Spoilers ahead for “Checkmate,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow!
The short version: Oliver tracks down Talia in the present day, and she tells him that Prometheus is actually Adrian Chase. Prometheus continues to stay a few steps ahead of Oliver, eventually kidnapping him. Felicity goes way too far down the rabbit hole with her new hacker pals.
The good: Deliciously evil Adrian Chase, Felicity’s hacker B-story, the action
This episode laid all the cards on the table in a refreshingly transparent way, with Oliver basically helpless to do anything to Chase as he continues to stroll around city hall and work his day job as the DA. Five seasons in, and this is a dynamic we’ve never really seen, so that was a cool way to approach this story. Oliver really is outmaneuvered at pretty much every turn, eventually ending with his own kidnapping at the hands of Chase and Talia. Sure, Oliver and Chase have a few too many angry, quiet conversations — but it’s still something different. If anything, the MVP of this episode is Josh Segarra, who positively kills it with his terrifying menace and the way he plays a truth sociopath. Stabbing his own wife when she confronts him about his true identity? It was telegraphed, but still positively brutal. Not to mention the guilt in Diggle’s eyes because he’s the one who brought her there. A great scene.
Felicity’s journey back into the world of hacking also got some screen time this week, and she finally went way down the rabbit hole. Curtis calls her out for hacking the NSA, which she’s basically just doing as a quid pro quo deal for intel to help out her Team Arrow cases (though those hackers must’ve totally figured out she’s working with the Green Arrow at this point, right?). But, with Oliver in the wind, Felicity agrees to do anything these hackers want if it means getting Ollie back alive. There might as well have been a neon, flashing light — because you know that’s going to come back to bite her. This story has been a slow roll, but it took a big step forward this week. Still hard to read where they’re taking it, but a hacking organization with this type of access and reach is arguably one of the biggest threats Team Arrow has ever faced, if you think about it.
The Russia flashbacks were once again solid this week, mostly for the epic hockey rink shootout. The final fight between Oliver and Chase was also a bit different than this show’s usual fare, taking a page from Daredevil’s playbook of bloody brawl.
The bad: The Talia reveal, Chase’s backstory
There was a lot to like this episode, but the big “reveal” that Talia is actually an al Ghul was a bit of a letdown. It was something pretty much everyone already knew, and playing it as a surprise fell flat. If anything, it just felt like they wrote it this way to explain why Oliver didn’t connect the dots a few seasons ago when he was fighting Ra’s and the League. To that end, having Talia team up with Chase just felt like a by-the-numbers move. In the flashbacks, Talia was this mysterious, interesting character. Now? She shows up to tranquilize Oliver and give Chase a pat on the back as he heads in to torture. Talia could’ve been so much more, and they look to be taking her down the path of a one-note baddie. Yes, it makes sense she might be upset about Oliver killing her old man, but they still might have been better served to go a different direction with the payoff.
We’re finally peeling the layers back in regards to Adrian Chase, and not all of it makes sense. So, the theory that he’s the son of the random bad-ish guy the Arrow killed in Season 1 was right. And Chase sought out Talia two years ago for training to eventually get revenge on Oliver. So, two years of training with Talia makes this guy one of the most formidable warriors the team has ever faced? Oliver Queen has killed Ra’s al Ghul himself, and faced off with everyone from Deathstroke to the Dark Archer. You’d think there’d be some silver bullet to explain why Chase is such a great warrior, but we haven’t really gotten it. Who knows, maybe Talia is just that good of a teacher (though, Oliver mowed through her current crop of students in about five seconds, so maybe not).
So, Chase traded up in his hostage equation, and now has Oliver locked up in his dungeon. But, he doesn’t want to kill him (of course, because that’d be too easy), and is looking to torture him and try to make him realize he’s really a bad guy. Or something. Whatever it is, Chase’s plan for Oliver is far from over.
So, who the heck is Vigilante? It’s obviously not Chase. We at least know that, now. You’d think that’ll come back into play at some pivotal moment, because they’ve gotta be setting him up for something, right?
Up next: Oliver gets tortured. Dum dum DUM.