This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 5 Episode 10
It’s weird for a show to feel like it’s in a huge transition five seasons in, but that’s where we’re at with Arrow. I have been happier with this season than any other in the show, but for some reason it struck me early in tonight’s episode: this show is gloomy af. Even when it’s trying not to be (and it was working hard at that tonight), it’s still grim and pitch black compared to the rest of the CW DC shows. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a little jarring when you go from watching a gaggle of people dressed up in ‘60s garb having a laser pistol fight over a dumpster filled with George Lucas to seeing a gaggle of people deal with losing significant others. That said, this show is still much more entertaining now than even a year ago, and compared to then, it’s a romantic comedy now.
This week’s main story dives back into the Prometheus mess, with Ollie and Felicity still reeling from Billy’s death and Curtis a mess because Paul left him. And “Laurel” is back, though Felicity lets the audience know almost immediately what’s up (also the internet let everybody know early but that’s fine). It turns out she’s Black Siren, Laurel’s Earth-2 doppelganger (GOD I LOVE COMIC BOOKS) and she’s been shanghaied by Prometheus into screwing with Oliver.
The episode ends up being about Ollie’s attempts to maintain his optimism in the face of the real world – he struggles, constantly trying to give Earth-2 Laurel a benefit of the doubt she doesn’t deserve and constantly betrays, while Felicity plays Oliver’s “trust no one” role. This is a pretty welcome role reversal: the highlight of the show for me was in the “Invasion” episode, when Oliver finally came to terms with everyone he lost (and also in the “Invasion” episode of Legends of Tomorrow when he and Barry had that drink), so casting him as the optimist hoping against hope that he can fix the world is much more appealing to me. Also, Felicity throws a solid right hook.
Speaking of growth, Katie Cassidy’s come a long way since season 1. In many ways her evolution as an actor has mirrored the show’s – she started out overacting like it was her job, and it was. The show was heavy on the CW melodrama. It hadn’t developed its own voice yet. Here, though, she’s almost subtle and understated, and the show has avoided beating the viewer about the head and neck with its message all season. Even though she was called on to be glam and over the top as hell – and she vamped it up hardcore – there were still moments of quiet connection that made Oliver’s attempts at redeeming her feel justified, even if they were naïve.
Wrapped up in this main story is Curtis finding his way out of depression. This was a pretty straightforward arc – he was sad because he kept getting his ass kicked, he connected with Wild Dog and reconnected with himself, and he starts inventing his way out of problems instead of trying to punch them.
Our B story focuses on Diggle. Oliver goes to his hotshot new DA, Adrian Chase (Vigilante) (not The Vigilante) and asks him to represent Dig in the military proceedings. Literally none of this makes any legal sense, and Chase puts a lampshade over the wrongness of asking a DA and city employee to be a defense attorney for shits and giggles, so it’s best to just move on from it. But before I go I do want to point out that John was super chatty on an obviously monitored prison phone line. Also I think federal law supersedes state law. Also also, Josh Segarra is great and all, but once an episode I look at him and chuckle because he was the hot dumb guy in Sirens and that show was great. Also also ALSO, thank GOD the Attorney General is not in charge of disbarment.
As for the flashbacks, just get rid of them already. Every single one of them was wheel spinning except for the last one, which introduced us to an adult Talia al Ghul. And you don’t drop a name like the daughter of the demon into a storyline without intending to focus on her, so that means (I think) that this whole Bratva thing is going to amount to literally nothing. Honestly, it’s very rare that the flashbacks add to the main story. They mostly just break up the momentum of the present day storyline, and it’s time to put them away. I know they said they’re coming back in season 6. I hope they change their minds.
Overall, this was a solid but unspectacular episode. It moved the main plot of the season along, gave us some good Felicity, Oliver and Laurel moments, and set up next week as being very interesting. Now that Laurel’s out of the way, we’ll get on with the real task: finding a new Black Canary.