Warning Contains Spoilers
This week’s episode was very reminiscent of the Deathstroke era of season two, when the hero and the villain had history with one another. There was a sense of intimacy that we haven’t experienced in quite some time.
Adrian Chase, aka Prometheus, continues seeking revenge against Oliver for killing his father. He’s had this plan this whole season to psychologically break Oliver and little by little he’s chipped away the pieces that make Oliver good. Adrian finally has his chance to end Oliver and you would think he would torture him until he dies, but instead he tortures him until he’s completely broken mentally and physically. He never wanted Oliver dead– that would be too easy, and that’s why he thwarted any other person’s attempt at killing him. He wanted Oliver one on one to get him to confess his big secret. But it’s hard for Oliver to confess when he has no idea what secret that is.
Through a series of tortures including waterboarding, shooting him with arrows and making him stare at the photos of every single one of his victims, Adrian tries to get Oliver to confess. It actually reminded me quite a lot of the shame nun from Game of Thrones yelling “confess!” to Cersei as she was being tortured. I would be really surprised if that wasn’t the inspiration for this scene. I seldom feel bad for Oliver; he hasn’t had a lot of redeeming qualities in the past few seasons. I really felt sorry for him this week, though, Adrian was scary. Oliver didn’t have much strength left to give, but even if he wanted to he had no idea what to confess. There was so much unknown because we, the audience, didn’t even know what Adrian wanted.
Adrian brings back Artemis (Evelyn aka the face of betrayal) as his last effort to get his confession from Oliver. She comes in all battered and broken telling Oliver that she’s been tortured too. Adrian wants them to fight to the death, but later comes in anyway and “kills” Evelyn. I put quotes around “kills” because it was all faked to get to Oliver one last time. One thing that seems to break Oliver everytime is causing the deaths of innocent people. Evelyn was the easiest choice for Adrian, since she was already loyal and available. It would’ve taken too much time to kidnap someone from Team Arrow to brake him. He seems to only kill when he deems it necessary and actually killing Evelyn wasn’t. The plan did it’s job though, Oliver actually breaks and confesses something he had kept a secret from everyone he cared about including himself: he took lives because he enjoyed it, not to save the city.
That was a huge revelation and character moment for Oliver. He has nothing left at this point. Adrian takes every last bit of humanity he has– he takes The Green Arrow from him. Oliver no longer has an identity, now. He really did become “something else”.
The flashbacks were huge for the episode and the series. They were another example of how to have flashbacks serve the main plot. They were all about the beginnings of Oliver being the killer he is today and becoming “something else”. You can see the the joy in his eyes when he stabs Kovar, marking his clear transition.
Malcolm Merlyn shows up in Russia having been working with Kovar. This is very significant because they are finally bringing the flashbacks up to the beginning of season one! That means they almost done! Season six is not going to have flashbacks and it’s going to be glorious. They have been strong this season, but it’s definitely time to go.
These flashbacks also began the setup of Kovar being the big bad of season six and maybe even the end of season five. Yes, Kovar isn’t actually dead; by some miracle he’s brought back to life and he probably isn’t too happy. That was kind of weird plot point, but weirder things have happened on Arrow.
At the end Oliver is released, but not before Adrian burns off his Bratva tattoo (that Oliver received after proving himself) so he no longer has a reminder that he did anything good. He arrives at the lair utterly defeated, and without any explanation he tells the team he’s done, they’re done. For now, Team Arrow is disbanded. I’m hoping this lasts longer than an episode, but I won’t get my hopes up. There are six more episodes– they can afford to let this drag a bit. This episode felt almost like a season finale, so I’m interested to see how they wrap up the season.
What I loved about this episode was how simple yet powerful it was. Other than the flashbacks in Russia, it primarily took place inside of a small cell with interactions between just two people. Arrow has become a very team oriented show relying heavily on its ensemble cast, action sequences, schemes, and comic relief. Take all that away and it’s hard to believe that it could stand on it’s feet, but it did.
This episode was very impactful not only for the season, but the entire series. Revealing this secret changes our perspective on Green Arrow and everything he has accomplished over the years. I’m interested to see where he goes from here; he can only go up at this point. Oliver, you failed this city.