Previously on ARROW

With the Ninth Circle, along with Oliver’s half-sister Emiko, running rampant around Star City, Team Arrow looks for some help. Diggle suggests turning to a Four-Star General who may be able to assist them. He just neglects to tell Oliver that the general is also his stepfather, who Diggle blames for the death of his father.

This opens the doors for a guest spot from the always-awesome Ernie Hudson as General Roy Stewart. The general has secrets of his own, ranging from classified military intelligence that the Ninth Circle is targeting to the truth about the death of Diggle’s dad. Gen. Stewart has probably kept certain secrets for decades, protecting the integrity and national security of the United States. But as soon as his stepson comes along, nearly getting him killed by terrorists, he spills everything.

I half expected Stewart to be revealed as a member of the Ninth Circle by the end of the episode. If this were the comics where the Ninth Circle were introduced, General Stewart definitely would have been a member. They were like the nWo in 1997, pretty much everyone joined at some point. Thankfully, the episode managed to surprise me by keeping Stewart as a good guy who wants Diggle to be the best he can be.

In fact, the conflict between Diggle and Stewart manages to get resolved in just an hour of television, with a little help from Oliver and Felicity hacking some classified information. It’s a nice diversion from the usual tropes the show used to struggle with, dragging out conflict like this for the sake of drama. But with just a handful of episodes left in the season – and not many left for the series overall, in fact – we’re getting things sped up a bit.

I also like the references to some fan theories about John Diggle that this episode brings up. Before Diggle took on the codename of Spartan, some theorized that he could end up getting a Green Lantern ring, which would make him John Stewart, the soldier-turned-engineer who took over as Green Lantern of Earth for Hal Jordan. In the comics, Gen. Roy Stewart is the grandfather of Green Lantern John Stewart.

Will the ARROWVERSE future follow comic book continuity here? Well, we’d have to wait to find out, but from the reference to John Diggle Jr. made in the flash-forwards here – the adoptive brother of Connor Hawke – it’s unlikely. JJ is revealed to be working with Deathstroke in this episode, and sends some thugs after Connor and Mia.

Though, to be fair, the show is completely losing me whenever they flash forward to the future. We’re getting some ideas as to how Felicity’s Archer program got to be manipulated, though. Current Felicity may have self-destructed the program to keep it out of the hands of the Ninth Circle. But her SmoakTech cohort Alena kept the root code for herself after getting some interest in the program from Will Magnus (in the comics, the creator of the Metal Men). I imagine we’ll see Alena aligned with the bad guys in the future sometime soon.

This season has gone through a few bad guys who looked like maybe they would be the Big Bad. We started with Ricardo Diaz and Stanley Dover and moved to Dante and the Ninth Circle. But they’re all dead now. That leaves Emiko Queen, who took Dante out this episode, putting her firmly in charge of the Ninth Circle. There’s not much time left in the season, so it’s looking like she’s going to give Oliver some problems over the next few weeks.