Last week’s episode of Arrow showed us that Oliver was never really a hero, that he was really a dangerous sociopath who used vigilantism as a way to exercise his love of killing. Mental illnesses are a difficult thing to write about in fiction, so rather than try, Oliver rubbed some dirt on it and walked it off. I knew this would happen last week, and this week’s episode proved me right.
Oliver did the same song and dance he’s done all along where he pushes his friends away. Diggle did the same thing he always does where he talks him out of isolation, and now we’re supposed to forget that Oliver skinned a man alive in Russia for “practice,” and go right back to rooting for him.
This week also asked the recruits to carry a lot of the story, and none of the characters are developed enough to do that. Felicity’s story with Helix bored me, as it is wont to do, but it at least pushed the story with Prometheus forward. I wish it moved forward toward a more satisfying end, but we all know it’s not over. Chase escaped because there was no way two nameless SCPD cops are going to be the ones to arrest him. They may as well have been wearing red shirts in an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. Nothing surprised me there.
There is one glimmer of hope moving forward, and that’s Anatoly. The flashbacks sequences have been empty this season, but if Anatoly becomes the next big baddie for Oliver, they can capitalize on their history the way they did with Slade in season 2. You may realize I said something similar about Flash with Killer Frost, and I’m hoping it’s all evidence that the CW is beginning to remember what made these shows strong. It’s a lot to hope for. Once again, we’re rooting for a serial killer now, folks.
My take on “Disbanded” is going to sound a lot like my take on this week’s Flash. The thing that gives Jim hope is something in which I have no hope. The flashbacks haven’t worked in the last several seasons because they struggle to tie into current events and serve as a panacea for ineffective storytelling. They’ve outlived their usefulness.
Slade’s flashbacks worked because they revealed Ollie’s actions that caused him guilt and tied directly into the current action. On the bright side, this season’s flashbacks gave Ollie agency for his guilt the past two weeks, but Ollie must’ve repressed his flaying a man alive. Ollie skinning a man destroyed him as a character and Anatoly was a part of that. No one ever said the Titanic’s maiden voyage could’ve used an encore performance from the iceberg.
Anatoly isn’t even the first suggested big bad from this year’s flashbacks. Chase was trained by Talia Al’ Ghul, another plot device. This year’s flashbacks offered her up as a potential big bad and nothing has come from it–yet. Anatoly screams “filler” this year because Prometheus will be the final showdown and even if he is the big baddie next season, he’ll scream “fill-in for Putin” in future “political” episodes. If Arrow handles foreign policy and affairs like it handles mental illness and gun control, count me out.
But why are we lamenting Ollie as a character? The Green Arrow hasn’t been Arrow’s main character for a couple of seasons. Felicity is top dog. She and her hackivist friends are the ones who unmasked Prometheus. That’s another villain felled by Felicity: the all wise and powerful.
I agree with Jim that Chase killing his captors was inevitable, but they were U.S. Marshals, not SCPD cops. Still, it’s nice to see how well two of our Marshals stack up to a member of The League of Assassins.
Rub as much dirt on story flaws as you can, Arrow. I’m not sure even Predator levels of dirt could fix what ails this show. Arrow’s looking more like a series I won’t be tuning into next season. I did like the music choice at the end of “Disbanded.” That’s something.
Thanks for reading.