Arrow – Season 5 Episode 15
“Fighting Fire With Fire”
Arrow deals with Oliver potentially being Impeached from his Mayoral position as Vigilante starts to gun for him.
One of the interesting things about this season of Arrow has been juggling the story of Oliver as Mayor as well as Star City’s Vigilante protector. Both roles signify two different ways of protecting the city with each of them being powerful in their own right. It would have been easy for one to suffer in favour of the other but for the most part they run well together.
Episodes like this show how well this is working. Oliver never suits up as the Green Arrow -outside of the flashback- so everything he does in the episode is as Mayor. This is the right way to go for a story that is all about his credibility as Oliver Queen. His biggest challenge this week is navigating the political minefield to make sure his role as Mayor isn’t taken away from him.
He points this out at the start of the episode when he makes it clear that Prometheus has essentially won if being removed from Office comes to pass. This solidifies a massive change in how Oliver views being the Mayor. If you think back to the first episode of the season he saw it was a means to an end to help his role as the Green Arrow but now he sees the value in it and is unwilling to let that go. This makes sense and is nicely contextualised by Thea listing his accomplishments including affordable housing and fair minded gun control. It’s also a good way to outline the stakes for the episode in a way that feeds into the development of Oliver throughout the season.
A big challenge for the episode is Oliver finding a way to keep his job without compromising his principles. As the episode goes on he is given a few alternatives about how to swing the vote in his favour but most of them involve compromising the reputation of someone else. He is presented with destroying Billy’s posthumous reputation, blackmailing the council member designated as the swing vote or he could let Adrian take the blame for the cover-up since it was his idea.
None of those options are appealing to Oliver because it disadvantages someone else in favour of himself which isn’t the kind of politician he wants to be. The idea of blackmailing the council member comes from Thea which picks up the thread of her making questionable choices in order to protect Oliver from last week.
Thea’s heart is definitely in the right place at least as far as Oliver’s concerned and it creates a really interesting dynamic between them as Oliver show’s concern over what Thea is turning into. She plainly sees it as going hand in hand with politics and is willing to do whatever it takes to secure his position but Oliver approaches it from a more emotional standpoint that takes into account the individual who might have their life ruined by Thea’s actions. She seems to see them as commodities to be exploited and that’s something Oliver finds deeply concerning. It’s a very Moira Queen approach to take and Thea is initially unable to see just how far gone she is.
Oliver calling her out on her behaviour does eventually sink in. Seeing her resign was a huge surprise as being in the position she is has been really good for the character. Her decision definitely shows that Thea hasn’t gone too far down the darker path she was on and it leaves a lot of uncertainty as to what she’ll do next. It’s interesting that she identifies what she does now as a replacement for the bloodlust she experienced last season and the fact that she’s unwilling to let this new corruption consume her shows how conflicted she is by the whole thing. Staying by Oliver’s side means that she will always be tempted so she wants to remove that completely. I’m confident the writers will find something equally compelling for her to do but I’m at a loss to think what that might be.
Tarnishing Billy’s reputation is definitely a non starter. This ties into Oliver’s guilty feelings about what Prometheus baited him into doing but also shows the common decency of the character when he’s unwilling to sully the reputation of a dead man even though there’s no future to ruin. Thea is the one championing it again but Oliver wouldn’t be able to live with himself or face Felicity if that’s what it takes to keep him in the Mayor’s office.
Letting Adrian take the fall is also something that doesn’t work for Oliver. He sees Adrian as a friend and the cover-up was all about making sure his life as Green Arrow wasn’t made more difficult so Oliver refuses to let Adrian take the blame for that.
Oliver’s ultimate decision to implicate the Green Arrow as a cop killer and tell the public that he covered it up because he didn’t want people to know that someone they look up to failed the city. It’s a bold move that will definitely create problems for him down the line but Oliver finding a solution through self sacrifice is a good way to do it while upholding his principles.
The reveal that Adrian is secretly Prometheus was nicely done. Shows in this universe tend to milk the reveals as a shocking ending to an episode but this was handled differently by having Prometheus unmask during the episode. This works because it lets us view everything Adrian says and does from that point on as well as prior to that. I’d like to say that evidence has largely pointed towards Adrian being Vigilante given that the secret identity of a version of the character in the comics is called Adrian Chase but the truth is there hasn’t really been much evidence to support or deny that. Adrian has previously made some pretty obvious remarks about things in the past that indicate he’s hiding something but I’ll admit that my knowledge of the comics had me fill in the blanks and assume that he’s Vigilante.
