Arrow Season 2 Review “Deathstroke”

I am my own worst enemy. That’s a difficult thing for a person to admit to themselves. So often, we make excuses for our poor choices or bad behavior because we don’t realize that we are our own worst enemy. We sabotage ourselves without even realizing it, and we hurt those that we love and are trying to protect. In what is probably my favorite episode of Arrow this season, Oliver came to the realization that he is his own worst enemy. Of course, as they used to say on GI: Joe, knowing is half the battle.

Slade Wilson has declared all-out war on Oliver, and for the moment at least, it looks like Slade is winning. He kidnapped Thea and sent a very public ransom note to Moira asking how much she would give for Thea’s safe return. That public display wasn’t so much a ransom note as it was a taunt directed at Oliver. It worked. Oliver became frantic trying to find Thea. He found Slade, but instead of engaging him, he called Det. Lance to arrest Slade. Naturally, Slade wasn’t held in police custody too long because he’d already covered his bases. Ultimately, Slade released Thea unharmed, but that’s because he’d accomplished his true purpose which was hijacking a prisoner transport. He needed more people for his mirakuru experiments, and he needed Oliver to be distracted. It worked.

Slade’s plan to keep Oliver spinning like a top is working. Oliver is so terrified of what Slade is going to do to him that he’s unable to think clearly. He keeps reacting impulsively to Slade’s multi-front attacks instead of stopping to think all the way through the situation. I can’t say I blame him, but at the same time, his impulsiveness is what’s allowing Slade to dominate him right now. Oliver seemed to be expecting Slade to come at him with brute force, but when he didn’t, Oliver didn’t know how to respond. He was completely unprepared for the psychological warfare that Slade has inflicted upon him, and it shows. It’s really not hard to see why Slade went this route though. He knows Oliver, and as such, he knows exactly which buttons to push. He knows that Oliver blames himself for Shado’s death. He knows that Oliver is still emotionally and psychologically trapped on the Island. He knows where all of the cracks are in Oliver’s armor, and he’s taking full advantage of it. It seems that this latest round of attacks has served to help Oliver focus though. Hopefully, he’s realized that his laser focus on Slade has prevented him from looking at the big picture which is something he really needs to do. That’s the only way to stop Slade. Hopefully he’s also realized that he’s going to need his team if he’s going to win this war.

Team Arrow has been going through a lot of growing pains lately. Each member of the team has, at one point or another, questioned their importance to the crew. They have each needed to be reminded and reassured that they are indeed essential to the smooth functioning of Team Arrow. Everyone seems to have settled into their roles now. Everyone except Roy. After Thea’s kidnapping and Team Arrow’s failure to apprehend Slade, Roy was furious. He blamed Oliver’s bad leadership for Thea’s situation, and he was angry that Oliver had Slade arrested instead of beating information out of him. Roy kept trying to get the other members of Team Arrow to mutiny against Oliver’s leadership, but when they refused, he yelled at Oliver and blamed him for everything. Roy seethed that he had believed in Oliver, but I don’t think that’s true. Not really. Roy’s desire to work with The Arrow always seemed more about power than it did about helping people. I’m not saying that Roy didn’t want to help people. He did. But that seemed like it was incidental to him being able to feel like he had some power in his life instead of life constantly beating him down. Even before Roy knew that Oliver was The Arrow, Roy was unhappy with the constraints on his involvement with The Arrow. He always wanted to be in the thick of it and he didn’t really want to listen to The Arrow even before he knew The Arrow’s true identity. Things got even worse after Roy learned that Oliver is The Arrow. Even as Oliver was trying to train him, Roy didn’t really listen and always felt like he had the best plan and/or all the answers. The thing is, Roy is what my grandmother would call a half-baked cake. Yes, he’s got some skills. Yes, he’s got some street smarts. At the same time, though, he lacks both discipline and patience. The mirakuru running through his veins doesn’t help either. All of that led Roy to abandon Team Arrow. I’m not sure whether his leaving is permanent, but if he comes back, he’s going to have to learn to follow before he can lead.

