Arrow – Season V – Ep. 12 “Bratva”: A Review

Posted: 02/13/2017 in Uncategorized

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With “Bratva”, we again have an illustration of the show runners remaining on course with this dark reinvention of the Arrow series. The title speaks volumes. Past and present connect via Oliver (Stephen Amell) and his team having to go to Russia to capture General Walker (Garry Chalk) who set up John for murder and treason . One could argue that the flight plan of the general was a little too direct but anything that features an interaction between Oliver and Anatoli can be forgiven. My review follows below.

We learn from the onset that General Walker and his men escaped capture leaving many dead in their wake and are presently absconding to Russia. Queue Oliver rounding his team up to bring him back to Star city and gain justice for John. He brings with him his entire team except Rene/Wild Dog (Rick Gonazlez) who he charges with watching over the returned Deputy Mayor Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne). While Lance’s return is always welcome as Blackthorne is one of the stronger actors on Arrow, he seemed a bit scattered in this run. Freshly arrived from rehab, he opts to book an interview with Susan Williams (Carly Pope) so that he can tell his story warts and all. This is of course a terrible idea as Williams has her own agenda and does not radiate trustworthiness. The sub arc however worked unquestionably with Rene proving his value on a different level. As he did with Curtis (Echo Kellum), he does for Lance. He offers to help prep the former police captain for his interview and after asking expected questions, he comes at Lance hard. The resulting anger and lashing out while understandable bring Quentin back to question his readiness. Rene has depth and heart. His moments with Lance resonate and his later action as regards the reporter sets up what will unquestionably be a cool back story featuring Rene next run. The revelation that Rene had a previous connection with Lance via an earlier encounter was earnest and delivered.

Meanwhile in Russia, all kinds of hell follows. The funny and convivial relationship shared by Oliver and Anatoli (David Nykl) is replaced by a somber, angry one in which the Bratva captain opens with a punch to Oliver’s face. So much goes on with this show that it is a relief that Anatoli explains why he does this, citing an earlier refusal by the new mayor when a previous reach out occurred in Star City. Oliver proclaiming he is “no longer that guy” is ably met with the ongoing response that “oaths are forever”. The voice of reason and support in this run is the New Canary, Dinah Drake (Julie Harkavy) who just gets it. She is the perfect fit for the team. Her police background, fighting skills and meta enhancement make  her a superior version of this DC classic. She encourages Oliver to move on and accept his past. She accompanies him on a side mission that involves thuggish behavior on Oliver’s part. She offers no judgment other than noting he had done such a thing before. Dinah gels with the team and proves a true asset. Anatoli’s later pronouncement to her “now you are my favorite American” plays for laughs and mirrors his earlier comment to John (David Ramsey) but the affirmation is earned.

The mission has two costs, nearly three. John goes rogue when he finds Oliver’s methods of extracting information on the absconded general inefficient. John’s actions take him to the same brink formerly walked last season when he put down his brother Andy (Eugene Byrd). Felicity also takes a dark path, opting to dip into the Pandora drive to glean more information for the team. Her bringing in Rory/Ragman (Joe Dinicol) and Curtis to act as Bratva bodyguards again plays for laughs, but her calculating behavior does not. Her reaction to Rory’s calling her out on her ‘crossing the line’ is pure anger. Her actions upon his departure  upon saving well…everyone…is more relief than good will. This “Dark Overwatch” arc could again go either way as she takes the path most likely embraced by her father, the “Caculator”/Noah (Tom Amandes). While John’s moral compass is set by Oliver’s inspiration and example, Felicity’s is not, giving GA more on his plate than necessary.

The past Arrow rising flashback sequences featuring Talia (Lexa Doig) show Oliver’s greater focus, confidence, and lethality. Talia’s true purpose is as yet un-revealed but her teacher/pupil relationship with Oliver works unquestionably. Oliver’s catching an arrow midair was seamless and informs the force he will become. This past link ties into the present, risking the destruction of all he has built so far in his new incarnation as Mayor. The Susan Williams subplot gains both traction and clarity with this run. Her purpose for being with Oliver is now clearly revealed. Her subsequent actions stand to amp up an already enervated, tension laden season.

Simply put ‘Bratva’ delivered and Arrow Season V confirms the legacy that this show is simply outstanding and well worth your time.

 

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