ARROW 2.18 ‘Deathstroke’
Episode Title: “Deathstroke”
Writers: Marc Guggenheim & Drew Z. Greenberg
Director: Guy Bee
Previously on “Arrow”:
The secret to any good comic book adaptation is that you need a great villain. And “Arrow” certainly has one in Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke (Manu Bennett). As much as I enjoyed Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) in season 1, he never had Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) on the ropes in the way that Slade has been able to achieve.
While this season has been about the expansion of Team Arrow, Team Deathstroke was operating under our noses the entire time. There may even be some defections from Oliver’s side in the weeks ahead.
From this point on, there are full spoilers for “Deathstroke,” so if you missed last night’s episode of “Arrow” then you should probably skip this review or else you’ll have to catch another bus.
The bulk of “Deathstroke” deals with Slade’s abduction of Thea Queen (Willa Holland), but it also marked the return Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) as Oliver’s partner in Queen Consolidated. Earlier in the season, my money was on Isabel being the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul. While this episode doesn’t back up that theory, Isabel’s long hinted villain turn has finally arrived.
Comic Book Villainy 101 is that some villains act like true friends right before they openly betray their targets. Really, Oliver should have been tipped off by how helpful Isabel had been in keeping his company going, especially when he blew off his CEO responsibilities for months. Isabel’s turn was obvious, but it was still fun to see her physically attack Oliver and reveal that she knew his secret right after stealing his company out from under him. As underlings go, Isabel’s a lot more interesting than Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro).
If Slade Wilson adds a fourth member to Team Deathstroke, he may find a new recruit in Roy Harper (Colton Haynes); who violently broke away from Team Arrow in the aftermath of Thea’s kidnapping. Granted, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for Roy to team up with the man who threatened his ex-girlfriend. But this is “Arrow,” and things don’t always make sense on this series. Perhaps Slade will appeal to Roy’s shared experience with mirakuru. Or maybe Roy really is out of the picture for a while, after hilariously speeding out of town.
The one misstep that Slade seems to make is that he didn’t bother to hide his intentions from Thea before releasing her. This means that Slade has abandoned his public persona long before it ceased being useful. That came off more as a bit of sloppy writing than Slade simply deciding that he didn’t need to hide his true self from the world at large.
On the other hand, it was undeniably compelling to see Slade strike at Oliver from different angles at once. In addition to kidnapping Thea, Slade made sure to tell her that Oliver kept the secret of her true parentage from her. And not content with taking Oliver’s company, Slade also told Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) that Oliver was the Arrow and he had Officer Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) arrested for working with the Arrow.
Don’t expect Officer Lance to be in jail for long. If the previous episodes of “Arrow” are any indication, the Starling City PD will still need Lance to investigate every damn crime in the city. Lance’s arrest was perhaps a bit more farcical than the writers intended, especially since Thea corroborated Slade’s involvement with her kidnapping.
Laurel is another matter entirely. This reveal could thrust Laurel back into the main storyline, but I don’t have a lot of faith in her character anymore. Laurel’s moment of realization was also undercut by Cassidy’s weird facial expressions in that scene. “Arrow” has a long way to go if the writers want to rehabilitate Laurel’s character. I just don’t want Laurel replacing the Black Canary that we already have.
Speaking of Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), the flashbacks of the week reunite her with Oliver as her attempt to blow up Slade goes very poorly. I liked the explanation for why Slade didn’t simply kill them all years ago on the island. He wanted them to suffer on the island. But Slade also gave Oliver and Sara an incentive to confront him when he mentioned his intention of paying a visit to their respective families.
It’s also good to see Celina Jade is still on the show as Shado, although she only exists as an apparition of Slade’s madness. The thing is, “Arrow” exists in a world with Ra’s al Ghul in it. If she knows about that, Sara should bring up a Lazarus Pit as a bargaining chip to get Slade off of their backs. If that happened, it would be a way for Shado to come back to life and rejoin the action.
Looking ahead to “Arrow” Season 3, the only villain on the horizon who may be able to match Slade Wilson is the aforementioned Ra’s al Ghul. But if having “Gotham” on Fox means that Batman villains are suddenly off limits then I’m not sure that “Arrow” has a villain on tap who can top Slade.
“Arrow” has been really entertaining this season. Now it just needs to maintain its momentum for another five episodes in order to close out a very solid second year on television.
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