The Green Arrow takes a back seat to this season’s big bad here, as we learn more about the man who took over Star City, Ricardo Diaz.

Previously, on ARROW

Ricardo Diaz has been a bit of mystery all season long. He came in as a an apparent underling for hacktivist Cayden James and then emerged as the man behind the curtain, pulling all the strings, killing James and taking over the city. The new King of Star City gets the focus here, along with an origin, as our heroes take a backseat.

You might think Diaz is being set up as a tragic figure when the show flashes back to his youth in an orphanage, being bullied by an older orphan. His upbringing informs his life: he wanted to grow up to be someone who could never be kicked around again. Here, he enacts a plan to join the Quadrant, a cabal of crime lords based in Blüdhaven by offering up Star City as their own to do as they see fit.

When his contact within the Quadrant, the son of one of the members, double-crosses him, Diaz takes brutal vengeance. He uses the son to blow up the security in the Quadrant’s headquarters, then murders his father in front of his partners. All so he could feel important. The killing, though, gets him what he wants: a seat at the table.

Throughout his time in Blüdhaven, the Earth-2 Laurel is by his side, helping him achieve his goal of Quadrant membership and egging him on a bit to take more of an exception to being made to jump through hoops. Diaz seems to keep a cool demeanor, though his anger starts to seep through, as he brutalizes the son. Black Siren gets a little bit squeamish at Diaz’s increasing viciousness, especially when the crime lord finds his orphanage bully and lights him on fire to end the episode. While Laurel has been working a con to dupe her doppel-dad, she doesn’t seem convinced that Diaz is stable.

Almost the entire episode is devoted to Diaz and his machinations, with almost no involvement from our heroes. All we see in “Dragon” is Felicity and Curtis working on Helix business, which gives Felicity an opportunity to give some exposition to Mr. Terrific. In the background, we see Green Arrow involved in an explosion in The Glades, which causes Felicity to panic over Oliver’s safety after he went solo last episode. Oliver was fine, though, ensuring Felicity that he’ll “always come back.” He’s been killed or left for dead a couple of times by now, so it’s a pretty safe bet.

Kirk Acevedo as Ricardo Dragon carried this episode and really enhanced what could have been a snoozer without most of the main cast. Katie Cassidy held her own as well, as she’s much better suited to playing up her evil side since returning to the show.

With four episodes left, the build-up to the ending battle should be starting soon, and next week’s episode looks like it could raise the stakes a bit.