In anticipation of this week’s episode of Arrow, we thought we were going to see a showdown between the title hero (Stephen Amell) and the season’s big bad, Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett). What we got wasn’t exactly that straightforward, but was all the more exciting for its mysterious cat-and-mouse plot twists. Slade has proven to be a match for the team both physically and intellectually, staying a step ahead of them at every turn and weathering every feeble attempt to defeat him either on the island or off of it. And as we learned in tonight’s episode, he’s got far more in store for Oliver’s family and friends. Hit the jump for my recap and review.
Although tonight’s episode was titled “Deathstroke”, the principal cast managed to survive (some henchmen may or may not have been harmed in the process). However, the bonds between Oliver and his family and friends have been put through extreme stresses thanks to Slade’s meddling. Before we tally up the damage in contemporary timeline, let’s take a trip to the island.
When last we left the crew, Sara and Anatoli had made a deal to hand Hendrick over to Slade in exchange for Ollie. Sara adds a little extra incentive to do the deal as Anatoli disarms an explosive device and attaches it to Hendrick in the hopes that it will take Slade out once and for all. No dice. Slade likely would have survived the blast anyway, but his Mirakuru powers allowed him to sniff it out. In a fun reveal, we get to see Shado still literally haunting Slade and providing the impetus to his thoughts, words, and actions, which continues into the present day. The pair decides that leaving Sara, Oliver, Anatoli (and Ivo?) to their fate on the island is a more fitting punishment than death.
Back in Starling City, we pick up right where we left off, with Thea having been kidnapped by Slade. He delivers her into the waiting arms of Brother Blood. Here’s where things get tricky, because this particular episode turns from the expected heroic action hour where Ollie nabs the bad guys into a tense Law & Order type missing persons procedural with superhero elements. “Deathstroke” managed to combine all of the plot arcs that season two has been developing all along into a (mostly) logical web of intrigue, betrayal and misdirection that carries with it all manner of repercussions for the show moving forward. Let’s break it down a little:
- Moira is still running for Mayor, and her relationship with Oliver is still strained. Thea’s kidnapping does wonders for both challenges as the public lends her a sympathetic bump in the polls, and Oliver puts their differences aside to focus on more important things.
- Thea, who ends up being physically unharmed in the end, learns the devastating secret that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) is her father. The trust she thought she had with Oliver is shattered, and she accuses him of being just like their mother.
- Not only was Thea’s kidnapping a ploy to mess with Oliver’s mind, but it also served as a distraction so that Slade could hijack a prisoner transport and recruit himself an army.
- Speaking of distractions, how badass was Summer Glau’s Isabel Rochev in this episode? Not only was she revealed to be a ruthless businesswoman, but that she knew Ollie’s alter ego and has been working for Slade all along! (#LongCon) Nice to see she also got a little fighting time opposite Amell.
- With Thea in danger, Roy’s trust in Oliver waned, both as an older-brother figure and as a leader in their merry band of crime fighters. It looks like he and Thea are off on their own adventure for the forseeable future.
- Shippers of Oliver and Sara, vs Oliver and Felicity, got a little added heat this episode as Sara tried to dissuade Ollie from pursuing Slade, while Felicity encouraged him. The love triangle heats up!
- Laurel, poor Laurel, has been pulled from one nonsensical plot arc to the next this season, and looked appropriately stunned when Slade showed up at her door to drop the knowledge of the Arrow’s secret identity!
So, once the dust settled, Oliver is left with Felicity, Diggle, and Sara, while Slade has Isabel by his side with a legion of pharma companies working to manufacture the Mirakuru serum, an army of prisoners/test subjects waiting in the wings, and Blood’s slightly damaged yet still useful political pull. Oh, and as Deathstroke, a whole arsenal at his disposal. It’s not looking good for the Hood.
As a sidenote, I know that sometimes our suspension of disbelief gets momentarily brought back to Earth by some logical leaps: secret identities that seem too obvious to be secret, explosions not doing nearly as much damage as they would in reality, or costumes that are more push-up bra than practical for a brawl. As a viewer, I’m willing to let these minor gaffes slide. This writing team is heads above programs of similar fare, and the relentless pace and relative cohesiveness of the show’s storytelling suggest that they’re either a well-oiled and finely tuned machine, or they’re hooked up to a caffeine drip via IV for the better part of their days. Juggling all these storylines could easily have fallen apart by this point, but with the exception of a few that could have been shed (ie Laurel’s alcoholism), it’s been a solid effort from the get-go. I can’t wait to see what we have in store for the rest of the season!
Quips & Quivers:
Brother Blood: “Hello, Thea. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Felicity: “Well, I told a guy the truth and he got struck by lightning. To be fair, probably won’t happen again. At least, statistically.”
Moira: “How is Miss Rochev these days? Still angry that Dorothy dropped a house on her sister?”
Oliver to Isabel: “You’re very scary. Thank you.”
Oliver: “Are you angry? Use that rage.” Roy: “Any other time you tell me to hold back.” Oliver: “Not tonight.”
Quentin Lance: “Does Oliver know you worked with the Arrow on this?” Sara: “Oliver doesn’t know anything about the Arrow.” – Well, okay, I guess they’re sticking with Quentin’s ignorance of Ollie’s identity.
Detective: “Officer Lance is facing some serious charges.” Slade: “Well don’t pursue them on my accord. I’m not a man who holds a grudge.”
Isabel: “The sins of the father are the sins of the son.”
Isabel: “He wants you to come alone. If he even smells your partners, he’ll gut Thea like a trout. It was a pleasure doing business with you, Oliver.”
I honestly don’t know what was more chill-inducing: Oliver taking on all the henchman The Raid-style, or watching Deathstroke arm himself to the effing teeth!
Prison Transport Guard: “Halloween was six months ago, ass-hat.”
Thea: “Mr. Wilson, he told me your secret. You’ve been lying to me for years. How could you not tell me Malcolm Merlyn was my father?! I believed in you.”
So Roy speeds off out of Starling City, but do we think he went alone? Or did he pick Thea up on the way?
Slade to Blood: “I think you intended a different tone.”
Do we think we’ll see Glau as potential spoiler the Rose Wilson version of the Ravager character from the comics? Could just be a nod to that character; could be nothing but coincidence.
Slade: “Oliver Queen needs one more distraction.”
Slade to Laurel: “Oliver is the Arrow.” ::mic drop, exits stage left::
Watch the promo for the next episode of The CW’s Arrow, “The Man under the Hood,” which debuts in two weeks!