WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Arrow Season 6, Episode 2
The latest episode of Arrow dropped a bomb on its fans, with Oliver Queen deciding to quit crime fighting - and making John Diggle the new Green Arrow. The twist is sure to land even harder than expected on the fans, considering the other bombshell of the episode. But when all was said and done, the fact that Oliver Queen confirmed Bruce Wayne exists in the Arrowverse is but a footnote to the real story: that Oliver Queen's time under the hood of Green Arrow may truly be over.
Of course, there are sure to be many who doubt the commitment of either Oliver or the showrunners. After all, Oliver Queen has 'retired' from the role of vigilante once before - returning only when he had famously become "something else." But with Season 6 of Arrow making Oliver Queen not just a mayor, or a vigilante, but a father... the time may be right for him to get his priorities in check. And more importantly, hand the role of 'hero' over to the friend who stood by his side through it all.
Oliver The Hero... Or The Father?
There is plenty of valid criticism to offer when it comes to Arrow's use of the 'Oliver must quit' trope, having been turned to in one way or another over a half-dozen times by now. Whether it be a chance at happiness with Felicity Smoak, his identity 'outed' publicly, or facing a threat too great to oppose using only his vigilante alter ego. And, in the past, the writers and stars have responded openly. Fortunately, this return to the well rings truer than those previous. Why? Because in this case, Oliver is finally realizing that putting his life in danger isn't the same when he's all his son has left.
The mileage may vary for each audience member, especially those who prefer their Green Arrow to be playing the 'Robin Hood' trope and romancing Black Canary - not struggling with the angst of raising a son on his own. Regardless, in the context of Arrow's universe, Oliver's doubts about his new priorities is earned. With William's mother killed as a direct result of Oliver's commitment to crime fighting, he's forced to consider that his son could be the next casualty. And by episode's end, Oliver decides that he has reached an un-crossable line.
Oliver Queen is a father first... so there's only one decision he has left.
John Diggle is The New Green Arrow
It would be an understatement to say that John Diggle is dealing with his own problems, especially when it comes to being able to make the killshot when called for. The moral or ethical questions at work in that subplot are more complicated than ever (especially for fans already uncomfortable with Arrow's embrace of 'heroic' gun violence), but to others, it may seem like destiny intervening. Just as john Diggle is facing uncertainty in his decision to play a gun-toting vigilante, his friend Oliver comes calling with a new job offer: take up the bow and hood, and become Star City's new Green Arrow.
Technically, the job has only been offered, and whether or not John will accept is still up in the air. And to be perfectly honest, it wouldn't be that much of a change: John has stepped into the role more than once, when need as a distraction or alibi for an imprisoned Oliver Queen. There's no question he's up to the job where determination and heroism is concerned, but if Diggle accepts, then it puts many of star Stephen Amell's past comments into a brand new light.
In the lead-up to Season 6 of Arrow Amella emphasized that Oliver Queen would be a mentor more than ever before, and committed to demonstrating all the lessons learned in becoming Green Arrow. At the time, many took those quotes as a sign that he would continue to coach his teammates and new vigilante recruits. But if he's handing the role of Green Arrow to John Diggle, then perhaps the next several weeks will be spent with Oliver Queen training John to be... him.
If that's the case, then the next episode can't get here soon enough.
Arrow returns with "Next of Kin" @8pm on The CW, October 26, 2017.
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