'Arrow' Review: "Keep Your Enemies Closer"

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The CW

Arrow’ season 2 lets loose its sixth episode of the year with “Keep Your Enemies Closer,” as Oliver joins Diggle on a mission to Russia to recover his ex-wife from captivity, while Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) insists on tagging along as well, and Thea faces a difficult choice with Roy.

Last week’s ‘Arrow’ episode “League of Assassins” saw Oliver learning Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) had been targeted by the titular organization, while Officer Lance made a shocking discovery, and Moira Queen struggled with a plea bargain, so what does the sixth episode of ‘Arrow’ season 2 bring?  Will Oliver finally become the hooded hero we know from DC comics?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’ season 2′s DC-heavy episode 6, “Keep Your Enemies Closer!”

Roy places his red arrow to call for Oliver, after which Felicity urgently interrupts a meeting with an irate Isabel Rochev to draw Oliver to his mission for the night. Later, the Arrow shows up to an exchange of counterfeit plates, tasking Roy to remain behind while he intercepts the meet and fights through the thugs. Unable to contain his enthusiasm, Roy gets himself arrested by tackling one of the fleeing criminals as the cops arrive, while Diggle finds himself similarly abducted by an unknown task force.

Diggle awakens in an A.R.G.U.S. cell, wherein Amanda Waller ('Spartacus' star Cynthia Addai-Robinson) tasks him with retrieving his ex-partnerLyla Michaels from holding in Russia, following a lead she’d intercepted on Floyd Lawton. Meanwhile, Lance goes about processing Roy for his latest arrest as Thea arrives, though Lance opts to let Roy go once he realizes the boy has been working with the Arrow, like him. Back at the lair, Oliver and Felicity watch the latest S.T.A.R. labs particle accelerator protest, before Diggle returns and reveals his mission to Russia, which Oliver  insists on joining.

Back in the past, Sara silently advises Oliver not to reveal his true identity to an inquisitive Dr. Ivo (Dylan Neal), Oliver instead giving Tommy’s name. Ivo relays that a WW2-era Japanese submarine carrying experimental super-soldier research ran aground on the island, tasking Oliver with retrieving it, now that his friends have been killed. Meanwhile in the present, Isabel Rochev arrives to the landing strip, and insists on joining Oliver’s supposed business trip to Russia.

Jean Loring drops by the club to point out that Thea dating a known felon like Roy reflects badly on her mother's case, urging Thea to dump him. Meanwhile after arriving abroad, Isabel chides Oliver for her belief that he used the corporate jet for a weekend getaway with Felicity. Oliver and Diggle meet with Oliver’s old contact Anatoli Knyazev, who reveals that Lyla found herself trapped in a Russian gulag prison after breaking in, though he has a contact that could at least get one of them inside the prison to liberate her.

Felicity provides Diggle with a shipment of drugs to get himself caught by the Russian police, as Diggle explains that he and Lyla were actually married during one of their tours of duty, breaking up without combat in common to sustain their marriage. Diggle gets himself picked up on a nearby street corner, taken to the remote Russian facility, wherein he manages to make quick friends with his cellmate. Oliver and Felicity meanwhile meet with more of Anatoli’s contacts to obtain a transport, Oliver threatening one of the men in Russian to secure the deal.

Back in the past, Sara urges Oliver not to indicate that they know one another, as she had no choice but to help Ivo and the crew when she was brought aboard. In spite of what he said earlier however, Oliver reveals that his friends are indeed alive, as we see Shado healing a burned Slade from inside their downed aircraft, and offering her body warmth when his injuries send Slade into shock. Back in the present, Thea breaks it off with Roy, insisting they need a little space between working and living together.

Oliver’s cellmate directs him to Anatoli’s inside man, though unruly prisoners quickly start a fight with Diggle, for which the guards drag him into a freezer cell alongside none other than Deadshot himself. Meanwhile back at the hotel, Oliver finds Isabel drinking, and the two bond over their shared knowledge of Russian, Isabel pointing out that she knows Oliver to be far smarter and lonelier than he lets on. Guess where that leads! And who might knock on Oliver’s door, dejected to find Isabel in his bedroom, you wonder?

The guard releases Diggle from the cell to take him to Lyla, but Deadshot quickly breaks free and stabs the man, offering to lead Diggle to Lyla himself in exchange for being included in the escape plan. Meanwhile, Oliver and Felicity tersely work together with Anatoli to infiltrate the prison as soldiers in anticipation of their rendezvous with Diggle. Back in the past, Sara secretly brings Oliver to the radio room to contact Shado, though Sara quickly severs the connection and leads both Ivo and the ship’s captain into the room, confirming that Oliver lied about his friends’ survival.

