The conflict between the teams appears to have finally moved forward in a meaningful way.
Felicity and William making cookies and calling it a science lesson.
Curtis’s new T-Spheres.
The cast is in top form and does a great job selling the story despite some issues with said story.
There isn’t a lot of action but the action that does exist is well-done.
Curtis crosses a line that feels completely out of character and he doesn’t appear too bothered by it.
The conflict between the teams continues to feel forced.
The worst elements of the Black Siren/Quentin subplot form the backbone of the episode.
Having the teams at odds and fighting each other simply isn’t fun or compelling viewing. The sooner it’s over, the better.
With Black Siren in Quentin’s care, Arrow doubles down on all of the problems with that storyline while simultaneously hurting many of the main characters in the process
Arrow finally returned this past week after a two-week hiatus for the Olympics. “Collision Course” immediately opens with Oliver (Stephen Amell) being informed by Kimberly Hill (Tina Huang), the new police captain on Ricardo Diaz’s payroll, that Cayden James was murdered on the way to Iron Heights. Unknown to Oliver, Cayden James was murdered by Diaz. Before long, Team Arrow discovers that the $70 million that James extorted from Star City has gone missing from his bank accounts, which leads to the main conflict in the episode. Black Siren/Laurel-2 (Katie Cassidy) is identified as having stolen the money and causes both of the teams to escalate their conflict. Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) still wants to kill Laurel-2 whereas Oliver and his team want to prioritize retrieving the stolen money. Initially, Curtis (Echo Kellum) and Rene (Rick Gonzalez) want the same as Oliver and his team except they don’t want to let Black Siren escape.
Oliver and his team discover evidence that leads them to suspect that Dinah, Rene, and Curtis are holding Laurel-2 in their bunker. From there, everything goes completely off the rails, and not in a good way. Oliver, Diggle (David Ramsey), and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) break into the new team’s bunker and directly accuse them of hiding Black Siren. All of this leads to a major confrontation at Quentin’s (Paul Blackthorne) cabin between the two teams. This results in Laurel-2 escaping (again), Rene in critical condition, and Star City still without its $70 million.
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The bulk of “Collision Course” relies quite heavily on the divisions between the teams, Quentin’s desire to reconnect with his daughter-who-isn’t-his-daughter, and Dinah’s yearning for vengeance. How does all of this work? It’s rather mixed. At the center of it all is Black Siren, who somehow manages to make it to Corto Maltese, withdraw the $70 million Cayden James stole from Star City, stash it away somewhere, and make it back to Star City without anyone noticing. While that on its own might be straining believability, what simply isn’t believable at all is the continued subplot with Laurel-2 and Quentin.
Quentin has been reduced to a caricature of his former self. He now has one goal and that is to reconnect with his “daughter” from Earth-2 no matter how many times she yells, screams, or otherwise proves she is most definitely not his daughter. Dinah directly mirrors an early season one Oliver with her desire for vengeance. Oliver wants to stop her at all costs but does so in a manner that merely erodes Dinah’s trust in him even further. Curtis is able to pull Dinah back from murdering Laurel-2 but on the way, he compromises his own morals. The end result is what appears to be an irreparable divide between the teams and Oliver failing Star City as mayor. There are finally real consequences to the conflict between the teams. Whether they’re good for the show, remains to be seen.
All of these developments raise important questions. What is the point of all of this infighting? How does the show move forward after this? Most importantly, is it entertaining? Right now, the answers appear to be: there isn’t one, we have no idea, and not really. Despite these concerns, “Collision Course” still lays the groundwork for what has the potential to become a more compelling story. Maybe.
The schism between the two teams finally has serious consequences, but the path taken to get there strains believability
One of the central stories in season six of Arrow is the growing distrust between the original Team Arrow (Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity) and the new members of the team (Dinah, Curtis, and Rene). Season five built up the team over the course of the season, and while they had their problems, they eventually became a competent and fairly effective team. Season six initially worked to continue building the team but it changed course several episodes back. Since that course change, the show has worked to rip the team apart and cause more and more divisions between the new and the old.