Adrian being Prometheus is a clever subversion of those expectations and I imagine the character of Vigilante was introduced to make this reveal all the more impactful to those who know the comics. I also like that his unmasking is somewhat understated showing that there’s no need to constantly make a big deal of of revealing these things as the writing can still be strong enough to add weight to these things in other ways.
There’s now a subtext to every interaction that Adrian and Oliver have because we know the truth and Oliver doesn’t. When Adrian calls Oliver his friend there’s a hint of hatred in his voice that might otherwise go unnoticed and Josh Segarra’s acting in general does a lot to create an unsettling edge to the character. His threatening of Susan is perhaps a step too far as it seems like a reckless and less calculating thing for him to do but we haven’t seen what happens next so it could be a really clever part of his overall plan. We may know Prometheus’ identity but we don’t know the mechanics of his plan so there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the character.
The question of Vigilante’s identity is still to be answered and there’s something that doesn’t quite add up about it. Vigilante sounds like he is voiced by Josh Segarra as there is little attempt to disguise it but his fight with Prometheus suggests that they can’t be the same person. Unless of course the fight didn’t actually happen the way we think it did because there were no witnesses to it. It’s possible that it was all some kind of existential head trip. Though Adrian is present when Vigilante is planning to shoot Oliver so my theory isn’t very well supported. We have seen people temporarily suit up in Oliver’s costume so anything is possible. I don’t think the mystery of Adrian Chase’s identity has been fully solved quite yet.
Felicity is descending further down her own dark path when she formalises her arrangement with the Helix hacker group. Her discussion with Diggle over the files she has access to is a really interesting one. Felicity points out that Oliver, Diggle and the rest of the team have managed to fight the darkness by using a little of their own so she doesn’t see what she’s doing as being very different. The episode’s title comes from this discussion by way of a warning from Diggle who tells Felicity that fighting fire with fire can be effective but there’s also a really high chance that you’ll come away burned. These words seem to resonate with Felicity but she seems more content to take the risk anyway. In her eyes the information she has is a useful tool and she’s immune to the moral implications of it. Billy’s death is seen as the thing that has robbed her of the empathy she once had. Felicity definitely has to make her own mistakes and it’s still unclear what way this will go but the sense of dread surrounding it is interesting.
This is a big episode for Curtis who finally develops his T-Spheres to bring him closer to his comic book counterpart. I really like the way they were used and it ties into the recent arc of Curtis finding other ways to be useful in the field. As on site technical support he could be a great asset and this episode shows us a little of what that could look like. The added emotional weight given to the character when Paul tells him that he wants a divorce is expected but also very powerful. Curtis can be a really good character when used properly and the show is definitely finding a place for him.
There isn’t much happening on the flashback front this week. I almost didn’t bother mentioning them but there’s some forward movement on the Kovar plot and a slight attempt to connect Oliver’s journey towards becoming the Hood with the Bratva plot but there’s not a lot of content here which is a shame as the flashbacks had so much momentum earlier in the season.
An excellent episode that highlights how important the Mayoral storyline is to the overall season plot. Oliver being unwilling to do harm to the reputations of others to secure his position shows how principled he has become and how important the job of Mayor is to him. Thea is able to list the reasons he has made a difference and the lengths she almost goes to in order to protect him is an impressive follow on from last week. The fact that she eventually realises what she is becoming and resigns shows that she hasn’t gone too far down her dark path and leaves a question over what she will do next. Oliver’s decision to implicate the Green Arrow as public enemy number one creates some interesting opportunities and allows him to make a self sacrifice in order to protect himself.
The reveal of Adrian Chase as Prometheus is well handled and subverts the expectations of the comic book knowing audience who assumed that he would naturally turn out to be Vigilante. That could still be the case but the Prometheus reveal works for reasons other than that. It adds subtext to any interaction he has with Oliver as well as a hint of hatred to the tone of his voice. His overall plan remains unclear but I like the way this is going. Curtis finally inventing the T-Spheres is long overdue and well used in the context of the episode with added weight being added by Paul telling him that he wants a divorce. Felicity formalising her ties with the Hacker group has a lot of potential and I like that it came right after a discussion with Diggle about the potential pitfalls of using that information. There’s a lot of fascinating story threads dangling to be picked up and I’m interested to see where it goes.
- a well handled reveal
- Oliver’s principled approach to securing his position as Mayor
- Thea’s morally questionable choices
- Felicity’s decision to walk towards her darkness
- the loss of momentum in the flashbacks