UK TV recap: Arrow, Season 5, Episode 21 (Honor Thy Fathers)
Return of Thea8.5
Matthew Turner | On 21, May 2017Reading time: 8 mins
Warning: This is a recap and contains spoilers, so do not read this until you have watched the episode. For information on how to watch it, click here.
If you’re the sort of person who memorises episode titles, then you’ll already be aware that the title of this week’s episode, Honor Thy Fathers, is a direct reference to the title of Arrow’s second ever episode, Honor Thy Father. That makes sense, given this episode’s focus on both Oliver’s dad, Robert Queen (Jamey Sheridan), and Adrian Chase’s father, Justin Claibourne, as well as the general, season-long thematic resonance of the sins of the past. The other factor influencing this episode is that it’s very much the beginning of the end, given that there are just two more to go in this season. With that in mind, this is an entertaining episode that has a certain amount of place-setting to get through, but the end result is generally very promising. If Arrow can maintain this level of quality for the final two instalments, we could be in for something very special indeed.
The episode begins with another one of Prometheus’ mind-games being put into motion, namely, the arrival at City Hall of a coffin-shaped box, addressed to Oliver. Inside are some skeletal remains, enveloped in concrete, prompting head-scratching all round. Whatever could Prometheus be up to? Well, let’s see whose bones these are and find out. In happier news, Thea is back! Gosh, wouldn’t it be a coincidence if the body in the box had something to do with Oliver and Thea’s father, just as she came back from wherever she’s been? Yes. Yes, it would.
Meanwhile, Oliver has some other Prometheus-related problems on his hands, because it turns out that Adrian Chase being revealed as the Throwing Star Killer has invalidated all the convictions he oversaw as District Attorney, meaning that 36 dangerous criminals have been released back onto the streets, including super-strong Derek Sampson (returning guest star, wrestler Cody Rhodes). This sounds very much like an in-the-back-pocket set-up for Season 6, because nobody seems all that bothered about it here, and it’s not like we get scenes of 36 criminals immediately initiating a crime spree or anything.
Since Sampson is apparently the most dangerous of them, Team Arrow focus their attentions on him, and then realise he’s working with Prometheus anyway, having been hired to steal the chemicals to create a version of the weaponised tuberculosis that Prometheus’ father Justin was working on when Oliver put an arrow in him in the first place.
As for the body in the box, it turns out to be Henry Goodwin, an associate of Robert Queen’s who went missing fifteen years previously. There’s a lot of related (and satisfying) detective work involved – including a fun bit with a concrete-based deathtrap that Prometheus has somehow had time to set – but the upshot is that Robert accidentally killed Goodwin by knocking him into a vat of concrete. Hence all the concrete.
Anyway, Prometheus uses dodgy lawyer Darren Coffman (Eric Pollins) to deliver a CCTV video to Oliver and Thea that shows exactly that – Robert Queen and Henry Goodwin struggling on a walkway and Goodwin falling into the concrete. (It’s not clear whether Robert deliberately pushes him, but he covered it up anyway). This prompts the by-now weekly bout of soul-searching for Oliver, who has to deal with the idea that the man he began his whole crusade for in the first place was actually a straight-up murderer. Of course, this was Prometheus’ plan all along.
However, Prometheus has drastically under-estimated the power of the pep talk. After heart-to-hearts with both Felicity and Thea, Oliver decides to own his father’s mistakes and let the past be the past. As for Thea, she pretty much takes the whole thing in her stride, pointing out that once you discover that your biological father is potential mass-murderer Malcolm Merlyn, anything else is something of an anti-climax.
With the body-in-the-box mystery all cleared up, it’s off to the Robert Queen Applied Sciences Centre to thwart Chase’s tuberculosis chemical warfare plan. Say what you like about Adrian Chase, he puts a lot of thought into choosing his venues. Oliver offers Thea the chance to suit up and come with them, for old times’ sake, but, rather disappointingly, she says no. She also says she still hasn’t gotten her head straight yet, describing herself as a hot mess. (Hands up everyone who thought the episode’s action sequences would end with an in-costume Thea riding to the rescue? Well, that doesn’t happen either.)
