Arrow: Kapuishon

Anatoly: "You're a fool to think that a piece of cloth can separate man from monster. Dividing yourself in two will only make monster stronger until it is stronger than you."

So basically, this was an all torture episode. Which makes it hard to look at critically because of the emotional component.

Let me start with the present. Prometheus/Adrian's entire goal was to get Oliver to admit that he likes killing. Why? I don't understand Adrian's motivation or Evelyn's, for that matter. Adrian has committed far greater atrocities in the name of his personal vengeance. And Evelyn's whole thing was that she couldn't be involved with a serial killer. It doesn't make sense.

So what were the writers trying to say? I think at its core, the idea of Oliver enjoying the act of murder is an interesting character choice. It tackles an important underlying plot thread that has run through the entire series, that delves into the deepest aspects of the character. It was something that needed to be explored, although I don't necessarily want Oliver to enjoy killing because that makes him more of a monster than a hero, it does answer why he has some fundamental issues with his relationships with Thea, Felicity and Diggle.

But was this the right resolution for the character? Where can they possibly go from here? Because honestly, they've already done the redemption thing with him, and just now, they took it back. Add to that, whatever Adrian's motivations were, he just won. So again, I'll ask, where do we go from here? At least, thematically speaking. Going in this direction makes our primary character no longer a hero, and it makes it very difficult for him to ever become one. Because Evelyn was right; Oliver is a serial killer. And this isn't Dexter.

At this point in a comic book's continuity, if this were just a comic book, there'd be some sort of mystical removal of his darkness that would suddenly make the character redeemable, or some other massive character change that would absolve him of his previous sins. But that kind of shorthand storytelling isn't what this show does. Unfortunately, I don't know how else they are going to solve this issue, because we're at the point where it needs to happen for Oliver to be a legitimate hero.

In the flashback, we saw things move even closer to the beginning of season one, getting Oliver to that right mindset he had in the pilot. It's revealing that the Hood wasn't just a vigilante. He was a way for Oliver to channel his inner monster. Again, Dexter. Some of the stuff with Anatoly becoming Pakhan and the resolution of the Gregor plotline was wrapped up in a fairly good way. Also it looks like Kovar is going to transition into the present, which I'm a little ambivalent about.

The thing that bothered me most about this episode, and might have been its greatest strength for some people, was how unrelentingly dark, violent and adult the content was. If this had been in a different kind of show (again, I'm thinking Dexter), this would have been an excellent episode, perhaps hard to watch a second time. But it felt too ugly for a show with leather costumes and masks. Am I judging it too critically because it's a comic book series? What did you guys think?

Bits:

-- Evelyn Sharp is dead evil. Was anyone surprised when she woke up?

-- With three arrows in his shoulder, you'd think Oliver would have nerve, muscle and bone damage. Actually, if it were real life, Oliver wouldn't be able to walk at all by now.

-- John Barrowman was in this episode for some reason I didn't follow. He's had a busy week, since he was also in The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.

-- They used sarin gas but were incredibly inconsistent with it. Like that one guy jumping into the back of the truck with a tank leaking, Anatoly surviving by putting his coat over his face and everyone else dying because they were too stupid to put their coats over their faces?

Quotes:

Oliver: (watching man put money in Gregor's pocket) "Why is he doing that?"
Anatoly: "It's for journey to afterlife. It makes good gift in heaven but even better bribe for Satan."

Anatoly: "See how easy it is to think first and kill people later?"

I'm not going to rate this one because I feel conflicted about it. How many out of four torture scenes?
---
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

5 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Terrific review, J.D.

I get where this episode might be considered excellent, daring and ground-breaking because it went to a place where shows rarely go with their heroes, and I'd completely understand fans going that way. But I absolutely hated it, to the point where I'm considering dropping the series. Zero out of four torture scenes.

Patryk said...

This was the one episode per season that is focused almost all on flashbacks. Did they have those in season 3 an 4? I can't remember, but in season 1 and 2 those were one of my favorties and they always happened while the main action stalled like during a surgery or captivity.

I like how far they went with Oliver which also does explain for exmaple why Ra's was so keen on making Oliver his successor. Sensing the serial killer inside.

Malcolm in the flashbacks was setting up the Undertaking, but so far I don't see any reason to include him other then for fun, but maybe they wanted to explain how Merlyn surived season 1 since he obviously helped Kovar survive here the same way.

Phyllis Strickland said...

I honestly don't see any way they can come back from this. How can someone who admits that he enjoyed the killing possibly be a hero? I think it is morally impossible. Did they just destroy Olive Queen's Arrow?

Katerina said...

I'm with Billie on this one. I fell asleep about half-way through, and had absolutely no desire to go back and watch the rest of the episode. I've been tired of this whole Prometheus plot line for a while, and I also don't like what they've been doing with Felicity. Now, when I think of shows I need to catch up on during the weekend, Arrow has usually been the last one I choose to watch. (Legion has been the first.)

Anonymous said...

It went Dark compared to the other Superhero shows but it has always been like that on Arrow..The last two seasons were weak because they stopped asking these types of questions..
Personally i like it..The 'fun' nature of these shows gets annoying sometimes, considering the other 3 are bubblegum sweetness i don't see why Arrow can't be dark...This is the type of episode that makes Oliver a much better overall Character than Kara, Barry and Even Sara.
Speaking of Sara, i love her on Legends she has become my favorite character but this Arrow episode reminded me that she is actually worse than Oliver and has an even Darker back story which they touched on when she was first on Arrow. You forget she was an actual Assassin who was given assignments rather than killing in self defence.