REVIEW: Arrow, S6 Ep03 – Next of Kin

Oliver juggles the numerous responsibilities associated with being both a mayor and a father, while also being suspected as the Green Arrow by the FBI. So it’s time for someone else to take up the mantle in order to draw attention away from Oliver, as well as give him a break. That someone is Oliver’s most trusted friend and teammate John Diggle. “Next of Kin” picks up with Diggle embracing his new role as the Green Arrow and serving as the leader of Oliver’s rat pack. Diggle soon discovers that being a leader is not all it’s cracked up to be and struggles in his new position.

The New Green Arrow

Despite sustaining an injury during the explosions on Lian Yu and not being as sharp as he once was, Diggle accepts Oliver’s offer no questions asked. While we may not agree with his decision, it’s interesting to see a character like Diggle have his pride and his loyalty get the best of him. “Next of Kin” even gives us a glimmer or hope that Diggle may in fact be up to the task. He struggles at first, but ultimately succeeds in leading the team in taking down this episode’s forgettable villain-of-the-week with grace and confidence. He even seems to have his aim back in control, firing his new crossbow with precision. For the most part this short story of perseverance is somewhat satisfying.

Of course, if Diggle really were this perfect at being the new Green Arrow, there probably wouldn’t be any reason for Oliver to ever return. So, “Next of Kin” adds a little twist at the very end that makes for a compelling and dark turn for Diggle. Diggle is taking a certain back alley drug to control his shakes, resulting in him being able to focus on his leadership abilities.

Watching this episode I did feel like we’ve been here before. For one, this is not the first time Diggle has had to put the Green Arrow costume on. Secondly, this isn’t the first time we’ve had a character facing substance abuse issues. So, on the one hand it does feel like Arrow is retreading old ground. Still, I am finding myself engaged in Diggle’s story. Thankfully, these moments in “Next of Kin,” which served as the episode’s main plot, were the better moments in the episode.

Diggle’s story isn’t enough to save this episode, though. Unfortunately, “Next of Kin” still focuses a lot on Oliver’s awkward new position as the worst father in Star City. Oliver as a parent is still something I’m not used to, and it’s not something I think I can ever get used to. There’s just not much there to pique my interest either. This subplot did result in a new development, but again, it feels like Arrow is rehashing certain aspects from previous seasons. Olicity fans, rejoice! Oliver and Felicity might once again become a thing.

Wild Dog isn’t sure about the new leader

“Next of Kin” was definitely a mixed bag. While the Diggle plot was compelling, Oliver’s parenting story is dull and uninteresting. The Diggle plot did result in some interesting moments between Diggle and Dinah and Diggle and Oliver. I especially enjoyed seeing Rene become increasingly worried that Diggle probably wasn’t the best pick for team leader. But like the audience, Rene’s worries were seemingly for naught as Diggle came out on top in the end.

While this episode was plagued with some problems, so far it was the best we’ve seen this season. The previous two episodes felt almost unwatchable. “Next of Kin” at least concludes with new developments that can potentially take the series into some new territory. There may be a new anti-vigilante bill passed in Star City depending on a vote, which adds more stress on Diggle as he needs to make sure he proves himself as a vigilante worth keeping around. Also, the FBI is still suspicious of Oliver and his friends, and is getting closer to uncovering the truth.

Next week Katie Cassidy returns as Black Siren and will go up against the new Green Arrow. Check out The CW’s official trailer for “Reversal” below and feel free to let us know what you thought of “Next of Kin” in the comments.

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