‘Arrow’ Recap: “Bratva” – To Russia with Love

     February 8, 2017

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Greetings, comrads! Your regular recapper Kayti Burt is abroad for two weeks, possibly in Russia working with Bratva, so I’m dusting off my recap boots and filling in. Vashe zdorovie!

We’ve reached an interesting point in Arrow, where the flashbacks have essentially brought us up to speed with Season 1 of the show. Arrow’s fifth season has been about looking back to the past and taking stock, whether it’s been Oliver’s confrontation with the referential Prometheus, Felicity processing what happened with Haven Rock, or Diggle coming to terms with the choice he’s made about Andy. But more than anything in this dark and somber season, Team Arrow has been forced to consider whether or not they are moving forward. Have they learned anything in these last five years? In “Bratva,” this was Oliver’s main frustration — he’s back in Russia, he’s back working for Bratva (albeit temporarily), and he’s seeing how his actions are adversely affecting his team. But after Dinah gives him some Real Talk about how his past doesn’t have to be his anchor, Oliver realizes that he’s been his own worst adversary.

In some ways, Oliver has come full circle. He’s still impulsive and lives by a code that isn’t always consistent. For example, he refuses to rough up some guys on Anatoly’s orders, but he’s fine killing five gunmen. The difference is that while he’s willing to take on that burden, he’s not willing for his team to do the same. He knows that in trying to help him find Walker, Felicity is doing something shady, and Diggle is making a man a human punching bag in front of his eyes (while also saying he doesn’t care that there are civilians in the church — slow down, Dig!) They’re following his lead, and once he realizes it he confronts them: “I need the two of you to be better than me, because you are.”

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Image via The CW

But while Diggle finds himself at peace by the end of the hour, having not killed Walker outright as he had intended to, Felicity continues to ally herself with the hacktivist group. Last week, Kayti mentioned how great it was to see Felicity embracing this part of her past again, as it’s her own brand of vigilantism. And yet, I don’t fully trust where this info came from or what it means for her to get involved with this group. Is it some kind of trap? Rory was certainly suspicious about it, but since he’s off to mend his ancient rags from radiation poisoning or whatever it was that happened in that scene (the less said about it the better), there’s no one who is going to call Felicity out on it at the moment.

Despite the whole disarming a nuke thing, “Bratva” was a fairly quiet episode, and one that managed to find some humor as well in an unexpected pairing. It’s not something Arrow does a lot of, but in this instance it paid off in spades, as Wild Dog was tasked with prepping Lance for his interview with Susan instead of going to Russia, in case he were to cause an international incident there. The interaction between the two was pretty great, and it didn’t even need that cap at the end where Renee remembers Lance’s days as an inspirational beat cop. No one was being coddled in this episode — not Lance, not Oliver — and that feels like progress. Instead, those two men were challenged to step up as leaders, and they did.

But the flashbacks also revealed how Oliver has changed, even if he doesn’t believe he has. Five years ago, he was quick to suggest murderous revenge, and while he’s not afraid to kill now (anymore, at least), he doesn’t typically plot out people’s demise. Further, the flashbacks and the time spent in Russia in this episode have convinced me more than ever that Talia and Bratva are closely tied to Prometheus. Everything is coming back to the transition Oliver made into the Green Arrow, and Prometheus seems to enjoy reminding Oliver of all of his follies since then. In a way, Prometheus is a kind of Ghost of Green Arrow Past, which makes him (or her) a very effective foe, and a prefect way for the show root its conflict in its own mythology. But, the show is also smart to keep Prometheus out of the spotlight as it fills its episode quota for the season. There is still plenty of other work to be done.

Rating: ★★★ Good

Musings and Miscellanea:

— “The man who embraces the dark is never without sight” – Talia

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Image via The CW

— Considering some of Oliver’s previous, horrendous flashback wigs, tonight’s wasn’t so bad!

— That whole nuke subplot was pretty ridiculous and didn’t make a ton of sense, but the most frustrating thing was that Felicity clearly learned nothing from Haven Rock! She’s going to figure out how to fly a plane in a few minutes and then what, scatter the radiation even farther? I thought Arrow was really going to address lessons learned from Haven Rock, but evidently not (or not yet). Thankfully Rory sacrificed his rags to save them instead, while reminding Felicity that she doesn’t have great judgment around nukes.

— There was not enough Adrian Chase in this episode for my liking.

— Seriously, what is this conference that Thea went to, and is she ever coming back?

— John Diggle is everyone’s favorite American.

— Do all mayors get access to private planes that fly internationally?

— “Go home, polish your hockey mask or something” – Lance to Rene

— “Is it still no dogs allowed?” – Wild Dog to Lance

— So Susan is sleeping with Oliver now, but she’s also investigating him and putting it together that he’s the Green Arrow. But … so? I mean honestly who doesn’t know at this point.

— I think Dinah is making a good addition to the team, mainly as someone who can and will call Oliver out.

— Curtis speaking Russian was perfect.

— Luchnik = the archer in Russia.

— Bye again to Rory.

— “You, me, Felicity … we make each other better” – Diggle. Y’all better keep an eye on Felicity though!

 

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