It’s a change of scenery on this week’s ARROW episode, “Bratva,” as Oliver, Diggle and team fly out to Russia after they discover that General Walker is selling a nuclear device to a group of Malkovian terrorists. I have mixed feelings about the execution of last night’s episode, but from a pure premise standpoint, there’s plenty of promise here. It’s always nice when past and present collide in Arrow, and the opportunity for the show to revisit Oliver’s ties to Russia and Anatoli were full of potential. Ditto for the recently exonerated Diggle, who has to face the latest thorn on his side, General Walker. Will he succumb to the more dim forces inside of him like he did with his brother Andy, or will he strike out a new path?
The problem with “Bratva” though is that a lot of this potential isn’t realized, especially as far as Oliver’s emotional arc is concerned. Anatoli doesn’t really play as much of a role here as I expected and the two don’t appear to have the history that has been built up for quite some time through flashbacks. If anything, the two are surprisingly cordial, downing Russian alcohol that don’t forget is (did you forget, guys?) much stronger than that back at home. In any case, I appreciated the ticking time bomb of this episode (literally) as Ollie and team fight to track down the whereabouts of the nuclear device before General Walker completes his transaction.
In perhaps the strongest scene of the night, Diggle has Walker cornered on a tarmac and points a gun in his face. I feel like a lesser version of this scene would’ve had Walker use all this ham-fisted dialogue about how much of a coward Diggle is for not pulling the trigger, but instead Arrow’s writers take the more sophisticated route. At its core, the real issue is that Diggle has a chance to “solve” things like he did with Andy, or take a different path. This time around, Diggle decides not to take the shot, even though that again puts those he loves at risk.
Back in Star City, Mad Dog stays behind to help a newly reformed Quentin Lance ease back into life in the mayor’s administration. (I wonder if Lance will ever find out that a duplicate of his daughter came onto the scene). The two share common ground and Mad Dog tries to get Lance to open up by talking about his own past. These scenes were mostly okay but felt kind of out of place with the rest of the action in Russia. The usually volatile Mad Dog playing the role of therapist was interesting though, and I’m glad Lance is back within the mayor’s ranks.
Felicity, meanwhile, continues to deepen her hacker ways, first finding out about General Walker’s nefarious dealings and propelling the team to Russia. In the end, we find out that she’s been working with that hacker contact and that this is just the beginning of her question. I like how her “list” parallels Ollie’s list and Felicity’s newfound autonomy and purpose has really brought her character back to life. At one point Felicity, without missing a beat, even infiltrates a meeting and threatens a mobster’s family in exchange for information.
Oliver also deepens his relationship with Susan the reporter, but when they’re lying in bed, doesn’t talk much about all the scars and tattoos from his five year ordeal. Good thing too because Susan, behind his back, is trying to tie Ollie to the Green Arrow. Uh oh.
I should also mention that Rory, who’s totally been MIA of late, shines in this episode, using his rags to put a lid on the detonating nuclear device. I don’t fully buy that his rags have this ability, but the show creates just enough of a question of whether it’ll work to keep things interesting. Later, Rory confesses to Felicity that he needs to take some time away from the team. I’m not sure why we’ve lost track of Rory in recent weeks but now with the introduction of Dinah Drake, perhaps this was a way to create new space.
Season 5, Episode 12 (S05E12)
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8PM on CW
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Ade writes about the philanthropy of billionaires and millionaires by day, and writes screenplays by night.
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Ade Adeniji | Contributor