Many times, the superhero shows and movies we enjoy tend to stick to a similar format: focusing on the good guy and his/her struggles and ultimate triumph over the bad guy. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’ve always been one who believes (and likes to see) the good guy come out on top. But, there’s a part of all of us that likes to know what makes the bad guy tick—I think it’s human nature. In fact, a lot of great creators have often found the villains to be more interesting and complex than their hero counterparts.
Tonight’s episode of Arrow did just that. It explored Diaz and brought us into a world that we thought we wanted to know, but may regret having now seen.
For starters, I’ve been a fan of Kirk Acevedo’s work as an actor for a long time. He’s always done a good job at making me believe in his roles and characters. While I was super pumped when I saw he would be in Arrow, I had some reservations. Not because of him, but more so how the show would or could use him. He’s portrayed some intense characters before and since Arrow isn’t on some premium channel, where you can unleash a bit more, I didn’t know how wild things could get.
Then I watched tonight and realized what he and Arrow can do together.
For starters, it was nice to see a reverse episode of sorts, with the focus on Diaz and with Ollie and Co. more in the background. To my earlier point, I think a lot of us have been wondering what Diaz is all about and what makes him tick. Unlike Cayden James or Adrian Chase, we hadn’t gotten a glimpse into his background so that we could understand his motivations. Well, that changed tonight…
The best way to describe tonight was that it was a slow burn that eventually got to the point where it just absolutely ignited—literally.
I liked that all we got tonight from Diaz’s backstory was a short flashback to his youth. That scene set the tone quickly and there was no need to keep referencing back to it—you understood that it was probably what planted the seed for the path that Diaz would eventually go down. I kind of attributed his need for acceptance by the Quadrant (more on them shortly) as the old scars left on him at the hands of his tormentor. It was interesting to me because I thought Diaz was this macho “Screw ‘em! I’ll do it myself!” guy, but I saw something a little different tonight.
I knew it was a means to an end for him to do a job for that guy with the promise that they would put a good word in for him with the Quadrant. I guess I just wasn’t expecting him to actually do their bidding, especially not twice. But I think that adds a new layer to his character. What I mean is, maybe the fallout of his childhood scars caused him to need approval by bigger and badder people later in life?
I enjoyed the idea of having Laurel tag along with him this episode, too. It was a good way to illustrate just how nuts Diaz is. Look, Laurel is bad, I have no doubt about it. She’s done some terrible things, but when you see her reactions to Diaz’s behavior, it kind of makes you even more repulsed by him. I really think the escalation of his madness tonight was the combo of Laurel’s reactions, Acevedo’s acting and the pacing and writing of the episode.
I’ll be honest. I had to turn away at the end there. That was intense and pretty shocking. It makes me wonder, though…why didn’t Diaz take that guy out long ago? Why now? It kind of feels like that moment was a “rebirth” of sorts for Diaz—like he was set “free” from his childhood pain. It’s scary to think where he’ll go now…
My favorite part of tonight was the reveal of the Quadrant. I guess I just assumed that Diaz was the top dog in Star City and its surrounding area. But now that we know there’s this underground crime society that’s operating and that has more power than Diaz—and that has Diaz wanting to be a part of it—I just don’t know what to think. Who are they? What’s their end game? Will Diaz eventually overthrow them? We only get little hints with the scene of them at the table, but I want to know more.
Guess we’ll have to wait a week.
Until next time!
Matt Ross covers Arrow as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. Catch new episodes of Arrow Thursdays at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on The CW.