Arrow Review: “Deathstroke Returns”

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Five episodes in and I have to say FBI Agent Watson is probably season six’s most compelling antagonist. On the one hand, this speaks to the increasingly domestic focus of the new season. Rather than it being about the Green Arrow, it’s about Mayor Queen, or better put Papa Queen – as in Oliver’s relationship with his son William.

Meanwhile, Oliver and Felicity are a thing again, Dig is dealing with problems both mental and physical in nature, and Dinah is trying to help him. In other words, much of Team Arrow is dealing more with the mundane, rather than say, something superhuman. This is where Agent Watson comes in, mucking up these interpersonal relationships with her probing. Great.

On the other hand, we’re already five episodes into season six and I’m still waiting for something big to happen. Instead, last night’s “Deathsroke Returns,” continues with a common theme. Oliver’s mentor turned enemy turned mentor figure again, Slade Wilson, calls upon Oliver. Slade’s kid has been kidnapped and he needs Oliver’s help in getting him back.

Here, Oliver steps into almost a sideplayer role again (remember last week he was Felicity’s eyes and ears) as he helps Slade. It was nice to see Slade express remorse about his past misdeeds and in a way I always felt the show kind of glossed over all the carnage Slade was responsible for, whether he was under the influence of mirakuru or not. This provided some closure over that.

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Still, another part of me wondered why the show wanted to go that far back. Not only are we treated to an Ollie-Deathstroke pairing but all the flashbacks are related to Slade’s time on the island years ago with his son. Cool. But I also found myself sort of lost as far as where Arrow is going in its sixth season.

“Deathstroke Returns” also plays in familiar territory by bringing back Vigilante and at long last revealing his identity. If we weren’t thinking about Slade Wilson, we definitely weren’t thinking about Vigilante, an antihero that’s appeared and disappeared throughout Arrow’s run. What’s even more surprising is Vigilante’s connection to Dinah Drake. Yes, that’s right, Vigilante is Dinah’s (apparently not dead) old partner.

Usually the appearance of Vigilante means plenty of high caliber weaponry and fun action and things start off on an exciting note with him nearly taking out a lawmaker who’s a leading proponent of the anti-vigilante law. Dinah is at the scene and quickly springs into action. Later, Team Arrow regroups but unfortunately there aren’t that many exciting moments with the Vigilante after this. Again, instead of focusing on the action, Arrow focuses on the interpersonal. When Dinah finally has the chance to take Vigilante in, she allows him to walk away unscathed instead. Considering the fact that he took a bullet for Dinah, this makes sense. I’ve appreciated the character exploration with Dinah since she was introduced and of the new Team Arrow members, she’s always felt like the meatiest.

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Meanwhile, back in the Deathstroke storyline, when Slade does finally come across his son, Joe, we also discover that he’s the leader of an underground group called the Jackals. A big twist, one which will be wrapped up next week. That’s right, next week’s “Promises Kept” will be the second of this two-part segment. Interesting timing for all of this, but here’s to hoping things start to add up a bit more next week and fit within the larger Arrow context.

TB-TV-Grade-BSeason 6, Episode 5 (S06E05)
Arrow airs Thursdays at 9PM on CW

Read all of our reviews of Arrow here.
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Ade writes about the philanthropy of billionaires and millionaires by day, and writes screenplays by night.
Follow Ade on Twitter: @derekadeniji
Keep up with all of Ade’s reviews here.

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