[Editor's note: Spoiler's ahead for season 5, episode 19 of Arrow.]
After a several-week hiatus, Arrow has returned with a stellar episode that leaves us wondering whether Adrian Chase can actually be stopped. Before Arrow took its break, Adrian Chase was revealed to the world as Prometheus. For the first time he was forced to go on the run, no longer able to hide in plain sight, yet he somehow still seems to have the upper hand.
With Team Arrow, ARGUS and the SCPD all on the lookout for Chase, one would have to assume that they would be making headway. But when they are tipped off to his location, we learn that he is still several steps ahead as he turns an arcade into one massive booby trap. So with Chase continuously outsmarting Team Arrow, Felicity turns to Helix.
Felicity crosses a line
For several months now, Arrow has been building toward a major confrontation between Team Arrow (specifically Oliver) and Felicity. While Oliver has been trying to suppress his darkness and refrain from giving into the monster inside him, Felicity has seen herself embrace a more questionable path. And in episode 19, Felicity agrees to help Helix break a dangerous hacker out of ARGUS custody so that he will help her find Chase.
Felicity's choice to help Helix no doubt comes from a good place. But her decision to let the ends justify the means places her in dangerous company. It is quite chilling to see someone who has for so long been a ray of light, agree to help Helix even after Alena recklessly kills an ARGUS agent. Of course, ARGUS is not entirely in the right, as they are holding the hacker in an illegal domestic black site without due process.
The whole situation has Team Arrow completely in shambles. Oliver tries to convince Felicity that she is in the wrong by helping Helix break out a cyber-terrorist, while John is forced to question the decisions his wife has had to make as the head of ARGUS — namely holding a prisoner without due process. Ultimately, this leads to a showdown between Team Arrow and Helix. Felicity steps in front of Oliver before he can take a shot, and Helix gets away with the prisoner.
All of this happens after Oliver goes to Felicity's apartment and pleads with her not to cross a line — not to sell her soul. But Felicity tells Oliver that she has watched him for years do everything in his power for the greater good — including selling his soul — so how could she not do the same? In the end, Felicity decides to help Helix, forcing Oliver to try, and fail, to stop her. But afterward, Felicity is abandoned by Helix. Her connection to Team Arrow is seen as a liability.
Alena did, however, leave Felicity with a parting gift: a way to track Chase. But when she, with Oliver by her side, plugs the device into Team Arrow's computer, they realize that Chase is in the building with them. The episode ends with what appears to be an explosion (next episode's promo says it was an EMP) in the bunker.
Rene sees his daughter
Okay, most of the action in episode 19 revolved around the not-so-loving triangle that is Helix, Team Arrow and ARGUS. But "Dangerous Liaisons" did pack an emotional punch as well. Earlier in the season, we learned a bit about Rene's past, including that he used to have a daughter. We later learn that she is in foster care and that Curtis has tried to set him up with a lawyer to get her back.
Now, Quentin Lance, who knows better than anyone what it is like to miss a daughter, tries to understand why Rene has not visited her. Rene ends up telling him that she was taken away because he fell asleep drunk with the stove on, causing his daughter to badly burn her hand. Now, he feels that because he hurt her, he doesn't deserve a second chance.
Quentin, knowing the pain of losing his own daughter, arranges for a surprise visit. And when Rene sees his little girl, any thought of staying away from her goes quickly out the window. Rene later tells Quentin that he has hired the lawyer, and is planning to do what he can to regain custody of his daughter.
To put it simply, this was a very strong episode of Arrow. Though we do not actually see Adrian Chase — a major bummer considering how great Josh Segarra has been — his presence was still felt throughout the episode. It is the danger he poses that causes Felicity to go so far as to align herself with Helix. And as John and Oliver say, if Felicity is crossing the line, it makes you wonder whether the line even exists.
Felicity's emotional conversation with Oliver, explaining why she had to go ahead with Helix's plan, was one of the best scenes between the two former lovebirds in over a year. And this has me pretty optimistic for next week's episode, which will see them trapped together in a bunker. Also, it is always nice when Arrow finds the time to expand a bit on some of the supporting players, and Rene's side story with his daughter happened to fit quite well within the episode's larger narrative.
Also, on a complete side note, I just want to say that I'd watch a sitcom featuring Rene and Quentin Lance. Try telling me that wouldn't be hilarious. Anyway, back to the episode. With no flashbacks, this felt like one of the smoothest I can remember. And, as always, the action choreography was stellar. Oliver without his bow reminds me a lot of John Wick, and that is pretty freakin' awesome. Basically, with only a few episodes left in the season, Arrow is at the top of its game, and I cannot wait for what happens next.