Arrow season 6, episode 15 recap: An old friend returns

Arrow -- "Doppelganger" --Photo: Daniel Power/The CW -- via CWPR
Arrow -- "Doppelganger" --Photo: Daniel Power/The CW -- via CWPR /

A new episode of Arrow brought Roy Harper back to Star City, but the circumstances of his return were anything but happy.

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After last week’s disappointing focus on internecine conflict, “Doppelgänger” offered up a compelling heroes versus villains story. Classic Team Arrow seemed to get a solid win over the baddies, the reality of the situation was more complicated. In fact, it seems that in saving an old friend from torture, the group played right into the hands of Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo). The newly minted kingpin played Oliver (Stephen Amell) like a fiddle this episode and he didn’t even know it.  Even with his old sidekick back, I’m really not sure how the Emerald Archer will be able to get out of this one. In large part because the hero seems curiously unable to deal with Diaz appropriately.

Since its very beginning, Arrow has made no bones about the fact that its hero isn’t afraid to use lethal force. Most of the show’s first season was dedicated to all of her working his way through a kill list. As such, it’s really weird when Oliver inexplicably gets skittish about committing murder. While allies and enemies have called them out for the moral problems of being a murderous vigilante, he ultimately always takes the position that the ends justify the means. So why has continued to let Black Siren and Diaz live despite having multiple opportunities to kill them in this episode alone?

Arrow — “Doppelganger” –Photo: Daniel Power/The CW — via CWPR /

I could almost buy that he’s hesitating because of what Prometheus did to them last season. But that explanation doesn’t jibe with his actions this year. He’s killed more than a few people when the situation merited it. There’s no extenuating circumstance like Cayden James and his hidden bomb. My only conclusion is that he hasn’t killed his adversaries because they’re still a bunch of episodes left in this season. And as motivations go, that’s pretty weak.

“If you could stop finding ways to blame yourself that would be so great.”

The episode began with Oliver getting some good and bad news. He found out that the death of Cayden James might allow for the dismissal the government’s case against him. Then he learned that Black Siren (Katie Cassidy) had gone to the press claiming to be Laurel Lance. In private, Siren admitted that her ruse was designed to protect her from Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) and Dinah (Juliana Harkavy). She noted that an unknown party had stolen the city’s $70 million. And she threatened to reveal Oliver’s secret identity if he didn’t go along with her deception.

In a meeting with the judge, Oliver learned that Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) was going to testify against him. While she was getting checked out at a hospital, a corrupt policeman brought Siren to Anatoli (David Nykl). Oliver located where Roy was being kept and Thea (Willa Ford) suited up to help rescue him. Roy told Thea that he was kidnapped by the SCPD and was being tortured into testifying against Oliver. Unfortunately, the operation fell apart when Thea attempted to confront the corrupt cops holding Roy solo and Oliver was forced to pull her out.

Oliver told Dinah and Quentin they need to watch each other’s backs because of how corrupt the police department had become. Anatoli brought Siren to Diaz and he pitched his plan to take over the city. Siren subsequently told Oliver where Diaz had moved Roy. Classic Team Arrow rescued Roy but Oliver neglected to kill his various enemies. A text message revealed that Siren was secretly working for Diaz. After setting him up in a safe house, Thea and Roy resumed their romantic relationship. As the couple got reacquainted, a League of Assassins member told an unknown party that Ra’s al Ghul heir had been located.

Arrow — “Doppelganger” –Photo: Daniel Power/The CW — via CWPR
Arrow — “Doppelganger” –Photo: Daniel Power/The CW — via CWPR /

“I’m willing to try if you’re willing to give me space to.”

In addition to Oliver’s baffling inability to making his life easier, this episode’s other big development was Roy’s return. As a fan of both Haynes and the character, I think his return is a good thing. His presence will give Thea a lot more to do, which is good. And I’m hoping that he can resolve the conflict between the two Team Arrows. Because he was in another city when the vigilante franchise expansion happened, he can come to the situation with some much-needed perspective. And as someone who figuratively gave his life to save Ollie, my hope is that if Roy tells Queen he’s messing up, he’ll actually listen.

And boy is Oliver messing up. He still hasn’t resolved things with New Team Arrow. He won’t return mantle of Green Arrow to Diggle (probably because he loves being a hero). He won’t resign as mayor despite being massively compromised. He kidnapped a government witness in front of dozens of witnesses. And he won’t kill Anatoli, Diaz, and Siren for reasons unexplained. The fact is, Ollie needs to reassess his priorities and Roy is likely the only person left who can get him to do that.

Next: Arrow season 6, episode 14 recap: Civil war

My only concern with Roy’s return is that it might signal the end of Thea’s time on the show. Throughout this episode, Oliver and Thea discussed both her unresolved feelings for Roy and how Oliver’s life has gotten better since getting together with Felicity. In a rare moment of good judgment, Oliver rightly pointed out that she might be best served by leaving the city with Roy. With that conversation and Thea’s reduced role on the show in recent years, I can’t help but feel that this might be the start of her final arc. And with the return of the League of Assassins, I don’t get the feeling that she’s going to exit the series to go live on a pleasant farm.

Arrow airs on The CW Thursdays at 9 pm and will return on with a new episode on March 29.