Last night’s Arrow didn’t quite hit the heights of the past two weeks, but it did help push the endgame along in a few ways that feel very useful.
1. Ugh more fucking Russian flashbacks
I really, really hoped that we were done with the flashbacks from Ollie’s last year “in hell,” but here we are, with the bad wig, Anatoly at his side, decompressing 45 seconds of plot into 10 mintues of whogivesashit. Look, I know I’ve been really, really hard on these flashbacks, especially this season, but part of that is because the main story this season has been so strong. Criticisms that have plagued the show since the beginning are being addressed, characters are growing, and the show has gotten past its two season slump. No one wants to spend more time in a Yakov Smirnoff sketch.
Two episodes left – hopefully, that means just two more flashbacks. Ever.
2. The videos
My main problem with this week wasn’t even the flashbacks, believe it or not – it was the videos.
Contrivances like this drive me crazy. There’s no reason for Ollie’s dad to leave video messages for his kids – this is the show trying to redeem the character while also, literally, making him a murderer. I don’t know why there has to be – to borrow a phrase from professional wrestling – 50/50 booking for Robert Queen. We’ve already seen that he’s a complicated person, and that both kids have complicated relationships with his legacy. Making him a literal murderer, as well as an early adopter of vlogging, doesn’t change what we know about him.
I suppose the argument could be made that the murder was the most important revelation and the videos were mainly to soften that, but if that’s the case, why did we spend twice the time on the videos?
The statement that Ollie needs Thea seems a little off too, doesn’t it? Sure, she’s been a nice ally for him, but Ollie has helped her in ways that Thea can’t even begin to pay him back for – something something Lazarus Pit – and it seems like a misjudging of their relationship to characterize it as being so lopsided. It also is pretty shitty of Robert to be all “You exist as a Pip to your brother’s Gladys Knight.”
3. (Don’t) Walk Away Rene
Rene started this season as a terrible joke of a character, and has grown into something really interesting. The loving but terrified father is not a turn I saw his character taking, but the show has done quite well with it. Having him no-show the hearing at the end of the episode was a heartbreaking moment, but something tells me that he didn’t miss it on purpose. (More on this in point 5)
4. Oliver uses his words, loses the ski mask
One of the weirdest decisions this season was Ollie’s morally informed decision to put away the Green Arrow mantle, but the bizarre choice to put on a ski mask and don a gun and, essentially, do the same thing, but with more lethal force behind it. But tonight, he came to his senses, and reclaimed the mantle of the Green Arrow.
And when he did, he used the truth about Chase’s father to psychologically break him down. This scene was effective, but it felt…off. Chase is a criminal mastermind, but he’s also been acknowledged as, most likely, mentally ill. So, to see him break down in that way, on one hand, was in line with if he was seriously ill and just snapped. But, on the other hand, we’ve seen him suffer lots of abuse and didn’t so much as crack. Something’s up.
5. This isn’t over
The last scene, of Chase watching TV in his bedless, toiletless glass cube, showed a totally different Chase than we’d seen earlier, breaking down. That breakdown scene was clearly a ruse to get him inside ARGUS, where he wants to be for some reason. In fact, based on the ‘next time on’ preview, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chase as the one behind Rene’s missing his daughter’s hearing. This isn’t The Sopranos; the producers aren’t going to wrap up the main conflict a few episodes early and then do character pieces for the end of the season. This is going to go down to the wire.Continued below
Interestingly, the one father and the one son who didn’t get any play this week, aside from a few stray mentions, I think will both play huge roles in the endgame of this season: William, Ollie’s son, and Merlyn, Thea’s father. Mark my words: they will both be huge players before the season is over.
Whoops, forgot about John Diggle Jr. Don’t see that kid getting much screentime, though.