Brotherhood Review – Brotherly love

Arrow bounced back after last week’s misfire with a much improved episode.

In recent weeks we’ve had Lance’s episode, Constantine’s episode and this week, undeniably, was Diggle’s. At times, Dig has come to the fore when perhaps it didn’t work. The prime example of this being Corto Maltese, Diggle was given a fairly generic plotline which took up more of the episode than Thea – who should have been the focus. However, this time around, they got it right.

At times, a John Diggle cut out with his arms folded would have sufficed for some of the appearances for Oliver Queen’s right-hand man. He really has been given little or nothing to do on an all too regular basis. This season seems to have set about rectifying it though, and this week was the clearest indication of this yet.

In a real turn up for the books, a character thought to be dead on Arrow returned! If we disregard Oliver, Sara, Malcolm, Slade, Deadshot, Roy, Thea and probable others then it’s a completely new, fresh, exciting turn of events! Sarcasm aside, despite having the same initial enthusiasm I’d have for an algebra test when discovering Andy Diggle would be returning, they made it work.

The way in which Diggle uncovered his brother’s actual living state was rather contrived – of all the ghosts, in all the land, he happens to stumble across his undead brother… But once we were past that eye roll worthy coincidence, we were given a decent story. Diggle not being all that willing to save his brother was actually one of my favourite things about it. It made for a nice contrast between this week and Laurel trying to bring back Sara.

It also made sense. Diggle was giving Oliver a rather difficult time for his actions, so it made sense his brother would be on the receiving end of similar. I’m still sceptical that what we’ve seen of Andy so far is the whole truth. He didn’t seem as if he was acting all that right at the end of the episode. Part of me suspects there’s a few more revelations to come…

Perhaps more than anything, this episode showed us just what Team Arrow means to Diggle. What Oliver means to Diggle. How it’s helped him, considering the place we found him in, in season 1. He’d lost his brother. He’d been divorced. Then these guys came into his life. He trusted them. He built up relationships. Oliver, as he says in this episode, became his brother – his ‘Green brother’.

While this episode saw the return of a character thought to be dead, it saw the debut of someone in another department. Stunt wiz James Bamford made his bow as director and after seeing what he came up with, I really wouldn’t mind having him back in the director’s chair before the end of the season.

On more than one occasion he favoured the ‘one shot’ technique, which looks as if a scene was shot in just one take, from a continuous camera angle. Of course, that may not have been the case but it is mightily effective as a viewer. It keeps you closer to the action. It feels more intense. More brutal. More real.

You feel as if you’re there with the characters, rather than just watching on TV. Oliver and Diggle’s mammoth fight with the Ghosts being one of the prime examples, while Thea’s fight with a Ghost later was also very good. They really keep the intensity up. Keep you glued to the screen. Of course, it’s not something to overuse as it can lose its effect, but Bamford managed it well this week.

The rest of the episode I could essentially just list plot points and put a tick next to them. Everything was decent. There was nothing that really bothered me. This will probably be my most overused sentence by the end of the season, but… Damien was Damien. He’s been consistently fantastic. It was great to see him interact with Oliver, trying to wrap the would-be mayor around his finger. It sets out a conflict aside from mystical charismatic badass versus hooded green vigilante hero. But, again, it certainly puts those Oliver loves in greater danger – which to be honest, we all know is coming anyway…

Thea also had a few things to do. Go on a date with someone pretty tolerable as a character and a nice guy, rather than the worst character I’ve ever seen on television she sort of dated, and we all did our best to put up with, for a few episodes last season. More interestingly, however, was her confrontation with Damien. He can’t kill her? I didn’t see that coming. But it’s a smart, interesting twist. I’m looking forward to seeing more of it.

Ray was Ray. He was fun, it was good to see him get out in the field too while it was also decent to set him up for Legends of Tomorrow, which, by the way, if you haven’t seen the new trailer for it yet – go check it out. The flashbacks also are interesting and seem to be going somewhere. Hurray! No more scenes about doing laundry – looking at you, season 3.

All in all, a strong, much better episode. I’ve got no complaints. Next up, it’s crossover time!

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