Whoa. So was that a regularly scheduled episode of Arrow last night, or the first half of a made-for-TV movie? The production quality was through the roof! My one mild complaint about the show in recent weeks was that it has become ever-so-slightly predictable and by-the-numbers, even if those numbers are spectacular. My prayers were answered in this week’s episode, “The Promise”, which not only changed up the story structure in a big way, but did it with explosive panache. Hit the jump for my recap and review.
Normally, we’d get about one paragraph’s worth of “Island Time” on an episode recap, but this week’s hour was much more balanced, actually spending a lot of time on the island itself. The real centerpiece to the action in “The Promise” was set on the freighter, Amazo, in which a chaotic battle between prisoners, guards, and our heroic trio took center stage. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The time had come to enact Oliver, Sara, and Slade’s plan to board the freighter, kill Ivo, and make their daring escape off the island. The question of just who will kill Ivo was an important one, because if Oliver does it, he keeps Ivo quiet about the truth behind Shado’s death, but kills a man in cold blood. If Slade does it, he gets his revenge, but might also go Mirakookoo when he learns that Oliver chose Shado to die. Heavy stuff!
Though the caper sequence was well thought-out (and rehearsed, what with Oliver doing his Predator-like training in the island wilderness), the real fun came with a bit of tricky editing. Oliver gets captured by Ivo’s guards and submitted to interrogation by truth serum. We’re not entirely sure that Ollie’s really been drugged until we catch him in a lie and find out that Sara’s concoction of Cocculus indicus allowed him to stay lucid. Things are going along swimmingly, right?
Well, there are two wild cards at play in this plan: one is the prisoners themselves, including Anatoli Knyazev (David Nykl), and the newcomers Hendrick Von Arnim (Artine Brown) and Reverend Thomas Flynn (James Pizzinatto). We’re not 100% sure what they’re all about, but Hendrick has some real issues with Sara after she frees him from the cell. (That all worked itself out in the end.) The real loose cannon is Slade himself, who proves to be just as unstable as they feared when Ivo tells him of Oliver’s presumed betrayal. Although Sara and her prisoner friends make it safely back to the beach, Oliver is left in the clutches of the ship’s new captain, Slade, who has really taken to his Deathstroke persona. He starts off his reign of terror in a rather bloody fashion by crushing the skull of the former captain, cutting off the hand of Dr. Ivo, and promising Oliver that he’ll come to know complete despair before Slade kills him.
Ah, the promise! Which brings us to the present. Given all the craziness that went down on the island in the past, it’s no wonder the tension was so thick when Slade showed up at the Queen mansion in the present day. All the actors involved in this little cat and mouse game gave excellent performances: Slade with his suave demeanor masking a homicidal intent, Moira and Thea with their ignorance of the danger they were in, and Oliver’s barely contained panic. I particularly loved the way Moira kept chastising Oliver for his rude behavior, on top of the fact that these two were not getting along very well in the first place.
Eventually, Ollie called in the cavalry, with Roy posturing in front of Slade thanks to his shared Mirakuru abilities, Sara threatening death from above, and even Diggle waiting in the bushes to assassinate the one-eyed man. Too bad for Ollie and the team that Slade had it all planned out, as someone knocked out Diggle before he could take the shot. Slade’s got a little team of his own, who I’m sure we’ll see in the coming weeks.
There were some great moments throughout the contemporary sequence in which Slade kept dropping little hints about his true intentions, but what he was really doing was planting surveillance devices around the Queens’ house. That final shot of Slade watching the cameras with his hollowed-out eye socket was a pretty awesome ending (I wonder if he hangs out with The Walking Dead’s The Governor?), and only teased what’s sure to be more incredible action and drama in the episodes to come.
Quips & Quivers:
Easter eggs: The Arrow community was quick to pick up on the name-dropping of Curtis “Curt” Swan and Joseph “Joe” Kubert, two well-known artists for DC.
What do we make of the new faces of Hendrick Von Arnim and Reverend Thomas Flynn? There’s some speculation floating around that Flynn might end up being the Pied Piper on The Flash spin-off. Thoughts?
So Ivo’s wife, Jessica, has some sort of dementia that he’s seeking to cure? I understand going to great lengths to help your loved ones but…
Slade: “That time on the island must have been Hell for you.”
After missing the shot – Slade: “Well we don’t have all day.” Oliver: “There’s a breeze!”
Prisoner to Ollie: “Prochnost.” Meaning, “Strength,” as he’s being hauled away to Ivo’s chambers.
Slade: “Not yet, kid. I’ve still got to meet the rest of your family.”
Slade: “I believe that when we lose someone we love, we have an obligation to honor their memory.”
Slade: “That’s a particularly film handshake you have their, son.” Roy: “Yeah, you too.”
Slade: “Five years ago, I made you a promise. Do you remember? Well, I’m here to fulfill it.”