Oliver isn’t the only person trapped on the Island though. Slade is broken. Very, very broken. The mirakuru really did drive him mad, and it looks like he had a psychotic break. I thought I was seeing things when Shado appeared just behind Slade, but I wasn’t. She was there. Or rather, Slade’s memory of her was there. The thing is, his memory of her is twisted and warped not just by the mirakuru, but also by grief jealously, and pain. If Slade were in his right mind, perhaps he could realize that the real Shado would never want him to do what he’s doing to Oliver and his family. However, since the mirakuru has driven all rational thought from his mind, Slade is walking around literally carrying Shado’s ghost. Slade cannot let Oliver go because he cannot let Shado go. It’s actually pretty sad. I will say that Slade’s nefarious plot led to a very dramatic confrontation between him and Oliver. There weren’t any fists or arrows flying though. It was just the two of them in the police interrogation room. Slade knowing that he holds all the cards and Oliver trying (but failing) to maintain control over his emotions. Slade coolly sitting back watching Oliver spin more and more out of control. Oliver breaking down and begging Slade to give Thea back. I don’t think we’ve ever seen Oliver so vulnerable. It was a very powerful scene and so wonderfully played by both Stephen Amell and Manu Bennett. Oliver and Slade’s history is obviously complicated, and Amell and Bennett perfectly captured the complexity and layers of the Oliver/Slade relationship in that scene. Kudos to both actors for excellent work.

It looks like Det. Lance’s decision to support The Arrow has caused him a bit of trouble. After he arrested Slade on The Arrow’s direction, Lance’s boss came down on him for it. Let me just pause and say how annoyed I am by how stupid the cops are. The show made a point of saying that since Oliver has started capturing instead of killing criminals, the jails and prisons are overrun. The city is getting safe again, and The Arrow is doing some good. The cops in charge, however, haven’t seemed to notice that. All they can see is “the vigilante” taking down criminals. Um, if you were doing your jobs better guys, then The Arrow wouldn’t have to do it for you. I get that you can’t have people running around taking the law into their own hands, but at the same time, it’s pretty obvious that The Arrow is one of the good guys. Maybe figuring out how to let him work with the cops would be better for Starling City than putting him out of commission. That’s the conclusion that Det. Lance finally reached. He still believes in the law, but he also realizes that there’s a different breed of criminal in Starling City, and those criminals need a different kind of law enforcement officer. Starling City needs The Arrow. With everything that Oliver is currently dealing with, I’m not sure how he’s going to get Det. Lance out of his current situation, but I know that somehow he will. Det. Lance is a part of his team, and I don’t think he’d leave any of his team members twisting in the wind.

Isabel Rochev is a piece of work. While Oliver was frantically searching for Thea and trying to fend off Slade, Isabel called a board meeting. She said Oliver needed to be present, knowing full well that his head wasn’t at Queen Consolidated. She said that he could make someone else CEO temporarily, and he quickly signed over CEO powers to Isabel without giving it a second thought. That is, until he realized that she had used that opportunity to get the board to vote him out. But it was all a part of Slade’s plan. Isabel has apparently been working with Slade the whole time, and they needed Queen Consolidated’s applied sciences division so they could figure out how to mass produce the mirakuru. I might be slow, but I honestly don’t understand why Isabel has partnered with Slade. She said something about the sins of the father being the sins of the son, but who is she talking about? I’m assuming it means that she’s either Slade’s daughter or Shado’s sister. I’m not entirely clear on that because we haven’t really spent very much time with Isabel. My guess is that it’s probably the latter. I have a feeling we’ll be finding out more about her in the near future though.

As I said, this is probably my favorite Arrow episode this season. It had a good balance of action and drama. It moved the overall plot forward a great deal, and it set up some very interesting directions for the rest of the season to go. I have always loved Dig and Felicity, but I love them even more now. They’re not just Oliver’s team. They aren’t even just his friends. They are his family. Family stands with you in good times and bad. Oliver should never feel like he’s alone again. This whole experience has also led Oliver toward forgiving Moira. I’m still not a Moira fan, but I am a fan of forgiveness. So we’ll have to see how the Oliver/Moira relationship changes moving forward. On a bit of a technical note, I really enjoyed the way the action sequences were shot. It was so much better than last week. There wasn’t very much shaky cam, and the camera was pulled back far enough so that I could actually see and enjoy the action. Excellent episode. I’m excited to see what happens next. So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?