always come home to your child, so you tell them you will.

But this (coupled with the fact that William is in a fight earlier in the episode and Oliver essentially tells him how to fight back) still unsettles Oliver enough to call up Dig and ask him for a favor. Oliver can’t be Green Arrow anymore. He has to be a father, and in order to be a good one, he needs to step out of the shadows. A lot of people have pointed out the irony in the fact that Dig is also a father and so Oliver passing the torch on isn’t really solving a problem — it’s like passing the problem to someone else.

I didn’t really see it that way though. I saw it as a sign of respect. Dig has been in the field for a very long time. He’s fought day in and day out, because he’s a soldier and that’s what he does. He’s made peace with the risks and responsibilities that come with parenting. Dig met his child (let’s not talk about what Barry messed up) on the very first day. Dig has had a bond with his child since the very beginning. But Oliver hasn’t. Oliver never had a moment where he held his son as a newborn and his world changed forever. Dig did. Does that make it easier for Dig to leave Lyla and his kid at home while he goes off dodging bullets from bad guys? No. But it’s a part of who Diggle is, at his core. The identity of “father” is so intensely tied to “soldier” and “husband” and “hero” that he doesn’t know how to untangle them all — and he shouldn’t.

If Dig’s life and identity is a ball of yarn, Oliver’s is a jigsaw puzzle. He’s staring at the different pieces right now — “father” and “mayor” and “masked hero” — and he’s unsure of how they can even all fit together. So he’s taking a step back, and by examining each piece of the puzzle, he’ll be able to get a clearer picture of who he is and can be.

But let’s talk about Dig because he’s got some problems that are only going to be compounded in the near future.


You’d think, after all of the times Oliver lied or hid and Dig bellowed at him, that Dig would have confessed the truth to Oliver before accepting the gig as the new Green Arrow. But no. That wouldn’t make for frustrating television, would it? We follow Dig’s story closer in the episode when he fails to protect Dinah during a fight sequence. She almost dies this time, and it pisses her off (rightfully so). Everyone is supposed to have each others’ backs, but if she can’t trust that Dig will protect her and the team, he’s no good to them all and needs to take himself out of the field. Dig is convinced he can just power through his pain and trauma, and it doesn’t work. He keeps freezing whenever it comes time to shoot his gun, but he won’t tell Dinah why.

She finally finds out, along with the audience, that Dig has nerve damage from the blast on Lian Yu. Unfortunately, it’s degenerative nerve damage. Dig is the kind of guy who needs to be seen as dependable and loyal and strong. He wants people to view him as their protector and the fact that he’s not is killing him. But the fact that he is NOT will end up killing someone on Team Arrow. Dinah warns him repeatedly that he needs to get out of the field and, when she learns the truth of what’s happening, that Dig needs to tell Oliver the status of his medical condition.

Instead, Dig agrees to fill Oliver’s shoes as Green Arrow and lead the team into battle each night. It’s a terrible idea that could go sideways in about a million different ways. It’s the kind of thing that Oliver would do, not that Dig would do. But like I said above, Dig doesn’t quite know how to not be the strong one. He feels like he owes Oliver this, in some way, and so he decides to don a suit and carry around a bow and arrow in order to help his friend and make the city a better and safer place for them to raise their children.

“Tribute” was a good episode (it’s difficult as I’m writing this to remember feeling strongly about it either way, now that it’s been a week since I’ve seen it), and I think that it sets up a potentially interesting conflict with Dig being the center of our story now. Still, I can see Arrow using this particular storyline as a way to justify everyone acting stupidly.

It seems pretty on-par for what I know to be true of the show.

And now, bonus points:
  • ANATOLY RETURNED. In spite of his questionable morals and the fractured relationship that he now has with Oliver, Anatoly makes a valid point in the episode: he’s still not a bad guy. He would never hurt William, and Oliver (deep down) knows that. However, Anatoly warns that there are true bad guys out there who wouldn’t think twice about hurting his child or killing him. That’s who Oliver needs to really be concerned with. And I think by the end of the conversation, Oliver is.
  • There was a very meta scene in the episode where the characters discuss how they actually pay their bills. THANKS, SHOW.
  • “I thought we all had, like, secret jobs.”
  • I find it hilariously off-putting when there’s daylight in Star(ling) City.
  • “I don’t think you understand how this whole rescue thing works.” I missed Anatoly. True story.
  • William has a Flash backpack and I think that’s just great.
What did you all think of “Tribute”? Sound off in the comments below!


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