Arrow S05E12 “Bratva”

“Bratva”

Warning Contains Spoilers

We are officially over halfway done with season five! I wish there were more episodes with Prometheus; his are the strongest of season five. However, this week’s episode was still very much character and plot driven.

The episode opens up with an intimate conversation between Oliver and sleazy-reporter Susan in his office. I guess they are still together, which is curious since she hasn’t shown up in quite a few episodes and Oliver hasn’t even mentioned her. I was hoping it was another one of those things where a story line is introduced and then just forgotten about–which often happens in Arrow. Alas, this was not the case and there was Susan in all her conniving glory. Luckily, the conversation is interrupted by Quentin Lance; he is back ladies and gentlemen! His return kind of comes out of nowhere, but I’ll take it.

It seems he has finished rehab and is eager to come back to work. He even sets up an on-camera interview with Susan to share his story and assure the city that he is doing better. I was really scared by this interview. As I’ve said a few times, Quentin holds a special place in my heart so I never want to see him hurt–especially by Susan. He received help from an unlikely source: Rene. Oliver tasks Rene with helping Lance with his interview because, like most of the audience, he is worried Lance is in way over his head. Lance doesn’t care for Rene’s help; he doesn’t feel like he needs it. Rene persists though, and eventually Quentin allows Rene to run a few mock interviews with him. Rene doesn’t hold anything back, throwing the hard questions at him. He even brings up Laurel which sends Quentin into a fit of anger. This was needed, though, to show Quentin that he is putting too much on his plate and to remember there’s still a lot he has to deal with–especially in the public eye.

It was kind of random to have Rene be the one to aid Lance, but then he tells Lance that he helped him become a better person years ago by not busting him for tagging a building, but instead looking him in the eye and telling him he was better than this; they share a nice moment and we get to see Rene’s softer side again. He really is a nice, sensitive guy; he just goes through spurts where he broods in the corner and you forget he’s a real person. I’m glad Lance continues to see he has a support system. Thea is still gone somewhere unexplained (how long is that conference?), so he needs more people in his corner. Alcoholism is a disease you have to work at everyday, even if you are recovering, and I’m happy Arrow is doing a great job at representing it.

Another reason why Rene was chosen to be there for Lance was because the Team was sent to Russia on a mission and Oliver didn’t want to risk an international incident. The mission: stop General Walker’s nuclear bomb sale. General Walker is the corrupt General who put Diggle in prison, almost ruining his life. Putting Russia and General Walker together was a very weird tie in. I guess they wanted even more direct parallels between the flashbacks and the present–the parallels were already pretty solid up to this point. I mean, they literally put the team in Russia and the flashbacks this season are about Russia. Oliver’s friend from the Bratva, Anatoly, even shows up. All these coincidences could only happen in a tv show.

When we meet Anatoly in the present for the first time, he punches Oliver in the face. This was apparently for Alexi Leonov (he was in season 2, Oliver used him to find Slade Wilson and then Slade killed him without Oliver intervening). Oliver explains to Anatoly that he’s different now and really needs his help to stop Walker. Anatoly agrees to help, but only if Oliver does something in return. He tells him he won’t go back to Bratva at first, but then later realizes helping Anatoly is the only thing that will work. So he works as a Bratva thug with the help of Dinah, who actually ends up comforting him after he had to throw a few people out windows. She tells him that he needs to stop letting Russia pull him back and that he’s more than his past. It was nice to see more of Dinah’s soft side. Oliver needs to keep moving forward, but Anatoly tells him that his tie to Bratva is for life so they’ll probably come collect from him again.

Felicity is still knee deep in the information–Pandora–Helix gave her last week. She is having trouble locating Walker so Dinah suggests he might have a burner phone. She uses some of Pandora information to blackmail a Russian contact into giving her access to the phone network; this was so un-Felicity I kind of loved it. This whole scene was very comical to me, though. Felicity brought Curtis and Rory in, dressed as Bratva men, and Felicity tried to be evil; it just was hilarious. I loved that Felicity was using her dark side, though. She is really getting sucked into Pandora– I’m just scared for the inevitable moment when Helix come to collect. Felicity is becoming someone a lot of the team don’t recognize. Rory even told Oliver that she had crossed the line. Rory genuinely cares about Felicity. This was a big moment for Rory that showed he’s a team player.

