Arrow: Keep Your Enemies Closer Review -

Arrow Review

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Episode: Keep Your Enemies Closer (Season 2, Episode 6)
  • Starring: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Willa Holland, Colton Haynes, Summer Glau
  • Written By: Ben Sokolowski & Beth Schwartz
  • Directed By: Guy Bee
  • Network: The CW
  • Studio: Warner Brothers, DC Comics
  • Series:

Arrow: Keep Your Enemies Closer Review

To Russia For Love

By Tim Janson     November 15, 2013

To Russia For Love on Arrow
© The CW
Would you like to know the biggest difference I see thus far in comparing Arrow to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  It is the fact that Arrow is written and directed by a core group that has been there since the beginning while S.H.I.E.L.D. thus far, and in looking at the credits for the next three episodes, have different writers and directors on each.  Look no further as to why Arrow has developed the kind of continuity that thus far has escaped AOS.  “Keep Your Enemies Closer” continues a string of strong episodes in the show’s sophomore season.

Diggle is abducted by agents of A.R.G.U.S. (Advanced Research Group United Support…kind of DC’s version of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and brought before the group’s Director, Amanda Waller.  Waller tells Diggle that his friend, Agent Lila Michaels has gone missing in Russia while following up a lead on Deadshot.  Oliver and Felicity join Diggle in traveling to Russia to search for Michaels who Diggle reveals as his ex-wife.  Complicating matters is Isabel Rochev (Glau) who tags along to keep an eye on Oliver.  

Once in Russia, Oliver utilizes his Russian organized crime contacts (which we saw in season one) to discover that Michaels is being held in a notoriously deadly gulag nicknamed “The Nightmare”.  Oliver’s Russian allies setup Diggle to be arrested and sent to prison under the guise of a drug charge where he must try to locate Lila and escape from the prison.  But Diggle is startled when he is placed in freezer isolation along with another prisoner…Deadshot!  Now Diggle has to put aside his hate for the man who killed his brother and work together with him to escape.

In the flashback sequences to the ship Amazo, Sarah tricks Oliver into revealing that Slade Wilson and Shado are still alive.  Ivo relates that his is looking for a World War II Japanese sub that was marooned there during the war, carrying a serum which was to be used to give soldiers superhuman strength and regenerative capabilities….hence, apparently, those weird, mutated skeletons that they found in a cave a few episodes back.

Oliver only appears as the Green Arrow briefly in the episode at the beginning which only makes sense as appearing in Russia at the same time Oliver Queen was there just MIGHT be a bit of a giveaway.  There were so many great elements to this episode that Joss Whedon ought to sit down and watch it about a hundred times before he produces another episode of S.H.I.E.L.D.  We got an episode that focused on Diggle who has developed into a wonderful supporting character and it was great to see him in the limelight instead of just being the sidekick.  The introduction of Amanda Waller infuses yet another element into the show and you wonder if she already has anything to do with Deadshot who is a member of The Suicide Squad in the comics.

Summer Glau has been someone wasted or at least overlooked thus far but she was finally able to do something other than scowl and berate Oliver, showing that she isn’t just a cold corporate exec and actually has a lot in common with Oliver.  At the same time, sexual tension between Oliver and Felicity cropped up after Ollie had a late night tryst with Isabel.  There was no sign at all of Laurel Lance this week whose recent gloomy angst has been about the only annoying aspect of the last few episodes.  And did everyone catch the TV in the background discussing the protests over the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator which seem to continue to hint at The Flash since this was the second such reference.  

My only knock on the episode keeping it from an A would be the simplistic and contrived plot that saw Diggle arrested and thrown into that particular prison, literally grabbed off the street and hauled off to the gulag.  Other than that tiny blip this was another great episode!


