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Arrow – Brotherhood Review

"A perfectly fine episode"

“Brotherhood” was a perfectly fine episode of Arrow. It hit all the right beats, gave us a bit more about how Damien Darhk fits into the picture (beyond his role as this season’s big bad), brought Merlyn back to town (FINALLY), and gave David Ramsey a chance to stretch is acting abilities (and prove he’s a capable actor when he’s actually given something to do). But there was one major problem with the episode: I just don’t care about Diggle’s brother.

Andy’s backstory, particularly as it related to Deadshot, was always an interesting part of the show. It gave Diggle a tragic backstory and allowed us to better understand his personal code of conduct. Unfortunately, the show has done such an awful job developing the character of Diggle over the past four years that dredging up Andy in an attempt to give Diggle a storyline that stretches beyond being a founding member of Team Arrow just doesn’t work. We’ve had moments throughout the seasons where Diggle suddenly becomes invested in finding out more information about Andy. But each time, the story has been dropped at the end of the hour with no real reason to pick it up again. The revelation that Deadshot killed Andy and the revelation that he was involved in nefarious things were a really cool plot points. The revelation that Andy is actually alive and working in HIVE? Yeah, not so cool.

The reason Andy’s resurrection doesn’t work is twofold. First, we know almost nothing about Andy, save what Diggle has told us. We know he has a family. We know he wasn’t as noble as Diggle thought he was (although, I’m sure the show will turn that around in the end). But he’s a character we only care about because Diggle cares about him. If we had been given more Diggle character development over the years, perhaps this would resonate more. I mean, if Felicity’s presumed dead brother appeared as a soldier for HIVE, I would certainly be more invested because I care about Felicity and her feelings. So, the writers really let Diggle (and, by extension, Ramsey) down by springing this storyline on the character after ignoring him for so long.

Arrow -- "Brotherhood" -- Image AR407B_172b.jpg -- Pictured: David Ramsey as John Diggle and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “Brotherhood” —  Pictured: David Ramsey as John Diggle and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance — Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

But the major reason this story doesn’t work: yet another person is back from the dead. That makes three people brought back in the past ten episodes (four, if you seriously thought Ray was actually dead in the finale and not simply tiny). I’m sure the show will explain that Andy was never dead, that his death was simply faked (although, what that says about Deadshot could be interesting), but what a yawn. As I wrote a few weeks ago in my Walking Dead review, if a show begins to treat death as something that isn’t permanent, it cheapens the show. People die, and most people don’t get heroic deaths. On Arrow, death was something that was permanent and mattered, up until last season. Remember how crushing it was to see Tommy die in the first season, and Moira in the second? Those were strong, emotional story points that resonated. Now, death is merely an inconvenience on Arrow. And that is extremely troubling.

Sure, the Lazarus Pit is out of commission (thank goodness). Perhaps Andy was never actually dead in the first place. And yes, someone is going to die before the season is over, as we saw in the flash forward. But I’m getting really tired of the show using a get of the grave free card whenever it suits the story. I’m happy Thea and Sara are still with us, but I would have adjusted just fine had both actually died and stayed dead. I would have been fine with Diggle finding out his brother was a monster rather than a hero even if it meant he never got to confront Andy about it. Changing the rules is something a show does when it is having trouble finding organic storylines. Yes, in superhero comics dead is never really dead. But if Arrow wants to be taken seriously as a good show, it needs to establish the rules of its universe and stick with them.

Arrow -- "Brotherhood" -- Image AR407B_120b.jpg -- Pictured: Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “Brotherhood” — Image AR407B_120b.jpg — Pictured: Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen — Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Final Thoughts:

— Felicity had a pretty solid point about Oliver not pretending to be Darhk’s pawn. You know, if Oliver listened to the women in his life, he might actually clean up the city without putting everyone he knows in grave danger.

— What do we want to bet that Thea’s plan to use Darhk’s power to slake her bloodlust is what gets someone killed?

— Anyone else a bit bummed out that we won’t get to see Thea play vigilante, killing the really awful citizens of Star City?

— I have to say, I really like Ray when he’s not manic. This calm, subdued guy was interesting to watch. Plus, he’s pretty cool when he has the suit under control.

Rating
7.0
Pros
  • Good work from David Ramsay
  • Ray was fun
Cons
  • Andy story is pointless, since we don't care enough about him
  • Death apparently means nothing now

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Comments

  • Irish Jim

    I agree that the story line with Diggle’s brother is a problem. I think Deadshot thought he killed Andy. It would have been fine for Diggle to have a personal motive to stop Darhk.
    I am still not happy with Darhk as a villain. I don’t know what his power is (I assume it is a power and not just a trick) or how he got it.
    I think it is a big mistake for Oliver to push the Star Bay project after Darhk threatened him over it. He didn’t have to go into Darhk’s inner circle, but he also didn’t have to openly challenge him over it. They should be trying to find out what is it about the project that Darhk does want done and then deal with that.
    Now Darhk might try to kill Oliver as Oliver. He is an easier target as a political candidate than as Green Arrow. Best case scenario some one else runs for mayor and Oliver doesn’t have to become Mayor.
    The political consultant is against the bay project, so my guess is that he works for Darhk.

    Also, how hard is it to figure out he is the Arrow?
    I like Ray as the character he is playing right now, although I don’t like that his suit is a rip off of Ironman and nothing like the Silver age Atom. If you want to rip off Ironman, then just do it and don’t change a 50 year old character to fit your show.

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About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeaniusIsMe on Twitter.

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