TV Review: ‘Arrow: Checkmate’ (Season 5 Episode 16)

Posted Thursday, March 16th, 2017 01:00 pm GMT -4 by

arrow prometheus

Well, this week’s episode of ‘Arrow’ was at least an improvement on last week’s disappointing outing, but it still feels like the show should be capitalizing on all of the gains they made early in the season, and instead they seem to be falling back on a lot of the tropes they relied far too heavily on in Seasons 3 and 4. I’m sick and tired of angsty Oliver and his decrees about how the vigilante life means he doesn’t deserve love, or friends, etc. We’ve been down this road so many times I cannot help but wonder if perhaps Oliver has taken a few too many blows to the head and the character simply cannot remember all the times he’s whined about the topic before and been talked back from the brink by Felicity or Diggle.

arrow ollie hunts down taliaSo to be brief, Oliver’s tracks down Talia and demands to know why she trained Prometheus, she informs him that her last name is Al Ghul, and she trained Prometheus to punish Oliver for killing her father, and she also informs our hero that Adrian Chase is Prometheus. Oliver heads home to confront Chase but the villain is apparently 10 steps ahead of him at all times (and makes sure to say so about a dozen times during the episode), so Oliver is powerless to make any moves against him, especially since Chase has Susan Williams and if Oliver attempts to take down Chase, Susan will be killed (I cannot help but wonder if the writers are aware how little the audience really cares about whether or not Susan dies. I found myself watching and thinking, “Morally I know it’s wrong…. but for the greater good, it might be worth the sacrifice to lose Susan to take down Chase, especially since we hate her….”). Long story short, it is a frustrating episode for Oliver, trying to figure out a way to get to Chase, he tries to quietly report Chase’s true identity to Captain Pike but the man is stabbed in the alley (which should just be called crime alley after all the stuff that’s gone down there this season) and put in a coma right after talking to Oliver, and Chase reminds Oliver over and over again that there’s nothing he can do to get to him, leaving Oliver in the aforementioned mental state where he believes he should never have gotten close to anyone so he would have no weaknesses for someone like Chase to exploit (blah blah blah) which Diggle talks him out of after seeing the literal wreckage of the Arrow Cave following Oliver’s tantrum, explaining to Oliver that his friends are a strength. To prove that, Felicity, thanks to her new hacker friends in Helix, finds where Susan is being held and Oliver and the rest of the Quiver Crew head out to save her, which they do easily enough, leaving Oliver to confront Prometheus with his own ace in the hole: Diggle, who arrives with Chase’s wife, a move the villain did not anticipate, and his wife is shocked to see her husband is the throwing star killer. Unfortunately for all, Chase would rather have his revenge than his

Oliver heads home to confront Chase but the villain is apparently 10 steps ahead of him at all times (and makes sure to say so about a dozen times during the episode), so Oliver is powerless to make any moves against him, especially since Chase has Susan Williams and if Oliver attempts to take down Chase, Susan will be killed (I cannot help but wonder if the writers are aware how little the audience really cares about whether or not Susan dies. I found myself watching and thinking, “Morally I know it’s wrong…. but for the greater good, it might be worth the sacrifice to lose Susan to take down Chase, especially since we hate her….”). Long story short, it is a frustrating episode for Oliver, trying to figure out a way to get to Chase, he tries to quietly report Chase’s true identity to Captain Pike but the man is stabbed in the alley (which should just be called crime alley after all the stuff that’s gone down there this season) and put in a coma right after talking to Oliver, and Chase reminds Oliver over and over again that there’s nothing he can do to get to him, leaving Oliver in the aforementioned mental state where he believes he should never have gotten close to anyone so he would have no weaknesses for someone like Chase to exploit (blah blah blah) which Diggle talks him out of after seeing the literal wreckage of the Arrow Cave following Oliver’s tantrum, explaining to Oliver that his friends are a strength. To prove that, Felicity, thanks to her new hacker friends in Helix, finds where Susan is being held and Oliver and the rest of the Quiver Crew head out to save her, which they do easily enough, leaving Oliver to confront Prometheus with his own ace in the hole: Diggle, who arrives with Chase’s wife, a move the villain did not anticipate, and his wife is shocked to see her husband is the throwing star killer. Unfortunately for all, Chase would rather have his revenge than his

Long story short, it is a frustrating episode for Oliver, trying to figure out a way to get to Chase. He tries to quietly report Chase’s true identity to Captain Pike but the man is stabbed in the alley (which should just be called crime alley after all the stuff that’s gone down there this season) and put in a coma right after talking to Oliver. Chase reminds Oliver over and over again that there’s nothing he can do to get to him, leaving Oliver in the aforementioned mental state where he believes he should never have gotten close to anyone so he would have no weaknesses for someone like Chase to exploit (blah blah blah) which Diggle talks him out of after seeing the literal wreckage of the Arrow Cave following Oliver’s tantrum, explaining to Oliver that his friends are a strength. To prove that, Felicity, thanks to her new hacker friends in Helix, finds where Susan is being held and Oliver and the rest of the Quiver Crew head out to save her, which they do easily enough, leaving Oliver to confront Prometheus with his own ace in the hole: Diggle, who arrives with Chase’s wife, a move the villain did not anticipate, and his wife is shocked to see her husband is the throwing star killer. Unfortunately for all, Chase would rather have his revenge than his love and stabs the woman in the stomach. Diggle races her out of the building, leaving Oliver to battle Chase in a somewhat sub-par duel (compared to some of the stellar fights we’ve seen this season), which ends with Talia arriving and shooting Oliver through the leg with an arrow. When the rest of the team arrives to help, the villains are gone, having kidnapped Oliver.

