Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 12 - Bartva

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here


When the corrupt general who tried to frame John Diggle for treason escapes custody with his men and the trigger to a nuclear bomb, Team Arrow isn't going to sit idly by. The trail leads to Russia where Oliver's old friend and Bratva brother Anatoly isn't quite ready to roll out the red carpet.

Thankfully, Quentin Lance is fresh out of rehab and ready to take over as acting mayor of Star City whole Oliver is away. Yet when he falters at the prospect of an interview with the aggressive Susan Williams, it may be Rene "Wild Dog" Ramirez who may save the day...

Five years earlier, Oliver begins his training with Talia Al Ghul.


The Green Arrow comics of Mike Grell.


Dinah claims not to have much control of her sonic scream "beyond on and off", yet last week it was stated that her control and focus were far greater than Black Siren or Laurel. (Dinah is her own worst critic.)


You never realize how much you miss Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance on this show until he returns after having been gone for a few episodes. His interplay with Rick Gonzalez as Rene tries to help Quentin get ready for his interview works surprisingly well. The surprise has nothing to do with the acting itself (both actors are great) but more in how unexpected it is that these two characters would be interacting in the first place, much less bonding as they do.

Joe Dinicol hasn't always been given a lot to do as Rory Regan. This episode just about makes up for it, though, with Dinicol showing a determination not seen in Rory since his first appearance as he calls Felicity on her grey-hat hacking and his stopping Felicity from giving in to her guilt complex and trying to disarm a nuclear bomb on her own.


The gunfight in the second segment of the episode is well shot and directed.

As far as exploding, flipping vehicle stunts go, the one involving the van Dinah hit's with her sonic scream is a great one.

The script for this episode is a solid one, with good parallels between the flashback story and the tale told in the present. The reoccurring themes of sacrifice and knowing when to cross a moral line to honor a greater good come up in all of the various subplots - nearly all of which are advanced a little bit in this episode.


General Walker is said to have made contact with a group of Markovian seperatists. Markovia, in the DC Universe, is a fictional country located in Western Europe between France, Belgium and Luxembourg. It is home to the hero Geo-Force.

Curtis is revealed to have been studying the Russian language on the flight and picked up enough to know the Russian word for creepy off the top of his head. In the original comics, Mister Terrific was also a polyglot who knew several languages besides English fluently.


Curtis says that polyphonics doesn't begin to explain the physics of Dinah's sonic scream and how it works.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Oliver finishes fighting a group of drug dealers. As he walks away from the last one, Talia jumps off the roof and shoots an arrow at Oliver. He spins and grabs it just inches away from his face.)
Talia: (smiling with approval)
You're beginning to understand now.
Oliver: Understand what?
Talia: That the man who embraces the dark is never without sight.

Diggle: Are you ready for this?
Dinah: When I signed on, I didn't think I'd be stopping a nuclear arms deal in a foreign country.
Diggle: (scoffs) Yeah. When I signed on, I didn't think I'd be dealing with aliens.
Dinah: Aliens?
Diggle: Yeah.

Anatoly: (holding his arms open) Oliver Queen!
Oliver: (holding his arms open) Anatoly!
(Anatoly suddenly reaches back and decks Oliver. Oliver looks up, stunned.)
Anatoly: (suddenly stern) You never should have come back to Russia.

Rory: What's the Russian word for creepy?
Curtis: Zhutko.
(Rory levels his gaze at Curtis.)
Curtis: (shrugs) I was studying on the plane.

(Oliver has a soldier chained up and blindfolded. He is holding two jumper-cables, hooked up to a car battery.)
Oliver: There are thousands - maybe millions of lives at stake. You don't want those deaths on your conscience.
Soldier: (laughing) My conscience? You've got to be kidding-
(Oliver sparks the jumper cables in front of the soldier's face. He feels the current and screams.)
Soldier: What's that?!
Oliver: This is your conscience!

Hideo Yamane: What do you want? Money? Drugs? I'll give you anything!
The Hood: There's nothing you have that I want.
Hideo Yamane: Why? Why are you doing this?
The Hood: Because you have failed Starling City.
(The Hood puts three arrows into the drug kingpin's chest.)

Dinah: This isn't the first time you've done something like this. Is it? I don't mean as The Green Arrow...
Oliver: You mean as a thug, right?
(Dinah nods.)
No. It was... a part of my life that I thought I had moved past but... here we are.
Dinah: Right. (pauses) You know, the other guys said that when you get in one of your moods I should just let you be. But um, to be honest - brooding? Really gets on my nerves.
Oliver: They told you about me. Did they tell you about Prometheus?
Dinah: Yeah. They did. Why? Is this mood because you got pulled back into some Bratva drama?
Oliver: No, it... Dinah, I'm trying to move forward. But I'm back here. I'm in Russia. In the Bratva. And it just proves to me I can't seem to do that. 
(There is another long silence between them.)
Dinah: Prometheus got in your head. What was it? Some crap about infecting the people closest to you?
Oliver: Yeah! And tonight I watched John torture a man! And there's -something- going on with Felicity. There's...
Dinah: You affect the people in your life, Oliver. That's hardly a revelatory observation. Yeah, in fact, I think it's called living.
(Oliver snorts at that.)
Dinah: Prometheus has you so fixated on what's wrong with you that you've completely stopped seeing what's right.  You know  John and Felicity? They'll listen to you. Because you have more to offer (she takes his fist and raises it up) then just this.  Your past is a part of you. There's nothing you can do about that. You can't change it. It doesn't mean it has to be your anchor.

