Arrow, Season 5, Episode 18, “Disbanded”
Despite Oliver Queen’s realization that he’s a murder-loving monster and that his entire crusade has been a vehicle to satisfy his darkest desires, his reaction to this new situation was predictable as the sunrise – cut out his team and go it alone.
Thankfully, the writers remembered they had the character of John Diggle in their toolkit or this episode may have been a total loss.
Ollie isn’t the best decision maker when he’s at the top of his game, so the choices he makes while still suffering from the trauma of being Adrian Chase’s captive are way less than ideal.
Turning to the Bratva to kill Chase, in exchange for free reign to steal components for a designer drug, can at least be somewhat justified. Given Ollie’s mindset, not “failing this city” isn’t high on his priority list. Chase is the immediate threat, and there’s no moving forward with him still in the picture. Plus, not for nothing, it justifies the existence of the Russia flashbacks.
More troubling is his treatment of Susan. Please don’t see this statement as an endorsement of Susan as a character or a love interest, just remember this was a woman he was moving heaven and Earth for in order to get back together. While it’s true Ollie doesn’t think much of himself in this episode, there’s a commonality of experience, since they were both held captive by Chase. Wouldn’t you think that shared experience would draw them together? But, Ollie is still Ollie, so when the chips are down he calls a meeting in his office, and cuts her loose.
While it’s plain to see that Diggle has been underused this season so that the newbies could get some much-needed character development, the degree the show missed Diggle’s voice wasn’t apparent until his return to form.
As one of the core three members of Team Arrow, Diggle has always been the moral compass of the group (and the best strategist). Diggle has the authority to not only lead the team during its brief exile, he has the ability call Oliver on his poor choices.
All the episodes of team building paid off in this hour, as Wild Dog, Curtis and Temporary Canary (Dinah’s new nickname given the news about the return of Katie Cassidy as a full time cast member) have an easy rapport, and work quite well together.
Diggle realizes that Chase’s death would actually be a win for Chase, and bringing him to justice is the only way to go. So while Felicity seeks damning evidence with her Helix buddies, it’s up to Diggle to counter the Bratva’s actions and take Chase off the board.
Team Arrow (with bonus Field Felicity) does just that when it intercepts a clumsy Bratva ambush that saves Chase’s life, but it also puts him in federal protection, disconnected from the outside world.
Diggle’s way gets some traction, and Oliver snaps out of his funk a little. He betrays his Bratva brothers and puts the band back together. They even get the dirt they needed on Chase, but the discovery he’s Prometheus cuts his last tether to polite society. He kills his protection detail, and gleefully drives back to Star City with a song in his heart and blood on his clothes.
While it didn’t totally abandon Ollie’s crisis of conscience, “Disbanded” was a little disappointing since it spent so little time with Oliver working through his feelings. It’s odd, because this series (and the other CW superhero shows) can spend so many episodes spinning its wheels uselessly, but can glaze over an important opportunity for the main character to grow and change, because there’s suddenly a lot of need for plot to be moved.
However, Diggle’s reemergence as a meaningful character, and some good work from Felicity and the rest of the team balanced the episode out.