Arrow: 5.05 Human Target
Last week's episode of Arrow ended with the irritating Rene Ramirez / Wild Dog captured by Tobias Church and his goons. Ramirez certainly hasn't endeared me this season; like the other new recruits (Rag Man aside), Wild Dog hasn't quite seemed a worthy successor to Oliver's old teammates. Worse still, he keeps making mistakes - like inadvertently creating a supervillain - and still fails to learn from them. I was quite okay with Ramires dying; certainly it would have proven to the others just how dangerous this life is.
But surprisingly, Human Target actually started to change my opinion of him. His torture at the hands of Church was savage and he did seem to emerge from this a slightly broken man, learning from his experiences. The proof will be in how he handles himself moving forward. If he continues to remain a reckless hothead, not listening to reason, then my opinion of Ramirez is going to drop through the floor. But if he grows stronger and more disciplined, then perhaps there is hope for Wild Dog yet. Certainly Diggle acting as a mentor might give him the direction he needs.
As for Church, it was the perfect time to end his reign of the show. Chad L. Coleman made a great impression as the thug-like crime boss, who could rally up every crime family and mastermind a multi-city drug operation. He had the physical presence too, able to go toe to toe with the Green Arrow on more than one occasion. But after the likes of Damien Darhk, Ra's Al Ghul and Deathstroke, Tobias Church was never going to be in quite the same league, no matter what he did. He was the perfect villain for the opening salvo of a season that is going back to Arrow's dark and gritty basics.
His final story was the classic supervillain gambit, learning the Green Arrow's real identity and 'taking out' Mayor Queen in order to deliver on his masterplan to unite the crime families of Star City. Not for a moment did I think Oliver was really killed, shot down on the steps of his office in front of Thea. But Human Target didn't go with the obvious choice of having his death faked by making Church's armoured assassin a double agent working for Oliver. The twist was fun as Diggle's 'associate' was revealed to be Christopher Chance AKA Human Target, a man with the ability to disguise himself as anyone and literally take a bullet without dying.
The debut of the DC comics hero Human Target was very similar in vein to the debut of John Constantine in last season's Haunted, though Jessica Jones' Will Traval didn't have quite the same charisma Matt Ryan (who had a whole season's worth of material from the cancelled Constatine to build on). Fans of the character were likely disappointed by the waste of his character; after that initial ingenious debut, he hung around like a spare part, pulled the trick one more time in the final fight and the disappeared before popping up again in the final flashback. Traval was certainly likeable in the role though and I'd like to see him again (though I'd still rather have Matt Ryan back as Constantine more).
The flashbacks meanwhile have a life of their own, an engaging story of Oliver's descent into darkness as he initiates himself with the Bratva. It's an act that seems about to bite him in the ass as current day journalist Susan Williams (Carly Pope), matched Oliver's connection to Human Target and the Russian Bratva in a photo supposedly taken when he was still on the island. She might have called a month-long truce with Oliver but this might expose his dual identity to the city. Though given what Star City has faced, a mayor that is also a vigilante superhero might go down quite well.
Human Target ended with a bloodbath as Prometheus delivered on his promise to Church by slaughtering his entire police escort and then killing the crime boss after he tried to bargain with the revelation of who the Green Arrow was. It was a thrilling scene, Coleman expressing the terror in Church for the first time as he listened to the screams outside before the idiot cop opened the transport doors and came face to face with Prometheus. This is a villain that really intrigues me, more frightening and dangerous that the Black Arrow, with the presence of Manu Bennett's Slade Wilson. Oliver knows the name, thanks to Church but like the audience - that's all he has. I am excited to see what happens now that Tobias Church is out of the picture.