Rene: Look, I just came in here to tell you that Susan Williams' producer called to confirm that 10 A.M. tomorrow still works for the interview.
Quentin: When did you become my assistant?
Rene: When I answered the phone, I guess.

Quentin: My daughter, Laurel, is gone. And I've gotta figure out a way to live with that which doesn't involve booze. Or snapping at guys that are just trying to help. 

Diggle: Oliver, I still think it's a mistake not pushing this scumbag for the location of the sale.
Oliver: We don't have to. We're going to have it within the hour.
Felicity: What? How?
Oliver: Bratva.
Diggle: I thought Anatoly wasn't playing ball unless you did The Bratva's dirty work?
(Oliver just looks at Diggle.)
Diggle: ... which is where you took Dinah. Oliver, I thought you didn't want anything to do with The Bratva.
Oliver: I don't. But if it's a choice between me crossing the line or the two of you crossing one, that's a very easy choice.
Diggle: What did you do?
Oliver: It doesn't matter. Here's what does - I am who I am. Now, I'm trying to work past that. Maybe I do. Maybe I don't. But I cannot - I will not - have the two of you make the same mistakes.
Felicity: Oliver, you're the one who showed us that sometimes you have to get in the muck to make things right.
Oliver: Well, then Prometheus wins. Because he'll be right. I need the two of you to prove to him - and quite frankly, to prove to me - that he's not. I need the two of you to be better than me. Because you are.

(Oliver and Felicity run into the hangar where Ragman tried to contain the nuclear bomb blast. They see a pile of rags in the middle of the hangar.)
Oliver: Rory!
Felicity: Oh my God!
(The pile of rags moves. Rory looks up, dirty but otherwise fine.)
Rory: He always gets the credit.
Oliver: (astonished) Are you okay?
Rory: This means I get a promotion, right?


Five years earlier, Oliver was capable of catching an arrow one-handed.

Star City's sister city is in Russia - as of 12 hours before Oliver had to fly to Russia.

While frequently seen in the flashbacks of Season Two and Season Five and referred to more than once in Season One, this episode marks Anatoly Knyazev's first apperance in the modern day since 206, when Oliver sought his help in rescuing Lyla Michaels from a Russian gulag.

Anatoly refers to the events of 216 and how Oliver's actions there destroyed any claim of Bratva membership he had. (Oliver refused to give a favor in exchange for a favor and Slade Wilson killed his Bratva contact in Starling City as a result of Oliver's request for help.)

Oliver says Anatoly still owes him for what happened with Gregor - the corrupt Bratva boss who tortured Oliver in the flashbacks of 510. Anatoly agrees to sit and meet with Oliver to discuss what he wants but refuses to help him without a favor in exchange.

Anatoly says that agreeing to sit with Oliver after what he did Alexi Leonov (the Bratva agent in Starling City that Oliver double-crossed) squares them.

Anatoly says that John Diggle is now his favorite American. Later, he changes his mind when he meets Dinah and discovers that she likes vodka and can hold it better than most men.

Hideo Yamane is one of the names on The List. He's a drug kingpin responsible for most of the designer drug trade in Starling City. Oliver says that he has failed Starling City before killing him - the first time Oliver has said some variant of "You have failed this city."

Oliver flashes back to the events of the flashbacks in 314 and how he killed Thea's drug dealer.

The Pandora Data Cache from 511 gives Felicity blackmail information on a Russian telecom network executive. She uses this to gain access to General Walker's phone network.

Dinah's codename on the Team Arrow coms is Backstop.

Oliver finally agrees to do some thug work for Anatoly in exchange for his learning the location of Gen. Walker's arms deal.

The Ragman suit is capable of containing the force of a nuclear bomb.

In the flashback, Oliver finds out that Anatoly was beaten to near death by Gregor's men. He tells Anatoly that they can kill him.

Oliver and Susan Williams have sex upon Oliver's return to Star City.

Susan grills Oliver for details on his tattoos but he says he's not ready to talk about it. There is some subtle implication that she already knows that are Bratva tattoos but was hoping to get a direct quote from Oliver about his past in Russia, which we know she already knows about from 505.

Rene reveals that Quentin changed his life when he was a kid. While working as a beat cop, Quentin caught a young Rene spraying gang tags on a building. Instead of hauling him in, Quentin told Rene that he could be something better than a petty thug. That talk apparently kept Rene out of the gangs and made him enlist. (It's possible, however, that Rene was making this story up to make Susan Williams go easy on Quentin.)

Rory leaves Star City, saying that the Ragman costume isn't working anymore since the bomb blast. He doesn't tell Felicity where he is going - only that he will return.

Felicity is contacted by Helix and told not to stop using Pandora as General Walker was just the beginning. Felicity says she doesn't plan to.

The episode ends with Susan Williams meeting with her contact, who confirms that all the people in the photo of Oliver from five years ago are part of The Bratva. He also shows her a photo of a figure the Russians called Luchnik - The Archer. The figure resembles The Hood a.k.a. Oliver Queen's vigilante identity in Season One. They both agree the odds of Green Arrow and Oliver Queen being in Russia at the same time are good... if they are the same man.



The Bottom Line

A solid episode that ironically moves all the subplots forward while looking back to the show's past and exploring the fallout of a questionable choice Oliver made back in Season 2 without suffering any apparent negative consequences. The ensemble performances are all solid and everything looks fantastic from a technical standpoint. The mid-season slump that usually effects most of the DC on CW shows seems to be skipping Arrow this year.

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