Wow, lots of awesome packed into one short episode. Let’s dive in.
Unlike previous episodes, this one spent a lot time on the island, which was nice. We see Oliver, Slade, and Sara finalizing their plan of attack on Ivo’s boat, which includes a pretty nice training scene of Oliver running through the woods and shooting targets. While not amazing, it was nice to see him still learning the ropes of archery. The trio puts their plan into action, Oliver allowing himself to get captured and with the help of a handy drug, lies to Ivo about Slade and Sara being on the ship, providing the distraction they need to parachute their way on to the deck. What follows is a fast paced, and very well done action scene. We got to see Slade kicking some ass with his new super powers, and drifting further and further into insanity. While Slade is cutting a bloody path through Ivo’s men, Sara is scrambling to free the prisoners and Oliver is hunting down Ivo. Oliver corner’s Ivo in the bridge, and Slade comes in just in time to learn the truth of Shado’s death. He attacks Oliver, damaging the ship in the process. Oliver slips away and meets up with Sara and some of the escaped prisoners, including the Russian guy we met earlier this season. They plan to jump ship and swim for the island, Sara and the prisoners make it, but Slade grabs Oliver and locks him. We close out with Slade taking control of the ship and hacking off Ivo’s hand before promising to inflict horrible vengeance on Oliver.
The island sequences this week were amazing from start to finish. After several weeks of only seeing bits and pieces of the island, all of them pretty much serving as build up to this episode, and the pay off was great. The entire thing was paced well, it never felt rushed or dragging in places, the action scenes were well done, even if they weren’t the most impressive ones we have seen. The entire boat sequence really sold the chaos that was caused by Oliver’s attack, the prisoners running rampant, stealing weapons while the guards tried to maintain control, fireballs and explosions, it all served to amp up the tension, finally coming to a climax when Slade learns of Oliver’s lie.
Seeing him toss Oliver around the ship was honestly a little heartbreaking. We have seen these two build up a friendship over the last season and half, driven home by Slade referring to Oliver as his brother, and in an instant it all came crashing down. We saw the death of a friendship and the birth of a villain. I have to say that Manu Bennett, who plays Slade, was fantastic here. The look on his face after learning the truth, half heartbreak half crazed was perfect. He sold the it perfectly. If I hadn’t already been loving this character since his first appearance last season, this episode would have done it.
With the attack on the boat, we have wrapped up this particular island plot, the fight against Ivo, and have some solid set up for the next one; the fight against Slade. I eagerly await seeing where this goes.
In the present, we didn’t get much. If anything it seems the island scenes and Starling scenes seem to have swapped roles. The island carrying a bulk of the plot and the present day scenes serving to act as set up for the future. We see Slade insinuate himself into the Queen family through Moira’s bid for mayor, seeing a whole new side to Slade, that of the conniving charmer, expertly playing Moira and Thea all to get at Oliver. Seeing his arrogance at Oliver’s barely controlled rage was amazing, Bennett and Amell played off each other perfectly here.
While limited, we got see the rest of team Arrow spring into action. Oliver gets a call out to them, and after recognizing Slade’s voice, Sara scrambles the troops to save Oliver and take down Slade. This doesn’t amount to much, but was fun to see Sara dish out the orders and everyone falling into their assigned roles. For a second I was afraid we were going to see Roy do something stupid, but I’m glad we didn’t, shows how well he is developing as a character. Slade’s parting shot at Oliver, the promise of future violence against him and his family, set the mood perfectly for what is to come next in the show, Oliver desperately trying to stop Slade and protect the people he loves, or so I assume at least. Either way, the tension has been dialed up and I can only assume this will lead to an amazing showdown between the Arrow and Deathstroke.
Overall, this was a fantastic episode, the spin of more time devoted to the island scenes was a nice break from the normal formula for the show, perfect closing of one plot line, and oh so much promise for the future. I can’t wait to see the Suicide Squad take the stage in two weeks.