Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Executive Stage Editor
After five years of explosions and harrowing stunts, Arrow delivers a character driven episode that maybe one of the series best hours. After going head to head with Adrian/Prometheus (Josh Segarra), Oliver (Stephen Amell) finds himself in possibly one of the most harrowing situations he’s been in. Being psychologically tortured by Adrian, Oliver comes to terms with the man he’s become. The latest episode of Arrow entitled “Kapiushon” has some weakness, but overall gives us a gritty, harrowing episode fans won’t soon forget.
Arrow’s fifth season has had its ups and downs. By bombarding fans with new characters in 5A, our favorite character got lost in the background. Character development seemingly didn’t mattered. It appeared to be a season about one upping the other DCTV shows. Flashy stunts were more important than learning more about characters. Oliver became the shell of the character we loved, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) was pushed to the background and Diggle’s (David Ramsey) army storyline held promise, but fell flat. All of these small elements have combined for one of Arrow’s most disappointing seasons.
We’ve said it before, but without strong characters, there’s no reason for fans to tune in week after week. Yes, explosions and stunts are amazing, but audiences want characters they can relate to. They want to see their favorite characters adapt and grow. Arrow lost its way in terms of characters, but with this latest episode, it manages to find its way back to the show we love. With one episode, Arrow takes some of its biggest risks, creatively. There’s some brutal stuff, but there aren’t many action scenes. A rarity with a show that thrives off action sequences. The episode also mostly feature two characters. That’s it. After a season of pushing character after character on us, this episode thrives because there are few characters. In an unconventional episode, Arrow manages to find its footing and deliver one of its best hours.
While Arrow’s storytelling and structure in “Kapiushon” is better than recent episodes, it’s Stephen Amell and Josh Segarra’s individual and collective performances that have us in awe. Let’s begin with our leading man. Amell has delivered some amazing performances in the past, but this is a whole new level. Talk about commitment by an actor, Amell gives an emotionally raw performance. He’s always thrived in the action heavy sequences, but this week Amell proves that he can conquer the emotional one’s too.
Throughout the episode, Adrian is psychologically torturing Oliver. Between seemingly killing Evelyn (Madison McLaughlin), who gives a brief but remarkable and powerful performance, and bringing up his past sins, Adrian has Oliver right where he wants him. While the entire episode is a career-defining moment for Amell, there are two specific moments that have us still in awe. One comes opposite McLaughlin. Briefly reappearing as a pawn in Adrian’s game, Oliver and Evelyn are thrown in a cell together. Adrian gives Oliver two options: kill Evelyn or he’ll kill her. We’ve never truly seen Oliver terrified, but that all changes in this moment. He’s a broken man and Amell plays it flawlessly.
Finally, Adrian seemingly snaps Evelyn’s neck, killing her. Oliver drops to his knees, completely heartbroken that he caused this. Amell triumphs in a simple scene that packs one of the greatest punches. He’s an actor that has gotten better with every season of Arrow and this episode is his biggest triumph. We haven’t been given this raw of a performance from Amell since Moira was killed in season two. Both moments will surely be the hallmark moments of Amell’s time on Arrow. Both simply stunning and emotional.
The next moment exceptional moment for Amell is a moment featuring a nod to Oliver’s relationship with Felicity. The entire season, Arrow has been avoiding talking about Olicity. For a relationship that has become intricate to the show, it’s been non existent, even in the form of a friendship. This week, Adrian knows one way to break Oliver is to bring up Felicity and Diggle. In a gut wrenching moment, Adrian reveals he has a pair of Felicity’s glasses. He’s been to her apartment and knows how to get to her. Oliver tenses, vowing he’ll hurt Adrian if he even looks in Felicity’s direction.
Another small moment in the grand scheme of the episode, Amell gives us a breathtaking and raw moment. We can try to hid Olicity under mountains of other storylines and relationships, but deep down Oliver will still take an arrow for the woman he loves. This episode further proves that Arrow can try to bombard us with stuns, but deep down characters drive this show.
The flip side the amazing Arrow episode is Josh Segarra. In just two episodes, Segarra has become possibly the best villain this show has ever seen. Segarra’s ability to be not only psychologically intimidating, but also physically intimidating is impressive to say the least. He’s charming, yet ruthless all at the same time. Prometheus is a villain that knows Oliver better than he knows himself. The psychological torment that Adrian puts Oliver through makes him the most terrifying. He can bring Oliver down by hitting on the perfect memory. Segarra astonishes and he cements himself amongst the great villains in DCTV history. His individual performance alone is astonishing as he manages to bring Arrow to new heights.
Together, Segarra and Amell are an unstoppable force. It’s amazing to witness the two of them work together. While we caught a glimpse of them together last week, “Kapiushon” gives us even more. With Segarra giving us a pure psychological performance and Amell being more emotional than he’s ever been, the duo give Arrow one of its best episode. The two of them working together is astonishing. While Amell has had his fair share of incredible scene partners, Segarra is formidable and possibly one of his best.
This episode is flashback heavy as Oliver takes the final steps to becoming a captain in the Bratva. Even with such promise in the beginning, the Arrow flashbacks have fallen into a slump. While the flashbacks give us a nice contrast between the man Oliver was and the man he’s become, they still slow down the episode. We find ourselves wishing to go back to Amell and Segarra in present day as opposed to watching Bratva Oliver. With this being the last season of flashbacks, we’re tolerating the slow moving pace of them, but won’t be sad when they go. This episode of Arrow is the strongest this season, but the flashbacks remain a sour note in an otherwise perfect episode.
Overall, Arrow gives us one of its best episodes to date. Segarra and Amell are forces to be reckoned with. Amell gives a raw and brilliant performance while Segarra continues to create one of the best DCTV villains to date. As Arrow hurdles towards its season five finale, there’s a lot of promise. As fan-favorite characters step into the forefront once again, Arrow plays to its strengths.