We can see the finish line now. Arrow season 5 is almost over. After “Honor Thy Fathers,” there are just two episodes left. Two more episodes to bring Oliver’s feud with Adrian Chase to a close, and two final episodes with Stephen Amell’s flashback wig. How’s it all going to play out? We already know the season finale won’t even take place in Star City, and that Manu Bennett’s Deathstroke and Katie Cassidy’s Black Siren will be returning, the latter as a precursor to her re-joining the cast as a full-time cast member next season. Plus, Wild Dog and the new Black Canary have also been upgraded to series regulars next season meaning they’re pretty secure. But could someone else be killed off ? Or simply leave like Roy? Will Rory or Evelyn ever come back? Is Olicity back on? Will we be going into a season 6 in which Oliver Queen is still mayor? Surely, they’ll finally give Lexa Doig something worthwhile to do, right?
Uh-huh. Sure. Yeah. Oh, I hear ya’. But first we have to talk about “Honor Thy Fathers.”
Ugh. Why? After last week’s exceptional, introspective bottle episode trapping Oliver and Felicity together in the Arrowcave, “Honor Thy Fathers” can’t help but feel like a letdown by simple virtue of the fact that it marks a return to Arrow’s storytelling norms, splitting the team up as they try to find Adrian while also keeping tabs on all of the newly released criminals who had their Adrian Chase-litigated convictions overturned. Amell’s former WWE buddy Cody Runnells returns again as his forgettable villain-of-the-week character while Adrian pulls a Dark Knight/Skyfall by getting caught on purpose, not that anyone other than the audience realizes as much yet.
The commendable aspect of the episode is the way it plays out like a classic end-of-season plot in which the villain is gathering supplies necessarily for his evil scheme to threaten poor, beleaguered Star City. In this case, Chase certainly appears to be using Runnells’ character to help him create a device which will release a deadly, incurable disease into the air, once again forcing Team Arrow to save the city and testing Oliver’s moral code. In this case, he opts for Slade Wilson mercy instead of Damien Darhk homicide and chooses not to kill Chase. Everyone celebrates. End of season. See ya’ all next year, folks.
Not quite. There’s something off about the whole thing. This appears to be Chase’s attempt to honor his father’s memory, replicating and massively improving upon one of dear old dead dad’s nefarious plans, but it doesn’t actually fit his MO. When has Chase ever shown any real interest in inflicting widespread death upon the city? It’s all mind games with him, with the ultimate goal of mentally and emotionally breaking Oliver.
They think the mind game being played is Chase making Oliver and Thea aware that in 2002 their father accidentally murdered a business underling and covered it up. That information is being weaponized to undercut Oliver’s entire moral code since his quest to save Star City relates directly back to his dad, a flawed man who did terrible things but never outright murder, as far as Oliver knew. Oliver and Thea’s pained reactions to watching the awkwardly edited security footage of the accident is a bit overwrought, but the meaning is clear: this is yet another piercing of everything they thought they knew about their lives.
But Felicity does the Felicity thing and again calls bullshit on Oliver’s resulting self-doubt while Thea somewhat spins out into despair. They agree to put a pin on that last part. Fix Thea later; stop Chase now.
However, the “your dad was a killer” of it all is simply one small element in Chase’s larger plan, which clearly involves granting Oliver the ultimately hollow emotional victory of both catching AND sparing him. It’s the old standby line about Chase always being so many steps ahead of them, capable of predicting their every move, somehow knowing that the video he sent would damage but not destroy Oliver.
So, we have now reached a point where it would seem as if the big bad’s evil plan has been thwarted, but in fact, everything has finally fallen into place, lulling the team into a false sense of security so that Adrian’s people can start picking them off one by one next week. It’s a fairly nifty bit of story construction if somewhat undercut by “Honor Thy Fathers” inability to get us to completely buy into the evil scenario at play.
There’s a little more to this episode than all of that since we also re-visited the Rene custody battle sub-plot and discovered he has flip-flopped on his earlier decision to pursue custody. He no shows a mandatory court date and torpedoes his whole case, to Quentin’s extreme dismay and his daughter’s considerable confusion. Rene has his reasons (his daughter shouldn’t have to re-live all the bad things which will come out in the custody hearing), but it feels a bit more like someone in charge suddenly remembered, “One of our vigilantes can’t have a tween daughter waiting for him back home. That’s too messy. So, um, let’s just drop all of that.” Of course, we’ll see what comes of that.
As for Thea, this to me felt like the beginning of a three-episode arc writing Willa Holland out of the show, although I might be more prone to think that considering the hub-bub about her requesting a reduced schedule this season. Thea was given plenty of “life your own life” and “let the past stay in the past” advice from Oliver which could seem like his attempt to build her back up like a good older brother but could have the unintended consequence of inspiring her to leave for good and truly live her own life independent of not just her messed up parents but also of Oliver’s dangerous soap opera. Are they possibly gearing up to release Thea into the wind to live happily ever after with Roy off wherever it is he ended up?
1. So, that’s how that arrow-mounted Deathstroke mask ended up on the shores of Lian Yu in the pilot 5 years ago. Cool.
2. I lost track of the number of people Team Arrow killed in this episode, particularly those who were killed or seriously wounded via gunshot. This is the same show which had a gun control episode earlier this season?
3. Thea’s resignation still stands. She doesn’t work for Oliver anymore, right? Because she sure was hanging out in his office a lot.
4. Imagine the under-the-breath mumblings from those council members as they were forced to leave the room mid-meeting just because the mayor wanted to talk to this sister who dropped by unannounced.
5. Ohhhh yeah, the people of Star City still know Adrian as the Throwing Star Killer, not Prometheus.
6. I guess Green Arrow’s not considered a menace to the city anymore because the mayor just casually mentioned the Green Arrow helped them catch a bad guy.
7. What if Team Arrow had failed to stop the big bad device from going off? Would Adrian have simply had to say, “My bad. I didn’t mean to kill half the city. Oliver was supposed to stop me. It’s his fault, really.”