On the plus side, after having made do with just a generic black ensemble for the last few episodes (because of psychologically distancing himself from his alter ego), Oliver finally puts the Green Arrow suit back on this week. Given the thematic importance of the gesture, it’s odd that the moment is basically just thrown away – he just appears in costume as they prepare for the fight, although it’s acknowledged by Diggle, Dinah and Mr Terrific before they get to fighting. Maybe they shot the sequence but then cut it for time purposes? We’ll never know. But, frankly, they missed a trick there – after all the misery this season, a nice little sequence of Oliver deciding to put the suit back on would have gone down a treat.
As for the fight sequences, they’re pretty decent. We don’t get a rematch of Oliver vs Sampson (which is a shame, but understandable in context), but there’s some fun stuff with Dinah and Spartan taking down Sampson with a sonic scream-bola combo. Oliver’s stairwell fight with Prometheus is particularly good, before the scene takes an unexpected turn. Oliver reveals that he learned from dodgy lawyer Darren Coffman that Adrian’s father knew he was insane and was going to disown him. For all Adrian’s seeming ability to be one step ahead the whole time, he seems genuinely rattled by this information and basically surrenders, laying down his sword and once more asking Oliver to kill him. Oliver doesn’t, but he punches him in the face and knocks him out, just to be on the safe side. Oh, and Mr Terrific defuses the TB bomb just in time, so everybody’s happy.
Adrian gets carted off to an ARGUS cell and Team Arrow are so convinced they’ve actually won that they even go out for a celebratory drink. This is possibly a little naïve of them, especially with two episodes left to go, but let’s allow them that moment for now. The audience knows better, of course, because we’ve seen Adrian track down Oliver’s son, William (now Matthew), in last episode’s cliff-hanger, so we know that smile on Adrian’s lips at the close of the episode means he has one final plan up his sleeve. Ruh roh!
But what of the subplot involving Rene and his adorable daughter, we hear you ask? Well, we get a little of that too. Quentin talks Rene into going for custody and it’s clear that he’s personally invested in Rene getting his daughter back, because, well, because his own two daughters have already died twice and only one of them is still alive. However, Rene bitterly disappoints Quentin by being a no-show for the custody hearing, although we don’t see him actively avoiding it, so perhaps there’s something else going on.
Finally, there’s a glorious return to Flashback Island this week, as the flashback scenes come almost full circle. Oliver and Anatoly fly a tiny plane to Lian Yu and Oliver prepares to stage his discovery. We get the delightful detail that his Robinson Crusoe-style beard and wig from the Season 1 premiere episode was, in fact, fake, which passes as an enjoyably meta gag, even if it also smacks of being a bit of a lazy get-out. The same is true of Slade Wilson’s Deathstroke mask – also glimpsed in S1E1 – which Oliver himself plants on the island with an arrow after finding it washed up on the beach. So if you’ve been wondering about that for five whole seasons, well, there you go. We’re not quite done with Lian Yu yet, though – for one thing, that’s the name of the episode title for the season finale – because Konstantin Kovar (yep, Dolph Lundgren) shows up and sticks Oliver with a tranquiliser dart just as Anatoly leaves. Cliffhanger! Except… not really, because we know Oliver survives and leaves the island shortly afterwards.
Overall, this is a very promising antepenultimate episode, which does a great job of consolidating the themes for the season and indicates, at the very least, that the writers have a solid idea of where they’re going for the finale. Colour us tentatively excited.
Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune:
– Genuinely couldn’t be happier to see Thea back this week. Can someone please reassure us that she’s on board as a regular for Season 6?
– Cody Rhodes is sadly under-used, which, again, is an odd decision, considering the mileage they got out of his appearance last time, what with Stephen Amell and Rhodes’ real-life wrestling shenanigans. Still, it seems the door is open for future appearances, so no doubt we’ll be seeing him again.
– Vigilante? Anyone? At this point it really seems like the show is just going to ignore the mystery of his identity altogether.