'Arrow' season 5, episode 12 recap: Oliver returns to Russia in "Bratva"


In last week's Arrow, Oliver Queen and his team searched for a new Black Canary. In season five, episode 12, Dinah Drake joined Oliver and the rest of Team Arrow on a trip to Russia to try and prevent a nuclear arms deal. The result was one of the best Arrow episodes of the year, and a pretty solid indicator season five will continue to be a strong return to form for the series. 

(Editor's Note: Spoilers ahead for season five, episode 12 of Arrow.)

Season five, episode 12, titled "Bratva," began with the welcome return of Quentin Lance following his several week stint in rehab. But Lance was not the only character who returned. Oliver's new girlfriend, reporter Susan Williams, returned as well, and there is certainly something going on with her (more on that in a bit). 

The primary focus of "Bratva," though, was on Oliver's trip to Russia. With John Diggle recently freed from prison (thanks to Felicity's new cache of data), the hope was certainly that he could put his General Walker problem behind him. Unfortunately, Walker escapes custody and heads to Russia to sell his nuclear weapon. Well, Team Arrow is not gonna let that slide. 

What happens in Russia ...

Cate Cameron/The CW

When Oliver learns that Walker is on the loose, he heads to Russia along with John, Felicity, Curtis, Rory and Dinah. The group is greeted in the airport by Oliver's friend Anatoly. The greeting is not a cheerful one, though, as it appears that their relationship has soured.

Oliver eventually gets a sit down with Anatoly, but his old Bratva friend only agrees to help if he agrees to a quid pro quo (it is the Bratva way). Of course, Oliver initially declines. However, after Walker escapes Team Arrow's first attempt to capture him, Oliver agrees to do Anatoly's dirty work — essentially threaten a local businessman.

Following this deed, Oliver and Anatoly are back to being "brothers," with the latter delivering Walker's location, as well as armed men, to assist in the takedown. But before all this happens, Oliver worries his worst qualities may be rubbing off on his teammates — and he could be right. 

Diggle and Felicity cross a line

Cate Cameron/The CW

It has been teased for a few episodes now that Felicity would be going down a much different, and darker, path. While some of her earlier cynicism was not on full display in "Bratva," she is beginning to make it clear that she is willing to cross certain lines for the greater good — something that concerns Oliver. 

Felicity uses her newfound cache of data to blackmail a Russian businessman into allowing her access to his telecommunication system. To Felicity, this was one of those "the ends justify the means" moments. For Rory, not so much. He later confronts Felicity, warning her that the power she now wields has to be used responsibly. 

Felicity, though, is not the only member of Team Arrow who spends some time on the dark side. Following his release from prison and news of Walker's escape, Diggle acts like a man possessed. After the team's initial attempt to capture Walker fails, Diggle, against Oliver's advice, beats a man half to death trying to secure the missing General's location. Afterwards, Oliver tells Felicity and Diggle that the three of them work so well as a team because they are better than him. He pleads with them to stay that way or else Prometheus will be right. At least one of them listens.

They nuke the rags

Cate Cameron/The CW

Once Anatoly comes to Oliver with General Walker's location, the team rolls out to stop the nuclear exchange. Oliver and Dinah end up taking out the truck of terrorists who purchased the nuke, but there is no weapon in the crate. 

Meanwhile, Diggle captures Walker, who tells him that he stole the nuke back so he could sell it again to a bunch of "terrorist suckers." He then taunts Diggle, essentially begging him to kill him. The scene is fairly reminiscent to when Diggle's brother taunted him with his family. In that instance, John kills his brother. This time around, John appears to listen to Oliver's earlier words and spares the General's life.

Of course, none of this solves our nuke problem. Felicity, who has located the weapon, initially attempts to override the countdown, but in doing so, speeds up the timer. Rory ends up saving everyone by absorbing the blast in his rags. Unfortunately, while Rory lives, his rags are rendered useless, causing him to leave the team. 

Hopefully we will see Rory return before the season's end, but his absence could be for the best. While only seen sporadically, Ragman is essentially the most powerful member of Team Arrow. That is not a fact the writers probably want on display come the final showdown with Prometheus.


Cate Cameron/The CW

In addition to all of this, "Bratva" features a solid returning storyline for Deputy Mayor Lance, who has to prep with Renee for an interview with Susan Williams. As for Williams, she continues to be an interesting, yet mysterious character. Part of me really believes she is Prometheus, but the latter moments of the episode — her learning that Oliver may be the Green Arrow — would seem to poke a hole in that theory (unless, that is the point). Still, there is certainly more to her than meets the eye. 

Ultimately, episode 12 was a very strong addition to season five of Arrow. The episode featured some significant character development moments for John, Felicity and, to a lesser extent, Oliver. Further, the action choreography was stellar (as usual) and the flashbacks continue to play an important role in the larger narrative. I am very much enjoying Talia al Ghul's part in the season, with my only complaint being that she has not shown up enough.  

Since it has been a few episodes since we have seen Prometheus (at least in his mask) I do hope he returns soon. Regardless, I am looking forward to what comes next.

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