This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow: Season 5, Episode 15Just when you thought you had a handle on the villains on Season 5, Arrow threw a big old curveball at viewers while expanding the role of its most interesting newcomer. At long last, the identity of one of the year’s two big bads is revealed, as huge shadows of doubt are cast on the other.
This episode promised to be another big bout with the morally ambiguous anti-hero, Vigilante. Plucked directly from the pages of DC Comics, many Arrow fans have thought they’ve known who the man behind the mask was for quite some time. However, all that changed as the bloodthirsty killer took a shot at none other than Mayor Oliver Queen in “Fighting Fire With Fire.”
Before we get into the colossal twist of the night, it’s important to note that, for an episode that seemed like it would be a gritty political thriller with a few superheroes thrown in, its tone was surprisingly off. Vigilante wanted to go after Oliver Queen for being corrupt and covering up the Green Arrow’s murder of Detective Malone (which has its own slew of complexities and false flags, but that’s another story for another review).
The episode opened with a pretty good attack on Mayor Queen’s limo, with the dramatic irony of the audience knowing that the limo is filled to the brim with crime-fighting, tough-as-nails vigilantes. The scene was pretty good, but the characters had to pull their punches so as not to out themselves, Oliver included. What followed was a solid 35 minutes of emotionally wrought conversations about morality and what it means to be a true good guy. Typically, these are the exact kinds of things one looks for in a superhero story, but Arrow has more than tapped this well. Frankly, it seems like every episode is about these people struggling with whether or not what they do is a good thing.
There’s nothing wrong with characters becoming self-aware and really examining their role in a larger world. However, from an entertainment standpoint, no one wants to see Bruce Banner complain about being the Hulk… people want to see the Hulk smash. The episode doubled-down on this theme when it came to Thea, who last week flexed her front-facing identity to get a career journalist fired. Now, she had to apologize for being totally badass and playing the chess game of politics better than a former party girl/nightclub manager rightfully should. If we’re going to lean so heavily on the drama surrounding the mayoral plotline, we need a character or two that’s going to actually play politics and suggest things like ruining a dead cop’s reputation or blackmailing a congressman.
But semantics aside, “Fighting Fire With Fire” is still going to go down as an important and historic episode in the series’ canon for the big plot twist that we’ve been putting off talking about. Adrian Chase, who was brought on as the Star City DA, is known to comic book fans as the rogue crime fighter Vigilante. Meanwhile, Team Arrow has been going head-to-head with (yet another) mysterious dark archer known as Prometheus. While comic book fans thought they had one up on the heroes by knowing the identity of Vigilante, this episode threw them through a loop by revealing (after a pretty awesome fight between villains) that Chase is actually Prometheus, leaving the identity of Vigilante a colossal mystery. Seriously, who could Vigilante be now? If we operate under Scooby Doo rules, it seems like Curtis Holt’s husband, Paul, but I wouldn’t start putting your hard-earned American currency down on that particular bet just yet.
As for the future of the show and the direction Season 5 will take, this kind of changes everything. Chase was rapidly becoming a great new ally to Oliver. Their budding friendship, which started in the public eye and quickly moved private, was reminiscent of the chemistry between the hero and John Diggle in Season 1. If it wasn’t for the outside knowledge of knowing who Chase was destined to be based on the source material, some would likely be rooting for him as a new cohort like Curtis was last year. Perhaps this is where we all learn our lesson about Googling new characters ahead of time…? No, never mind, that’s just silly.
So with the show’s future direction a complete mystery, let’s just take a moment and examine the reveal itself. Chase, played very well thus far by actor Josh Segarra, is one of the more interesting additions to a season that’s been constantly bloating with new cast members. In a show that’s been thirsting for characters that aren’t just cut and dry good guys, his brooding charm was a welcome change. Everyone knew there was something more to him than met the eye, and he did a pretty fantastic job of not overplaying that fact with long looks or diabolical grins as characters left the room. It just goes to show, if you’re going to play a sleeper agent, play him or her dead asleep. After a pretty impactful, yet straight across the plate, performance it’s exciting to know that he’s going to get to pull the lid off and go full-on vengeful villain from here on out, diabolical grins and all.
The series has previously set up that Prometheus might be the son of a former victim of The Hood (Season 1 Green Arrow) Justin Claybourne. Even still, how did this person adopt the archer persona that Oliver has made so trendy since 2012? Why did he bother to cosy up to Oliver and go through the schooling to become DA? For real, who the f*** is Vigilante? With just enough episodes to keep it exciting, Arrow has laid out a good old-fashioned plot twist that’s genuinely applause-worthy. Sadly, that doesn’t make “Fighting Fire With Fire” as strong an episode as others.
Another loose end worth addressing is Felicity’s decision to full-on join the morally questionable hacker group known as Helix. She arrived at this conclusion through the use of a clunky, over-used metaphor about fighting fire with fire and getting burned. Meanwhile, Thea let Oliver shame her into quitting her job as his aide. She arrived to this conclusion after suggesting various politically savvy, but morally reprehensible, ways for him to get out of his scandal and realizing it’s the same as her bloodlust last year. However, it’s totally not and one hopes she leaves Star City for D.C.
Lastly, the episode ended on a bummer with a tear-jerking acting moment from Echo Kellum. In it, Curtis met his husband Paul for a dinner that he thought was going to be a reconciliation, only to be served divorce papers by him. He arrived at this conclusion by… being kind of a jerk. Mr. Terrific is awesome, especially now that he’s got his T-Spheres and Paul should be so lucky.