Having disbanded the Team Arrow and given up his cowl and bow in the wake of a week's torture, Oliver turns to his old allies in The Bratva to deal with Prometheus once and for all. This greatly concerns John Diggle, who confronts Oliver on his decision to turn to gangsters over his friends to deal with the current crisis.
The Green Arrow comics of Judd Winick.
Given that Oliver knows that Prometheus knows about his past in Russia, why does he think turning to The Bratva is something Prometheus wouldn't have planned for? You'd think Ollie would at least consider how bad it would be if word got out that The Mayor was in collusion with Russian gangsters or that said gangsters might double-cross him as he double-crossed them.
While not really a goof, how many times is Oliver going to have to learn that his friends are his strength and that he cannot stand alone against his enemies? (At least one more, obviously...)
Granting that the SCPD are corrupt and incompetent in equal measure, how do they not stop the one car speeding away from the remote safe-house that they are speeding toward to catch a now-wanted super-villain?!
Stephen Amell plays a totally different Oliver Queen here - subdued and beaten. It's frightening how different Oliver seems since last week's ordeal.
David Ramsey is the show's most solid performer, making the most of what little material is is given generally. Give him some great material - as occurs here - and he dazzles. Ramsey's performance as John Diggle here is one of his most powerful ever. Possibly his best turn yet as the character in five years.
Again, David Nykl does a fantastic job playing both versions of Anatoly. The final two scenes showing how far he has fallen, in a mirror of Oliver's own arc, are astonishing.
The script for this episode is a solid one, which does a great job balancing the flashback sequences and applying them to the modern action. Of particular note is the disparity between the Oliver and the Anatoly of five years earlier. Five years ago, Anatoly was a kind man who visited sick children in a hospital to offer them words of comfort and arranged heists to get the drugs needed to save lives. Now he is robbing medical companies in order to create designer drugs to make a profit. There's also a nice shift between the two different heists in the fifth segments.
It's worth noting that this episode is unusually realistic in depicting how hackers actually operate. While most of what Helix does is still Hollywood Hacking at it's finest, the methods used by Curtis - looking at an unattended computer and stealing hardware - are more commonly used by real world hackers than actively breaking into a network.
Rather than the usual theme song, a more somber, sad tune plays underneath the Arrow logo when it appears.
Kord Industries is mentioned once again, identified as the manufacturers of Prometheus' optic-scrambling technology. In the original comics, Kord Industries was the technologies company run by Ted Kord a.k.a. The Blue Beetle. The DCTVU version of Kord Industries was identified as Palmer Technologies' main competitor back in Season Three.
Prometheus uses some form of optic-scrambling technology that prevents a camera from capturing his image when he is in his costume but not wearing his mask.
Felicity determines that the pixilation pattern of the images scrambled by Prometheus' tech is consistent with that of a Kord Industries' Optic Scrambler that will be hitting the market within the next six months. It works by interfering with the camera's digital conversion circuit. This means they can use an algorithm to remove the distortion. Unfortunately, that requires them to have physical access to the hardware.
It is revealed that all the gun-wielding members of Team Arrow have been using tranquilizer rounds rather than standard bullets.
The drug Anatoly and his men are stealing is Oplimid. Wild Dog notes that this is a medication for treating diabetes.
The chemicals in the two drugs Anatoly and his men plan to steal - Revlextra and Oplimid - can be combined to form an opioid more addictive than heroin.
Curtis is able to use his T-Sphere to pickpocket Adrian Chase's optic scrambler.
Curtis uses Ray Palmer's tracking nanites - last seen in 510 - to find Felicity and Helix.
Felicity says that the encryption on the pixilation algorithm on the Kord optic scrambler will take her 13 months to break. The apparent number of possible codes is (3.1610 18) (E 6) (75 teraflops)
Rene uses one of Curtis' T-spheres as a flash-bang grenade.
Curtis is able to use his T-sphere as a "bloodhound" to sniff out precisely where the original prototype of the optic scrambler is in the Kord Industries' lab he and Felicity break into.
(Chase is alone with Oliver in his office at City Hall.)
Oliver: What are you doing here? You won. It's over.
Chase: What did I ever say that gave you that impression?
(Chase reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a throwing knife, which he puts on Oliver's desk.)
Oliver: What are you doing?
Chase: Proving a point, so to speak.
Oliver: You think I'm going to stab the District Attorney in the middle of City Hall?
