With an episode aptly titled “Brotherhood,” Arrow has little use for subtlety in conveying its central themes of the week. It’s not going to lurk in the shadows demonstrating what the idea of brotherhood, both blood and bond, means to Diggle, Oliver, the soldiers on Lian Yu, and others. And there’s no reason to — just as Oliver ultimately decides it’s best to do battle in the broad light of day, “Brotherhood” decides to drive at the heart of its purpose with plenty of force.
So James Bamford stepping in as director feels of a piece with the story being told. Yes, there’s his touted extended one-shots at the center of the episode, but his direction of the entire episode clarifies, rather the obfuscates. He employs a number of smaller yet still lengthy tracking shots, some hanging just a beat or two longer than most TV editing would dictate, to let the choreography of a scene, whether it’s a fight or a conversation, take center stage.
At the direct center of it all is Diggle. Having learned his brother’s true nature (or at least, as true as a file’s notes can be), he feels betrayed. Oliver wants to give him the benefit of the doubt and consider there’s another side to Andy, but with his brother dead, he has little chance to defend himself.
Or so Diggle assumes. When Ray gives the team a lead on a pulled Ghost tooth, he discovers more than expected at Wolfman Biologics. (Ray is still operating under the cover of presumed death, much to the chagrin of Felicity.) While handling a pack of Ghosts and picking up a synthetic compound tying back to a Biologics patent, Diggle has to incapacitate a Ghost to save himself and Laurel. That Ghost just so happens to be Andy Diggle, alive and well…and apparently evil. He attacks his brother and flees, leaving Diggle with his life and a whole mess of questions.
With this new piece of information, Oliver doubles down on his belief that they need to give Andy some leeway. Yes, he’s been presumed dead for eight years and Diggle just discovered he may have been involved in a number of illicit activities, but Oliver believes there must be an explanation for it all. Diggle is less willing to afford his brother that opportunity because, to him, his brother is dead. The man he met at Wolfman was not the Andy he knew.
And if Ollie has little hope of getting on the same page as his brother in combat, Laurel has even less of a chance despite their unusual connection. Yet she gives it the old college try, trying to commiserate with Diggle at the police gala where Oliver is speaking. They both have had previously thought-dead siblings return to their lives, and happened to have been involved with a clandestine group of trained killers.
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Still, Diggle isn’t quite ready to move on from his frustration and simply trust this re-emerged Andy. Losing him led to the darkest period in Diggle’s life, and as much as the idea of him returning is something Diggle has imagined, as he tells Lyla later, Diggle is scared to put false hope into what may be a lost cause.
His brother is a member of Damien Darhk’s army, but Andy isn’t the only one surprisingly involved with Darhk. After learning that Damien’s trust in Quentin is wavering, Oliver has an unexpected possible gift thrown into his lap when Darhk approaches him at the gala. He wants to offer his support to Oliver’s campaign and believes the two can work together to the benefit of Star City. Of course, Ollie is running unopposed, so the offer strikes him as odd, and Damien comes clean with what he actually wants.
NEXT: Everybody wants to save Andy…except for Diggle