I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t like Wild Dog at all when he was first introduced in the last season. I immediately disliked his codename, costume, and figured we don’t need another guy who specializes in guns when we already have John Diggle’s Spartan. That being said, as the show revealed more about the character, he grew on me. After this season’s midseason finale, I concluded he was a perfect addition to the team, even if he did compromise Team Arrow’s secrecy. I think he’s the best because of the way his character contrasts with the others on the team.
I gathered that the show would use his character to contrast with others early on in season 5, but the most prominent moment to me was in episode 5×13 “Spectre of the Gun”. This episode was bold in the decision to tackle such a hot and controversial topic in America, yet seemingly pointless in the end because there was no real resolution that was made known to the audience, just discourse from either side. Curtis (Mr. Terrific) makes his stance known that he is all for gun control, reminding René, that as a black man, he is more susceptible to be shot at. René, on the other hand, is against gun control as we found via flashbacks, his wife was shot and killed in their home and he was able to kill the suspect with a gun of his own, which ultimately led to their daughter being put into foster care. Both opinions are completely justified, but René’s character was used to show a viewpoint that opposes that of most of the other characters and assuming the audience’s majority-liberal demographic, theirs too.
Like Oliver, René is a father who’s just trying to do right by his child who no longer has a biological mother. But unlike Oliver, he’s single, has known his child his whole life, and has to fight to gain custody. His custody battle with the court has been one of the subplots of the last season that I actually enjoyed; it shed light on how custody cases favor the mother over the father—even if the former is deceased, apparently—and on the importance of a father figure in a child’s life, especially in the crazy streets of Star City where it is all too easy to give in to the life of crime. It also showed that vigilante or not, the child’s needs always come first. Oliver is still learning how to parent the already teenage William and understandably makes some mistakes along the way. So when René gave him some parental advice on lying to kids when necessary in episode 6×02 “Tribute”, it fit perfectly and reminded the audience that René has experience in raising children and because of their somewhat similar situation, Oliver can always look to him for advice, even if René is no longer on Team Arrow.
In the next episode, we see René once again stepping up with brute honesty when the rest of Team Arrow didn’t. In the episodes prior to that, we see Diggle (Spartan) struggling with an injury he received in last season’s finale. To my understanding, he has shrapnel in his arm from the blast which causes his hand to shake, making him less capable and consequently less confident on the field. When asked to take over as Green Arrow, that lack of confidence on the field shows when he hesitates to make important calls, jeopardizing the whole mission. In episode 6×03 “Next of Kin”, René tells it straight up to Oliver: Diggle’s head isn’t in the game and Team Arrow needs Oliver as Green Arrow. At this time, nobody knew about Diggle’s injury except for Dinah (Black Canary 2.0), but his hesitation in the field was very obvious and Oliver had to know. Oliver doesn’t actually put on the hood again until episode 6×07 “Thanksgiving”, but René was the first one on the team to oppose Diggle’s new position and speak up.
Lastly, in this season’s midseason finale, René made a decision that many Arrow fans disagree with. Agent Watson had proof that he was Wild Dog and was going to use it against him in his case to regain custody of his daughter. As a compromise, he agreed to stand as a witness to Oliver being Green Arrow. Granted, if he would’ve just spoken to the team about it, they could’ve worked it out, but he saw no way through.
After a mission goes awry because he and Curtis didn’t follow Oliver’s orders, René once again had the courage to speak up and admit it was his idea, “Look, man, I know you’re pissed at me and I don’t care.” Wow. You know how refreshing it is to see someone stand up to Oliver and point out his hypocrisy? Very. Oliver left them in the dark and Lance needed to be saved, so they acted. This led Oliver to “fire” René from the team (ain’t none of them getting paid) and Curtis and Dinah to quit in retaliation.
No doubt René is going to catch some heat, but I love his character and what he brings to the table. He’s my boy.
What do you think about René? Who’s your favorite “newbie”? Let me know in the comments!
Catch up on the latest of Arrow here.
Nothing but love.