Another big moment for Rory comes when he saves the team, and a good chunk of Russia, from a nuclear bomb left by Walker. Felicity tries to disarm it herself but it was already counting down pretty quickly, so Rory puts on the rags and tries to contain the nuke using his rag powers. The rags saved him from the nukes Felicity set on his town, so why wouldn’t they be able to contain this bomb? He is successful but at a price: his rags lost their powers. Rory said he has a connection with the rags and he can feel that they no longer work. This was a very sad moment for Rory: no rag powers=no protection. He really doesn’t have a lot else to offer to team, so he’s leaving to figure out his next steps. Felicity seems really sad to see him leave; their friendship was really growing into something. He’ll be back though, probably when the team really needs him. Maybe he’s going to find some mystical force to get the rags working again. If he comes back with anything else he’ll have to get a new name; his name can’t be Ragman without the rags.

Diggle was able to get some closure this episode. He practically beat one of Walker’s henchmen within an inch of his life to get out his rage. I loved seeing Diggle back out working with the team; it’s been far too long. This was a great way to move on from the whole Diggle in prison storyline, which went on for way longer than it needed. It kept Diggle from showing his true skills and strength. He had the chance to kill Walker point blank, but decided against it. He knew that it wasn’t the answer and knew that it would probably come back to bite him in some way later. Instead he got to be the bigger man, someone his son can be proud of. David Ramsey has so much emotional range and I’m happy they are finally utilizing his talents again.

Oliver became fed up with his team going rogue and dark. He told them that he goes dark so they don’t have to… that’s a weird sentiment. He just never wants to his team go down the path he did. It might be a little too late for Felicity, but Oliver doesn’t know that yet. Diggle tells him that he’s no better than he or Felicity; they make each other better. This was so sappy but I loved it! They are a team of dark individuals and together they form light.

In the flashbacks, Talia is training Oliver by sending him to take out drug dealers to practice his bow skills. She really wants him to start working on his father’s list and start saving Starling City. It just so happens that someone from the list, Hideo Yamane, is in town right now! In a tie in to season one: he’s the one that supplied the drugs Thea used (so many tie ins!). Oliver finds him and actually says everyone favorite catchphrase, “You failed this city!” This was the first time that Oliver coined this phrase! This season’s flashbacks are so on point it’s amazing to watch. No longer do I tune out when a flashback begins because they are very informative to the present. I was really hoping that Talia would show up in the present too; this would’ve been a pretty perfect time, especially how literal the parallels to the past they were being.

Back in Star City, Susan meets with her source again and he gives her a new photo, this time of the Green Arrow in Russia. He asks her what the odds might be of Green Arrow and Oliver being in Russia at the same time. So she basically now knows that Oliver is Green Arrow. This is not good news for Oliver. She’s a sleazy reporter out to get the story of a lifetime that will make her career, and she has it now. She’ll need more credible proof of course, but I’m sure now that her and Oliver are sleeping together it’s just a matter of time before she finds it. Oliver is so dumb for trusting her. Where’s Thea to come and take down Susan? She’s the only one who can see through her. Come back Thea! It’s going to be really devastating for Oliver when he finds out about Susan’s lies and deceit. It’s also going to be an “I told you so” moment for me and probably the whole audience since we all know how awful she is.

This was a very jam packed episode of Arrow. Even though Prometheus was only mentioned  and not seen, the plot was pushed along. Every character had their moment to shine which is often hard in an ensemble show such as this. I feel like the writers this season have really listened to the audience’s wishes in a good way (an un-Olicity way). This season is their redemption tour and I’m buying tickets. I love being entertained and feeling something when I watch a show and it’s happening this season. I just hope, as I usually do, that they don’t back track and continue on with the theme of moving forward. In other words, I hope Oliver doesn’t backtrack for good and join Bratva.

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