It was Diggle's turn to have an episode focused on him this week, after what seemed like a long stretch of episodes where he operated in just a supporting capacity. Sure, that's his job, and his function in Oliver's work, but between his ongoing search for answers regarding his brother's death and his competency in the field when it comes to duking it out with the bad guys, I like it when Diggle's a little more active, as opposed to someone whose role is to say "Hey, Oliver, you're acting like a jerk." Not that I don't enjoy it when he does that, too, but I like to be more fully reminded about Diggle's life outside of Oliver's goals.
"Keep Your Enemies Closer" was just chock full of stuff for Diggle to do, which made it an entertaining-enough episode. It also achieved some more world-expansion for the show, including the introduction of Amanda "The Wall" Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) of A.R.G.U.S.—though in the Green Lantern/New 52 relaunch incarnation, The Wall is more like The Twig—and shifted the search for Andy Diggle's murderer away from Deadshot and onto a new-to-the-series organization called H.I.V.E.
I've always appreciated Diggle for being incredibly sensible; he certainly provided a conscience for Oliver at a time when Oliver very desperately needed one. But that characteristic was toned down when it came to tracking down Deadshot and getting answers about Andy's death. Of course, it wasn't too toned down: His drive to find the truth about Andy's death and get revenge—not justice, importantly—aligned him with Oliver in Season 1, but still caused tension when Deadshot was less of a priority than Oliver's list.
Deadshot never really went away, regardless of where he ranked as a priority for Team Arrow. Even as we've waited for him to make a physical appearance on the show once again, Deadshot's been haunting Diggle, holding him back from being happy. Diggle's obsession with him drove him away from Carly, and then Lyla—who turned out to be Diggle's ex-wife—ended up in a Russian prison because she had tracked Deadshot down on Diggle's behalf. Diggle couldn't afford to lose one more person he cared about to this man, emotionally or physically.
It's what kept Diggle from killing Deadshot when he had the opportunity to do so. All last season, he worried about Oliver chipping away at his own soul in his relentless pursuit of crossing names of the list and killing who knows how many people in the process. With all the losses Diggle's already suffered, killing Deadshot may've been the last hit his soul could've taken. I liked that Oliver didn't need to remind Diggle of this, and that "Keep Your Enemies Closer" allowed Diggle to make this decision without an outside influence. It might've made for some nice character symmetry, but it felt more consistent for the character, in addition offering some additional development.
Of course, letting Deadshot go and giving up the war are two different things. Had Deadshot not dropped the tidbit about H.I.V.E., I like to think that Diggle would have found himself at peace with Andy's death, and moved on with his life. With this new information, there's Diggle has a new target. If you think about how Diggle described the end of his and Lyla's marriage—"couldn't figure out a way to stay married without a war to fight"—he found Lyla willing to fight this battle with him, and this not only provided a justification for their probably re-kindled relationship, but also for Diggle to extend his crusade by beginning to research H.I.V.E., albeit through Bing instead of by asking Felicity to do her computer wizard thing.
If you're an Oliver/Felicity 'shipper or a Diggle/Felicity 'shipper, this episode was rough for you. Not only did Diggle and Lyla have themselves some sexytimes—yay for Diggle getting some sexy times!—but Oliver and Isabel hooked up after bonding in the hotel bar and downing vodka, as you do. I'm willing to roll with the "Felicity has a crush on Oliver" thing due largely to the strength of Emily Bett Rickards' performance in hitting those hurt and occasionally passive-aggressive notes and Stephen Amell's nice conveyance regret/guilt, even though it felt slightly out of left field, narratively. Sure, Felicity has made inadvertently suggestive remarks about Oliver's appearance, but if you were socially awkward and didn't have much of a filter, you'd do the same thing. He is dreamy, after all. That it translated into something more than just physical attraction, however, felt very new, and might've just been stirred up by Oliver sleeping with Isabel.
However, if I were Felicity, I'd be questioning my choices in men just a smidge. I mean, if Oliver's willing to sleep with Isabel because he doesn't care about her, and thus doesn't care if she gets hurt somehow, well, there's a compartmentalization of empathy there that might be worth addressing in couples' counseling, should things progress to that point. What happens if he stops caring about you, Felicity? Yeah. Guy's got issues.
Speaking of couples' counseling, Thea and Roy broke up! And then got back together! And I didn't really care because this plot was very dumb. I get Loring's concern over the optics of Thea dating a felon, but it's as if everyone forgot that Thea crashed a car during her birthday while high on Vertigo and even went to court over it. That doesn't say much about Moira as a parent at the time, and it certainly isn't any less damaging than Thea dating Roy now.
Of course, Thea's gotten significantly better, and she's managing Verdant all by herself, but that's without Moira's positive mothering since, well, Moira's in prison. Thank goodness Moira was the voice of reason who told those two crazy kids to ignore her attorney and just be a couple. And all was right in the world of episode-padding subplots once again! Hey, at least it wasn't Laurel hanging out in her apartment, drinking wine and downing pills.
In the flashbacks, we learned a fair bit. Ivo's after a supersoldier serum that the Japanese developed in World War II, and thinks the supply is located somewhere on the island, probably in that grave site that Oliver, Slade, and Shado found. My mind immediately went to Blood's syringe full of green liquid from a few episodes ago, which the Mayor had injected into his body, but maybe that's just what the show wanted me to think!
We also found out that Shado and Slade survived the bombings, so good news on that front! The bad news is that half of Slade's handsome mug is burned and not-so-handsome anymore. With Slade in less-than-good shape, Shado's going to be left to her own devices to defend the two of them from Ivo and his team of pirates, unless Oliver is somehow able to exploit the tension between Ivo, Sara, and the captain. And if Sara stops being a double agent long enough for that to happen, too.
– H.I.V.E. is a pretty run-of-the-mill supervillain organization in the comics, like the Secret Society or the Legion of Doom. It used to stand for Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination (sinister!) but was changed to Holistic Integration for Viral Equality (not all that sinister) in the New 52 relaunch. If you watched the animated series Teen Titans, though, I imagine you're probably stroking your chin and thinking, "Hmm..." If you want to know more, you could just give into the product integration and Bing it!
– I won't harp on the physical appearance of Amanda Waller, as it's been done to death elsewhere. So long as Waller's still being an untouchable and ruthless badass who doesn't take crap from anyone—and "anyone" has included Batman in the past—I'll be happy. I did appreciate Arrow keeping her codename as Mockingbird, and, yes, I'm staying mum on the whole Task Force X thing. I expect it'll return to the show at some point, especially since Waller knows about how Diggle and Oliver spend their nights. Which means she's been reading my fan-fiction, right?
– Since he had more than just a cameo this week, it's time for Anatoli Knyazev's comic book tie-in mention! In the comics, he's the unfortunately named assassin KGBeast. It was the late 1980s! What'd you expect? I'm not really all that familiar with Knyazev, so I'll leave it for someone else to compare/contrast in the comments; I do think that David Nykl was having a great deal of fun playing your standard Russian mobster, though.
– "It's been a while since I've arrested you. I've forgotten how good it feels."
– "If Oliver vouches for you, you're my second-favorite American!"
– "[Long spiel in Russian.]" "What'd you say?" "'Please.'"
– "Do I strike you as someone who needs to cuddle?"
– The "no kill" rule does not extend to Russian prison guards who get themselves blown up by a lapel pin. Remember: What happens in Russia stays in Russia, including the body count!
What'd you think of "Keep Your Enemies Closer"?