Honestly I am on the fence about this one, mainly because the premise set up from last week’s episode seemed so intriguing and thoughtful, the idea that Oliver’s whole crusade was sparked by his indulgence in killing criminals, that I thought they would find an interesting way to address it this week. Instead, we got yet another ‘Arrow’ episode that basically came down to “Oliver feels guilty for his past crimes/ mistakes/ sins,” followed by “Diggle and/or Felicity gives him a pep talk and reminds him he’s a better man,” which is so formulaic for this show that they could almost write schmalzy theme music for these moments (ala ‘Full House’) and it would fit right in.
Anyways, the episode picks up right where last week left off, with Oliver disbanding the team as he bandages himself up, telling them they are done and to leave the Arrow Cave. Dig thinks he can talk some sense into Oliver in private but to no avail, as Oliver even shuts down his old friend’s attempt at advice (no worries Diggle, you’ll get your moment later in the episode). So the rest of the team decides to ignore Oliver’s disband command and remain the Un-Quiver Crew, using Felicity’s apartment (which should actually be Oliver’s apartment, but wait, wasn’t it Thea’s apartment at one point… I don’t even know anymore) as their new base of operations since Oliver locked them out of the Arrow Cave. They continue to run low-tech ops without weapons, radios or costumes while Felicity works with Helix to find evidence of Chase being Prometheus using security footage. They eventually find a shot of Chase in Prometheus garb, but he is a using an experimental digital scrambler which blurs his face on camera, but Felicity and the hackers think they can descramble the face once they decode the device he is using (or whatever tech jargon they’re using).
Meanwhile Oliver makes his own moves, spurred on by Chase’s boldness at work, where the man taunts Oliver after his return to the office (apparently Lance had explained Oliver’s absence by saying he was on some therapeutic hipper spa thing) by giving him a knife and telling him this will be his only chance to strike at Chase since the Green Arrow is now a wanted fugitive. So Oliver does the next best thing and calls in Anatoli and the Bratva to Star City, making a deal wherein they can steal drugs from a pharmaceutical company for profit if they kill Chase for him (way to clear your conscience Oliver).
Of course, the team finds out when they show up to stop the drug heist and run into Anatoli, and Diggle is pissed and attempts to talk to Oliver once more, but Oliver demands again that they all stand down and orders them to let the Bratva handle it. So the two teams are at odds, and it comes to a head when the Bratva openly attack Chase’s police limo, and the man is only saved by the Un-Quiver Crew’s arrival to stop the Bratva (though he does take a bullet to the arm). Also in play is Curtis, who uses a T-Sphere to scan Chase and get the tech Felicity and her hackers need to descramble his image, having learned of their plan while Felicity and John were arguing about Oliver and the Bratva earlier. (Felicity seems to feel Oliver might be right in letting the Bratva kill Chase. Big surprise there right now, of course, she’s ok with using a shady organization to accomplish their ends at the moment, after all, that is what she’s doing with Helix.)
Following the failed assassination, Oliver and Diggle have it out, starting with Oliver punching his old friend, but ending with Diggle stubbornly reminding Oliver that he is going nowhere, that he will be right there by his side. Just as Oliver convinced him to suit up as Spartan to atone for his sins (especially in killing his brother), Oliver should suit up as the Green Arrow for the same reason, to atone for his past mistakes. Meanwhile, Curtis presents his findings to Felicity and the Hackers, who realize the device still needs to be decrypted, which they can accomplish by simply breaking into the HQ of the company who made the scrambler, Kord Industries. The hackers say this should be easy for Overwatch and Mr. Terrific, revealing they’ve known for some time all about Team Arrow and its membership (which could be big trouble down the line).
After his big pep talk from Diggle, Oliver meets with Anatoli, who is still pissed that Oliver’s former teammates keep getting in the way (though he was pleased when Oliver informed him that he was right about the Hood being a mistake all those years ago), and Oliver tells his Bratva friend the deal is off. Anatoli is not having it though and says they will still take their drugs, and if Oliver gets in the way, the Bratva will be done with him and he will officially be their enemy. So Oliver lets the team back into the Arrow Cave and they suit up properly to stop the Bratva heist on the pharmaceutical company, with Oliver choosing to go with a simple black outfit with a ski-mask because the Green Arrow is still personae-non-gratis in Star City. Anatoli expected this though and takes hostages, so Oliver sends the team to save the hostages (which they miraculously do without a single fatality) while Oliver takes down the Bratva goons and squares off with Anatoli, claiming he is disappointed that Anatoli turned out to be just as bad as Gregor.
