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‘Arrow’ Review: “Bratva”

Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Executive Stage Editor

Arrow season five has been all over the place in terms of quality episodes. Some episodes have soared, while others fell flat. The second half of season five has already been light years ahead of the first half. We’re excited to see the show we love once again. Arrow’s latest episode entitled “Bratva” brings back Original Team Arrow, hints at Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) darker storyline and we even lose a member of Team Arrow.

Two things Arrow lost in the first half of season five? It’s heart and its characters. A show that thrived on showing both the good and bad sides of characters seemingly became obsessed with keeping up with other superhero shows. Ever since the critical success of The Flash, Arrow has lost sight of why fans have stuck with it for five seasons. The introduction of metahumans and an ever expanding superhero world has caused this show to lose sight of itself.

In order to compete, flashier storylines have become more important than character growth. Fans love the show for Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) development from a lone vigilante to a team leader. With this episode, Arrow has started to return to the character driven show we love. In the end, you can give us all the explosion and stunts you want, but we love these stories for the characters.

Team Arrow takes a little road trip to Russia this week and it’s honestly the best thing. Our favorite part of this episode has to be Oliver, Felicity and Diggle (David Ramsey) back together. While Diggle’s prison storyline felt a little rushed, we’re happy to see him on the outside with Team Arrow. While the new members have begun to blend in nicely, we still long for the season one days where Oliver, Diggle and Felicity saved the day. Amell, Ramsey and Rickards continue to work beautifully together and this week’s episode is a happy reunion for them.

One of the best moments for them comes towards the end of the episode. After Felicity and Diggle both do questionable things to gain information, Oliver tells them they need to stop. He gives a speech about how he does bad things so they can remain good. A heartbreaking moment for the three of them, Amell gives it his all. Ramsey and Rickards remain formidable acting partners for Amell and this week reminded us why we missed them all together.

Emily Bett Rickards in the Arrow episode "Bratva." Photo Credit: The CW
Emily Bett Rickards in the Arrow episode “Bratva.” Photo Credit: The CW

Looking specifically at smaller storylines in Arrow this week, both Ramsey and Rickards brought their A-game in more ways than one. Starting with Ramsey, Diggle has unbelievable moments in Arrow’s latest episode. Team Arrow travels to Russia to stop General Walker (Garry Chalk) from selling a nuclear weapon. This gives Diggle a chance to come face to face with the man who put him in prison. Ramsey gives it his all as Diggle must deal with his anger. In a role reversal of sorts, Diggle loses it and beats up Walker for information while Oliver must calm him down. Ramsey has been a bright spot in season five and continues to pave the way for better storylines. He’s really stepped up and become a leader in this cast and we hope this continues.

We were promised a darker storyline for Felicity Smoak and while this storyline isn’t shaping up to be that dark, we are enjoying it immensely. Last week, Felicity was handed enough evidence to take down several corrupt people in Star City using her killer hacking abilities. She even takes this information to Russia where she becomes a total badass. Needless to say, we are digging Felicity’s new storyline. While it doesn’t make up for the fact she was all but absent from the action in the first half, we’re glad to see her being more than just a pretty face behind a computer.

Rickards has already begun to show a different side to Felicity in just these last two episodes. She’s a powerhouse that has driven Arrow to new heights and it’s a sigh of relief for her to finally have her own storyline. For once, Felicity’s not only around to serve Oliver’s storyline. She’s running her own path and we are so happy Arrow is giving it to us. 

In general, DCTV has a female character problem. Female characters aren’t given their own storylines and simply serve the main male characters. With Felicity gaining a darker, serious storyline, she moves away from simply being Oliver’s girlfriend or sidekick. Rickards has built this character from the ground up and deserves to pave her own path. We will be following right behind her as this storyline continues to take shape.

Juliana Harkavy and Stephen Amell in the Arrow episode "Bratva." Photo Credit: The CW
Juliana Harkavy and Stephen Amell in the Arrow episode “Bratva.” Photo Credit: The CW

After finally seeing a Team Arrow we can get behind, Arrow rips away one of our favorite members. When Walker and his crew rig a bomb to go off, Felicity and Rory (Joe Dinicol) race to stop it from destroying everything around them. With memories of Havenrock flooding back for both of them, Rory makes the ultimate hero decision to use the rags to stop the explosion. Of course, he stops the explosion but in doing so destroys the mystical rags that make him Ragman.

In a heartbreaking decision, Rory decides to leave Team Arrow because he’s now a liability. We are heartbroken by Rory’s decision. Dinicol is one of our favorite new additions to Arrow this season and seeing him go is very upsetting. From the moment he stepped on screen, Dinicol clicked with the entire cast, especially with Rickards. Even this week, Rory and Felicity have a great moment where Rory tells Felicity to be careful when hacking.

It’s almost confusing as to why Arrow brought all of these characters together in the beginning of season five, only to rip them away. With several episodes exploring these characters, having them leave unexpectedly just makes us wonder if we should even get attached to new characters at all. The positive is Rory isn’t dead and can totally show back up in the future. We hope it’s soon rather than later.

Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) makes his beloved return to Arrow this week, although it doesn’t leave much of an impression. After going to rehab before the mid-season finale, Quentin returns and is ready to get back to work. While Team Arrow heads to Russia, Quentin and Rene (Rick Gonzalez) stay behind in Star City so Quentin can prepare for an interview with Susan Williams (Carly Pope). It’s a very odd pairing and the only reason we can think of this storyline is because a Rene centric episode is coming next week.

Paul Blackthorne has been underutilized tremendously in season five. While we realize Quentin is still dealing with Laurel’s death, the storyline is very bland and feels like Arrow couldn’t figure out where to put Quentin so they came up with this storyline. We miss Quentin and Donna’s (Charlotte Ross) romance from last season so much, it’s hard to enjoy where Quentin’s character is going in season five. We feel like we’re backtracking significantly on Quentin’s character development. Blackthorne deserves to have so much more on Arrow and we hope he eventually gets a storyline worthy of his talents. Also, where the heck is Thea Queen (Willa Holland)?

Overall, Arrow is starting to feel like the show we fell in love with five seasons ago. By focusing on characters and their relationships to each other, the show is able to thrive once again. This episode put great emphasis on Original Team Arrow and the lengths they will go to in order to save each other. As we continue to approach the season five finale, we hope to get more info on Prometheus as we unmask this season’s villain.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW

Overall Grade: B+

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One Comment

  1. Despite Ragman and Black Canary leveling the field, there was definitely a very old-school quality to the action scenes this week. We saw more of Ollie and Talia laying waste to Russian goons in the past, while in the present arrows and costumes were downplayed in favor of stealthy suits and shoot-outs.

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