“Brotherhood” – aired 11/18/2015 – ***** stars
Written by Speed Weed and Keto Shimizu
Directed by James Bamford
*Spoilers are contained within*
James Bamford is a stunt coordinator. He’s the man responsible for two of the X-Men movies, Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, and several episodes of Arrow to name a few of his credits. This week marked his directorial debut with the episode “Brotherhood” on season four of The CW’s Arrow. I hope everyone watched it or will make solid plans to see it because, once again, Arrow delivered an exceptional episode in an already exceptional season four.
“Brotherhood” starts with an action scene, featuring the Canary Cry and Team Arrow fighting Hive’s Ghosts. I’ve often felt that Arrow comes across as a live-action comic book in many ways. While I never watched Power Rangers, the group fight scenes each week remind me of something you would have seen on that Saturday morning series. It’s impressive that Arrow is still such a successful show because it’s very different than most of the other programs on television. Maybe it’s because for those of us that grew up with Power Rangers, it’s the chance to enjoy a show that’s fashioned in similar ways, but for an older audience. Possibly we feel more secure as fans to root as a twenty and up something for a Green Arrow as opposed to a Green Ranger?
“Brotherhood” features the series best fight scenes to date. Arrow features plenty of fights each week, but after so many they start to play the same way. James Bamford directs and shoots two of the most stylish of sequences that Arrow has seen this season. Diggle (David Ramsey) and Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) are caught spying on Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) and the Ghosts and a big fight scene between shipping containers soon plays out. The next fight scene which is one, long, extended take very similar to the hallway fight in episode two of Marvel’s Daredevil features Thea/Speedy (Willa Holland) fighting off a Ghost as the rest of the team battles outside. I’m not sure of how much Willa Holland was utilized during this fight, especially considering the hood, mask, and lighting conceal her face, but the work was highly impressive.
During the fight, Darhk confronts Thea, but is shocked when he can’t siphon the life out of her as we’ve seen him do to others. Instead dark patterns begin to streak over his face and he doubles over in pain. We later find out that Thea’s bloodlust has temporarily been relieved and she asks her father Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) to help her stop Darhk.
The episode “Brotherhood” is appropriately named as we explore the strained relationship between John and Andy Diggle, along with the repaired friendship between John Diggle and Oliver. We learned this season that Andy is alive and that he’s working for H.I.V.E. This leaves Diggle particularly torn over his allegiance to his brother and Team Arrow. The Speed Weed and Keto Shimizu written episode explores the themes of “family” and “brotherhood” quite well and there’s no denying that family is the underlying theme of season four. “My brother needed me – the Green one.”
I like that Arrow has returned to form and is showing us the bond between Oliver and Diggle. They have become family in many ways and despite how far apart their journeys have been, we see them both come together. It’s also been great fun seeing Diggle join in on the Team Arrow action and suit up alongside them.
There is no question that the writers on both Arrow and The Flash have been building towards the upcoming DC Legends of Tomorrow. Last week’s episode of Arrow, “Lost Souls”, saw Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) depart so she could find herself post Lazarus Pit resurrection. The same happens with Ray Palmer aka The Atom (Brandon Routh). After his rescue last week, Routh puts in some time as The Atom, only to then decide he needs to leave to rediscover his purpose. Something tells me that Ray Palmer and Sara Lance will both find that answer in Arthur Darvill’s Rip Hunter.
“Brotherhood” was a solid episode of Arrow and a reminder of why we, as adults, love super heroes and comic books so much. We grew up with heroes like the Power Rangers, characters that were beyond our reality, but somehow relatable. The CW’s Arrow provides just the right amount of escapism with it’s mysticism and magic, but always the right amount of pathos that never alienates us from the leads. I don’t know much about saba swords, but I could tell you how much I’d like an a quiver, arrows, and a green hoodie for this Christmas!
Arrow stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Katie Cassidy as Dinah “Laurel” Lance, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Willa Holland as Thea Queen, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, John Barrowman as Malcom Merlyn, with Paul Blackthorne as Detective Lance. The series is executive produced by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg and Sarah Schechter.
Arrow airs 8 PM ET, Wednesday nights on The CW. Check your local listings.