Slade (Manu Bennett) makes his move to mass produce super soldiers as Oliver (Stephen Amell) moves into damage control mode.
Let’s bitch it out…When last we saw the Arrow crew, Slade had truth-bombed Laurel (Katie Cassidy) with the Arrow’s identity and liberated a busload of convicts from Iron Heights. Currently Slade is firmly in control of the narrative: he’s driving the conflict and he’s moving the players around the board. Oliver and co. are just trying to keep up, even as Oliver’s blood pressure level continues to rise.
The episode opens with Oliver, Sara (Caity Lotz), Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) blowing up Queen Consolidated’s Applied Sciences Division. It’s an attempt to wrestle power away from Slade, but his response – attacking the Arrow lair – speaks volumes. Not only is Slade not thrown by their efforts, he cuts them down to size with ease, pummeling Ollie, Diggle and even fracturing Sara’s wrist in just a few seconds. It’s important that Slade actually infiltrates their space because it reinforces how unevenly this match-up is. Slade is so unconcerned about the threat that they pose that he literally just walks into the lair and waits for them to come home. He’s thrown down the gauntlet, a “come after me, suckers” call-out, but in reality he’s already three steps ahead.
Oliver responds by attacking Slade when he activates the machine he’s stolen from Star Labs. Of course taking Slade down while he’s powering the machine isn’t as simple as Ollie assumes. There’s a twist: Slade is using Roy (Colton Haynes) to power the machine (sans shirt naturally). I’m the first to admit that I should have anticipated Roy being used in this capacity, but I honestly didn’t. Roy’s appearance is a nice little jolt that reinforces how clever Slade is and once again postpones his inevitable fight scene with Oliver.
In the end, things come out at a bit of a draw. Oliver saves Roy, takes out Isabelle (Summer Glau) and steals a sample of the mirakuru for Felicity so that she can make a cure. On the other hand, Slade comes out with a large group of super soldiers, including – unbeknowst to Oliver – Isabelle. This means that all hope of success now rides on Felicity’s ability to manufacture a cure. If not, they’re in trouble because Slade has already proven that he can defeat everyone on team Arrow single handedly. Taking on an army of men with mirakuru infused powers, including uber-beyotch Isabelle, is out of the question.
- Isabelle’s backstory with Oliver’s dad is improbably melodramatic and soapy. It also in no way justifies her hostile take-over of Queen consolidated (so she was the other woman…big deal). Her lame excuses made me so thankful when Diggle (David Ramsey) pumped her full of lead, so the closing reveal that she’s still alive – and is now super – was pretty disappointing. I like Glau, but this role just hasn’t really worked for me.
- Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) stays mum about Arrow and Black Canary’s identities, opting to remain in jail and receive a smack down for his troubles. His heart to heart with Laurel (Katie Cassidy) about what it takes to be a hero is nicely emotional, though, providing that given the material, Blackthorne can deliver.
- Laurel’s resulting blackmail (again!) of her boss is another cheer worthy moment for the character. Her realization about Ollie and Sara’s moonlighting habits feels a bit sidelined by all of the Slade stuff, but I appreciate that it doesn’t monopolize the episode either. (Side Note: the fact that it took a glimpse of Sara’s battle scarred back for her to make the connection to Black Canary is pretty laughable though this comes with the disguised superhero territory, I guess).
- There’s little cheer worthy about Thea (Willa Holland), who remains super whiny and annoying. I get that her world has been rocked, but that doesn’t mean that I have to care about her. Basically each time she opens her mouth now, all I hear is the “wah wah” sound from Peanuts. Get over it, Thea!
- In backdoor pilot news, we meet two potential new characters for The Flash spin-off: Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and some other guy. There’s also a mention that the unconscious Barry may actually have a girlfriend, Ivy, which makes sense since Felicity is clearly not leaving the mother ship for the spin-off and every hero needs a leading lady. Dump your casting suggestions in the comments below.
- Finally, the Island flashbacks continue to drag down the pacing. Sure it’s important to learn that Dr. Ivo (Dylan Neal) offered Oliver and Sara a cure and they killed him instead, but there’s no real power in these flashbacks. At some point, the writers need have an honest debate about whether every episode truly requires flashbacks, or if they use them more sparingly – ie: when the narrative warrants it.
Best Lines (as usual Felicity kills it):
- Felicity (after Isabeau’s statement): “For the record I hated her before we found out she’s a supervillain.”
- Thea (to Ollie): “I tried to kiss my half brother before my real father killed him, that’s how screwed up my life is.” It just sounds like a Neil Jordan film or a daytime soap. What’s the big deal?
- Felicity (after learning about Ivy): “That’s just swell. Barry’s in a coma and he’s already moved on.”
Your turn: are you impressed with Slade’s complete disregard of team Arrow? Are you excited to see super-Isabelle? Does Thea need to suck it up? Happy that Laurel is being redeemed? And what are your thoughts on the flashbacks: keep ’em or ditch ’em? Sound off below.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW. Next week: Roy Hulks out