'Arrow' season 5, episode 17 recap: Oliver must confess his secret in "Kapiushon"
Following Prometheus' unmasking in episode 15 of Arrow, episode 16 showed us why Adrian Chase may very well be the series's best villain yet. After Talia al Ghul reveals she trained Chase as part of a revenge plot against Oliver, the Green Arrow goes on a crusade to finally take down season five's big bad. But as we know, things don't go so well.
Unfortunately for Oliver, Chase consistently remained 10 steps ahead. Episode 16 ended with the Green Arrow kidnapped and Prometheus vowing to destroy him. And that is where things pick up in episode 17, titled "Kapiushon."
(Editor's note: Spoilers ahead for season 5, episode 17 of Arrow.)
We have known for some time that Prometheus' end goal was more than just killing the Green Arrow — he wanted to make him suffer. And Chase does just that. Not only does Chase make Oliver suffer physically but also mentally, ultimately putting a potential end to the Green Arrow's five-year crusade (obviously that won't last).
Before I get into my full thoughts on episode 17, it's important to note that Josh Segarra has absolutely stole the show the last two weeks. Following the big reveal, Adrian Chase has become quite possibly the most sadistic, menacing and generally terrifying villain that has appeared on any of the CW's DC television series — and that does say something.
Honestly, I could have watched an entire episode that consisted of just Chase playing mind games with Oliver. But what we got instead was a whole lot of flashbacks, which is a bit strange considering the Russian plot had been moving at a glacier-like pace for the last several weeks, if not longer.
From Russia ... no love
Episode 17 began with Chase torturing Oliver, pleading for him to confess his one secret. We quickly flash back to Russia, just moments after Oliver mortally wounded Gregor. Though Oliver, Anatoly and Victor are able to bring Gregor back to the club, he ultimately dies but not before teasing the death of the entire Bratva.
After a rather outdated blood pact, Anatoly ends up taking over as the new Pakhan (the head of the Bratva) and tells Oliver, against his friend's objection, that he must now meet with Kovar to honor his shady deal with Gregor. Anatoly ends up walking in on a meeting between Kovar and Malcolm Merlyn, who we haven't seen on Arrow for quite some time.
Anatoly learns that Merlyn, who at the time was still the CEO of his own company, was going to help deliver a weapon to Kovar that would allow him to overthrow the Russian government. To stop this, Oliver teams with the Bratva to steal the weapon, which turns out to be a deadly gas. Unfortunately, while they took out a bunch of Kovar's men, he ultimately escapes with the gas.
The Bratva does capture one of Kovar's men, and Oliver decides to question him in the most grotesque way possible — skinning him alive. And while we do not see the result, it is certainly implied that Oliver did quite a bit of work, with Anatoly shocked at the "monstrosity." What is a bit more sickening, and plays a bit into what we will discuss later with Chase, is that Oliver admits to continuing with the torture after the captive discloses Kovar's plan — you know, for practice.
Still, despite his shock, Anatoly does continue to go along with Oliver's plans, though he does mention quite a few times that the "monster" within Oliver will eventually win out. Honestly, they could have just flashed "foreshadowing" in neon lights on the screen and saved Anatoly from continuously repeating himself.
In the end, Oliver and Anatoly are able to stop Kovar's plot to overthrow the Russian government, with Oliver finally making good on his season-four promise to kill Kovar. Of course, with the help of Merlyn, Kovar does end up surviving, unbeknownst to Oliver.
As serious as this episode was, and boy was it, I couldn't help but giggle a few times with Chase continuously saying "confess" to Oliver. And not only because Oliver clearly did not know what he was talking about. Rather, I kept flashing back to Game of Thrones. Honestly, the scene was extremely reminiscent of Cersei's similar treatment when she was being held captive by the the High Sparrow. But that's neither here nor there.
For the most part, the scenes between Chase and Oliver were stellar. While Chase clearly has some serious issues, he lays out a compelling case for Oliver's guilt — and it is a bit odd to see a hero so accurately painted as a villain. In between dunking Oliver's head in water, Chase reminds the Green Arrow of all the people he's killed, while telling him that he has used his father's book of names as merely an excuse to kill.
Still, whenever Chase asks Oliver to confess, the latter has no idea what he is talking about. Chase changes the rules at one point, bringing in Evelyn Sharp, who we have not seen since she betrayed Oliver. Sharp appears defeated, abused and desperate for an out. Chase places a knife between the two former allies and says whichever one kills the other can leave. There is a caveat, though: If they both remain alive, Chase will snap Evelyn's neck.
Obviously, Oliver does not kill Evelyn, though she does try. And as promised, when Chase returns, he does exactly what he said he would — snaps her neck (though this turns out to be a ruse). Then, with Oliver looking completely defeated, Chase leads his captive to the confession he was looking for this whole time. He tells Oliver that he has not killed people because he had to but for another reason.
It's at that moment that Oliver seems to realize, though we pretty much knew this all along, that he has killed because he has wanted to — and he liked it. Chase lets Oliver leave after getting the answer he was looking for. It seems Chase accomplished what he wanted, because Oliver returned to the Arrowcave completely broken, telling his team that he is finished.
If I am being completely honest, I am not entirely sure that I have made up my mind on episode 17 quite yet. Was it good? Yes. Was it great? I'm not so sure, but it could have been. As I mentioned earlier, Josh Segarra is just on fire as Adrian Chase. He is a villain that cannot be reasoned with, and seemingly, cannot be outsmarted. That makes him extremely dangerous. Furthermore, essentially every scene between Oliver and Chase was golden — even if the confession fell a bit flat.
The problem was the flashbacks. And it is not even that they were bad. In fact, by focusing more on the Russian story, it seemed less distracting than usual. But after so many weeks of spending so little time in Russia, I kept asking myself why should I care now.
It appears that the entire point of the Russian storyline, at least in this episode, was to show Oliver turning into a monster — the same one Chase now sees. And that's fine. But we have seen Oliver kill, and we know he has gone to dark places. So I'm not sure the extended flashbacks were needed. I will admit that Kovar being alive is interesting, so I am intrigued to see where that goes and whether Malcolm Merlyn has anything at all to do going forward. But ultimately these prolonged flashbacks would have been more meaningful if prior episodes had forced us to care even a little.
If we forget the flashbacks, "Kapiushon" perfectly set up the final act of the fifth season. Now, we have to wonder: Is the Green Arrow no more?
Mic has ongoing coverage of Arrow. Please follow our main Arrow hub here.