Deadshot finally leads Diggle to Lyla, leaving Diggle to reluctantly honor his word by sparing the man. At the same time, an explosive left with Diggle’s personal effects detonates, sounding the alarms while providing a path to exit. Deadshot retrieves his eyepiece, while Oliver assists with the rescue, taking out guards in a bid to free the three prisoners. Once the group gets clear of the prison, Diggle reluctantly frees Deadshot, who leaves with a parting revelation that he hadn’t killed Diggle’s brother by accident, but rather tasked to by an organization known as H.I.V.E.

Back in the states, Oliver and Isabel share an awkward goodbye, as Diggle thanks Oliver for his help in freeing Lyla. Meanwhile, Thea arrives to Iron Heights prison to find her mother meeting with Roy, having heard of Jean’s actions, and making a personal effort to get the two back together, given all Thea has been through on her account. Awhile later after Diggle and Lyla get reacquainted, Diggle begins researching H.I.V.E, over Bing, no less. Felicity asks Oliver why he hooked up with Isabel, to which Oliver knowingly responds that he shouldn’t get involved with anyone he might actually care about.

Finally in the past, Sara convinces Ivo and the Captain to spare Oliver’s life, provided he helps them find the graves on the island. “You’re going back to the island, Oliver,” Ivo menacingly warns.

OUR REVIEW:

Confession time: for as strong as 'Arrow' has been, and as much mastery of the DC source material as the series has mustered in only five episodes of the current season, we had our doubts that Oliver and Diggle's adventures in Russia could carry as much momentum as in previous weeks. And while Marvel's most recent announcements over the past few days have given us serious cause to reconsider which comic brand holds more dominion in its TV offerings, 'Arrow' once again manages to come out on top with its consistently solid craftsmanship.

Both David Ramsey and Diggle have proven themselves worthy additions to the classic DC mythology, so much so that the comics have recently begun to incorporate the character, though 'Arrow''s Diggle in particular suffered from a bit of attention deficit in the first season. We knew that his brother had fallen victim to Deadshot, while sparks flew between he and his brother's ex-wife Carly, though Oliver's tale ended up taking too much of the limelight to deal with Diggle's side of things; hence the offhand dismissal of Carly in the season premiere, and patient wait until Deadshot could resurface.

That said, it's rather impressive that 'Arrow' can deviate from its initial plotlines involving the League of Assassins and Sebastian Blood, keeping Oliver and Diggle's relationship in step with an episode so far removed from Starling City. It certainly helps that Isabel Rochev's tagging along leaves Oliver, Felicity, and millions of fans with plenty to moon over from the sidelines, while the reveal that DC organization H.I.V.E. played a role in Diggle's brother's death can better tie the competing character threads together going forward. The same goes for Amanda Waller's introduction precipitating Lyla's return, as neither event really registers on its own, but the prospect of A.R.G.U.S. getting more heavily involved in future episodes makes for a healthy tease. And kudos for Amanda Waller's entrance landing with the revelation that Oliver's identity may not be so secret as he had once hoped.

Elsewhere, it turned out somewhat predictable that Sara would conflictedly betray Oliver into revealing that his island friends had survived, though the audience at least needed some acknowledgement of what had happened to Shado and Slade since the missile attack. The duo certainly wasted no time complicating the love triangle with the offshore Oliver as well, though it sounds as if Oliver will have his hands full with some super-soldier serum to uncover in the near future. And gee, what could it all have to do with that pesky particle accelerator everyone keeps going on about?

Admittedly less effective tonight was Thea and Roy's relationship troubles, something of a lone holdout from the more soap-operaesque relationship troubles of the inaugural season, though at the very least it first brought us the fan-squealing visual of Roy and the Arrow working together, red hood to green. And hey, while we're at it, we'll even forgive the schmaltzy sunlit sequence between Diggle and Lyla at the very end. I mean, what is this, 'Smallville?' And who uses Bing to search for a deadly secret terrorist organization, which by the way, Deadshot never specified to be an acronym?

Well, what say you?  Did you feel that ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its second season’s latest offering? Were you surprised by the latest DC namedrops of “Keep Your Enemies Closer”? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us next week for another all-new ‘Arrow’ recap of season 2, episode 7, “State V. Queen” on The CW!

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