Arrow: 5.18 Disbanded
This week Oliver Queen hit the low point we've seen coming ever since Prometheus's identity was revealed, though it didn't quite follow the questionable pattern of 'Dark Oliver' from season three., which saw him seemingly embrace a role within the League of Assassins alongside Ra's Al Ghul. This time he made a couple of bad decisions, first disbanding the team of Vigilantes and then roping in his old Bratva pals to help take out Adrian Chase. The key difference to season three was this was a believable set of actions and consequences and it helped to make Oliver Queen a more relatable character.
There are two things you can do when confronted with the reality that you like to kill. Embrace the darkness or run from it. Oliver kind of did the latter, hiding behind his mantle of mayor while bringing in someone else to do the killing. Yes he was truly broken - Stephen Amell doing some of his best work in the series here - but he wasn't quite at the point at which he had given up.
Bringing Oliver and Anatoly in the present is always fun and served to show just how far both had fallen since the five-year old flashbacks; there Oliver had just become the Hood, here he was giving it up...at least for a while. But the change in Anatoly was more evident; gone was the somewhat whimsical nature David Nykl brought to the role, in the present he was cold and ruthless, five years of ruling the Bratva hardening his shell. Sadly he was no longer likeable, becoming a villain by the episode's end.
It was almost amusing to see just how quickly Oliver's plan fell apart. By allowing the Bratva to set up drug operations in Star City in exchange for killing Adrian, Oliver crossed a line and it escalated almost immediately with Diggle leading the remnants of the to stop their heist. The attack on Adrian's motorcade was thrilling, Bratva on motorbikes opening fire while the vigilantes attacked from the side. Who was the enemy here?
Adrian Chase obviously, who continued to delight as a fully fledged villain. Josh Segarra does American Psycho well; his façade as he met with Quentin and Oliver in the mayor's office and thanked them for giving him compassionate leave over the tragic murder of his wife was delightfully twisted. It also showed just how much power he still had, giving Oliver a knife to kill him and knowing with confidence that the broken hero could do nothing as mayor or Green Arrow.
There was some good stuff for the rest of Oliver's allies to focus on. I loved the discussion of who was the new Diggle now that Diggle was Oliver and Curtis was Felicity - it's Dinah obviously. And Felicity went further to the 'grey side' herself, roping in Curtis to steal a technology that would reveal footage of Adrian unmasking himself as Prometheus. In the end it was those actions between Felicity and her shady Helix cohorts that outed Adrian to the world, forcing him to go on the run and allowing team Arrow to reunite, even if Oliver refused to wear a mask yet.
As soon as the footage went viral, those two agents 'protecting' Adrian were doomed and the violent nature in which he stabbed one agent through the eye while throttling the other was shockingly brutal, even when you know it was coming. The sight of Adrian grinning, blood splattered on his face as he drove past the line of police cars was a great serial killer moment. I was rather enjoying seeing Adrian getting the upper hand of everyone as the public, honourable District Attorney, though I suspect now that he has been unmasked, he will become more ruthless than ever.
It seems there is going to be a short break before the final run of episodes, but Arrow season five has paused in a very good place. The flashbacks have come to a natural end, Oliver deciding to return to Lian Yu to make it believable to the world that he was there for five years. In the present Adrian Chase / Prometheus has been unleashed, Oliver is still broken but his path to becoming Green Arrow is clear again. The Bratva may have infected Star City and Felicity's relationship with Helix is becoming more and more questionable, but the stakes are certainly high in what has definitely been a return to form for the series.