This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 5 Episode 19
After a few weeks away, Arrow finally returned to pick the manhunt for Prometheus up right where it left off. At least, that’s what it seemed like before the huge shift in plot that finally saw one of the show’s original heroes go over to the dark side.
First, let’s go ahead and rip the band-aid off early and reveal that the hunt for Adrien Chase, the team’s current arch nemesis, was the driving force behind this episode, but the villain was not present. In fact, this installment was relatively low on good action all around, with nary an arrow shot in the entire hour. However, what it lacked in fisticuffs it made up for in character drama, which I’ll be the first to say is not typically a strong suit of Arrow. With the killer on the loose, Felicity led the charge to do absolutely anything it takes to track down the psychopath.
Now, for any other character, this would mean going on a spree of punching bad guys a little too hard until results were yielded. Sadly for the team, Felicity is smarter than all of them and her crisis of faith tantrums manifest themselves in large-scale battles against the government and A.R.G.U.S.
Felicity has been working with the dangerous super hacker group called Helix all season long. It has taken her down some pretty morally questionable paths, but it always led to positive results that drove the plot forward. That’s why it was hard for any of the people close to her to stop her from going further down the rabbit hole of villianny. In “Dangerous Liaisons,” the consequences of that came to a head when it’s revealed that the founder of Helix has been captured by A.R.G.U.S. He’s the only one that can run his weird heartbeat-tracking algorithm that will determine Chase’s location, which means a good old fashioned prison break.
Obviously A.R.G.U.S. has always been helpful to Team Arrow, especially given that it’s run by Diggle’s on-again-off-again wife, so this puts the team in a tricky situation. Felicity believes that everyone else has gone above and beyond and done way darker things than hacking to take down big bads like Malcolm Merlyn, Slade Wilson, Ra’s al Ghul, and Damien Darhk. She’s not wrong, and she does have the whole “ability versus responsibility” thing to contend with given her skills. Long story short, it became Team Arrow going up against Felicity and Helix. It was jarring to see our hero, who began as the petite blonde that Oliver made eyes at in her cubicle, was now dressed in all black with femme fatale makeup leading a group of people who know how to make guns do that scary cocking noise. It was an incredibly different look for her, and it was really exciting to see, albeit a little unearned. If we’re all being honest with ourselves, Felicity goes really rogue way too fast.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, the super hacker wins and allows her cohorts to make off with the prisoner. To thank her, Helix freezes her out of the group. Fans can only hope that Helix returns sooner rather than later, otherwise this entire run feels a lot like plot magic, granted to the characters in order to move an ailing story along. In any case, Felicity’s bold efforts got them the software that they need to track Chase, and before I get into that explosive reveal (nailed it), I think it’s important to talk about the larger issue that’s keeping this from being one of the coolest twists in Arrow history… Is Chase worth it?
There’s no denying that you wouldn’t want to share an elevator with Chase. He kills a lot of innocent people, he’s got Hannibal Lecter levels of crazy and he’s tortured our main hero on a deeply personal level. Having said all that, he’s not holding a gun to Star City’s head like the previous villains on the list. There are no nukes at play, power grabs in government, or even specific lives at risk. While Prometheus is dangerous, he’s no worse than Vigilante or other criminals still on the loose in this universe. Think about it, Malcolm Merlyn has twice tried to destroy Star City, and he’s allowed to live in a crappy apartment with a pretty comfortable-looking chair. Why are we burning Rome in order to track down a villain that’s essentially only a threat to Team Arrow and those close to them?
If a character as pure as Felicity is going to go through the ringer like this and flirt with villainy, shouldn’t it have been for the guy who murdered Oliver’s mother? Perhaps the man who can use literal freaking magic? Instead, she breaks ties with everyone she knows and loves over a man who took some MMA lessons between study sessions at law school.
Overall, this wasn’t the best episode, mostly because it lacked some solid blue collar beat downs. Instead, it traded off for a rather successful effort to bring drama and tension between characters that have pretty much been through every reasonable storyline at this point. While it did feel like the Felicity twist would be better served at a different point in the show’s history, fans shouldn’t let that diminish how interesting it ended up being to see our smartest, purest and, in my humble opinion, best hero be on the wrong end of a warehouse encounter.
Fortunately, it seems like her bout with evil is done for now, as her newly-acquired algorithm revealed that Chase has somehow been hiding out in the Arrow lair this whole time. With next week’s episode promising an escape from the underground base and a cat-and-mouse game with a killer, I doubt the rift between Oliver and Felicity will last for much longer. Then again, we have a few more episodes and then Season 6 to worry about, so who knows what hole the team will dig for itself after this?