Finally it seems that the folks behind ‘Arrow’ are righting the ship, by which I mean this week they delivered an amazing, and very dark episode, that really delivered on a lot of what they had been developing all season. And really it was such a simple episode, which is part of what made it so effective, and used so few characters, which harkens back to a point I made earlier this season about how ‘Arrow’ might just operate better as a show when it streamlines and focuses on less characters every episode, meaning they don’t need to recruit and create a massive “Team Arrow” every season and have episodes focused on every one of those members. Just focus on the big core cast members (and yes I still include Thea in this, and I’m still unhappy at how much her screen time has been cut this season) and let everyone else just have a nice moment every now and then.
Anyways, tonight’s plot basically was all about the flashback dealing with Gregor and Kovar in Russia, a convenience they could do because Oliver in the present spent his time in a jail cell being tortured by Prometheus aka Chase as Chase demanded that Oliver confess to something, which frustrates Oliver as he has no idea what Chase is talking about.
Covering the flashback first, we learn that Oliver does not kill Gregor but takes him back to the base with the Bratva men, and we quickly learn that Gregor was going to work with Kovar to stage a coup of the Russian government, which Gregor reveals right before he dies, his final words basically cursing Oliver to hurt every life he touches (burn). Anatoli takes up Gregor’s place within the Bratva and his business dealings with Kovar to find out what the plan is, and we get our first Malcolm Merlyn sighting on ‘Arrow’ this season as we learn Merlyn’s company sold poison gas to the Russian gangster to deal with his government obstacles.
Oliver, Anatoli and their Bratva allies attempt to stop the shipment of the gas but end up only taking a hostage from the group, who Oliver takes great pleasure in torturing, reveling in peeling back the man’s skin to get information from him, which worries Anatoli greatly as he continues to warn Oliver that he cannot hide behind the mask and say the monster is not him. He will eventually have to face this “something else.” In the end, they learn that Kovar is inviting Russian officials to his casino where he plans to kill them with the gas.
Oliver gets the key to the back door from Taiana’s mother (who you’ll remember is Kovar’s housekeeper) after revealing that her children are dead and Kovar has been lying to her. There’s a big showdown in the casino, the mother is killed for helping Oliver, Anatoli is almost gassed, Oliver is unmasked during his fight with Kovar, but they brawl and Oliver takes down the big gangster in full Hood attire and gets his first big kill as he jams a knife into the gangster’s heart, even after Anatoli tells him he does not need to kill him. Later, he and Anatoli get their Bratva captain tattoos on their chests, with Anatoli explaining he wants Oliver to have it so anywhere he goes in the world he can show it to other Bratva and they’ll know what kind of a man he is.
Meanwhile in the present, Chase tortures Oliver, putting up pictures of all the people the Hood and the Green Arrow have killed over the years around his cell, shooting Oliver with 3 arrows the same way Oliver did to The Count when he threatened Felicity, and even sending in what appears to be a battered and broken Evelyn with a knife and telling Oliver if he kills her before he comes back, he’ll let Oliver go free, same deal for Evelyn, but Chasen threatens to break her neck if they are both alive when he returns. Oliver, of course, tries to work with her as he would never kill her, but she appears to be broken and won’t help Oliver, so when Chase returns and they have not fought he breaks her neck (apparently) and leaves her dead on the floor. I mean seriously, the episode is mainly the flashback and stuff in Russian, and everything in the present just being Chase continually demanding that Oliver confess as he continues to torture our hero, until at last Oliver breaks and manages to confess that he apparently killed those people not just because of justice, or his father’s book, or his crusade, but because he enjoyed it.
Chase explains that is why his crusade has been flawed from the beginning, and why so many people have paid with their lives including his mother, Laurel, Tommy Merlyn, etc. Because Oliver’s whole crusade has been based on that lie. Evelyn pops up and congratulates her partner on getting Oliver to admit it, and they let Oliver go, which apparently was the deal, Oliver could go free once he confessed. However, before he leaves, Chase wants to leave his own mark on Oliver, and he proceeds to burn away Oliver’s victorious Bratva captain’s tattoo so Oliver will always think of Chase and that confession when he looks at his chest.
Finally, back in the Arrow Cave, the remaining members of the Quiver Crew reveal they’ve been up for 6 days trying to find Oliver with no luck, and are shocked when he stumbles back in, his chest still oozing. Oliver declares that he is done, and apparently is going to shut down their whole crime-fighting enterprise (though they could still keep it going without him, right? They’ve done it before). As everyone looks on in shock and horror, it is clear no pep talk is going to convince Oliver to change his mind this time. Although this is ‘Arrow,’ so who knows. And in the final moments of the episode we flashback to Russia one last time where we see Malcolm Merlyn watching a surgery that has saved the life of Kovar, where he speaks aloud that he feels sorry for whoever did this to Kovar, as they will clearly pay someday.
- Anyone else kind of wish Chase had broken Evelyn’s neck? I mean, what a character turn, she got mad at Oliver for being a killer when he started so she switched to Prometheus’s side, and now has no problem allying with the murdering psychopath Chase is? Is there any chance she’s playing a long con still? That would make more sense that her current motivations.
- How did the government spin it that the Mayor has been missing for 6 days? Are we going to return next week and have Oliver blame the Green Arrow for kidnapping him?
- So do all of the Bratva know Oliver is the Hood/ Green Arrow? How did he ever keep this secret identity?
- So will it be Kovar coming to Star City that makes Oliver come out of Green Arrow retirement and fight to save the day once more? Any chance we’ll see Kovar fight Prometheus?
- I also think Taiana’s mother came onto Oliver’s side a little quick, especially when he gave her the lame “a monster killed them” explanation for the death of her children. Ah well, as soon as he sought her out I kind of figured she was a goner, I at least wish she would have been more interesting.
I liked this episode because it was relatively small in scope (and characters) and really brought home the point of the season, which has been all about Oliver coming to terms with all sides of himself, the monster and the hero, his past and his present, and learning to live with all of his choices, and really truly admitting his faults is the first step in the right direction. I’m sure Diggle and Felicity will have a lot to say about what he learned from Chase, as will Thea if they let her have an actual scene or two in the series, and this will give some good depth to the series going toward the finale, as long as they don’t fall back on focusing on useless nonsense like Susan Williams or other BS plotlines again. Let’s keep the focus on Oliver and his demons, which have always been the best part of the show, his actual demons mind you, not to corny stuff they try to insert to complicate things every now and then like “I can’t be happy and be a hero,” the real things like “am I a hero if I’ve killed before and enjoyed it?”
Anyways, let us know your thoughts on this week’s episode in the comments below, and we’ll see you back here next week!
Nick 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 (@starfro67)