All of this came to a head in “Irreconcilable Differences” and “Divided,” which led to Dinah, Curtis, and Rene forming their own team. Despite that split, the two teams have shared information and worked together ever since. There haven’t been any real consequences to that divide beyond the characters exchanging the occasional nasty words about their methods. Dinah believes the death of Vincent was due to the original team’s actions but it’s unclear if he would have survived if circumstances had been different. “Collision Course” goes about trying to create larger, clearer consequences.
Laurel-2, who was shot by Dinah and captured by Quentin in “The Devil’s Greatest Trick,” appears to be the key to preventing Star City from completely shutting down. While going after Laurel-2 is a priority for both teams, Dinah is dead set on killing her. Curtis and Rene oppose that plan but decide to deal with her after finding Laurel.
Oliver: “Where is she? We know you have Black Siren. If she dies, you’ve destroyed the city.”
Curtis: “Wait. Whoa, whoa, whoa. We do not have Black Siren.”
Diggle: “We’ll figure that out for ourselves.”
Dinah: “Since when is our word not enough?”
Oliver: “Since you tried to kill her.”
Dinah, Rene, and Curtis have a valid point about Oliver wanting to let Laurel go if they get the money. However, when a teammate is planning to murder the only person who can retrieve the $70 million and stop the city from shutting down, that isn’t a difference of opinion anymore. That incredibly reckless behavior compromises the team’s core values.
All of this changes when Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity break into their bunker and immediately accuse Dinah, Curtis, and Rene of taking capturing Laurel. They assume that the new team is guilty and Rene openly antagonizes Oliver. Rene places a tracker on Oliver and Team Arrow leads the new team directly to Laurel. When Dinah goes after Laurel, the two teams end up fighting each other. Rene refuses to yield to Oliver, which causes him to be critically injured after his gunshot wound reopens.
What were Curtis and Rene planning to do? How does fighting with Oliver and Diggle help achieve the ultimate goal of capturing Laurel-2, getting the money, and stopping Dinah from getting vengeance when she is going after Laurel? Perhaps both teams simply got caught up in the moment and lost sight of the end goal. But given the stakes and experience of both teams, that’s a rather weak explanation. Rene ending up seriously injured and the new team drawing a line in the sand about never working with Oliver again do create some long-term consequences. It’s nice to finally have the conflict between them go somewhere significant. Unfortunately, getting to that point doesn’t feel remotely organic, and so far at least, the teams don’t seem all that different. So why are they fighting again?
Even with overwhelming evidence and line after line of dialogue, “Collision Course” continues to push the obvious concept that Laurel-2 isn’t actually Laurel-1
Ever since Laurel died in season four, Quentin’s story arc has been consumed with drinking, depression, and generally self-destructive behavior. Given the circumstances and his history, that behavior is understandable and expected. In season five, Quentin finally seemed to come to terms with the loss of his daughter. He started to make progress towards being a productive and helpful member of Team Arrow and Oliver’s mayoral staff.
Then Laurel-2 arrived in Star City as one of Adrian Chase’s lieutenants and all of that came crashing down. Since then, Quentin has been consumed with attempting to find some good in Laurel-2 despite her continued objections, direct attacks on Quentin and his friends, and actual, well, murders. Most recently, she murdered Vincent Sobel and is at the center of the conflict in this very episode. Yet Quentin persists.
It’s difficult to understand why the Black Siren/Quentin subplot has taken up such a large amount of time in season six, and it’s even more baffling as to why it’s still ongoing in episode 14. Katie Cassidy does well with what she’s given for the character but that’s also part of the core problem. The material she’s being given is repetitive and predictable. Laurel-2 lacks the necessary depth to get us invested in her as a character.
Quentin: “I, uh, picked this up at a noodle shop my girls used to love.”
Laurel-2: “I’ve never been to any noodle shop.”
Quentin: “Well, hot and sour’s the best thing for healing no matter what Earth you’re from. And I think I might have a picture here of the 3 of us.”
Laurel-2: “Would you stop? I’ve already told you, there is nothing inside of me to change or going to change.”
The continuation of this story is central to “Collision Course” and the episode does have the decency to shake up this formula some. It gives Katie Cassidy a bit more to play with by not having her immediately taunt, fight a little, use her sonic scream, and escape. That is a welcome change if only to break out of the formula. But “Collision Course” goes right back to the formula by the end of the episode.
