The hiatus is over and our heroes from Arrow carry on their search for Adrian Chase. “Dangerous Liaisons” shines the spotlight on Felicity Smoak and Helix as she dips her toe in illegal waters.
So, we pick up at an abandoned arcade where Adrian Chase was spotted a couple hours previous, so an Argus team is working together with Team Arrow to catch the villain. As expected, Adrian had already escaped and rigged the place to attack our heroes while also using pixels to mock them. Trying to appeal to, I guess, the audience, the ever so (not) relatable Curtis is more upset about the classic games being destroyed.
Now back at his city hall office, Oliver finally has to make a statement to the press which doesn’t really go well because the journalists start drilling him, but getting nowhere due the mayor’s empty platitudes.
At Helix, Felicity is working with Alena on breaking into Argus’s network to get some up-to-date information. They find out the intel of Adrian being in New Jersey came from an Argus breach of security leading to the theory that Chase had an inside man promptly identified by the software. We see the same man, elsewhere, entering an elevator alive and, when the doors open again, he falls dead on the ground. Alena finds the body and is shocked.
Lyla, Oliver, and Dinah investigate the crime scene and ask Curtis and Felicity to check out the footage of the camera inside the elevator which was left hanging by its electrical wires. The footage is of the man seemingly struggling against an external force which they first think is an invisible metahuman, but eventually figure out that the elevator had been hacked into free-falling forty stories which, by itself, doesn’t appear to be a very Adrian-esque way of tying up of loose ends. Lyla makes a note that the man still had his Argus security key and, as Felicity checks out the hacking code from the elevator, she gets startled by something, and leaves the Arrow Cave in a rush.
Arriving at Helix with a heat, Felicity confronts Alena because she found out that it was her who hacked the elevator and killed the man by accident. Alena shows real signs of regret, but she had a “good cause”: Argus had taken the Best Hacker of The World™, Cayden James (the now rumored-to-be next season’s big villain), illegally and had been holding him without any sort of justice somewhere and Alena wants to release him. Obviously, she needs Felicity’s help who doesn’t even need to be coerced because it will be beneficial to her: Cayden was working on a biometric marker that could scan anywhere in the world—basically, a bigger and better version of that machine from The OA that captures individual heartbeats signatures—and, obviously, she can use that to track Adrian.
Lyla explains to Ollie and Diggle that the key card she took from the dead agent’s body was a great fake (given Alena had taken the original), but it the key alone isn’t able to do much in regards to obtaining access to Argus’s stuff: they implemented a dual entry safety measure that needs two different key cards from two different agents. The problem is she had all but one personnel with keys in lockdown so she recruits team Arrow to escort the remaining agent to the base from 20 miles out.
Alena reveals to Felicity that they will try to obtain the second key card and, given her 1:1 failure attempts to get keys without murder, she has hired mercenaries to exact the job. Cut to a team of vigilantes v. a team of mercenaries attempting to get hold of the key. Team Arrow initially gets the upper hand, but Felicity calls in and tells them to step down because letting them get away with the key will lead to Adrian.
So now Felicity is being confronted by Lyla and the two argue as Felicity doesn’t really get any support from either Oliver and Diggle. However, and this was the real kicker of the episode thanks to Emily Bett Rickards’s deliveries, she makes amazing points about this being an amazing opportunity to catch Chase and, if Argus won’t just release Cayden James, she will help Helix do it.
Lyla explains to Diggle and Oliver that she plans on using Cayden as bait in order to catch Helix, allowing them to come forwards first. Ollie is worried sick about how involved Felicity is with it and Diggle suggests he talk to her and try to get her out of the scheme. So, just as Felicity is leaving her flat, Ollie comes in to see that she is getting her hands dirty on this operation. He tries his best, appeals to her “sense of justice”, but this same “sense” is what’s motivating her to go after Chase—after all, her boyfriend got murdered due to Prometheus’s antics. Plus, Oliver doesn’t really have a high ground on “making hard decisions”. They ultimately agree that, given Ollie won’t give her *permission*, he will have to stop her.
