Katie Yu / The CW

Dolph Lundgren Rages Back Into Arrow

Most of the episode takes place in flashback, and that means there's plenty of Russian beefcake to go around.

It seemed like tonight was going to be an all-flashback episode. Which would have been great! I've been down on the flashbacks, but if they're going to include Dolph Lundgren as Konstantin Kovar AND John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn? Let's have more of that! Unfortunately, we couldn't spend the entire hour embroiled in Russian coup attempts. What we got was a lot of fun, though.

In the present, Oliver spends most of his time chained to the floor while Adrian Chase shouts at him. In my opinion, Mr. Chase's plan was very stupid. Oliver was broken from the beginning; he just didn't know what he was supposed to confess. Help a prisoner out, you know? If Adrian had given him some clues, things would have gone much smoother. Instead, he has to go through this whole rigmarole of pretending to kill Evelyn, which doesn't even seem to bother Oliver that much. I mean, it bothers him a little, but not to the point where it was necessary to re-enact Saw at him. All Adrian had to do was wait for the flashbacks to catch up to Oliver's dark secret, and then all was revealed. It turns out Oliver likes killing people. Is that a big revelation? He's always been quick to kill and quick to torture. I think it's probably part of the show's long-term plan to try to reconcile the early Oliver with a hero that viewers might be less uncomfortable with. Either that, or they're just leaning in to the Killer Oliver plan.

Oliver ends the episode by declaring that he wants to quit being Green Arrow. Six days of relentless torture will probably do that to you. But is it torture for the viewer? How Arrow-y is this Arrow?

Arrow-ish Element Present?
Trick Arrow Modern-day Oliver doesn't perform any archery at all. And Flashback Oliver had not yet evolved the ability to shoot silly arrows. He does shoot two guys at once, but he just uses two regular arrows to do it.
Oliver Queen: A Jerk Well, he skins a guy alive, even though he's already gotten the information he wanted. Why? Because he wants the practice. That's arguably more "psychopath" than "jerk," but it's the same sort of thing.
Comic book reference Unless that Russian casino was something I didn't recognize.
Someone walks into the Arrowlair without warning. The Arrowlair itself is barely in the episode, and the only person who walks into it is Oliver. He's allowed in, right? However! The wording of this category is that someone walks in "without warning," and I choose to interpret that as being more about everyone's shock than about their right to be there. And if Curtis, Diggle, and Felicity don't notice a bleeding, limping, shirtless Oliver? Don't these people have a camera in the elevator yet? Or a light that tells them when someone's coming in the door?
Flashback scenes mirror the present day The whole flashback sequence is an excuse to justify Oliver's present-day revelation that he likes killing people. And Oliver getting tortured is made easier to take by showing us times when he did the same thing to other people. Basically, if you're going to spend 70% of the episode in flashbacks, it's probably going to end up being relevant.
Things get gory We don't get to see that guy Oliver skinned, but we do get to see Oliver get all bloodied and burned. So that's something.
The Only Hospital Room In Town Not in this episode, but I have to think Oliver's going to want to at least get some painkillers somewhere.
Someone gets kidnapped Okay, so it isn't for very long. But Oliver really wanted to talk to Galina, and he didn't mind dragging her into an alley to do it. Anatoly's men are also briefly detained.
Someone goes shirtless This is the most shirtless (shirtlessest? least shirted?) episode we've had in quite some time. Modern-day Oliver is shirtless for the entire episode, and he also takes his shirt off to get a tattoo in the flashback. And there's also that guy who gets skinned. Even Anatoly takes his shirt off. People who hate shirts agree: this is the best episode of the year!
6 / 9
Final Score
67%
Arrow
33%
The Magnificent Dolph Lundgren
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