Arrow: Prochnost

“Living is not for the week.”

Arrow has multiple over-arching themes. What makes a hero? What do we owe our family? How do you define strength? This episode explores all of them.

Since the title is the Russian word for strength, we’ll start there. The good news is that despite this being a comics-based show, strength has never been solely defined in physical terms – salmon ladder aside. In the grand scheme of things, one could make a credible argument for Moira being the strongest person on the show and she never threw a punch.

The Powers That Be have chosen to define strength as the decision to do the right thing no matter the cost. The caveat being that the person knows what “the right thing” is. All of "Prochnost's" storylines revolve around that question.

Oliver has never lacked for strength and as Reza said back in the Pilot, Oliver has “a good heart.” That said he has made some monumentally bad decisions over the years. Which brings us to this week’s episode.

Convinced that The Monitor can be defeated by creating an anti-matter wave, Oliver heads to Russia in search of General Burov in order to do so. He has Mia, William and Laurel accompany him. As a strategist he can see the value of bringing them all with him. As a father who believes his time is limited he wants to spend time with his kids. What he doesn’t want is to have his children learn about his more shameful decisions. Unfortunately, these decisions have consequences and we don’t always get to choose when those consequences come due.

William, like Felicity, knows that intelligence is his strength. He will never be the fighter his father or his sister are. That knowledge coupled with the time he’s spent with Oliver as a child gives him a perspective of both his and his father’s humanity that his sister has never known.

Mia, who takes after her father in so many ways, has complete faith in her physical abilities. Over the past year she’s come to the same conclusion as the great philosopher Uncle Ben (power and responsibility – yada, yada, yada). This led her to take on the mantel of Star City’s defender just as her father before her. And like Oliver, she’s learning that leadership comes at a cost.

Since she didn’t spend a lifetime with Oliver, she sees him as a finished product. Father, fighter, hero, and someone she feels she has to live up to. Oliver’s desire to put his best foot forward has left her feeling like a failure.

For his part Oliver had hoped that he could impart the wisdom that he’s gained without having to share the price he paid for that knowledge. Luckily, Anatoly is quick to point out that parenting isn’t always about protecting your kids, no matter how much you want to. Sometimes it’s about preparing them for the hardships life inevitably brings. By sharing his failings, Oliver allowed Mia to understand her mistakes make her human, not weak.

Roy is all too familiar with the price of mistakes. He has been responsible for the deaths of three innocent men through no fault of his own. Unsurprisingly, he’s not anxious to add to that number. Yet Diggle has sought to bring him back into the fold.

I’ll be honest. This storyline didn’t work for me despite it centering on two of my favorite characters. First, if someone was going to talk Roy into rejoining the team it should be either Oliver or Thea. Second, there has been absolutely no proof that being around others gave Roy the ability to control his bloodlust. Third, that was the most poorly protected plutonium in the world, and I was really glad this is a fictional show. If I'm being charitable, it felt like part of this story was cut for time and the remaining bits just didn't hang together as they should.

As for Laurel, was she really planning to betray Oliver and changed her mind? Or, was she stringing Lyla along to discover The Monitor’s plan. I’m leaning towards the former.

Anatoly, who worked with Laurel and Diaz for months, was unconvinced of her redemption and told her so. I believe that discussion combined with her conversation with Mia gave Laurel the reminder she needed. If the alternative were true, then Laurel would have maintained her fa├žade longer. As it is, they’ve done nothing but confirm Lyla’s involvement with The Monitor – well, other than getting themselves captured.

This episode will not make this season’s highlight reel but it is far better than many episodes from other seasons, that shall remain nameless (cough, season 6, cough). Give me more!

3 out of 5 cage fights

Parting Thoughts:

The leading quote is one of my favorite quotes of all time from any source.

I love the fact that his kids continually surprise Oliver (i.e. William speaking Russian and Mia’s start as a cage fighter).

Can we have the Fun Uncle – Anatoly as a spin-off? Pretty please?

Quotes:

William: “She’s a machine. They don’t need breaks.”

Oliver: “I think I can teach them good without showing them the bad.”

Laurel: “And I thought I was supposed to be the bad guy.”

Anatoly: “I have a classic bad news / good news. I found General Burov.”
William: “Is that the bad news? I’m confused about the order.”

Mia: “We are not children.”
Oliver: “Well, you are when I look at you!”

Anatoly: “Maybe should have kept your secret identity, secret.”

Laurel: “Aren’t people in your family constantly injecting each other with tracking devices.”
William: “Normally, I would say, 'God, I hope not,' but now I guess I can see the advantages."

Laurel: “Thank you, illegal Russian satellites.
Anatoly: “Great. Let’s go save the day.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I loved all of the Oliver and William and Mia interaction. And I thought that if this was our farewell to Anatoly, it was lovely.

Shari said...

All of Oliver's reactions felt very real to me. Of course he wanted to protect his kids. Of course he wanted them to think highly of him. And even more, of course he still sees them through the prism of a 13 year old and an infant. We've been watching them as adults for 2 years so I hadn't thought about what it must be like for him until he said it.

As soon as I knew Oliver was going to Russia, I assumed Anatoly would be there. But I was surprised that all the water was under the bridge given all the things they've done to each other. However, I was not displeased. And you're right, it was a lovely send off.