Chase: You're an animal who enjoys murder. There's no telling what you'll do. And it's not like your alter ego can kill me. Not since the SCPD put me in protective custody since The Green Arrow slaughtered my wife. So you kill me in broad daylight. Or you let me live knowing there is nothing you can do.
(Oliver says nothing. Nor does he move toward the knife. He just holds Chase's gaze until he has to look away.)
Chase: Disappointing. (turning to move toward the door) You can keep that knife.
Oliver: Listen, Susan. I know that... we never got a chance to resolve things. (pauses) I can't be with you. My apologies if that's presumptuous.
Oliver: This is not how.... this is not how I wanted my life to... to touch yours. (pauses) I should have known better. And for that, I really, truly am sorry.
(Oliver is standing in The Bunker. We do not see who else is with him.)
Oliver: Thank you for coming on such short notice. I understand that after last time... I have run out of favors. But this is an impossible situation. And you are my only option.
(The camera shifts and we see a stone-faced Anatoly regarding Oliver.)
Anatoly: Obviously. Last time you made very clear you did not want Bratva in city.
Oliver: Circumstances have changed. I need you to kill Adrian Chase.
Anatoly: Interesting. I never thought you would give up the hood.
Oliver: Well, you were the one who told me it was silly to think that a... piece of cloth could contain the monster inside of me forever. You were right.
Anatoly: (sighs) Such a burden. Always being right.
(Team Arrow moves in on the gangsters robbing the medical supply company.)
John: Hands up! Hands up! Hands up! Hands up! Hands up!
Dinah: (dryly) He doesn't like repeating himself.
(One of the gangsters says something to his associates, laughing.)
Curtis: Sounds like Russian.
(Curtis begins to try speaking to them in Russian. Anatoly emerges from the loading dock.)
Anatoly: Look. This one's accent has not improved. Still sounds horrible.
Anatoly: John Diggle! My favorite American!
Rene: We know this guy?
John: What the hell are you doing in Star City?
Anatoly: Isn't it obvious?
(Anatoly says something to his men, who move to continue loading the drugs onto their truck.)
John: Anatoly, I can't let you steal these drugs.
Anatoly: It is not a matter of "let". I have invitation to be here.
John: Invitation from who?
(Anatoly raises an eyebrow as if to say, "Really? Who do you think?")
John: (speaking slowly, as if to a child) Oliver... We don't hire criminals and pay them in diabetes drugs!
John: Prometheus tried to convince you that you were responsible for everything bad that happens to people? Oliver, I swear, that's a bunch of crap.
Oliver: (speaking slowly and deliberately) Tell that to Laurel. Tell that to Tommy. Tell that to my mother. Tell that to Billy Malone. Maybe tell it to Thea - she's so damaged that she had to leave town. This isn't post-traumatic stress, John. This is a truth that I was keeping myself from seeing and I am no longer doing that. Anatoly and his men will kill Adrian Chase. That is the solution. The team is done. So I'm telling you - I'm not asking you - I am telling you. For the last time. Stand down.
Oliver: I'm not going to keep having this same conversation.
John: That's too bad. Because I dedicated five years of my life to your crusade. So I'm the one who gets to say if I need protecting. Not you.
Oliver: I'm not going to have your death on my conscience.
John: Oliver, don't talk to me about your conscience! Not when you get back in bed with The Bratva! (sighs) This isn't you, man. The Oliver I know would never let a group of dangerous criminals crawl into his city! Let them steal medicine!
Oliver: You don't know what kind of man I am.
(Oliver turns around and starts to walk away.)
John: What?! What the hell did Chase do to you, Oliver?! Whatever it was, he - he messed with your head in a way I didn't think was possible! Look at me, man! I can help you! I'm your brother!
Oliver: You don't want me as a brother.
John: What does that mean?
Oliver: Chase showed me the truth about myself. You signed on for a crusade that turned out to be an outlet. It was an excuse for me to murder people.
John: (exasperated) Oliver, please-
Oliver: I put on a hood, and I created a persona. Because John - somewhere, along the way, something in me broke. Something is sick inside of me. The crusade? All of this? The foundation of it... is a lie. So I disbanded the team because I won't sit by and watch all of you participate in my murder spree. I am beyond redemption. You and the team will be fine... if you stay away from me. You stay away from this. You stay away from Chase. And you allow the Bratva to do their job. Let my crusade die.
