For those of you who were heartbroken to hear that John Jr., aka JJ (Charlie Barnett), grew up to be a career criminal inArrow's flash-forwards, you may not want to give up on John and Lyla's son just yet. Sure, he seems like a murderous mastermind leading Star City to ruin as the head of the Deathstroke Gang, but he's still our little JJ -- right?
Arrow's most recent episode saw him take a decidedly dark turn, luring his brother and the new Team Arrow into a black market trap while taking poor William (Ben Lewis) hostage. Since we're past the point where we can just yell at these kids to play nice and get along, it raises the question, is JJ beyond redemption at this point? According to Barnett, a turbulent upbringing with Connor (Joseph David Jones) played a big factor in JJ's turn to a life of crime, but we may not want to write JJ off as a lost cause just yet.
"It's hard. It's family," Charlie Barnett told TV Guide. "I think with family you can say in your head, you can play it out in your mind a million times, 'We're done! I'm never going back. I'll never allow that to happen again.' And it's a lot more difficult than you can ever imagine, because these are people that most of the time know you better than anyone else and have seen you grow and thus know who you are at your core in a way that many other people don't. I think that inlet or allowance gives way to a teeter-totter effect for JJ. I will say he was raised by incredibly good people, and that can never be lost. I think he balances between those questions all the time."
Obviously knowing that your mom was a super-secret agent while your dad was the Green Arrow's right-hand man would instill heroism in you from a young age, but nothing is ever that simple. When you add in that Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) might have been Harbinger this whole time, as this episode seemed to imply, and the fact that having larger-than-life parents doesn't always lend itself to a happy, healthy home environment, we have to wonder whether Lyla and Diggle's (David Ramsey) double lives did more harm than good some days.
"I think -- in my mind, my little secret -- is later in life, [JJ] figures out who his parents really are and what they do, and that on top of it just makes it so much more, for lack of a better word, I want to say f---ed," Barnett said. "That just makes it so much more complicated and twisted. Because it's like you are these huge heroes and you weren't even protecting your son or helping your son. What's up with that? That feeds into the bigger picture into what JJ's whole personality and what his goals and what his moral guide is."
Questionable morals aside, we can't give up on JJ just yet. We still don't know what the deal is with Lyla and Diggle in the future timeline, and though Barnett was cagey about details, it sounds like there's much more to the story there.
At this point, we're more interested to see who, if anyone, lured JJ to the other side of the tracks in the first place. We're not ruling out that there's a puppet master and JJ is just another one of his victims (yes, we're fully aware that we might be in denial), but as to who could be guiding his hand, Barnett is staying mum.
"I can say that, at least for the personal effect of it, he has been guided by what he thinks he needs to do and what he personally thinks he needs to do to get his brother -- I don't want to talk about his father necessarily and his mother -- to listen and understand where he's coming from. And also to take a second to see that what he's following is not the right answer either -- this hero squad may not be what he needs," said Barnett.
So, this life of crime was really just a cry for help to get his baby bro back on his side? Now how could a kid like that be beyond the point of no return?
Arrow airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.
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