arrow ollie back in hood costumeIn tonight’s flashback, Anatoli and Oliver take out Gregor’s loyal Bratva captains but Gregor escapes with most of his men, and Anatoli is all too aware that the man will simply promote new captains, and he and Oliver realize they still need to take out Gregor and prove to the rest of the Bratva that Gregor is a villain. While Gregor retreats to an ice-rink safehouse (at least it’s not a warehouse, which is the standard for the Arrowverse), Oliver dons the Hood suit, which surprises Anatoli who warns Oliver about secret identities (and mocks his Hood voice), and warns that the woman who encouraged him to craft an identity like that could be a threat to him later (duh). So they take on Gregor and his Bratva men at the ice-rink, the scene ending with Oliver about to kill Gregor, who claims that if Oliver kills him, he will only be killing himself….

CheckmateOther storylines for the night include Felicity’s continued fall into Helix darkness, where she continues to use the Hacker resources despite the shadiness of what the hackers are doing, and warnings from Oliver and Curtis, both of whom express concern over her new friends tonight. Plus, the Helix leader Kojo says Felicity cannot continue to use their resources for her own ends without giving something back, so Felicity starts doing some illegal hacks of Homeland Security for them, which you know will not end well because Helix now seems like a gang that Felicity is asking for favors from, creating a debt she may not be able to get out of no matter how many favors she does in return for them. Also, Lance and Rene have to continue working at City Hall with Chase despite knowing who he is, and they learn the man is just fine doing his work with some of his co-workers knowing his secret identity, if anything it allows him to be even more vindictive demanding paperwork and reports, and Rene vows he will kill Chase. Also during a press release, Oliver states that he will soon be forced to call for the ACU to have a shoot on sight order for the Green Arrow after Chase manipulates events so it seems like the Green Arrow had attacked the DA’s wife. How will that work out now that Oliver’s been kidnapped? We’ll have to wait and see.

arrow chase at pike hospital bedThe episode ends with Oliver in shackles in an iron cell as Talia and Chase stand before him. Oliver tells Talia her father would be ashamed of her as he at least had honor, and she has allied herself with a mad man. She taunts Oliver that she never taught him how to break out of shackles and tells Chase to make him suffer as she leaves. Chase ends the episode by telling Oliver that the man helped him figure out who he really was when he killed his father, so he is going to return the favor and help Oliver figure out who he really is as well.

What the hell does that mean? I suppose we’ll find out next week when ‘Arrow’ returns and tries to make sense of it all.

BOW-STRING THEORIES:

  • arrow ollies press conferenceSo we have ANOTHER Thea-less episode? I mean come on, she is a main character! You cannot just have her pop-up for a hand full of episodes during the season and then let her disappear without explanation for the rest of the season.
  • I have a hard time believing that after all this time, after all his association with the League of Assassins, even after briefly being the new Ras Al Ghul, Oliver never knew that Ras Al Ghul had two daughters, and one was named Talia. Seems like a huge stretch to me.
  • Why would Oliver call for a shoot on sight order on the Green Arrow? It seriously makes no sense unless he is planning to commit suicide or retire as a vigilante – we are deeply back in the “character motivations/decisions on ‘Arrow’ come from out of nowhere and stretch the limits of believability” territory that has plagued the show since the 3rd season
  • There’s a rumor out there that Talia Al Ghul might be running the show over at Helix – could this be a credible theory? Could she have graduated from being a solo vigilante to more updated methods of “saving the world?” Definitely seems like Helix will end up being the bigger threat by the end of the season
  • Where the hell is Evelyn? Is the show done with her? I thought she was working with Prometheus? Wasn’t her character and her betrayal a big deal? Or was her contract too small to let her appear in any more episodes this season? ‘Arrow’ really needs to figure out how to handle its characters better

Again, better than the last episode, but not by much. It just seems like as ‘Arrow’ approaches the end of a season they start to lose track of plotlines and characters, start to force more convenient character decisions just to get from Point A to Point B, and are more about cheap shock value than actual intriguing plots, all of which leads to some pretty flimsy stories and disappointing payoffs. I sincerely hope I am proved wrong in the coming weeks, but for a season that started with such promise, it just feels like the show is spiraling right now, and I’ve been down this road too many times with ‘Arrow’ to have much hope left that they’ll be able to right the course before the finale.

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horizontal lineNick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.