In this week’s flashbacks, we see Oliver and Anatoli prepare for Oliver to leave, apparently back to Lian Yu as it is the best cover for Oliver’s 5 year absence before his return to Star City, but before he goes, he suits up once more and helps Anatoli and the Bratva on a heist to steal medicine for a tuberculosis outbreak. As he prepares to leave Russia, Oliver feels better knowing he is leaving the Bratva in the hands of Anatoli, who he thinks will use the organization and its resources to do some good. However, Anatoli, aside from his continued worry that Oliver’s Hood persona is only covering up his darker tendencies, is also worried about the kind of man he will be forced to become the head of the Bratva without Oliver by his side.
Back in the present, Anatoli reminds Oliver of those remarks and says he became who he had to become to survive, and tells Oliver he will have to kill him to stop him. Oliver instead shoots the alarm next to his old friend’s head and sends everyone scurrying from the building. Meanwhile, Felicity and Curtis break into Kord Industries relatively easily and get the tech they need and manage to restore the video showing Prometheus removing his mask with Chase below the hood, a victory for everyone.
As Lance and Dinah bring the damning evidence to the SCPD (and Felicity promotes the video on YouTube), Oliver meets with Anatoli one last time, and is told that while his old friend may be returning to Russia (angrily I might add ), his men are staying behind to exact vengeance on the vigilantes. And in the final scenes of the night, as Chase reads in Federal Custody with two Federal agents sitting on couches behind him as his security detail, he hears their phones buzz, and we realize they are being informed of who exactly Chase is. As their bodies tense up in preparation for action, Chase quickly figures out what is going on and makes his move, downing the first agent with a pen to the eye while using the sling from his wounded arm to strangle the second (all while the bullet wound from his arm opens up and starts gushing blood – it is very visceral).
The final shot of the night is of the road to Chase’s safe house where a legion of SCPD cars is on their way to arrest the man. While driving in the opposite direction is Chase himself, cool as a cucumber even while covered in blood, whistling along to ‘It’s a Beautiful Morning’ in one of the most ominous and creepy moments the show has ever done, as the camera pulls back and reveals the road is headed right back toward Star City, where we will find out whether Chase has managed to anticipate being outed like this, and whether he is still a few steps ahead of our heroes.
- Hold on a second, every villain and semi-villain on the series has managed to break into/ sneak into the Arrow Cave basically whenever they want to, but Oliver changes the security settings and suddenly the team cannot even get in there to get their suits? Talk about plot conveniences…
- So on the topic of Susan, you’re telling me she was kidnapped, and after being saved, came in to the SCPD and told them her captor was Adrian Chase who is also Prometheus, and they told her that she needed more evidence? They completely disregarded her story? That doesn’t seem right, even if it was just a claim made by her, they would AT LEAST have Chase down as a “person of interest” in the case. Just seems like a plot hole they tried to gloss over real quick.
- I forgot to mention that after Oliver says he won’t go to the police with his own claim about Chase, he finally breaks up with Susan Williams, which again would mean something if any of us actually cared about her or his relationship with her. At the very least she’s been cool about knowing his secret identity, but I wonder if she will stay that way now that they’ve broken up…
- Another Thea-less episode, now being explained with Oliver claiming she’s so messed up she had to leave town. Really writers? That’s the best you could come up with? Last season she had bloodlust and was killing people and she still stuck around for every episode. You would think she would at least make an appearance in the episode following her brother being kidnapped for almost a week.
- Prometheus definitely asked Curtis “How’s your husband?” during the Bratva raid, makes me nervous that is foreshadowing of some horrible scenario Chase is setting up for Curtis.
- Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks that knife Chase gave Oliver in the Mayor’s Office will turn out to be significant later. Hopefully, it is something more than just the weapon Oliver uses to kill him in the finale.
So yeah, disappointing that they lumped the whole ‘Oliver enjoyed killing criminals’ reveal into the basket of deplorables that is Oliver’s emotional guilt and baggage instead of focusing on more of it and what it means for the series and Oliver’s motives throughout the series (although they can still do that as the season progresses), but I did like seeing Diggle’s loyalty, and there were some very cool moments in the episode, including seeing the team deal with the hostage situation, Chase’s crazy serial killer-ness at the end, and even a lot of the low-tech crime fighting was kind of fun to watch, as it was different than the norm and still showcased what makes the show entertaining to watch. Here’s hoping that while the show is on its brief hiatus before the end of April (where it’ll be the homestretch before the finale) they really hone in on those final episodes and make sure to end the season on a high-note, especially since next season there most likely will not be any flashbacks to take up episode time, so they need to ensure the present day stories are engaging and able to carry the full hour.
See you back here for another review at the end of April!