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Arrow Review: 4.7 – ‘Brotherhood’

November 18, 2015 | Posted by Anthony Falco
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Arrow Review: 4.7 – ‘Brotherhood’  

[Warning: SPOILERS if you have not seen ‘Brotherhood’]

So ‘Brotherhood’s’ opening places the audience directly back into the action, with the Ghosts cementing their domination over Star City. The episode begins with a delivery of bailout money to the city’s bank; unfortunately, the criminals hijack it, leading to an awesome exchange between Darhk’s cronies and the gang. The one thing about ‘Brotherhood’ is that though the plot is filler – building up to the eventual midseason showdown – tonight’s action is some of the best in Arrow’s history. While there are the occasional slip-ups – missing and some awkwardly thrown strikes – the camera work, one shots and even choreography is top notch: this is thanks to longtime stunt coordinator and first-time director James Bamford.

Now, even though the good guys are able to dispatch the Ghosts, the villains are still able to blow up the cash: further preventing any support to the crumbling city. This leads to the gang wondering about their next step. First, Felicity decides to take the found tooth to Palmer and see if he can help: this is both to push the story forward, while also showing why the Atom will depart from Arrow and eventually join Legends of Tomorrow. At the same time, Oliver and Diggle have a heart-to-heart, where John reveals what he found out about his brother’s death: Queen refuses to believe that Andy is fully evil and asks his partner to give him the benefit of the doubt. If you have seen last week’s previews, then you know that this scene is here to remind the audience about Andy.

So after a small scene where Oliver and his adviser fight over his reservoir plan, Thea and Alex talk about their relationship and then the siblings leave with an awkward dental excuse, the gang finds out that the tooth contains a specific substance that can only be found in one particular place. So they decide to break in to another establishment and steal it: burglaries are starting to become a staple of season four. While this set piece is the weakest of the group, it is still pretty good: there is an awesome one-shot of Green Arrow and Speedy fighting henchmen, which has a sweet transition back to Laurel finding the liquid. But this eventually leads to the big reveal of the night: Andy is a ghost.

Again, if you saw last week’s previews or have been paying attention to Diggle’s arc, then this was expected. With this said, his return further cheapens death on the show: an observation perfectly brought to light by Felicity as she said, “Even death is not permanent anymore.” But this is a comic book show that has not had stakes in a long time, so bringing back John’s brother does not really bother me. However, Diggle does not know what to think about it all. This man abandoned his family, was a monster and was obviously hiding all of his evil ways: this fact is beaten into the viewer, as John has this conversation with three separate people – Laurel, his wife and Oliver. And while it should be heavy-handed, David Ramsey really portrays the pain of a man that does not know what to believe anymore: it is understandable why Diggle cannot forgive Andy.

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Now, this directly leads to Oliver having to give a speech at a SCPD event: he has to show his support and promise to appropriate more funds to the police. The other shining moment about tonight are the Felicity one-liners: the death line is great and her little bit about dressing up in leather and tying up bad guys is fantastic – the reaction of the passing old woman is hilarious.

After his speech, Quentin talks with Oliver, revealing that Darhk no longer trusts him – Damien’s advisers think that the captain led the heroes to him last week. Still, he was able to see a note on the villain’s desk, suggesting that something is going on at the docks: this reeks of a trap against Lance, but the viewer can only wait and see. However, the real important event of the night is Darhk showing his face at the gala; it appears that no one else knows that he is the bad guy terrorizing the city, as he pulls Oliver to the side and threatens him about his reservoir plan.

This results in Oliver thinking about going undercover as a stooge for Darhk: something Felicity seriously objects to, as she reminds him about what happened with the league. Instead, he decides to go with Diggle to the docks and save Andy. Here, the viewer gets a closer look at what the yellow substance does, as it gives Darhk complete control over the Ghosts. However, the party is quickly interrupted as the two are spotted: again, this leads to more awesome action, with the camera constantly moving and portraying the impact of every punch and kick. All around, from a visual standpoint, this is an episode to behold, as each scene gets progressively better.

Of course, the Arrow gets injured, causing Diggle to question going after his brother: again, he cannot forgive Andy for abandoning his family and lying to him. However, the group refuses to give up on his sibling: so when Palmer, who is having identity issues himself, figures out the Ghosts’ main hideout – a psych ward – then the whole gang decides to bring Andy home. But Diggle refuses to join him; yet the audience knows that he will eventually come and save the day.

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So they ascend on the psych ward: the gang is really horrible at stealth, but this is not a problem, as it leads to my favorite fight sequence ever on the show – and it does not even contain the Green Arrow. Speedy takes on Andy as the two have a long corridor fight that leads to an elevator and then a jail cell – and a lot of it is done in one-take. It will drop jaws, as it is beautifully paced and wonderfully choreographed: Bamford has a real talent behind the camera. On top of this, it is great to see the Atom back – even if he is leaving after this episode – and finally something weakens Darhk: when he tries to kill Thea, his power gets corrupted and also kills her bloodlust.

Now, this leads to more triumphant moments for our heroes: they are able to capture Andy and Oliver decides to fight Darhk in the light of day by going along with his reservoir plan – I am just hoping that Alex, who opposed the plan, is not Damien’s henchman. Also, the exchange between Andy and Diggle is absolutely chilling: the simple, “It’s true, all of it,” is the perfect amount of details for now.

As for the other two sub-plots, Thea viciously beats a man in a bar and does not get arrested: however, I am always willing to welcome Malcolm Merlyn back to the show – he is simply an entertaining bad guy. On top of this, the flashbacks again do nothing, as they are really too minute to care about – the writers are actively pushing its plotline, but, minus Constantine, it has been the least bit interesting.

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9.0
The final score: review Amazing
The 411
What could have been a throwaway episode turns into a spectacle of amazing action scenes. If the producers of Arrow were smart, they lock up James Bamford to do the rest of the season. On top of this, they finally revealed Darhk’s weakness and threw Diggle’s brother into the equation: basically, the midseason finale should be pretty engaging.
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Arrow, Arrow Reviews, Anthony Falco