Review by Logan
If ever Oliver’s team has been in a tight spot, it’s now.
Brick has succeeded in blackmailing the cops out of the Glades, and maintains total control. That leaves Arsenal and Canary to do all of the police work, which no matter how hard they try, is impossible. Brick just has too many men. And with Oliver still recovering, and the rest of the team thinking he’s dead, things don’t look too good.
Then Merlyn shows up, saying that he also has an interest in Brick, and offers to work with the Arrow team to kill Brick himself. So yet again, a moral dilemma is raised: can the team ever justify killing a villain?
That’s exactly what this episode is getting at, from a thematic standpoint. The episode is a great one because it has some of the coolest action sequences yet, not to mention incredible teamwork from Arsenal and Canary, but that’s not the main point. The question has to be answered: what do we do about Brick? Because it seems that there’s no other way to go about this than to kill him. He has too much power and he’s too difficult to take down. How can they possibly do it without Merlyn’s help? And how can they enlist Merlyn’s help without signing a death warrant?
The arguments that the episode makes, both implicitly and through dialogue, for Brick’s death are quite convincing. In fact, I found myself racking my brain trying to figure out if there was a truly justifiable aspect, from a Christian point of view, to look at the situation. I at least had to admit that it was not an easy situation to reckon with. But then came a line of Diggle’s that will stick with me for a very long time.
Diggle talks to Merlyn after the team decides what they’re doing. And while he admits that they might be outnumbered and overpowered, Diggle says, in reference to enlisting Merlyn’s help, “That’s just the first step . . . to becoming like you.” Lest we should forget what “like you” means, the nature of Merlyn being a killer is directly mentioned several times, and we’re given more backstory to lead up to that point. The show does, as it has previously, imply a chance at redemption for Malcolm, but as far as it concerns the nature of their tactics, the team wants to keep a reign on themselves. Perhaps an even more compelling line is when Diggle says “I don’t know if we made the right choice. But we made the right decision.”
The conflict is not a new one, even in the superhero genre, but it’s still a much-needed one. It draws from what’s called teleological and deontological ethics. Teleological ethics is the belief that actions are moral or immoral based on the end that they bring, not necessarily the morality of the actions themselves. Deontological ethics, on the other hand, is the idea that the specific and individual actions are what need to be judged, not the outcome. The former justifies an “ends justifies the means” approach, which is what seems the necessary result at first. But Diggle’s second line brings about an important point: once you start down that line of thinking, how do you know where it will end up?
There are many things to like about this episode. So old favorite side characters get brought back up, the action is phenomenal, the drama is compelling, and the cheesiness, while still present, is kept to a minimum. But the thing I like best about this episode is that it really made me stop and think. To think about the importance not just of being moral, but of thinking about morality the right way. It’s not often that a TV show does that, least of all a superhero show.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” – Proverbs 14:12