This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 8 Episode 5
This episode sends Oliver and his family back to Russia for a nostalgia-filled adventure, while Roy and Diggle had a heart to heart and just about everyone else was sidelined off-screen out of necessity.
There’s something about seeing Stephen Amell shooting those tennis balls, the iconography from the very first promos, that tweaks something in my chest. Oliver and Mia had some much-needed bonding and training time, laden with all kinds of Arrow imagery, like Oliver dislocating his thumbs, Bratva fight club, and even an homage to the original hood that miraculously stayed on his head no matter how vigorously he moved. Mia’s bell fight sequence was a fun watch and helped move forward her complicated issues around her father and feeling insufficient as a hero.
It would be nice to see some of the attention balanced out toward William as well. Getting him out from behind the desk is a good way to help with that, but he’s just as capable of having meaningful conversations with his father outside of missions as his sister is.
Diggle coming to collect Roy was such a great example of the way that Dig is really the heart of the team, the emotional papa bear who takes care of people. It’s amazing how different the themes on Arrow have changed with time. The idea that a team is what heals you and gives you purpose whereas isolation breeds negative emotional behavior is so much more emotionally evolved. Plus, giving someone the secret to unlocking their emotional well being so they can start the work of recovering from trauma decades early is the correct way to do superhero time travel. In case anyone was wondering – ahem, Cap becoming an old man and just hanging Winter Soldier out to dry.
“Prochnost” returns Anatoly to his rightful place as a lovable rogue, the kind of guy who dabbles in just enough villainy that he can do tough things like murder people on behalf of our heroes, while keeping their hands clean. With a quick word on the side to William (and a response in Russian, catching Ollie off guard), Anatoly wiped the slate clean of any past transgressions under Diaz, never mind earlier issues with the Bratva.
Arrow has kept just the right dosage of Anatoly throughout the show’s life, with the possible exception of not fully knowing what to do with him during the long, arduous reign of Ricardo Diaz. But now that Oliver Queen is on his goodbye tour, it makes sense to have misty-eyed goodbyes, even if it feels a bit cheap for Oliver to call Anatoly “brother,” a term, the show usually reserves for John Diggle.
“Prochnost” smartly used Anatoly to dig into Laurel’s morality and her continual journey toward the heroic, one that has been surprisingly fulfilling, even as it’s been characterized by more fits and starts than the path of others. Anatoly doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to questioning Laurel’s intentions – he murders people on the regular and has probably betrayed Oliver more times than anyone other than Malcolm Merlyn. However, Anatoly has been at an arm’s distance, so tonally and emotionally, we’ve never held him to account the same way Laurel has needed to earn her redemption back from viewers, one episode at a time.
Using Mia to push Laurel back from the moral ledge was a wonderful little unexpected turn. The wordless impact of Mia only knowing her as an unmitigated hero was powerful to watch across Katie Cassidy’s face. For someone who has always been suspected of doing the worst, having the hero’s kid look up to her in all earnestness showed her another way forward.
The little dalliance, the concept that Laurel might betray Oliver for the Monitor, never felt like real stakes. The better question was always: how will Laurel get out of it? How will she save her earth and help Oliver?
Giving Lyla the chance to save herself feels like a very this-Laurel move, and in spite of how frustrating the move to kill off the original Laurel still is, it’s hard not to respect the way that Arrow has truly distinguished the two characters, rather than merely swapping the new one in for the old like nothing had ever happened.
I’m looking forward to the fallout from Lyla’s betrayal, although from the preview it seems like we’ll need to wait two episodes for that. I’m not entirely certain, though, that Laurel wasn’t weirdly in on the plan to tranquilize Oliver and Diggle. There’s something about how that final scene plays out, with their shocked faces and Laurel’s reaction completely off-camera, that raises questions for me. Is she working both sides up the middle again to stall for time? Lyla certainly sounded genuine in her belief that she was doing the right thing for the people she loves and that the Monitor is trying to help.
Nyssa watch enters week 5 as Oliver speaks about her training Mia and we see the father-daughter duo sparring similar to Connor and Diggle last week, but still no Nyssa.
Wow, Anatoly took that whole “time traveling children” and “the multiverse exists but also it’s collapsing” thing in stride, huh?
“I made a promise to your mother to keep you safe and there is no world, no universe, no past present or future where I break that promise.” Oof, you got me in the feels, Oliver.
“If by ‘good’ you mean, how you say…moody? Then yes.” Anatoly’s got jokes!
“I’m in. fancy rich guy is the role I was born to play” love William
Um did Oliver and Mia leave the ring like magicians?