The repetitive and predictable use of Black Siren throughout the season has been a large enough problem on its own but her usage has been directly impacting several of the main characters. Quentin has been impacted the worst of all. His demise is both tragic and painful to watch. Do we feel his loss and empathize with him? It’d be impossible not to. The problem is Quentin’s obsession with Laurel-2 has completely taken him over. In scene after scene, he confronts her and she rejects him. He then tries again. And again. To add to this repetitiveness, episodes keep reminding us that Earth-2 Laurel isn’t the Laurel that died back in season four. Sure enough, “Collision Course” has multiple helpful reminders.
“Collision Course” emphasizes and fully commits to all of the weakness in the Laurel-2 storyline. It’s hard to say exactly where that story is heading at this point but adding potentially new convoluted layers (e.g., Is Laurel-2 actually Laurel-1?) to the already tired storyline doesn’t exactly fill us with much confidence.
Despite once being one of the moral centers of Team Arrow, Curtis crosses a line that compromises his integrity and exposes the hypocrisy of both him and his team
Curtis has been a part of Arrow since season four. Since his introduction, he’s often been paired with Felicity and has acted as another hacker/scientist/engineer on the team. Curtis does officially join the team eventually but he has an aversion to killing. He’s decent enough in hand-to-hand combat to get by. His real strengths come from his strong sense of morals and technical know-how. He’s sacrificed a lot for Team Arrow. He lost his husband in a divorce after keeping his vigilante activities a secret from him. But perhaps most importantly, Curtis believes in Oliver’s mission and has often demonstrated a strong sense of right and wrong. He doesn’t have a flawless track record with that and the lines have become more and more blurred the longer he’s been a part of the team. But overall, his core values have mostly remained intact.
What makes “Collision Course” different is it takes Curtis to some rather uncomfortable and questionable places without really explaining why he makes the decisions that bring him there. Along with Rene, he rejects Dinah’s plan to kill Laurel-2 and acknowledges that the primary mission needs to be to retrieve the $70 million she stole and bring her to justice. But when the tracker on Oliver is discovered and destroyed, Curtis goes to a much darker place. He hacks the implant that helps treat Diggle’s neurological condition and uses it to track Team Arrow’s location.
Curtis: “I think I know a way. But it’s gonna hurt John.”
Rene: “You say that like it’s a deal breaker. That guy’s the whole reason I got shot, hoss.”
Dinah: “Curtis, this is not the time to be worrying about John’s feelings.”
Curtis: “No, I mean really hurt John physically.”
Dinah: “Find them. Whatever it takes.”
What makes this very un-Curtis-like is that hacking the implant in that manner causes Diggle severe physical pain. Curtis doesn’t appear to be too bothered by that and does it without hesitation once Rene and Dinah agree to it. It also exploits the prototype being developed by his startup with Felicity and it further erodes their relationship. If this rapid shift in Curtis isn’t jarring enough on its own, his usual values remain intact at other points in the episode. He’s immediately opposed to Dinah’s plan to kill Laurel-2. He tries to de-escalate the situation when Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity break into their bunker. He manages to talk Dinah down from killing Laurel-2. Even after Rene is hospitalized, he comforts Dinah and supports her desire to get justice for Vincent as long as it doesn’t involve killing or letting Laurel go.
When Diggle and Felicity show up at the hospital to check on Rene, it’s Curtis that tells them that they “no longer have the right” to ask about Rene’s well-being and doesn’t appear bothered by what he did to Diggle. Have both teams played a role in the ongoing feud? Absolutely. Have they both made valid points about how to approach solving problems? Of course, they have. However, Dinah, Rene, and Curtis have repeatedly said they disagree with Oliver’s methods, and that’s a reasonable stance to have. But in practice, they’ve used almost identical methods. At best, it’s incredibly hypocritical. Out of all of the members of the team, Curtis should understand that and it’s disappointing that he conveniently forgets that whenever it’s needed to create a larger divide between teams.
