This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 5 Episode 18
After last week’s psychologically thrilling romp, the gang on Arrow dealt heavily with the consequences of their leader’s mental manipulation. In the ongoing battle for Oliver Queen’s soul, it was a tug-of-war between the hero’s best friend and his fifth greatest enemy yet.
After Adrian Chase, also known as Prometheus, captured Green Arrow and got him to confess to being nothing more than a murderous animal, the hero thought things were over. However, the psychotic Chase arrived in his boss’ office to twist the knife a little further. After pinning the murder of his wife on Green Arrow, Chase is about to go into protective custody with the Star City Police Department. He offers the hero one last chance to kill him before he becomes untouchable, which Oliver passes on. Knowing that he is not in a place to combat the villain, believing his superhero persona is nothing more than an excuse for him to murder, Oliver seeks a little outside help.
It’s worth mentioning what a terrific chess board the show has laid out for itself right now. Chase is able to walk in and out of the character’s lives, torturing them with knowing insults and taunts, with utter impunity. The team can’t get close to him in costume, and he’s legally untouchable as the Star City District Attorney. The door is open for Chase to give some spooky monologues and he doesn’t waste the opportunity. Sadly, his dark revenge plot is no match for a “can-do” team of super hackers, but more on that later.
The crux of this episode dealt with John Diggle trying desperately to repair his broken friend. Those who don’t remember should note that Diggle has been around since the beginning of Oliver’s return to Star(ling) City. If anyone has drank the vigilante kool-aid, it’s him. That’s why he takes it so personally when he sees Oliver recruit the Russian mafia, known to them as the Bratva, to assassinate Chase.
The mayor cuts a deal allowing his old friend, Anatoly, to steal some medicine to make a super-strong heroine in exchange for Prometheus’ head on a spike. It’s not a terrible plan if you actually are the mayor of a city, but this is Oliver freaking Queen. This is a man that’s single-handedly beat up more bad guys than you can count and taken down just enough big bads to count on one hand (Yes, I’m counting his assist against Reverse Flash). He clearly doesn’t want to become the hood again, but what moral high ground is he actually taking by not being the trigger man that takes Chase out?
Meanwhile, the team is dealing with the news that Oliver is no longer going to be their leader, locks them out of the lair and explains that he wants to see the team disband. That’s when Diggle steps up to become the new Oliver, which prompts Curtis to assign roles to everyone else, dubbing himself the new Felicity and leaving Rene and Dinah to argue over who is the new Diggle. My vote is for Rene, since Dinah was specifically brought on as the new Laurel, but the show, apparently, disagrees.
So, while Oliver sanctions actions by the Bratva in Star City, Diggle leads the team to stop them, even if it means letting Chase escape. Spartan knows that the true battle here isn’t about stopping Prometheus, it’s about making sure that Oliver gets out of this confrontation without permanently damaging his character morality. This poses a small problem, structurally, because it paints Anatoly as the bad guy. Meanwhile, his actions throughout the flashbacks all season, including this episode, paint him as a pretty stand up guy… you know, for a crime boss and all.
Sure he’s the proprietor of drugs, but he’s also saving children from dying and giving down-and-out thugs some spending money. Maybe crime, especially in foreign countries, is very sadly a part of the very fabric of existence. Maybe people all over the world aren’t fortunate to live in places like Star City and Central City where the concept of law and order aren’t so laughably beyond fighting for. Maybe you’re forcing me to go down a really depressing socioeconomic rabbit hole when I signed up for a show about a vigilante with a bow and arrow! Ever think about that Oliver Queen?!
I digress, the real take away, plotwise, is that Oliver ends up telling Anatoly to leave town and that he doesn’t want to go through with their deal. Sadly, the Pakan of the Bratva has a lot riding on this Star City trip and tells Oliver that, despite their past, he’s not leaving until he gets what he came for. This prompts a final meeting between the two that ends in bloodshed, mostly for Anatoly. The Bratva boss goes back across the ocean to lick his wounds, but reveals he’s left some of his men behind to go after Team Arrow. It seems like this time it really is dasvidaniya to Oliver’s relationship with the Bratva.
Fortunately, a few henchmen doesn’t seem like too much for the team to handle, and their brief skirmish with Chase yielded incredibly positive results. Despite their misgivings about Felicity’s relationship with Helix, they came through in the clutch this episode as they helped her reverse engineer a bit of software that was allowing him to obscure his face from cameras around the city. It turns out that Curtis, in his most character-defining moment to date, planted a tracker on Felicity and hacked into what she and Helix were doing – he “hacked the hackers,” as he put it. Then, when he got a T-Sphere on Chase for a moment, it nabbed what they needed to reveal his face as Prometheus to the world.
Finding out that they can now bust Chase in the eyes of the legal system is welcomed news to everyone… except the unfortunate two federal agents that were guarding him in a hotel room at the time. Call it an uneasy feeling, but when one of their phones rings, Chase sprang into action and brutally killed them both. The episode ended on a chilling note as the already-established psychopath killed calmly drove back to, presumably, wreak havoc on Star City. Unhinged for the first time, it’s safe to say that it’s worth getting genuinely excited about what’s to come next because, odds are good it’ll be violent.