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Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 8 of Arrow Season 7, called "Unmasked."
After Arrow ended Season 6 with Oliver Queen outing himself as the Green Arrow not too long after Star City passed anti-vigilante legislation, the question on many fans' minds has been how exactly the star of a show called Arrow could start toting a bow and arrow again. Sure, there are some other archers running around the Arrow-verse and Oliver is capable of functioning without kicking ass and taking names under a hood, but it was difficult to imagine an Arrow without Oliver as the Green Arrow.
Well, "Unmasked" revealed how Arrow can continue with Oliver as the Green Arrow, and the solution is as straightforward and simple as it is unexpected in my book. Oliver is simply going to resume his work as the Green Arrow while working for the SCPD.
Yes, really. Oliver spent much of the episode struggling to get used to life on the outside after his traumatizing experiences in Slabside as well as adjust to the ways people changed while he was in the clink. Felicity's dark turn that resulted in her very nearly murdering Diaz in cold blood shocked Oliver to the core. He was appalled that she had begun carrying a gun, and not just because she'd gotten it from Anatoly.
Basically, he had a lot going on in his personal life, but that didn't stop him from getting involving in fighting crime again. The new Green Arrow seemingly attacked a gala being thrown in Oliver's honor as he and his friends tried to spread awareness and promote prison reform. People were killed, naturally leading the authorities to believe that Emerald Archer 2.0 was a baddie after all.
The former members of Team Arrow weren't so sure, even after Oliver checked out the arrow and vouched for it being a carefully constructed weapon that you can't exactly buy on Amazon. Dinah decided that Oliver could help with the case as a consultant working with the SCPD, so he joined her and Rene as they reached out to the new Green Arrow.
The new Green Arrow wasn't thrilled to see that Rene hadn't come alone, as directed. The person beneath the hood ran off, and the other three gave chase, with Oliver proving that he hadn't lost his talent for chasing across rooftops and jumping from building to building. He got a taste of his own medicine when the new Green Arrow used a trick arrow with a line to zip line away, leaving him behind.
Although the attempt to catch the new Green Arrow failed, the good guys weren't without leads. As it turned out, the men who had been killed were all former members of a Yale secret society, and Oliver just so happened to know another member of the group: Max Fuller.
Longtime Arrow fans will remember Max Fuller as the one-off character who held an understandable grudge against Oliver after Oliver slept with his wife-to-be at their rehearsal dinner, and he didn't handle it well when Oliver and Tommy walked into his club back in Season 1. In fact, he got his goons to beat the stuffing out of the two, as Oliver had to pretend not to have fighting skills at the time. Oh, early Season 1...
Anyway, Max quickly proved to be as arrogant and sketchy as ever as he shared some info with Oliver, even as he was clearly hiding something. Oliver wasn't sure what, but the truth came out a bit later when Oliver and Felicity had a discussion interrupted at their apartment by the arrival of a killer who specialized in mimicking the attack styles of others, such as the new Green Arrow.
The killer was stopped after Felicity shot him and Oliver punched his lights out, and he left a clue that tipped Oliver off to Max Fuller's involvement. They had the evidence they needed to bring him in, but there was every chance that he could run, and the SCPD couldn't barge into his club when it was filled to capacity. Enter the original recipe Green Arrow.
Oliver retrieved a spare Green Arrow suit from Diggle and assured his pal that he wasn't giving up his determination to stop the cycle of violence. He also left behind the mask, symbolizing his determination to fight the good fight without hiding his identity. Also, explaining the title of the episode, because why not?
In a fight sequence worthy of Season 1 when Oliver was the only vigilante hitting the streets, Oliver invaded Max's club and began slowly disposing of the goons, including taking one down with a behind-the-back shot that was pretty awesome. Although he wasn't killing these men, they certainly weren't going to be getting up any time soon.
After more scuffling, Oliver wound up throwing Max through a window, When he tried to argue that Oliver couldn't arrest him seeing as he was just a plain old vigilante, Dinah popped up to say that she could arrest him. When they arrived back at the SCPD precinct, the mayor was not happy with Dinah for using Oliver, and Dinah's position as captain is clearly in jeopardy.
Nevertheless, Dinah stood her ground against the mayor and stated that working with Oliver as the Green Arrow was not in violation of the anti-vigilante law due to the fact that the SCPD was hiring Oliver. The mayor scoffed and stated that she'd have this "hiring" thrown out by the next day. Dinah simply said that she's pretty sure the District Attorney would back her up in this case. Who would have guessed how handy Black Siren's unlikely role as DA would come in?
And there we have it! Oliver Queen can be the Green Arrow again by virtue of actively and officially working with the SCPD. Do we kind of have to ignore how murder-happy Oliver was in earlier seasons to accept an easy transition into an official role with the SCPD? Perhaps. But it is arguably the cleanest and least contrived way Oliver could become the Green Arrow once more. It certainly beats Star City being flooded by amnesia gas or Barry Allen resetting the timeline again to give Oliver his secret identity back!
We may have a while to wait before we find out exactly how Oliver functions as a public Green Arrow on an ongoing basis. The next episode of Arrow will be the middle leg of the big "Elseworlds" crossover that promises to turn the Arrow-verse upside down and put Oliver in a red cowl rather than a green hood. To watch the big three-show event, start off with The Flash on a special night on Sunday, December 9 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. It continues with Arrow on December 10, then wraps up with Supergirl on December 11.