It’s always a good idea to broaden the scope of an action adventure show. I mean, sure there’s lots of bad stuff to take care of in Starling City, but if you can get to Moscow without actually having to send a camera crew anywhere too far from Vancouver, then all the better. The sixth episode of Season Two of Arrow, “Keep Your Enemies Closer,” allowed the action to follow Diggle for awhile, but still had plenty to do with Oliver, and even some Roy stuff as well. Truth be told, this is an episode mostly about romantic relationships, which is very bizarre, really.
We begin with Roy Harper leaving his usual message for Arrow, by sticking the small throwing bolt in an electrical post. Felicity comes to tell Oliver about it while he’s having yet another yelling match with Queen Consolidated’s co-CEO Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau). Nothing gets solved, and Oliver hurries away after another fairly awkward excuse from Ms. Smoak.
Arrow finds Roy and tells him he should go home. It’s pretty adorable that Roy’s got the hood up on his red hoodie. He wants to be just like him! Arrow takes down whatever gang members were doing whatever gang-related stuff with the help of Diggle, who is Arrow’s eyes and ears. One perp gets away and Roy pounces on him and begins a-wailing just as the police arrive and arrest both of them. Diggle, meanwhile, gets tased and taken away by Strike Force X. Ooh, intriguing.
What do you know? Who should be in control of Strike Force X but Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), DC Comics’ go-to government administrator/scientist. She tells Diggle that one of her agents, his friend Leila Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson), has gone missing in Russia. Turns out she went there following a lead on Dig’s archenemy, Deadshot (Michael Rowe). She wants Diggle to go and get her back, mostly because if she sends her own crew, it could cause an international incident. Can’t have that!
At the police station, Quentin Lance is booking Roy, who explains that he was working for “the guy who cost you your shield.” Quentin immediately lets Roy go just as Thea comes in to yell at her boyfriend. She’s surprised that Lance admits it was a misunderstanding. Interesting. I like this new Lance a whole lot, especially after last week. He gets that the city might need people like the Arrow.
In the Arrowcave, Diggle tells Oliver and Felicity he’s going to Russia to save Leila, and the pair immediately announce they’re going with him. Diggle says he can’t ask Oliver to do that, and Oliver replies that he didn’t. That’s friendship. I’ve always liked the Oliver-Diggle relationship, and it’s nice to see Oliver reciprocating the back-getting that Diggle always provides.
Oliver is using the trip to Russia as an excuse to meet with the company’s overseas branches, which causes Isabel to want to tag along. Always the buzzkill, this woman.
And speaking of buzzkills, Moira’s lawyer comes to visit Thea at Verdant. She tells her that the news ran with Roy being arrested, even though he was released. She says that, for the sake of her mother’s case, Thea ought to break up with Roy. I don’t really see how that would work, Lawyer. But, then again, I’m no lawyer. And the hell of it? Thea actually DOES break up with Roy.
Diggle and Oliver meet with Ollie’s old friend Anatoli Knyazev (David Nykl), whom Oliver saved at some point (from the freighter). He tells them that Leila is being held in a Gulag with a name that means “Nightmare.” Sounds hopeful. The only way into this prison is to be imprisoned, but Anatoli has a friend who is a guard to help whoever goes in once they’re in.
Though Oliver wants to go, Diggle says he has to be the one, for two reasons: 1) if anything happens to Oliver, more people would be left in the lurch than if anything should happen to Diggle, and 2) Leila was Diggle’s wife, and apparently the woman he has always and will always love. Okay, could everyone please stop tinkering with Diggle’s backstory? I guess since he’s a brand new character, they can do whatever they want, but it seems like they keep adjusting things just for the sake of it. Anyway, not a big complaint.
On the inside, Diggle learns that “people like him” aren’t too welcomed in the prison. “Shocker,” says Diggle, which might be one of my favorite lines from him ever. Very quickly, Dig gets into a fight in the gulag’s mess hall and is dragged off to be put in the freezer, a thing they do with rowdy inmates. Unfortunately, Diggle’s in there with an old enemy – Deadshot. It seems Leila didn’t find a lead on the assassin; she found him.
