Arrow – Season 5 Episode 5
Arrow brings an end to the opening arc of the season as the new Team Arrow starts to come together.
This episode is the perfect example of how much Arrow has improved this season and really shows that it is building in the right direction with everything from the plot to the characters. Tobias Church has been a good villain to help reset the show to what it used to be while having stakes that feel meaningful.
I’ve mentioned in the past that Church was probably never intended to be a long term villain but has plenty to carry him across a few episodes. This episode proves my assumption to be correct and rounds him off in a really satisfying way. Chad L. Coleman plays him with plenty of menace and his physicality helps to make him intimidating. It never feels like Oliver or the rest of Team Arrow are slumming it by taking him on but at the same time he could never fill a season with his gangland plans.
Another example of his overall competence as a villain is shown through him managing to protect himself against Prometheus. He hires another masked vigilante -who reminded me vaguely of the Arkham Knight but I have no idea who he is supposed to be. If anyone can enlighten me then hit me up in the comments.- to fight fire with fire so to speak and definitely isn’t afraid of Prometheus even though he should be.
Church goes out on a high by dialling up his threat level through his treatment of Rene. The torture scenes were pretty brutal to watch and Rick Gonzales plays the pain well. Church is merciless in going after what he wants and takes pleasure in inflicting pain. What we see would never be considered overly shocking but it is just enough to make the pain feel visceral and put us in Rene’s place. Making Rene dig what is to be his own grave was especially effective and I like that he dealt with this bravely while still seeming terrified.
Church becomes a threat to Oliver in another way by learning that he is secretly Green Arrow. I like that Rene couldn’t deal with the torture and surrendered the information as it further ties into the fact that we’re dealing with human beings without any enhancements other than their skills. Everyone has their breaking point and Rene reaches his. Oliver doesn’t hold this against him as he realises that not everyone is able to withstand the kind of punishment that Church would deal out.
Rene’s capture allows the rest of the team to come together in a really organic way. Curtis is benched because of his knife wound but Evelyn and Rory are keen to help their friend. There’s a genuine sense of closeness to them and it’s clear that Oliver has managed to make them trust each other in his own way. This is a good indication of how the team dynamic will continue to grow in the future.
Team Arrow has Diggle back and this was always going to be welcomed as he manages to elevate other characters simply by being there. Pairing him up with Rene was a nice touch as they immediately have a connection through their military background and both want to redeem themselves for something that happened in the past. In Rene’s case he was dishonourably discharged for trying to get information out of someone through torture. Church’s treatment of him could be seen as penance for that as it’s similar to what he inflicted on someone else.
Diggle is as honest as always and doesn’t try to make him feel better about what he did but offers him the opportunity to atone for it. In Diggle’s mind being on Team Arrow is that path to redemption and it could be for Rene as well. So far this is a great mentor/mentee relationship and it allows Rene to develop beyond being the loose cannon of the team. All we need now is for Evelyn to have some meaningful scenes that define her motivations and the team is more or less shaping up to be well developed. Curtis also needs some work but that’s another story.
Having Diggle involved in the action sequences reminded me of why the show feels like it’s missing something without him. Evelyn comments that he’s a badass and she’s definitely right but he brings a composure to the action that has been lacking. He has always been a good foil for Oliver while also being the perfect partner for him. It’ll be interesting to see his alternative philosophy on leading and training a new team in the coming episodes. Also, his new helmet is a vast improvement on the old one.
Oliver’s dual role as Green Arrow and Mayor is handled well in this episode.The past few episodes have been about Oliver learning how to balance these aspects of his life and we start to see how that might work. He is taking a more active role in decision making and showing himself to be more confident by accepting accountability for what he does and says. It’s good to see Oliver be more assertive in his civilian identity and start to realise what change he can bring about.
Of course most of this isn’t really him as he counters Church coming after him as Oliver Queen with an elaborate plan to fake his death so that Church will walk into a trap. The role of Oliver this episode is played by Christopher Chance AKA the Human Target (Wil Traval), a master of disguise who is more than happy to supply his talents to help Oliver out.
When posing as Oliver he manages to expose the hidden agenda of Oliver’s main opponent to his plan to build affordable housing, find out that Felicity has a boyfriend, temporarily appease harsh political critic Susan Williams and successfully fake Oliver’s death. Is it cruel to say he does a better job being Oliver Queen than Oliver does?
In some ways that is actually true as his focus is entirely on being the Mayor where Oliver constantly has his attention divided. The message here is that when Oliver is focused on something he is pretty much unbeatable and it’s hard to argue with that given what we have seen since this show began.
