UK TV recap: Arrow, Season 6, Episode 5 (Deathstroke Returns)
The flashbacks returning4
Matthew Turner | On 18, Nov 2017
Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Arrow, click here.
Last episode of Arrow Season 6 ended with Slade Wilson / Deathstroke asking Oliver for help in tracking down his son. Since Oliver owes Slade a sizeable favour for helping out in the Season 5 finale, he agrees, only to discover that Slade needs him for his political diplomacy, rather than his archery-based skillset. It’s not entirely clear how much clout Oliver has outside of Star City, but let’s not start picking holes just yet.
Anyway, off they trot to Kasnia, where they discover that Slade’s son, Joe, now going by the name Kane Wolfman, has been captured by a gang of wrong’uns called the Jackals, while working for Australian Intelligence. They also get told that Kane has been killed, but Slade’s not having any of it. He drugs Oliver to get him out of the way, puts on the Deathstroke suit and heads off to kill as many Jackals as possible, in a superbly choreographed and surprisingly violent action sequence that appears to unfold in a single take. However, he’s eventually over-powered, at which point it turns out that the leader of the Jackals is his not-dead-after-all son, Kane. Cliff-hanger! (Oliver, for his part, has woken up from the drugging, and arrives just in time to witness the Kane-as-Jackal-Boss reveal.)
With Oliver sticking firmly to his no-tights-no-fights rule, there’s not a lot to say about the main plot, other than Manu Bennett is always great fun to watch and he and Stephen Amell recapture some of the old chemistry from Season 2. You know, in the bits before he went mad on Mirakuru and killed Oliver’s mum.
After a couple of flashback-free episodes, it’s actually a bit of a disappointment to see them come back again this week, particularly as they’re so painfully dull. We get several scenes of Deathstroke going on a camping trip with Joe, 13 years ago. All very touching, yes, but then it turns out that the camping trip is a cover for Deathstroke interrogating a fellow camper to learn the whereabouts of Yao Fe (which leads to him going to Lian Yu in the first place). Joe: disillusioned, especially since he’d already begun to suspect that his father wasn’t really an airline pilot after all.
The flashbacks have had a patchy history on Arrow – sometimes, they’re great and a vital part of the story (Season 2, in particular), but sometimes, they’re at best pointless and at worst just plain awful (Seasons 3 and 4 being particular low points). This episode, they’re basically just filler, as we learn very little of interest about Slade, other than he feels guilty because he’s a Bad Dad. There’s meant to be some contrast between Slade and Joe and Oliver and William (who phones Oliver just after he wakes up from the drugging), but the script doesn’t put that across very well. Similarly, Slade calls both Young Kane and Oliver “kid”, suggesting that he sees Oliver as the son he never had. Or something.
Meanwhile, back in Star City, the costumed vigilante known as, um, Vigilante reappears and tries to shoot Councilwoman Pollard, as she’s the one behind the council’s proposed anti-vigilante legislation. (He’s obviously the sensitive type.) Dinah saves Pollard and tackles Vigilante, unleashing a canary cry that cracks his mask and reveals him to be her old partner (on and off the force), Vincent Sobel. Not only that, but he’s also a meta-human too, with an insane healing ability that effectively enables him to recover from a bullet to the head. Pretty impressive.
Dinah ums and ahs about what to do, but she lets him go, after he takes a bullet for her. She’s sentimental that way. As for the rest of Team Arrow, they have their hands full with the other main sub-plot, namely Agent Samandra Watson and her tireless quest to prove that Oliver is the Green Arrow and all his friends are costumed crime-fighters too. She calls everyone into her office individually and there are a few fun exchanges (Felicity: “You’re not so big into decoration, are you?” Samandra: “I’m also not a fan of people wasting my time”), but the upshot of it is, she clearly knows who they all are, she’s just waiting until she has enough evidence to prove it before she makes her move. Let’s hope she gets a move on, because at the moment, the glorious Sydelle Noel (from GLOW) is rather wasted in the role.
Anyway, yes, the reveal of Vigilante. Considering the mystery surrounding the character last season (compounded by Adrian Chase being Vigilante in the comics, which made for a nice fake-out), it’s rather disappointing that the reveal turns out to be so underwhelming. Although, realistically speaking, there weren’t many other options that would have actually had an impact, short of Tommy Merlyn not being dead after all, or Colin Salmon’s character coming back. No, wait, a version of Oliver from an alternate Earth would have been fun too.
On the plus side, the Vigilante reveal gives Juliana Harkavy something to get her teeth into for once and she responds with gusto, really selling her mixed emotions over Sobel’s return. The re-appearance of her ex also gives her character some much needed layers and it will be interesting to see how her story develops over the rest of the season.
All in all, this is a generally underwhelming episode that fails to achieve the desired impact with its two big reveals, largely because we’d never really spent time with either Vincent or Joe. That Deathstroke fight scene is pretty great, though. Tune in next time for Part Two of Oliver and Slade’s Adventures in Kasnia!
Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
– Still no sign of Thea – come on, Arrow, it’s been five episodes now. At least visit her in hospital and check that she’s okay.
– Kane Wolfman is a frankly ridiculous alias for someone whose real name is Joe Wilson. However, the name is actually a nice comics nod to DC legends Gil Kane and Marv Wolfman, so we’ll let it slide.
– We’re calling it now: Season 6 is going to end with Samandra Watson exposing Oliver as the Green Arrow and the people of Star City deciding to re-elect him anyway. #VoteGreenArrow, etc.
Arrow Season 6 is available on Sky 1 every Thursday, within a week of its US broadcast. Don’t have Sky? You can stream it live or catch up on-demand through NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription, no contract. A 7-day free trial is available for new subscribers.
Photo: 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.