Welcome back to Bleeding Cool‘s continuing look at the seventh season of the CW‘s Arrow. This week’s episode took a different, non-linear path to solve a compelling mystery. Two subway security guards (the transportation system, not the sandwich shop) are found dead. Team Arrow was on the scene at the time they were killed. Dinah and Officer Pollard call the various members of the team in for questioning, but what’s the real story about what happened down in the subway station?
In other words, whose “Confessions” can truly be believed?
Arrow s07e20 “Confessions”: ARSENAL RETURNS TO HELP THE TEAM — When they learn of an upcoming attack on the city, Team Arrow calls Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) to help them stop the Ninth Circle. However, things go awry and there is massive collateral damage. As Captain of the SCPD, Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) investigates what happened in an episode that takes on a true crime narrative and tone. Tara Miele directed the episode written by Onalee Hunter Hughes & Emilio Ortega Aldrich.
First, let’s talk about the storytelling device. Getting the different testimonies was an interesting way to tell the story. It set up the idea of an unreliable narrator – or narrators – and saw that through until the big reveal about who killed the guards. My only complaint is that the writers didn’t sell out to the idea. What I mean is that for most of the scenes, what we saw onscreen directly mirrored what the characters were saying.
Had that remained constant, then the reveal might have been more … what? “Shocking” isn’t the right word. “Intriguing,” maybe? If we had been shown a version of “this is what happened” that completely matched the narration, then gotten the reveal, it feels like that reveal scene would have been more impactful. Instead, it’s like the writers didn’t trust that the audience would actually get it. So instead of sticking with the stated version of events throughout, we have a scene thrown in here and there to show us that the narrator speaking at the time is lying.
The most egregious example is Felicity stating that she and Roy didn’t know there were two guards at the subway station while showing us that they were monitoring the movement of the two security guards. The point of showing us that Felicity is lying is to tip us to the fact that we shouldn’t accept what’s being said as the truth – but why?
We already have the audience proxy in Officer Pollard who is both speaking for us and at the same time telling us that these stories don’t add up. Why show us that there is lying involved? All that does is take away from the eventual reveal of what happened. We’ve been here for almost seven full seasons. Trust that your audience will follow along with you.
Mechanics of storytelling aside, the plot did a few things for us. First, it presented the way that Dinah and the vigilantes fall from grace. By Emiko swiping the security footage, she has the proof that Dinah and Team Arrow are involved in both the murder of the security guards and the cover up. This likely leads to Dinah going underground in the future and Roy leaving Star City.
Next, it established for Oliver and Rene – the two characters who were hoping to pull Emiko back from the dark side – that she is irredeemable. Emiko tells Rene that she is in charge of the 9th Circle and she tells Oliver that she had a chance to warn Robert that the Queen’s Gambit was rigged to explode but didn’t. Those two revelations allow our heroes to take the kid gloves off during the final three episodes of the season.
Finally, it brings a previously-Mirakurued, currently Lazarus Pit bloodlusted Roy back to the show for awhile. Having Roy back and revealing that he was the killer (don’t get mad at me, it says *spoiler* right in the headline) was the best set of twists in the episode.
Overall, a creative way to approach what was essentially a transitional episode even if the writers hedged a little because they didn’t fully trust us to follow along from home.
Arrow airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. CT on The CW. Next week’s episode deals directly with the fallout from the closing events of this week’s episode. Will it feature the future timeline as well, or are we just pretending that whole thing didn’t happen? ‘Cause I’d be on board with that…
Arrow season 7, episode 21 “Living Proof”: OLIVER IS PUT TO THE TEST — Oliver (Stephen Amell) finds himself in a precarious position. SCPD shows up with a warrant for Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). Gordon Verheul directed the episode written by Oscar Balderrama & Sarah Tarkoff.
CW’s Arrow stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, David Ramsey as John Diggle/Spartan, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt/Mr. Terrific, Katie Cassidy as Laurel/Black Siren, Rick Gonzalez as Rene Ramirez/Wild Dog, Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary, Colton Haynes as Roy Harper, and Kirk Acevedo as Ricardo Diaz. Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Beth Schwartz, and Sarah Schechter serve as executive producers.