Arrow Season 2 Review “The Promise”

Holy crap on a cracker, Arrow! After a few weeks of rather lackluster episodes, Arrow came back with one of the most intense and action packed episodes of the season. There were explosions, shootouts, arrows flying all over the place, and angst. Lots and lots of angst.

This episode picked up right where the last one left off. Slade Wilson was in the Queen mansion and he “introduced” himself to Oliver as a donor to Moira’s campaign. That handshake was something else. Oliver was obviously surprised, terrified, and immediately on edge. Moira didn’t seem to notice though. Just as an aside, I’ve never been a Moira fan, and she’s not doing very much to help her situation in my eyes. Oliver is justifiably angry about her constant lies and manipulations, but Moira acts as if she’s the one who has been wronged in this situation. Her remark about Oliver no longer being welcome in the Queen mansion since he’s giving her the cold shoulder just seems selfish. At any rate, Moira and Thea treated Slade to a tour of the mansion, and Oliver took that opportunity to surreptitiously call the other members of Team Arrow to let them know he was in danger and needed help. Sara, Dig, and Roy immediately packed the biggest guns they had and headed to the Queen mansion to help Oliver.

While all of that was going on in present day, we got a chance to see what happened on the Island the night Oliver, Slade, and Sara went after Ivo. After they came up with a plan of attack, Sara took Oliver aside and told him that he had to kill Ivo before Slade could get to him. She warned Oliver that Ivo would figure out how to turn things around so that Slade would believe Shado’s death was Oliver’s fault. Oliver was, understandably, reluctant to murder a man in cold blood but Sara told him that if he didn’t Slade would kill them both. She wasn’t wrong. After using Oliver as a distraction, Slade and Sara parachuted onto the freighter. The three of them freed all of the other captives and fought off many of Ivo’s men. When Oliver got to Ivo, he hesitated instead of immediately putting an arrow in him which allowed Slade to overhear Ivo’s version of what happened to Shado. Needless to say, Slade didn’t take it too well. Sara and a few of the other captives got off the freighter and back to the Island, but Slade grabbed Oliver and threw him in one of the cells on the boat. Slade then killed the ship captain, took his place, and promised Oliver that he would make him suffer before he killed him.

Unlike most of the episodes this season, “The Promise” took place almost entirely on The Island. It was actually a welcome change to spend more time there so we could find out more about what happened between Oliver and Sara as well as why the relationship between Oliver and Slade deteriorated so badly. I haven’t been shy regarding my disappointment about the Island sequences this season. Until recently, the Island stuff seemed to be kind of disjointed and detached from what is currently happening in Starling City. It wasn’t nearly as interesting as it was last season, and it didn’t seem to really provide very much insight into Oliver’s psyche. That is not the case here. Everything that happened the night Oliver, Slade, and Sara attempted to take over the freighter impacted current events. Slade’s rage and desire to destroy everything and everyone Oliver cares about makes a little bit more sense now that we know what Ivo told him. Although, I must confess that I don’t understand how Shado’s death was Oliver’s fault. Oliver was not in a position to save Sara or Shado, and Ivo had already shown that he had great affection for Sara. So no matter what Oliver said or did, Ivo was going to kill Shado. I don’t think that’s something that Slade could understand though.

If Slade weren’t under the influence of the mirakuru, perhaps he would be able to see that there was nothing Oliver could have done to save Shado. Perhaps he would be able to see that Ivo is really the bad guy and not Oliver, but his mind is so warped by the drug that he cannot see any reason at all. I get that Slade loved Shado, but I wonder how much of his wrath is based upon jealousy and not necessarily the pain of loss. When Shado was alive, she made it pretty clear that although she cared for Slade, she had chosen Oliver. I do think Slade loved her and is hurting that she’s dead, but it seems just as likely that his rage at Oliver is rooted in the fact that he was jealous that Shado had chosen Oliver.

On more of a technical note, I really like the way all of the action on the freighter was shot. It was just disorienting enough for you to feel like you were in a nighttime gun battle, but not so disorienting that it took you out of the action. The hand-to-hand combat scenes were also wonderfully done. I tend to enjoy that hand-to-hand combat more than gun fights anyway. Oliver’s training sequence also was superbly shot and provided more details of how he became the lean, mean killing machine we see in present day. Kudos to all involved for some really excellent work.

Watching Slade’s drastic transformation on the Island makes me really worried for Roy. Slade wasn’t exactly a teddy bear before he got injected with the mirakuru, but the drug seemed to amplify all of the darkness that was already in him. Roy has so much anger and resentment bottled up inside him that I fear what happened to Slade will happen to him. It’s possible that the version of the mirakuru that Roy was injected with isn’t as potent as what Slade was injected with, but I’m not sure that’s the case. We’ve already seen Roy lose control a couple of times during a fight, and one of those times landed a man in the ICU. I just hope that Oliver will be able to keep Roy from going off the deep end like it appears Slade has done.

It appears that Team Arrow is coming together quite nicely. In the past, Oliver and Dig would have been on their own trying to take down Slade and protect Oliver’s family. However, now Oliver’s got a team to have his back and that is a very good thing. Slade is coming at Oliver hard, and he’s going to need all the help he can get. It’s also a change that Oliver realizes that he needs help now. In times past, he would’ve tried to handle all of this on his own, and I have no doubt it would’ve ended badly. Oliver seems to recognize now that the only way for him to save the city and stay alive is to rely on his team. Let’s hope that Team Arrow can continue to grow stronger as a unit because it looks like they’re going to have a lot coming down the pike at them very soon. The only way to face those threats it is as a team.

As I said, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. It was action and drama packed. Setting up Slade as the big bad of the season ups the stakes quite a bit. It’s no longer about Oliver simply trying to save Starling City. It’s much more personal for Oliver which makes me much more invested in the final outcome. I have a feeling things are going to get worse before they get better, but I’m excited to see how all of this plays out. So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?

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