Arrow: 5.20 Underneath
Well that was...unexpected. After the explosion last week that left Oliver and Felicity potentially facing imminent death in the Arrow cave, Underneath took a decidedly large breather to focus on some character work before things heated up for the final three episodes. But unlike The Flash this week, which built on its characters with plenty of thrills and drama, Arrow came across as a bit of a damp squib.
It's wasn't to say it was rubbish, just not terribly interesting either. The purpose of trapping two characters together in a room for an episode should be to build on their relationship and offer something new for the audience. But this episode failed in that respect. Flitting between some flashbacks to the time between Arrow season four and five, we saw that Oliver and Felicity hooked up but agreed that nothing had changed to bring them back together permanently. In the present, the episode ended with Felicity understanding why Oliver lied to her about his son and suggesting they might get back together in the future.
That was about it. No big revelations. No big change in their dynamic. Just a lot of nice character interaction. Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards have been playing these characters for years and there continues to be solid chemistry but it felt like too much of a deviation for the larger fight against Adrian Chase. At that's part of the problem with longer shows in general. If Arrow followed the Daredevil format of thirteen episodes, it would be more focused, more tighter and episodes like this would be cut without having any impact to the story.
But I guess Oliver did start to come round to the idea that he isn't quite the cold blooded killer Chase suggested he might be, so small progress I guess.
It's a shame, because sometimes it can be the quieter character moments that can make a show, as long as they do something. It wasn't as if much was happening outside either. The rest of the team bandied together, using ARGUS resources to try and get Oliver and Felicity out while John and Lyla Diggle continued their feud. At least the episode ended with them reconciling. The stuff with Dinah, Curtis and Rene was again...nice...a bit of bonding, Dinah stealing the show as the one really in charge and some good character interaction as they worked together to save the others. The one thing I do like is how every member of team Arrow has now settled in to the show; the big shake up that began the season seems to have really paid off.
But again, not much happened until the one exciting scene where Diggle raced down the collapsing ladder to save them and Oliver carried Felicity on his back to safety. There was a good bit of tension, but I doubted that anyone was going to die at that point.
The episode suffered from the lack of Adrian Chase, only popping up at the end to locate Oliver's son in another city. I'm looking forward to how this plays out; will Chase go as far as to murder Oliver's son? And based on the recent trailer, there looks to be some exciting developments in the final episode ahead. I just wished this week hadn't slowed down so much.