(Anatoly leaves the bedside of a sick child. He whispers to Oliver as they are out of earshot.)
Anatoly: That kid won't last a month.
Oliver: They have tuberculosis?
Anatoly: Mmm-hmm. The disease comes from prison. Super resistant strain.
Oliver: Well... I, I mean, is it in any way treatable?
Anatoly: Mmm - yeah. With right medicine, yes. But even Bratva cannot buy for them. Not in quantities needed. All we can do is pay for funerals.
Oliver: Antaoly, is this how we're planning on spending my last two days in Russia?
Anatoly: (smiling) I thought, what better way to cap off your time here than with good old-fashioned heist?
Curtis: If Diggle is the new Oliver and I'm obviously the new Felicity - don't hate - which one of you guys is the new Diggle?
Dinah & Rene: (in unison) I am!
Rene: Seriously? You've been here like, what, ten minutes? You don't even have a code name!
Dinah: Fine. You're the new Digg.
Curtis: The fact that she was not petty and... I mean, that's extremely Digg-like. You-you, see what I-
Rene: (curtly) Yeah. Okay. You're the new Digg.
(Dinah beams in triumph and winks at Curtis.)
John: We're not done, Oliver. You and me? We're never going to be done! Do you understand that? Listen man, you can tell me you're a serial killer. That you're crazy. Or you're whatever Chase has shoved into your head! But I'm not believing any of that, even if you do. And that's because I know the kind of man you are, Oliver. The good, the bad and the ugly! I know! And you don't need to punish yourself. Or isolate yourself. But what you need to do is stop pushing me away! Because I'm not going anywhere, Oliver! Do you get that?!
Oliver: What do you want me to do, John? I told you what I am. Who I am. And even if you don't believe it, I do. (softer) I do. So I don't know where that leaves us.
(There is a long pause as Oliver walks past John deeper into his apartment. John strokes his chin as if thinking before speaking.)
John: It leaves us right back in Langham, Oliver. Do you remember that? I killed my brother, Oliver. And I was going to let myself rot in prison for what I did. But you told me to atone for what I did as Spartan. And if that's true for me, it is one-hundred times truer for The Green Arrow. You don't just get to walk away from this, man. The hood is who you are. You don't think you deserve it? Fine. Work to become the man who does.
Oliver: I don't know how.
John: You just ask for help. You don't have to do this alone, Oliver.
(Anatoly holds up a cel-phone. It shows video of several people being held at gunpoint by his men.)
Anatoly: You have chosen where you stand with Bratva. Now you must make one more choice - save pills or save hostages.
(Anatoly and Oliver both have guns drawn on each other.)
Anatoly: Go ahead, Oliver. You want to kill old life? (he lowers his gun) Start by killing me.
(Oliver shoots a control panel behind Anatoly. An alarm begins to ring.)
Anatoly: Very stupid! Now you have to run!
Oliver: So do you.
(Anatoly holds back a curse and runs for the exit. Oliver runs to a different exit.)
(Curtis and Felicity show the rest of the team the decrypted picture of Adrian Chase as Prometheus.)
Oliver: That is what we needed! Something that he couldn't plan for.
(Oliver looks to Felicity.)
Dinah: Please let me be the one to walk this into SCPD.
Curtis: Knock yourself out.
Felicity: Yeah.. Then I'm going to throw it up on YouTube. There won't be anywhere that son of a bitch can run.
Curtis: Does this mean that we're official back in business?
(Oliver walks past everyone, moving to a light switch in the middle of the bunker.)
Oliver: Aside from a few minor changes... yeah.
(Oliver flips the switch and the lights come on along the wall where the display cases for the team's costumes were set-up. There are extra mannequins now, with all of their costumes lined up... except for one empty one in the middle.)
Rene: The line-up could use a little more green, hoss.
Oliver: I'm not quite there, yet. I'm thinking that with this team behind me, it will be sooner rather than later.
(Anatoly walks among the smiling families in the children's hospital before returning to Oliver, who watches from the hallway.)
Oliver: How's it feel to be Robin Hood?
Anatoly: You tell me. You're the one with bow and arrow. (sighs) I know I said Russia's not good for you, Oliver -
Oliver: But you thought that this heist and helping these people would convince me to change my mind about leaving?
Anatoly: Da. Like I said, I need your help.
