Arrow Season V – Ep. 16 – “Checkmate”: A Review

Posted: 03/20/2017 in Uncategorized

Arrow-Adrian-Chase

Well, good or ill, it appears the show runners are embracing their Adrian Chase/Prometheus arc. I am still unsure if this is a good thing, though the episode did present the notion of exactly how committed this villain truly is to his cause. Performances were tight. Action sequences were solid as always and a link between past and present was strengthened via learning the source of Prometheus’ training. Much good ensued and now on to my review for a breakdown.

So….Prometheus is Adrian Chase (Josh Seguerra). This flies in the face of established lore regarding the secret identity of this long term anti hero. The show runners are playing a dangerous game as they are treading the same shaky ground that fell out from under their feet with the Ra’s Al Ghul/Al Sahim business from Season III. Even the introduction of the daughter of the demon, Talia Al Ghul (Lexa Doig) was risky. Having her story intersect with Oliver’s Bratva flashback was done adeptly and worked unquestionably. Having her presently interceding in his current troubles is far less so.

I am still along for the ride as honestly, even with this odd character origin twist, this season has been exceptional. That the nemeses are now able to meet face to face causes Oliver (Stephen Amell) far greater anguish. Chase’s reminding Oliver that he is always ten steps ahead of him proves apt as regardless of what GA and his team do, Chase seems to pull ahead. The notion of how ‘zealous’ he is however does cause one to question how he has been able to play his role so well, not to mention how he could build up such an identity and career in so short a time. Ultimately, this seemingly unstable character had the wherewithal and brilliance to essentially infest both Oliver’s group via making Evelyn Sharpe (Madison McLaughlin) his acolyte as well as invade various levels of government affecting his civilian life. His knowledge of Oliver is well… insane. Even with the resources he has demonstrated, his knowledge runs too deep still making one wonder if there is not yet another feint being pulled. This show is all about long game and it is one about faith. For the most part, the team of Berlanti/Kreisberg/Gugggenheim has delivered on making sure everything matters and is inextricably linked. The notion of paying for past sins has never been more apparent than it has this season.

The performances of Team Arrow as always are solid with Curtis Holt/Mr. Terrific (Echo Kellum) standing out as the soul of the team, upping his game to handle tech matters while Felicity (Emily Bett-Rickards) juggles her double lives. Curtis is the everyman voice of reason as he attempts to steer Felicity clear of the dark path she is travelling. The heart of the group, John Diggle (David Ramsay) makes his own attempt but with every success Felicity has in helping her group, the alliance of quid pro quo with the “Helix” organization becomes more costly. I am starting to dig this arc a little bit though I first rankled against it as it is giving Felicity a true taste of the hard to balance duality faced with regularity by Oliver. How this subplot ties up will inform how good an arc it has been ultimately.

The capture of Susan Williams (Carly Pope) via Prometheus adds an extra tone of urgency to an already tension laced episode. Prometheus pushes Oliver to his breaking point, a theme maintained throughout the season. The pronouncement of “one more loss” pushing him over the edge seems apt. That GA is pushed to his limit is certainly not a new theme, but the manner in which the overall fatigue is presented via Amell’s performance is superb. His quoting to Prometheus that his friends are is strength rings hollow. Felicity’s machinations present Oliver with a necessary weapon to out Chase as the ‘throwing star killer’. This victory is deftly sabotaged and GA’s ultimate gamble using Chase’s own to attempt to light reason within him goes horribly wrong.  Prometheus’ following actions in which he manages to foil Susan Williams’ potentially damaging reveal about him is matched step for step with his taking GA out of the game. The idea of Chase being ten steps ahead plays less like braggadocio and more like militaristic precision.

The focus on the Bratva arc, complete with shoot out, both with guns and arrows, again delivers terrifically. The showdown between Gregor’s (David Meunier) forces and the dwindling forces of Anatoli (David NIkl) moved closer to its denouement with this run. The relationship between Oliver and Anatoli, riddled with cool banter and zen like counsel from the Bratva boss is one of the highlights of this season. His telling Oliver one “cannot name one’s personal darkness” has due resonance.

Honestly, while I am a little concerned with how this season will end off, the journey so far has been engaging. New characters have proven as interesting as old ones and the suggestion of the past informing the present imminently is setting the stage quite tautly for the season’s remaining episodes. In my view, Arrow Season V remains simply outstanding and well worth your time.

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