“Collision Course” is a difficult episode to digest. It advances multiple subplots in meaningful ways and has some nice character moments but it potentially causes permanent damage to the teams and at least a few of the main characters
“Collision Course” is far from being the worst episode of Arrow. Unfortunately, it’s also quite far from being the best episode of Arrow. The ongoing feud between the two teams is front and center. Even though we still aren’t thrilled with that particular subplot, “Collision Course” actually appears to advance it in meaningful ways. Rene being put in critical condition, Curtis drawing a clear line in the sand about working with Team Arrow, and Dinah deciding on justice instead of vengeance are all meaningful developments. If some of these unpleasant decisions lead to a more interesting endgame for the season and make sense at the end of the story, then we can grudgingly get onboard. But far too much time has been spent on the divisions between the teams.
Despite Ricardo Diaz not being directly involved in the plot for this episode, the involvement of Capt. Hill raises some interesting questions. Why is the case against Oliver suddenly so weak? What happened to the FBI’s involvement? If indicting him won’t bring him down, why doesn’t Ricardo Diaz simply kill him? What kind of plan requires the full resources of the SCPD to take Oliver down? When it comes to Laurel-2, is she planning to impersonate Laurel-1? Or was she actually kidnapped two years earlier and is somehow a brainwashed Laurel-1? Does that even make sense?
“Collision Course” continues to erode the relationship between the two teams and forces the issue by having the characters act in childish and hypocritical ways. It furthers the rehashed-to-death Laurel-2/Quentin subplot and doesn’t appear to be putting the brakes on it. If anything, it further entrenches the show in that storyline and escalates it. As a result of that ongoing subplot, Quentin has become a shell of his former self. The episode also has Curtis act in a manner that is most un-Curtis-like, and alarmingly, he doesn’t seem to be bothered by his actions at all.
Not everything about “Collision Course” is terrible. On the contrary, there are quite a few enjoyable moments scattered throughout. Felicity and William (Jack Moore) baking cookies and calling it a science and math lesson is a fun little scene that furthers their step-mom/step-son relationship. Curtis’s new T-Spheres that can holographically model a crime scene are incredibly cool and show off his technical skills brilliantly. Hopefully, we’ll see more of that technology going forward. The action scenes, while not particularly fun to watch due to the main characters beating on each other, are well-choreographed and let everyone do what they’re good at. Katie Cassidy hasn’t been given much to work with this season but “Collision Course” finally lets her add some nuance to her performance, which is a nice change of pace.
Even though there are several parts of “Collision Course” that feel like serious misfires, not all of those misfires are completely unsalvageable. Perhaps there are still some twists coming up that will help explain the behaviors of the characters. Are they being drugged and manipulated in a manner not unlike what Malcolm Merlyn did to Thea back in season three? Or are they simply victims of sloppy writing? Far too much of “Collision Course” feels like it fits into the latter category. Most importantly, it simply isn’t compelling viewing. On the other hand, whatever Ricardo Diaz is planning to use the SCPD for has our curiosity piqued.
With the teams finally split for good (for real this time, honest!), it isn’t easy to see where the show will be going next. We still don’t truly know what Ricard Diaz is up to or how what his connections are to the Star City vigilantes. If Arrow can focus more on what makes the characters interesting and fun to watch and less on the forced drama between the teams, then there’s still hope.
Some random thoughts
- This is my first Arrow review and it saddens me that I couldn’t be more positive. I’m harsh because I love Arrow and I know it can be a lot better than this.
- I love Katie Cassidy. She deserves far better than what she’s being given this season.
- We know Laurel-2 isn’t Laurel-1. Just stop. Please.
- What is going on with Laurel-2 at the end of the episode? Has she genuinely lost her memory? Is she planning to impersonate Laurel-1? Or is something more complicated going on? Is she somehow the Laurel that died in season four? How would that work?
- What more could Ricardo Diaz possibly have on Oliver that requires the full resources of the SCPD? He already knows he’s the Green Arrow. He’s effectively bankrupted Star City. He’s destroyed the team. What’s left?
- Is this Arrow’s take on the Outsiders War? I certainly hope not.
- With Ricardo Diaz as the true main villain this season, does that mean we’ll also be seeing Arrow’s version of the Longbow Hunters? Is this all leading to a bigger, more important storyline next season?
- I wish I could have convinced my mom when growing up that making and eating cookies was a science lesson. (It absolutely is.)
ARROW returns THURSDAY, MARCH 8th at 9/8c on THE CW.
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Arrow Review 6×14 “Collision Course”