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– by Mark Cook

Arrow is back from the mid-season break, and when we left off there were new factions forming.  There has been a split amongst Team Arrow which has left the old and new members divided, as well as a merging of five villains.  Will the good guys be able to fight on numerous fronts?  Read on to find out!

James and Company — Cayden James returns with his newly formed group in order to meet with Jerry Bertinelli (relative of The Huntress, which there was a nice nod to).  Oliver eventually tracks James and goes to take him down.  I was definitely a fan of seeing Oliver go out on his own again.  He eventually sees the new faction that James has created before he escapes.  I like that the show is going a new route with the villains, but the group seems like an odd mix.

James is obviously the mastermind, Black Siren is the…muscle? (does she ever not scowl?), Dragon we don’t really even know much about, Vigilante is…confused?  I thought that he went after criminals, yet he tells Oliver that “Vigilantes are criminals” (so he is now embracing being a criminal?).  Then there is Anatoly…well he is mad at Oliver for losing his reputation.  So yes, they all have something against Oliver, but their development is inconsistent and, at least at this point, somewhat forced.

The Original Team Arrow — Diggle is still somewhat out of commission, so Curtis returns to help him and encounters some awkwardness from Oliver. They are using the same technology used in the chip in Felicity’s spine to try and stop Diggle’s tremors.  While working with Diggle, interference comes through which brings them to realize that the team has been watched for months by Black Canary and Cayden James.

Diggle and Felicity feel that Oliver needs to even the odds against James and his team, but Oliver reminds them that they can’t go into the field with people they don’t trust.  Oliver forms a pact with Bertinelli in order to take down James.  It’s interesting that he would trust a Bertinelli over his former teammates.  Does he truly not trust them, or is pride stepping in?

In the typical warehouse battle, Green Arrow, Bertinelli and his men square off against James and his team, which ends up in a unanimous win for James.  The aftermath comes as Bertinelli is killed for disobeying James.  There are numerous possibilities for stories due to the number of characters, but that is also a concern I have.  There are a ton of characters being used at the current moment, and the show has had previous issues with balancing.

The New Team? — Rene was fired by Lance as he looks for Thea to join his political team.  Her incorporation into the show at this point is still confusing to me.  Why even have her be in a coma for the first half?  Was it to validate the blowing up of the island?  I’m sure she will have more of a role moving forward, but she doesn’t seem necessary.

Meanwhile, Vincent (Vigilante) came to meet with Dinah at the station, and they go on a date.  Their reconciliation does bring a new, complicated dynamic to the show as Dinah is definitely in the middle.  As Diggle and Felicity inform Curtis, Dinah, and Rene about James’ group, the animosity is still extremely present, as they all point fingers at each other and Dinah leaves not believing the news that Vincent is working with James.  As she meets with Vincent, she tries to confront him, but he knocks her out and escapes.

From there, Dinah, Curtis, and Rene decide to take matters into their own hands. Oliver tries to extend the olive branch to his former team members, and apologize for his wrongdoings, but they do not accept and decide to go their own way.  I have a feeling this will blow up in their faces.  Yes, Oliver broke their trust as they did with him.  There is no way they are more prepared to take on James and his team than Oliver and the original team.  I have a feeling that Oliver will not only be going after James, but will more than likely have to save his former teammates, or may one of them even meet their demise?

I think that this episode shows potential for the remainder of the season, but will they be able to handle all of the characters? What did you think of this week’s episode?  Was it a good return after a long break?  Do you think the second half of the season will take a positive swing?  Leave your thoughts in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!

Arrow returns next Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.

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