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Knightscream126 11/15/2013 1:26:28 AM

Yes.  Let me be the first to say that I LOATHE Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D! The only thing redemptive about that show is the Marvel image that flashes before each movie.  That's about the most action in EACH episode! Pathetic! Anyway, I kinda agree with the rating of this week's 'ARROW'.  I wish Felicity and Oliver would just hook up already.  Diggle gets his groove on with his ex-wife.  Felicity was the third wheel and had every right to treat Oliver like a jerk.  But enough of those minor details.  This episode was AWESOME! There are sometimes that I dread seeing these 'flashbacks on the island, in prison, etc.'  But they made good use to flesh out why Oliver kept so many secrets about what happened on the island.  I agree that the writting is far more superb than AOS.  Maybe they needed to fly Josh Whedon to LA instead of helping with 'THOR 2' (which by the way ROCKED!).  I will admit that 'Arrow' was at first going down the beaten path as 'Smallville' did originally.  But talk about a major detour! I can't wait til 'The Flash' story arc appears and all the other 'surprise guests' that will probably grace ARROW this season.  Though Arrow may not have super powers persay, but this show has awesome writters and an edge, which is more than I can say for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Iridan 11/15/2013 4:56:07 AM

I love this show, but for some reason, this episode did not grab me. Maybe the whole Russian plot of it seemed too contrived and too easy. Yeah, the break from Laurel for a week was nice, but the sexual tension with Felicity seemed to come out of nowhere. For an Arrow episode, I'd give it a C plus, but it's still better than most of what else is out there.

Funny how my two favorite shows (Arrow and Revolution) are on at the same time. I'd say that so far to me Revolution has been slighty better than Arrow this season. Why don't you guys cover that show?

mysterio 11/15/2013 6:13:27 AM


Im i the only one that sees some resemblance with the Isabel Rochev storyline and Oliver to the Dark Knight Returns? Miranda (Marion Collitard) infiltrates Wayne Enterprises as a business partner, (Rochev infiltrates Queen Industries as a business partner, Miranda sleeps w/ Bruce (Rochev sleeps w/ Oliver) Can u guys see where im going w/ this? Later to reveal that she is Talia al Ghul! Hints of H.I.V.E make this a real possibility.

redslayer 11/15/2013 6:28:01 AM

Felicity was really hurt by Oliver's "can't keep it in my pants" behavior

NO excuse Oliver!

SarcasticCaveman 11/15/2013 12:30:03 PM

 Just a thought - if it's not even possible to write a review of a show you like without mentioning yet again how much you thing "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." sucks, perhaps it's time to stop watching it and quit reviewing it.  Crazy idea, I know.

SarcasticCaveman 11/15/2013 12:33:47 PM

 But yes, this show is very good...I say very good instead of fantastic only because the relationship angst from pretty much every character just reminds me too much of Smallville bullshit.  I'm glad they managed to stray from most of the Smallville formula, but the CW just loves it's angst too much...they seem to love it SO much, it's a wonder they are stiill making Supernatural, a show with virtually NO romantic relationship angst.

Cimmerian666 11/16/2013 7:36:42 AM

 Suicide Squad by the 3rd season!

Abelstable 11/16/2013 7:59:21 AM

 I really don't get the hating on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  But haters always gonna hate.

I like the series and the episodes keep getting better and better.
I do hope that the series does link up with the next Marcel movies more, something like seeing Coulsons team on Captain America 2 or the next Avengers movie, that would be cool.

Also more supervillans and other Marvel heroes would be great, like mentioning a certain wallcrawler, the FF, Doctor Doom or something like that.


tjanson 11/16/2013 11:15:10 AM NO point did I say Agents of Shield "sucks".  If you look at all of my reviews fo the series so far they have been very positive...until the last two weeks.  I'm not going to let my desire for the show to do well cloud my analysis.  The show could take a tip from Arrrow...reduce the pool of writers and directors and try to be more fluid and consistent from week to week.

SarcasticCaveman 11/16/2013 3:04:40 PM

 I stand corrected, tjanson.  I don't know, just seems like nobody is ever pleased with anything S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing.  People complain about now character development, and then they complain when character development is attempted.  People complain about not enough ties to the movies, and then when a tie to one of the movies is explored, people complain about "name dropping" and other things.  It just has me scratching my head most of the time.

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