Three seasons in, countless enemies felled, allies gained and lost, and we are close to having a semblance of an inkling of an idea of possibly finding out what was going on with Dig’s brother…maybe.
Arrow hits all its major landmarks this week. The world is enriched with new elements, questions are answered, and new mysteries abound. It’s not gonna be possible to zero in on every aspect of “Brotherhood,” so let’s hit some highlights.
The story is very much Diggle focused, and David Ramsey delivers real emotion in the face of his character’s recent turmoil. A very moving scene between Laurel and Diggle gives both characters a lot of mileage and sets the stage for a camaraderie that has only been touched upon over the course of the season. As usual though, it’s the interactions between Diggle and Oliver that are the most engaging aspect. Both characters are just now getting familiar with each other again, but this episode puts a lot of baggage out in to the open that keeps things tense, but also makes the resolution feel that much more worthwhile.
The side stories are nothing to scoff at either, particularly Thea’s bloodlust. The episode really emphasizes the gravity of her condition by way of Willa Holland’s complete transformation. Her brutal display of power is cringeworthy in all the right ways, and an intriguing seed is planted relating to how Darhk’s powers affect that bloodlust. There’s also a small developmental storyline for Ray as he goes at odds with Felicity about his public resurrection. His intervention in the story is both entertaining and well conceived. Routh’s Ray Palmer is a charismatic presence who fits in to the new tone of Arrow like a glove, and a welcome addition to the not inconsiderable Season 4 lineup.
Of course I have to talk about the fight scenes as well. The episode is the first directorial effort for Arrow stuntman and fight coordinator and choreographer, James Bamford. This background shows in some ambitious scenes that utilize limited cuts to build more dynamic action. I was less enamored with this effort during the dock scene which lacked real punch, but this oversight was more than made up for in the hospital scenes that showcased brilliant choreography, brutality, and framed the Emerald Archer in the middle of some truly superheroic-level skill showcasing.
Final Word: “Brotherhood” is a robust collection of Arrow milestones that show the practiced and refined tricks of old, along with some new and unique visual candy that only Arrow can deliver. But a stuntman turned director who gets the fight scenes right isn’t too big of a surprise. It’s the ability to frame the emotional moments of the characters, combined with strong performances, that really makes Bamford’s first effort stand out.
“Brotherhood” gets a 9.3/10. It stumbles at times, but like a great fighter, it always gets back on its feet.