This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 5 Episode 5
Arrow season 5 is only five episodes in and already it has forced itself to juggle an awful lot of moving parts. It was doing a relatively good job of balancing the characters fans love with the newbies they’ll soon cosplay, until “Human Target.”
Finding out that this episode was a bit of a letdown is probably extra disappointing to fans of the cult character Human Target. Although he’s plucked directly from the pages of DC Comics, he’s perhaps most widely known for the two TV series launched in 1992 and 2010 that were loosely based on the Christopher Chance character. Those tuning into the episode just to see the character’s third appearance on the small screen were thanked with a brief and somehow redundant appearance. It’s not surprising that the episode couldn’t write an adequate storyline for the newcomer, especially given that it was incredibly bogged down stringing connective tissue between the myriad threads it has already pulled.
Pacing complaints aside, “Human Target” opened where you wanted it to, with Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez) getting the absolute hell tortured out of him by Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman). Last week’s thrilling Oliver-less adventure ended with the headstrong vigilante getting captured. If anyone is being honest with themselves, they’d have to admit that the show did a pretty great job making the audience care enough about Wild Dog to feel genuine tension and high stakes at his predicament. It feels like any of the new recruits could be killed off without creating the emotional speed bump of a Laurel Lance.
Just when people’s heart strings were starting to reach their maximum tension, Rene is saved and confesses he identified Green Arrow as Oliver Queen. So, he’s a dirty rat! It’s at this point we have to wonder what it takes to be kicked the hell off Oliver’s new dream team. We’re five episodes in and I’m already tired of watching this guy learn from his mistakes. Obviously a great many people would cave under the weight of torture, but Wild Dog’s “win” column is getting dangerously overshadowed by his “reckless losses.”
From here, the episode took a huge dip and peppered in a little bit of everyone’s storyline, which bloated the plot quite a bit. Fans get a little Felicity and her new boyfriend, some of Oliver finding out, a touch of Curtis recovering from being stabbed, a dash of Diggle helping Wild Dog with his guilt, a reminder of Prometheus vying for Green Arrow’s life, some Mayor Queen going after low income housing, some more Mayor Queen dealing with an overbearing reporter, a complicated death hoax, and a moment in which Superman flew in carrying the damn kitchen sink. OK, that last one was fake, but you get the idea.
A common misstep in an episode is to bloat it with too many storylines. It’s not fair to your audience to have an entire week of touch-base. It’s like feeding a thirsty person a sip of water through an eye dropper. Yes, on a long enough timeline curiosities will be satisfied, but if people are fitting your show into their week, it’s not cool to spin your wheels.
So, the biggest, baddest criminal in town now has Green Arrow’s identity. This should be an all out panic, right? Wrong.
Everyone takes things incredibly too cavalierly given that this is an event that could very well be the undoing of Team Arrow, not to mention sparking what would have to be one of the biggest political scandals in American History. The mayor is actually a vigilante at night that uses the position for his own agenda! Luckily for everyone, Church sits on the information while hatching his own assassination plot. This plot promptly fails thanks to The Human Target and his Mission Impossible face mask bit.
At long last, Green Arrow has Church alone and bests him in their final showdown, which was awesome. All the fight scenes this round, although few and far between, were impeccable. However, he’s assassinated by Prometheus, but not before revealing everything he knows about Green Arrow to him and him alone… For some reason.
Good place to end an episode, but the stakes turned up again when the flashbacks to Oliver’s time on Russia connect him to the present day. Remember that overbearing reporter? Well she now knows that the mayor was in Russia the year before he came home, not the island. Perhaps this episode was just to brace viewers for the idea that the hero might be unmasked this season after all.
Frankly, this would be a welcomed change. The show has flirted with it so often, but now that the series has shifted from a high society family drama to a wackier political thriller, its gimmick of people not getting wise to Green Arrow’s double life is getting harder to justify. Perhaps, in a world of Human Targets, Legends, Speedsters, meta-humans running amuck in Central City and more, there’s just no place or need for secret identities? Maybe it’s time for not-so-fun dad Oliver to assume his role as the veteran father figure of the DC TV universe by being its first public hero?