Warning: spoilers ahead for the eighteenth episode of Arrow Season 6, called "Fundamentals."
Season 6 has been a rough one for the good guys of Arrow, and they've been losing ground to the bad guys on a regular basis from episode to episode. Team Arrow splintered after the newbie trio decided to leave rather than risk Original Team Arrow continuing to surveil them, and Diggle took his leave from Team Arrow in last week's episode. It was down to Oliver and Felicity in "Fundamentals," and Oliver didn't exactly rise to the occasion from start to finish, which leads to the question: is Arrow setting Oliver up to fail in Season 6?
As great as this episode was, it wasn't too great for old Oliver. Our hero, for all his good intentions and good heart, is notorious for not learning valuable lessons the first time around, although there are some that he really ought to have had drummed into his head by this point in his sixth year as the Emerald Archer of Star City. Unfortunately, "Fundamentals" proved that Oliver's tendency to regress is still going strong despite all the growth he was supposed to have gone through in previous seasons, and he seems doomed to fail on his own if his behavior doesn't change soon.
Good old Oliver spent most of the episode reeling with the Vertigo that wound up in his bloodstream, and he was handling it even worse than he did when exposed to the drug way back in Season 1. He began hallucinating, seeing everything from a still-alive Prometheus taunting him to Felicity leaving him to the whole world turning upside down. At a certain point, he couldn't even discern his hallucinations from reality, and he very nearly exposed his identity to the corrupt SCPD by the end of the episode. Felicity, dressed in civvies and without backup, had to try and convince him not to head into what was either a suicide mission or a mission that would end with both of them exposed. Oliver's abilities as a vigilante were called into question in this episode.
Admittedly, the Vertigo wasn't really Oliver's fault, and he did attempt to make amends for what he did wrong while under the influence of the drug. Still, he'll have to deal with the consequences forever due to the fact that he's been impeached as mayor. His job as mayor was one of the few stable-ish things he had going in his life other than Felicity and William, and it seems that Diggle's departure affected him more than he wanted to admit. Oliver's ability to perform his job as mayor was taken from him in this episode. Now, I've been of the opinion from the very beginning that Oliver wasn't the right fit for the position of mayor due to his complete lack of qualifications, but watching Arrow take that from Oliver at this point was rough.
The biggest sign that Oliver is regressing and may be set up to fail came at the end of the hour. After spending a big chunk of the hour dressed in the suit he wore as the Hood back in Season 1, Oliver decided that the time had come to go back to the "fundamentals" of his work as a vigilante of Star City, and that means more than just wearing his old hood and going back to the greasepaint disguise rather than a mask. He intends to carry on his mission as the Green Arrow all by his lonesome, which... even Oliver tripping on Vertigo should know better than to want to fight crime solo again, especially facing such a formidable threat as Ricardo Diaz and all the people in the government whose loyalty he bought.
Oliver almost died more than once before he partnered with Diggle, and he became far more effective as a crime-fighter once he brought superhacker Felicity into the fold. Besides, Oliver has explicitly learned more than once that going solo isn't the way to help people in Star City. Does Arrow want Oliver to fall to his lowest point in Season 6? If so, why? Is this so Team Arrow-less can swoop in to save the day and claim that they were right all along? Is it so Digg can get some time in the spotlight? Is this in service of what will come in Season 7? Is it so Oliver can rise up better and stronger than ever before? What is going on?
We'll have to wait and see. I know I wouldn't mind seeing more of Diggle, especially after we saw so little of him in "Fundamentals," but ideally not at the cost of Oliver regressing. Hopefully Arrow will deliver some answers sooner rather than later. New episodes air on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. For more viewing options, check out our midseason TV premiere guide and summer TV premiere schedule.