In last week's episode of Arrow, Oliver Queen was tortured to the breaking point by the season's primary antagonist, Prometheus, who we recently learned was the alter-ego of Adrian Chase. In an episode that featured quite a few more flashbacks than we are accustomed to, Chase broke Oliver until he admitted his most elusive secret: He enjoys killing.
(Editor's Note: Spoiler's ahead for season five, episode 18 of Arrow.)
Despite some sluggish episodes in the middle, Arrow's fifth season has been largely stellar, and certainly a dramatic improvement over last year's lackluster run. Now, with only a few episodes left until the finale, we find our hero, Oliver Queen, in worse shape mentally than we have seen him in quite some time.
Oliver's realization that he has killed in the past because he wanted to, and not because he had to, caused him such despair that at the end of episode 17, he decided to give up being the Green Arrow — possibly for good. But while Oliver may think he needs to give up the hood, he still knows that Chase must be stopped, because Star City will not be safe until Prometheus is no more.
Hanging up the hood
Episode 18 begins with Oliver informing his team that he is putting an end to their crusade. Obviously, this concerns the team, especially Diggle, because it is clear that Chase has gotten to Oliver in a way that no enemy has before. And despite the rest of Team Arrow wanting to continue the fight against Prometheus, Oliver does not give them much of a choice. He locks down the base — including all their gear and weapons.
Of course, just because Team Arrow may be no more doesn't mean Prometheus can be left to wreak havoc on Star City. Oliver turns to an old friend to take out Chase for good. It is actually a bit of a strange twist: Mere hours after Oliver comes to the realization that he is a murderer — a thought that causes him to question everything he has been doing — he decides to put a hit on Chase by calling in Anatoly and the Bratva. When you consider the possible collateral damage, it seems a lot worse than just staying a vigilante.
Still, as long as Oliver is all right with letting the Bratva do his dirty work — and paying them with drugs capable of creating a stronger form of heroin — the plan makes some sense. Chase has made contingencies for virtually everything Team Arrow has thrown at him, but it is highly unlikely that he would anticipate an all-out assault by the Bratva. And when the Bratva attacks his police escort, it becomes perfectly clear that he is not prepared.
For a brief moment, it looks like Star City will finally be rid of Prometheus, but John Diggle and the rest of Team Arrow have other plans...
John, Rene, Dinah and the rest of Team Arrow are clearly not on board with Oliver's decision to shut things down. And that makes perfect sense. After all, they all joined his crusade for their own reasons, but above all else, to make Star City a better place. So when Diggle finds out that Oliver has hired the Bratva to take out Chase, he suits up with Curtis, Dinah and Rene to prevent the hit — and they succeed.
The problem becomes that the SCPD now realize that they cannot protect Chase, so with Mayor Queen's blessing — Oliver having to continue working in the same office as Chase is like twisting the knife — they place him into federal protective custody, which means that the Bratva cannot get to him. This understandably infuriates Oliver, who confronts Diggle with a sharp right hook to the face. John, though, is not even close to being ready to give up on Oliver, and he explains to his friend that he is not beyond redemption.
John explains that he has been through what Oliver is dealing with. After he killed his brother, he felt that he deserved to stay in prison and rot away. But it was Oliver who convinced him to earn his redemption on the street as Spartan — as part of Team Arrow. John says that Oliver can do the same thing. He shouldn't give up on his crusade, but rather use it as a means to make up for past misgivings. Oliver agrees to get back to work. And while it seems like a bit of a quick resolution, I am actually all right with it (as I explain below).
So much for brotherhood
After deciding that John was right and that hiring the Bratva to kill Chase was a mistake, Oliver tells Anatoly that the hit is off. Unfortunately, Anatoly explains that the Bratva has fallen on hard times, and whether or not they kill Chase, Oliver still has to make good on their deal: allowing them to steal the drugs necessary to produce the heroine-like street drug.
This leads Oliver and his team to once again face off with the Bratva, and while they do succeed in stopping them from stealing the drugs, it appears that Oliver's relationship with Anatoly may be irreparably damaged. Still, despite each of them having a chance to shoot the other, they flee in opposite directions, so there's hope (not really).
Before heading back to Russia, Anatoly meets with Oliver one last time, to essentially cut ties. Oliver tells Anatoly that the man he knew would have never threatened to kill innocent hostages, while Anatoly explains that he had to do what was necessary to keep the Bratva alive. The two part on far from the best of terms, so it will be interesting to see whether we ever see Anatoly or the Bratva again in the present timeline.
You may notice that Felicity, to this point, has been noticeably absent from this recap. And that is because she spent a considerable amount of time with her new buddies at Helix. For now, though, it looks like her connections to Helix may just be the first step to defeating Prometheus.
Ever since it was revealed that Adrian Chase was Prometheus, he has been able to walk around Star City, specifically the mayor's office, without fear of being touched. That is because nobody has any evidence that he is Prometheus. Even after Susan Williams filed a report that he kidnapped her, he had too iron-clad of an alibi to be arrested.
Thanks to Helix, though, Chase is now on the run. Felicity is not only able to locate a video of Prometheus removing his mask, but after a little heist with Mister Terrific, is also able to decrypt the software Chase was using to hide his face from cameras. And so, with irrefutable evidence that Chase and Prometheus are one and the same, the SCPD calls the federal marshals to bring him in.
Of course, that would be too easy, and Chase quickly kills them. The episode ends with him driving away with blood on his face and a smile. It was very American Psycho, and I am scared for Team Arrow.
Season five of Arrow remains strong, and episode 18 was able to build off of all the pain and suffering that Oliver went through at the hands of Chase in previous weeks. While it may have been a bit quick for him to end his crusade and then restart it in a single episode, it did not feel as rushed as it could have been. Season five of Arrow has taken Oliver to his darkest moments, and with just a few episodes left, it makes sense for him to start working for redemption. Having John compare his situation to Oliver's was definitely a nice touch, too, not to mention a solid argument.
Unlike last week's episode, which heavily featured flashbacks, they were largely inconsequential in episode 18. They were used largely to contrast not only the past and present Oliver, but the changing Anatoly. While I remain less than a fan of the flashbacks, it was interesting to see Anatoly five years ago stealing tuberculosis medicine for the poor like Robin Hood, and now stealing the ingredients to make heroine, all for a buck. The times certainly have changed.
Ultimately, "Disbanded" was another strong installment in Arrow's fifth season, and has set up what should be an exciting final few episodes. My largest complaint, and it is only because Josh Segarra has been so incredible the last few weeks, is that we did not get as much Adrian Chase as I would have liked. But it is not like he will be going away any time soon. In fact, now that Prometheus, for the first time, is unable to hide in plain sight, we have to wonder whether this is the most dangerous he has ever been. You know what they say about backing somebody into a corner... right?