Arrow Season 2 Episode 18 (TV Show Review)

There has been a lot of things that have been building up on Arrow in the last few weeks, ever since we found out who the big bad guy of the season was and what his objectives are. The tension has been of the nail-biting kind and we’ve seen Ollie suffering from nightmares and even being flustered at times because he doesn’t know what to do or how to counter the villain. Someone who knows him intimately and everything about his friends as well. Recent matters with Huntress and Diggle going off with Suicide Squad certainly didn’t help matters any.

In the latest episode, titled Deathstroke, we see some pretty important changes in the status quo for all the characters involved. At the end of last week’s episode, we saw that Slade Wilson had given Thea a ride home and she’d accepted it. She should have known not to get in that car! Now she’s kidnapped and her family suffers another blow as they try and work to get her back. This leads into a lot of other things, one of the most important being that the Lance family is once again broken and reeling. None of which is good. And Slade Wilson has three upper-hands now on Ollie.

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Up until now Slade Wilson has been working in the background. He quietly fund Sebastian Blood’s mayoral bid and provides him with access to the mirakurudrug to turn criminals into rage-infused monster machines. He makes an occasional entrance here and there to rattle Oliver and then disappears again. But not this time. This time he stood in front of Oliver and delivered him with several sharp body blows that Oliver is going to feel the sting of for a good long while. He has been working against Oliver for the entire season, playing against him psychologically and physically. All the bad things that have happened in Starling this year, minus a few instances such as Huntress returning, have been at the bidding and behest of Slade Wilson. Now we finally learn that Slade has been playing Bane to Arrow’s Batman, and the thing is that the worst isn’t even over yet. Slade wants to destroy Oliver piece by piece and he is just getting started.

We aren’t all that far away from the season finale, so things are really heating up for Ollie. Thanks to Slade’s various machinations, Ollie’s allies are breaking up. While not everything that happens can be laid at the villain’s feet, he has provided the majority impetus to break the team apart and right now Ollie is down to his core team, as he always has been. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the rifts develop even further until he is all alone. But perhaps that is what is going to set the stage for Barry Allen to come out of his coma and return to Starling, this time as a hero, though we may not yet see him in the costume, which is fine with me. We saw in the mid-season finale how Barry had developed into a friend and ally despite all of Ollie’s suspicions and what not, and to see something like that happen again, but with the two of them solidly as friends, that would be glorious.

For now we settle for the gloriousness that is Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke. The suave and confident businessman. The merciless and terrifying assassin. The man on a crusade of vengeance for the death of the woman he loved. We’ve seen again and again that the mirakuru does some weird things to a person’s brain chemistry. It can cloud your judgement and put you on a permanent rage-fest. Life after that becomes one of incredible control and restraint. But what happens inside, that doesn’t go away. We’ve seen before that Slade is suffering from delusions ever since he found out about Shado’s death. Her… ghost speaks to him. But whereas before that was only during the flashbacks, in this episode we see that this happens in the present time as well. All of which means that the guy is still not properly adjusted in his mind. This twisted version of Shado is rather depressing to watch because the real Shado was so completely different. Almost heart-breaking to see how the mirakuru has destroyed Slade and Shado both.

One of the most surprising things in this episode was that Slade breaks the bonds of trust that Ollie has established with two of the people closest to him since he returned from the island. He exposes two of the biggest secrets that Ollie has held from these two individuals and he destroys their trust in Ollie. Another heartbreaking moment because we know full well why he kept those secrets and why these two individuals in particular could not find out about them. Slade plays on their fears, their need to know and thus he proves that he is the superior combatant in this match-up. He is prepared to bring out the big guns and force Ollie to react, react, react. That has been Ollie’s problem of late. He has become so focused on everything Slade that he has started to lose the big picture. And this came to forefront when Summer Glau’s much hyped character Isabel Rochev returned this week. She has been missing for a good long while and it is disappointing that she returns in an episode so jam-packed with material already, but I think it was a good fit nonetheless because of where the story takes her. It plays along some expected lines, and some not-so expected lines, so I’m really interested to see where she goes next. She fully deserves to feature more in the show and given the revelations here, I’d love if she sticks around all the way through to the end of the season.

The thing is, overall, that the entire status quo of power in Starling has changed with this episode. This was the first time that Deathstroke appeared in the open, to a state police bus filled with criminals being transferred from Iron Heights Prison to somewhere else as the case was, and he was absolutely lethal in the way that only Deathstroke can ever be. The business landscape has also changed, what with everything that happens between Ollie and Isabel. The family dynamics have changed, whether we talk about the internal tensions between the Queens or what the Lance family is going through. The Arrow’s team is suffering from issues of trust and and the cracks are widening into fissures. And the good guys are on the losing end. They desperately need to claw back.

Arrow Cast 0001But they can’t do it without help. Which is why I really want to see Barry return, despite the fact that he is in a coma right now. And given everything that we’ve seen happen before, I wonder where Amanda Waller and her Task Force X stands. Will she return the favour of help to Diggle and Ollie? Would be interesting if the writers play up that angle. And additionally, given what has happened with Sara and the League of Assassins, and what we know about the family history of one of the characters, I wonder if they would get involved as well. Because despite everything, Slade did attack one of their own. And the League is nothing if not one of the most powerful organisations in the world.

In the end, I’d say that this was one of the absolute best episodes of the season. All the characters and all the actors stepped up this week. The moment of vulnerability between Ollie and Moira as they begin to heal their differences, the way that Manu Bennett performs as both Slade Wilson and Deathstroke, the tensions between Team Arrow, Quentin Lance’s own arc, etc, etc. It all added up to deliver on the promise of the season. This is the season where heroes are coming to Starling, and I don’t think the writers and showrunners meant that only literally. Heroes are going to be born here. And that truly happens when they go through a crucible. Which is what is happening right now, thanks to Slade Wilson and Sebastian Blood.

Oh, and can I say that David Nykl has been absolutely tremendous as Anatoliy in this episode? Some great lines there!

Pretty damn good stuff, I tell you!

More Arrow: Reviews of all the second season episodes can be found here.

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Posted on April 4, 2014, in Arrow, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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