Team Arrow reunites to discuss the meeting and everyone’s nerves are high given Felicity’s participation. Diggle and Lyla have a mild argument about Lyla’s methods and how she is reminding him of Amanda Waller which gets a brave defense from her as she claims that Waller’s decisions seem finer now that she stands on her shoes.
At Argus, the team is in position to stop the hacker-collective as we see inside the van where Helix is being driven to the facility. However, there’s a bait-and-switch as the van is actually going somewhere else entirely to extract Cayden. To make matters worse, Lyla had actually tricked Diggle and Oliver into thinking Cayden was where they are as she hoped Helix didn’t have the actual information about the hacker being held at an illegal black site which is the exact place Felicity and Alena arrived.
So now Helix had a head start and they use their hacking expertise to disable weapons and one of those Resident Evil-like chain laser beams that can cut through flash. Felicity and Alena use their key cards to open a container and rescue Cayden—his face remains hidden by a piece of cloth because, as stated, he will probably play a part some place down the line and Arrow didn’t want to compromise in casting just yet.
Nonetheless, Team Arrow finally arrives, Dinah is her usual amazing self—gosh, I really love her as Black Canary—Mr. Terrific uses his Terrific Balls to intimidate perps, and Oliver reaches the van with Cayden. However, he is interrupted by Felicity who turns on the laser beams just in time to allow the hackers to run away as she stops Oliver from interfering.
Felicity goes back to Helix Headquarters and finds it completely empty. Through a TV, Alena talks to her and explains that, due to Felicity’s connection to the Green Arrow, she is a liability even if she loved working with her hero and how thankful she is for her help in getting Cayden, Helix’s founder, back. So now, Helix has moved to a more secure place and is cutting ties with Felicity, but not before leaving her with a flash drive containing the biometric technology necessary to catch Adrian.
During the last minutes, two shocks: Lyla and Diggle finally talk deeper about the mission with focus on John being completely not okay with Lyla’s methods and the indication is that they will split up their marriage. Then, Felicity arrives at the Arrow Cave to use the device and meets Oliver—they obviously ended up emotionally hurt by each another’s actions. As the computer is running, it points to Adrian being at inside the bunker with them. The episode ends with a huge explosion hitting the former duo.
So, now that that’s out of the way, there was also a side plot that, while it has my absolute praise for the writers on trying to expand and show more of the other character, it also got me extremely bored and sleepy. Basically, it’s a continuation of René’s story with his daughter after Curtis had told him about a lawyer that could help him get tutelage of her again. Quentin starts interfering with his wishes as Rene feels like he isn’t ready yet because he had hurt Zoey by accident. Thus, Quentin arranges for a meeting between René and Zoey which goes smoothly and emotional and manages to get him back on track to get his daughter back from the system.
Once again, I applaud the writers’ decision specially because they seem to actually want to show more of the other members of Team Arrow—Curtis’s failed marriage with his ex-husband, Diggle’s plot with the army and then Lyla, René’s drama with his family, Dinah’s old lover—and it’s even better because they are all people of color. However, I feel like these stories never really come up organically: without explanation, Rene’s got benched from Team Arrow this week, for example, being relegated to the daughter stuff only. It was nice, however, how Quentin was making the effort to reconnect a father and a child as he is still grieving Laurel’s death.
(Sidenote: if only you guys could see the face of disappointment I made when I had to hear René tell Quentin “I guess you can teach a dog some new tricks… even Wild ones”. Like… ugh.)
The other part of the episode was actually kind of great. Unlike a big chunk of the fandom, I actually am a big fan of Felicity even when the writing pains me off as she often gets treated to comic relief and “fun” one liners—a role Curtis had to, annoyingly, play in this episode given Felicity’s more serious arc. Honestly, I believe Felicity being away from Oliver really gave me a better sense of appreciation for her character and Helix did wonders as well, putting her on a more ambiguous alignment as she resorted to illegal-ish ways to get information. Therefore, I will miss the hacker collective and what it brought to season 5, but, hey, we will always have “Dangerous Liaisons”.