A new episode of Arrow titled “Tribute” airs tonight (October 19) at 9PM on The CW, and what works best about it is that the show seems combine its history and its talented ensemble into a story that becomes one of the series’ better installments.
Warning: Spoilers for the end of the Arrow season premiere “Fallout” are within.
For starters, yes, Oliver has been outed as a vigilante before, way back in Season 1, and “Tribute” does not ignore that piece of continuity, even having someone throwing shade toward Lance who is now his Deputy Mayor. But unlike that period back in Season 1, the reveal of Oliver Queen’s alter ego now affects many more people. There’s his son, William, of course. There are Felicity, John, and the other members of his team. There’s Thea, comatose in the hospital. And, as mayor, there are now the people of Star City. Oliver is well aware of this and so he has to be very, very careful.
Reporter Susan Williams apparently saw the results of last year’s GreenArrowTV Awards and doesn’t seem present, but there are still extra challenges: Compounding the problem is the FBI’s Samandra Watson, as played by GLOW’s Sydelle Noel. I like the character and the actress though I do kind of raise an eyebrow to the notion that the FBI wouldn’t already have some clue about Oliver’s alter ego. Is it safe to assume they don’t compare notes with ARGUS? Probably so. But in a shared universe where an unmasked Oliver Queen and a bunch of other superheroes met the President of the United States at the end of the “Invasion,” you’d think somebody would have written something down. In any event, I don’t really care much about the logistics because it makes for great drama and is interesting to see. I also really like Sydelle Noel as Watson, so I’m glad someone never shared those files.
“Tribute” gives us our first flat-out shoutout to Bruce Wayne in the Arrowverse, though there have been references on newspapers in The Flash and by Rip Hunter mentioning “dark knights” in the Legends of Tomorrow pilot. This was originally on the “Do Not Reveal” list when we got our screeners, but The CW released a preview clip that threw that surprise out the window. I admit I’m kind of bummed that this couldn’t be a surprise for the audience — and of course, it makes me wonder if The Batman is out there in this world, which is an extremely fun notion. (The Arrowverse also has an “Oracle” as referenced by Oliver back when Felicity got her code name “Overwatch.” Interestingly enough, it seems that Supergirl’s world also has a Batman somewhere.)
But most of all, what works best about “Tribute” is the ensemble. With a show like Arrow everyone is bound to have a favorite character, and I’m happy to say that every series regular appearing in the episode gets something to do and isn’t relegated to the background. Diggle’s physical situation continues to be explored with Dinah. Rene and Quentin are in City Hall. Felicity and Curtis have a fun story together. And – although he’s not a series regular (yet), the interaction between Jack Moore’s William and Stephen Amell’s Oliver brings out some particularly great work from Mr. Amell, who always especially seems to shine in scenes that involve family. (Thea and Black Siren aren’t in this week’s episode.)
Family of a different sort also seems to be a factor in the interaction between Oliver and the returning Anatoly, and the two are increasingly not on the same side as one another anymore. Nykl’s Anatoly is always a treat and it’s great to have him on more. Again, this is a situation where the show’s history and continuity informs the present with us being left with a reward; the story between Oliver and Anatoly could not have been told or handled so well back in Season 1.
Finally, Arrow leaves us with another cliffhanger at the end of this one. If they keep this up people won’t have any choice but to keep watching live on Thursday nights….
Arrow Season 6 is 2 for 2 as far as episodes I’ve enjoyed this season, and it’s absolutely worth checking out.