“The Longbow Hunters” sets up a weak status quo for the season. The more ARROW commits to a season without the Green Arrow, the weaker it gets. This episode has some interesting storylines with its other team members, but they all revolve around Oliver. His prison sentence seems to be a death sentence for expectations.
This episode mostly centers on the conflict between Felicity and John. Now that Team Arrow has disbanded, the two are at odds with how to pursue Diaz. The reason this plot doesn’t work well for the episode is that their conflict is one-sided. Felicity has some great motivations, and it helps that we got to see her fight Diaz last week. But Diggle has gotten next to no screen time so far to ground him in the season’s story line. One awkward encounter with his superior doesn’t put him on an even playing field with Felicity. Their inter-personal conflict is too unbalanced to keep the episode interesting.
They also aren’t in conflict with interesting enemies. For an episode called “The Longbow Hunters,” we get little action that centers on these villains. The fearsome trio appears to be little more than a Graves-twins-knockoff and a human silencer. It doesn’t help that they’ve partnered with the still vaguely powerful villain, Ricardo Diaz, who only appears for a second. While the silencer makes for some cool directorial choices, they make next to no impact in their titular debut.
Even the flash-forwards don’t offer much mystery. Part of this is due to how fresh they are, as we don’t know what leads William and Roy to this dark future. However, ARROW doesn’t give viewers much to work with. We learn that Felicity has died, and that everyone else is… not there? The future ARROW is pushing offers little incentive to try and crack what’s happened. It’s nice to see Roy Harper back, but if we don’t know what’s he’s doing back, then what’s the point?
The big problem with “The Longbow Hunters” – that may extend to the season – is Oliver’s status. Oliver’s prison plot line isn’t strong enough to center an episode on. That’s why the show probably focused more on Felicity and Diggle. However, Oliver is still the main character of this show, and he’s not acting like one. Oliver’s conflict with the other prisoners and the guard isn’t interesting, because we know little about them. Everything concerning Oliver so far hasn’t given ARROW much to work with.
There isn’t enough that “The Longbow Hunters” tees up for it to work as an episode. It doesn’t look like ARROW will have any Arrow in it for a while, so what’s the point? Felicity teaming up with the agent that put Oliver away seems like a story line doomed to repeat her conflict with Diggle. The most interesting side character squabble is between Rene and Dinah, and that plays no role in this episode. Even the mysterious new Green Arrow isn’t around. This episode sets a dangerous precedent for what could be a very boring, inconsequential season of ARROW.