The faked death scenario could definitely have been achieved without Christopher Chance posing as Oliver and if Diggle knows him from years back then I can think of a few instances where having a master of disguise on speed dial could have come in handy. His role in the episode isn’t really about the plot driven disguise to fool the public; Chance allows Oliver to see himself in a different light. Chance mentions that he becomes those he impersonates by learning everything about them and understanding them on a really detailed level. How he accomplishes this is basically comic book nonsense but it isn’t out of place in this show.
Oliver gets something from Chance that he could never get from Diggle, Felicity, Thea or anyone else he’s close to. Since Chance understands what makes him tick through being him he is able to give Oliver insight into himself that he just can’t get anywhere else. He points out that Oliver has a great life but will never move forward if he keeps hiding behind the Green Arrow identity.
This means that he struggles to live up to his responsibilities as Mayor and keeps holding onto the thought that he and Felicity will be together again. Chance helps him let go of that and have a very open conversation with her about moving on with their lives. Oliver doesn’t bear any ill will towards her moving on and it’s good that he’s honest about that as it means we might not have to deal with a frustrating love triangle. It could still turn out that way but hopefully not. Using Chance was a clever way to force Oliver to do some soul searching and presents his internal struggle in a very different way.
The Human Target was used just as much as he needed to be in this episode and I liked Wil Traval’s portrayal of him. Since he disguises himself as other people we don’t actually see this much but he comes across well and it’s good to see the character in live action again. I have a passing familiarity with the Mark Valley TV show and I’m always excited when other DC characters turn up in these shows, especially when they’re used as well as they are here.
I continue to be surprised at how strong the Mayoral storyline is. It’s smart to steer away from an in depth political story and make it about the characters in this situation. Thea is definitely well placed in this role and clearly feels comfortable in what she is doing. Quentin is a great addition to this as well and the performance of these actors go a long way towards making it more entertaining than it possibly has any right to be. Keeping things linked to the Team Arrow parts of the story without directly connecting them works very well and I hope this continues.
Now that Church is dealt with, the road is wide open for Prometheus to become the main antagonist. We still don’t know much about him but the sheer ferocity in which he tears Church’s police escort apart more than speaks for itself for now. Church tells him the Green Arrow’s real identity which gives Prometheus an advantage over Oliver right away. I’m interested to see what Prometheus will do next and as a complete side note, does anyone else think he sounds like Michael Dorn?
I don’t have many theories on who Prometheus really is but the obvious choice is Felicity’s new boyfriend. This is obvious because a new character is always going to be connected to a new villain if his identity is hidden. There’s a working theory that he could be Tommy which may not be the best idea considering how often characters seem to come back from the dead in this show. Oliver and Tommy’s friendship ended on a powerful note and that doesn’t need to be dredged up as far as I’m concerned.
The flashbacks were relatively subdued this week but took an important step forward by having Oliver accepted into the Bratva after Anatoly gave him the advice he needed to answer the questions correctly. Most of the scenes take place at his welcoming celebration and it was a good opportunity to be immersed in the atmosphere. I don’t think Chance needed to show up and I’m not even sure what that scene was supposed to mean but otherwise this was really compelling stuff. Tying this into the present by having a photograph of Oliver in Russia discovered by Susan should create some intrigue as well.
An excellent episode that rounds off the first story arc of the season when Church is taken care of. He has been a good villain and has a good showing here from him standing up to Prometheus and brutally torturing Rene. Rene’s capture allows the new Team Arrow to come together in an organic way and having Diggle back is always welcomed. Pairing Diggle up with Rene as his mentor makes a lot of sense and helps develop Rene in interesting ways as well as giving Diggle plenty to deal with on his own.
The introduction of Christopher Chance aka The Human Target was solid and he was played well by Wil Traval. Faking Oliver’s death was a bit of a stretch as a reason to need him around but this was made up for by him offering valuable insight into the problems Oliver is having. This allows him to move on by taking his role as Mayor seriously and have an open conversation with Felicity about her new boyfriend. Prometheus seems like a ferocious villain so far and I look forward to seeing what problems he will cause for Team Arrow.
- a satisfying conclusion to the Tobias Church arc
- Prometheus’ ferocity
- Diggle and Renee’s mentor/mentee relationship
- having Diggle back in general
- Christopher Chance offering a unique insight into Oliver
- lingering issues with Evelyn and Curtis
- the reason for needing Chance being a bit of a stretch from a story point of view