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When I first heard that Arrow‘s 150th episode would be a documentary-style hour, covering Oliver and the team’s transformation from vigilantes to heroes to now, according to Star City standards, outlaws, I was nervous. To be honest, the idea felt both too silly and self-important for Arrow, and I feared that it would be more outrageous and off-brand than a musical episode, which Stephen Amell has always promised would never happen on the series (For the record, I am almost always down for a good musical episode). And although my worst fears aren’t realized in “Emerald Archer,” as it remains a mostly grounded hour featuring Oliver and his allies facing off against a vigilante-hunting nemesis, it does still fail to reach the heights it could have. Ultimately, it’s a surface-level episode that offers many moments viewers want to see, including the return of the “real” John Diggle, but it never does the legwork to actually earn these scenes, which is why so many of them don’t emotionally connect with me in the way I wish they had.
The main victim of this superficial style of storytelling is John Diggle, who finally starts acting like the character we used to know in “Emerald Archer.” However, can we say that the true Diggle is back if he never actually admits his wrongs, if he never apologizes for how he turned his back on Felicity at the start of this season, how he is keeping Diaz’s presence in ARGUS a secret from Oliver while chastising his best friend about not telling him about Emiko sooner? What happens with Diggle in this week’s Arrow can’t really be considered character progression or redemption because we never actually witness any type of deep thought or hard work from him to better himself.
Instead, what we get from Dig...
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