Oliver heads to the hotel bar to wait and Isabel is there. They start drinking together and one could say they REALLY hit it off. She loosens up and talks about how she’s always felt like she has to be the best or she isn’t good enough and she also says she knows that Oliver is smarter and more driven than he appears. Then they go do it.
Diggle is let out of the cold by Anatoli’s guard friend and is escorted down the hall toward where Leila is being held. Suddenly, the guard is killed by Deadshot, who somehow got out. Now he’s the only one who knows where she is, and Diggle has to bury his hatred of the man who killed his brother to rescue her. Why won’t he just kill Deadshot when Leila’s free? Honor.
Oliver has to leave, and Isabel says she isn’t the kind to want to cuddle. Unfortunately, he answers the door to find Felicity there and, as if on awkward cue, Isabel slinks out. Felicity is jealous for sure. She at first says, “What happens in Russia stays in Russia,” but while they’re still in Russia, sitting in the armored car Oliver bought with Anatoli, she’s still pretty darned upset.
Finally, the plan springs into action. The coat Diggle was arrested in has a little bomb on it and a hole gets blown in the wall. As Diggle, Deadshot, and Leila escape, it seems like they won’t get far, until Oliver comes in and starts beating the shit out of some guys. They manage, all of them, to get to the armored car and escape.
Once they’re out of range, Diggle makes Deadshot get out of the car. Whether he’s going to shoot him or not is unknown, but Deadshot drops a bit of knowledge on Dig: that Andy Diggle WAS the target. All he knows about the employer is one word – “Hive.” Dig lets Deadshot walk on, to assassinate another day.
Back in Starling City, Thea goes to see Moira in prison and is surprised to find Roy there. Roy’s been summoned because Moira heard about the lawyer’s telling Thea to dump him. Mrs. Queen demands that they not break up, and that Thea’s gone through enough the past year that she shouldn’t have to go on alone. What a nice thing for Moira to do. Kind of an unnecessary plot thread, but I guess it did give the excuse for Moira to meet Roy. So, yay, I guess?
Diggle and Leila celebrate with a bit of bedroom time, and it seems like they’re back together. I half expected someone to break in and kill her right away, but that’s because I always expect the worst. Diggle then searches for “H.I.V.E.” on his Bing phone. Like anyone would do.
Felicity is still upset at Oliver and can’t understand why he’d want to sleep with Isabel. He says it just happened, and that, because of the kind of life he leads, he can’t be with someone he might care deeply for (HINT HINT HINT). Felicity replies that she thinks he just deserves someone better. Holy ramped-up sexual tension, Green Arrow.
ON THE FREIGHTER
Oliver’s still trying to deal with the fact that Sarah isn’t dead. Anthony Ivo comes in and questions Oliver about the island, and Oliver says that Ivo’s men killed his friends. He also uses the name “Tommy” to fool Ivo. Ivo says that the only reason he’s alive is to take them to what they want: the Japanese graves are home to WWII-era project called “Miracle,” in which they tried to create supersoldiers from early stem cell research. Ivo wants it.
Shado is busy tending to Slade’s bad facial burns. The two bond over the fact that neither would leave the other behind. She wraps her arms around him when he begins to shiver violently, because nothing warms up a big, burly guy faster than the spindly embrace of a small woman.
Oliver talks to Anatoli on the ship, and then Sarah comes in to free him. She takes him to radio Shado and Slade, who he confesses aren’t dead, and as soon as Shado responds, Sarah pulls the plug. Seems she’s been working for Ivo all along. The Captain almost kills Oliver, but Sarah stops him, saying he could still be useful. Ivo says Oliver will have to lead them to the graves once his friends are dead. And he knows he’s Oliver Queen. Dun dun and, if I may, dun.
There’s a ton of great stuff in this episode, and really good character moments. Probably my favorite thing about it, unfortunately, is that Laurel wasn’t in it. As great as this season’s been so far, I really dislike what’s going on with Laurel. She really feels like a squeaky, superfluous wheel. She seems to have no function. At any rate, we’ll probably get a lot more of her next week in “State vs. Queen,” an episode that begins Moira’s trial and sees the return of Count Vertigo (who I was positive was dead…not).