Oliver: Russia is your home, Anatoly. Let me go save mine. You can do this without me.
Anatoly: (suddenly serious) I am not worried about what Bratva will become without you. I worry about what I become. (smiling again) But more important question - how drunk can we get you before dropping you off on Lian Yu?
(Anatoly has just told Oliver that he is going back to Russia but he's leaving his men behind in Star City and that they are anxious to get revenge on the city's vigilantes.)
Oliver: This is between you and me! No one else!
Anatoly: "No one else?!" You betrayed every man in Bratva! You betrayed Russian community! You even worked against old team! When I see this, I think "I still trust him anyway." What a fool I was!
Oliver: No. I'm the fool. Because I thought that our friendship - everything that we have been through together - actually meant something to you. The person that I knew would never betray a friend. -would never threaten innocent people and over what? A payday. When I left Russia, I was convinced that you could lead The Bratva. That you could set them on a better path. And now look at you. You're no better than Gregor.
Anatoly: (sadly but firmly) I told you I was worried about what I would become without your help. I did what I had to do to keep Bratva together and to stay alive. I became what I had to become. You asked why I changed? That is it.
Felicity offers up her apartment as a new secret lair for Team Arrow after Oliver locks up The Bunker.
Lyla loans the team gear from ARGUS.
Quentin tells the City Council that Oliver was away for a week on a spiritual retreat. It turns out Counilwoman Pollars is a big fan of that kind of thing.
Oliver breaks things off with Susan Williams.
Anatoly was last seen in the modern day in 512.
Oliver refers to his conversation with Anatoly in the flashbacks of 517 and how Anatoly told him trying to shift his rage into his Hood persona would not work forever.
Rene notes that the medical company Anatoly and his men robbed was barely hanging on and that the jobs of the hundreds of people working there were already endangered. This was covered at a briefing which Oliver also attended.
Rene was suspended from work, by Quentin, until Chase is dealt with due to Rene having threatened to "pop a cap in the DA's ass."
Anatoly's reason for stealing the drugs is to fashion a street drug more addictive than heroin. Things have gotten bad for The Bratva and he needs a new revenue stream to secure his position.
Diggle refers to the events of 504 and Oliver telling him that he could atone for murdering his own brother as Spartan rather than rotting in a cell for a crime he didn't commit.
Curtis uses Ray Palmer's tracking nanites - last seen in 510 - to find Felicity and Helix.
Helix knows that Felicity is Overwatch and Curtis is Mr. Terrific. It took them 8 minutes and 3 minutes respectively to figure that out.
Anatoly returns to Russia, telling Oliver that Oliver Queen is now considered an enemy of the Bratva. For the sake of their former friendship, Anatoly tells Oliver that his men will be staying in Star City after their bail is paid and that they are anxious to get revenge on the vigilantes that bested them.
Adrian Chase is publicly revealed to be Prometheus.
The episode ends with Adrian Chase fleeing the federal agent's safe-house in a stolen car.
Five years ago, Oliver made plans to return to Lian Yu to create a cover story for where he had been for the last five years. At the same time, Anatoly plans to take the Bratva back to its roots as an organization that protect the common people. To that end, he plots a heist to steal the drugs needed to treat an entire hospital full of children who are dying of tuberculosis. He later admits that he hoped to use this "feel-good' situation to persuade Oliver to stay, in part because he feared trying to take over The Bratva alone. Oliver convinced Anatoly that he was capable of saving his own home and that Oliver should leave to save his.
The Winick Factor
Granting that Oliver has done a lot of stupid and short-sighted things in the comics, hiring Russian mobsters to kill an enemy and allowing them to steal vitally-needed medical supplies in exchange for their help is somewhere on the Top Ten list. In fact, I'd place it just under Oliver engaging in insider-trading to profit off of a weapons manufacturer's stock price soaring, arranging a hostile takeover and then closing all their factories to finance his run for mayor. At least this episode - unlike the Judd Winick storyline from the comics that I just described - acknowledges that Oliver's actions have endangered the jobs of innocent people and that he is being stupid/selfish.
The Bottom Line
A solid episode ignoring the repetitiveness of stories where Oliver needs to learn to trust other people and the fact that Oliver is acting stupid and short-sighted even by the standards of this show. The ensemble's performances (particularly those of Amell, Ramsey and Nykl) and a strongly balanced script help sell some of the contrivances.