Arrow: 5.16 Checkmate
Arrow you finally got there; after two seasons of more ludicrous plots, over the top shenanigans and questionable plot twists, the show finally proved what it had set out to do all season and regain the heights of seasons one and two. To be fair, season five has been consistently strong. While the new recruits have taken a while to warm up, the Tobias Church mini-arc followed by Prometheus and the Talia Al Ghul training Oliver to become the Hood flashbacks have made this great viewing once again. Admittedly I enjoyed Damien Darhk and some of the season three shocks but it's only now that Arrow has returned to it's darker, grittier origins - and is all the better for it.
It was an episode that didn't hold back on the previous entry's revelation that Adrian Chase was in fact Prometheus. It could have been so easy for Oliver and the rest of the team to continue to act blissfully unaware that the district attorney was their arch nemesis but instead, thanks to Talia revealing to Oliver his identity in the opening scene, the secret was out and Josh Segarra had a lot of fun playing the evil mastermind. Oh and Talia confirmed she was Ra's Al Ghul's daughter and differences with her father aside was now Oliver's enemy. Talk about a double blow.
Segarra was brilliant this week, from his cocky "you've guessed what I've been up to" to Oliver as he was confronted in a meeting with the city council to the scene where Oliver as Green Arrow confronted Chase in the parking lot and revealed that if he dies Oliver's girlfriend Susan died too. Chase really was ten steps ahead of him, setting a video link to Susan being tortured in his mother's house for Curtis and Dinah to find while he played the 'I'm still your boss' card to Rene as he and Quentin confronted him at work. What was so wonderful was that there was nothing anyone could do, short of killing the District Attorney in public.
And the traps continued, Chase using his wife as bait to lead the Green Arrow to his house and a police set up and forcing Oliver as the mayor to publicly demand his alter ego be brought to justice. But the most ruthless moment came in his house of horrors as Oliver played his own card by bringing Chase's wife to find the truth behind her husband's actions and talk him down. Killing his own wife whom he evidently loved was a cold, cold move, putting the Green Arrow as public enemy number one.
And even Oliver's attempts to go to Captain Pike with evidence that the district attorney wasn't who he said he was led to Pike being stabbed in the gut violently. Not only did he kill his own wife but Chase was there to greet Oliver at Pike's hospital bedside and then come face to face with Susan as she escaped her ordeal and was brought to safety by Quentin. Chase has all the cards now and can stride around in public knowing he is virtually indestructible. It makes for a great villain and now that he has Oliver prisoner - and Talia working at his side - the stakes seem higher than ever.
Felicity meanwhile seems to be going down her own dark path, teaming up with hacker group Helix; they might have helped get Diggle free and they helped her to find Susan but I found it hard to believe that she wouldn't voice her concerns about a group that had access to EVERY camera phone and would ask her to divert Homeland security drones. I'm not sure I like this moral eroding of her character but I'm intrigued to see where this storyline goes.
Checkmate was a great episode that really had fun with Adrian Chase as a very ruthless villain. There were some great shocks and twists and I am excited to see where Arrow goes next. As a villain, Prometheus has gone from strength to strength and if it can maintain the momentum over the final seven episodes, this could be a spectacular season indeed.