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REVIEW: Arrow 5×12 “Bratva”

I am honestly shocked we are this far into the season and Arrow hasn’t managed to crap the bed completely. Seriously look back on what we were seeing lest year at this time, it wasn’t great. “Bratva” on the other hand is a fairly decent episode, solid A plot, good Oliver tormenting himself banter, Rene and Quinton being a fun pair. You just take out the end part involving Ragman and you have a really, really good episode. What manages to make this episode, and frankly many episodes this season work is the fact that they are aiming to emulate the best aspects of season one and two. We are seeing our characters being pushed to a mental breaking point because of the combination of Prometheus and those around them seeking to bring them down. It provides just the right amount of turmoil so that our heroes are consistently on edge and making questionable choices.

So, I am just going to start with one of the few parts of the episode which managed to annoy me, the end of Ragman. I mean I understand logistically why Ragman is being removed from the board as he is simply to powerful to have in the fight against Prometheus. I mean he can absorb multiple nukes but apparently can’t go toe to toe with the big bad of the season, That seems off. What is more frustrating than completely removing the character from the board is the sheer fact he is bailing on the team. Even Curtis, who has formerly realized he is not very useful in the field is still with the team in some capacity. Rory could easily become the intel guy for the team or try to get his powers back, but no he decides to seemingly give up for the time being. Joe Dinicol has done an excellent job this season and I really hope he is not truly gone on a Thea level hiatus.

Speaking of Thea, she is apparently nowhere to be found and thus leaves Wild Dog as Lance’s new guardian. At first I was hesitant, but man did this pairing turn out to be worth their weight in comedic timing. I mean Rene is just the right type of foil for Lance: bitter, tough, doesn’t take any shit from anyone. It really does make sense to pair them in retrospect as that is exactly how Lance often treats people. By having Rene deal with a man who was secretly a role model to him for an entire episodes adds some nice definition to his plot. I mean it sort of read as everything comes full circle but Rick Gonzalez sells the hell out of wanting to help Lance, even if it means pissing him off. I am left wondering what Lance’s arc will be for the last couple of episodes. I imagine Prometheus has big plans for all the members of team Arrow, and Lance’s rehab means he has even further to fall.

At the same time we have Oliver’s adventures in Russia which really was a double edge sword. By having Oliver return to his Russian roots we managed to have all the fun of season one and two hardcore Oliver. I mean Ollie is willing to make exceptions to his rule as long as it means protecting those he loves. In the big picture it is hypocritical but it is always fun to watch Stephen Amell but totally overpowering in a scene. Unfortunately this is all undercut by Oliver saying he wants to keep Diggle and Felicity as pure as possible. Not a bad ideal to strive for except that Diggle and Felicity have already compromised themselves so many times that Oliver  has no right to be player brothers keeper. I am not saying either character is too far gone as they still understand when they are making dangerous decisions, but they are at least in the darker shades of grey at this point.

The same idea goes for the Russia flashbacks, which there were surprisingly very few up. I am really loving the idea of Talia training Oliver and witnessing Oliver’s first nights as the Arrow. Its like archeology and we get to see all the rough edges our trained killer had when he was first becoming a vigilante. Lexa Doig is still doing a nice job of mentoring Oliver and making him into her own personal weapon, but I just am having trouble seeing where this arc is supposed to end. I understand she is important to Oliver’s backstory, but I need to know how she is involved with Prometheus. I can’t imagine this doesn’t all tie back into our big bad this year for some reason, and I am even more worried that she may be the final boss Oliver has to do battle with. It feels as if we are getting to the point in the flash back where everything falls apart and that is never a good sign.

Overall it was a really solid episode, it was just missing some of those sticking points.

Final Grade B

+Rene and Lance subplot

+Oliver going Bratva and trying to collect money

+Fun flashbacks

-Oliver trying to “save” Diggle and Felicity

-Where the hell is Thea

-Ragman getting nerfed

Extra Thoughts

-Thea just go to hang out with Roy or do something better?

-Speaking of the flashbacks where is Kovar?

-Of the new members of team Arrow two have three have flunked out of active street duty. How much longer for Rene?

-Seriously what is Prometheus doing?

About the author

Scott Swartz