Review: Arrow 8×05 – “Prochnost”
Writers: Benjamin Raab and Deric A. Huges
Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Katherine McNamara, Ben Lewis, Katie Cassidy, Colton Haynes, Audrey Marie Richardson, David Nykl, Barry W. Levy, Kis Yurig, Romeo Reyes
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
Arrow 8×05: Oliver, William and Mia travel to Russia and recruit Oliver’s estranged friend Anatoly Knyazev to steal plutonium for Curtis’s weapon; Lyla acts on The Monitor’s behalf to ensure Laurel’s loyalty; Diggle recruits Roy to assist in a covert mission.
Team Arrow continues its trip down memory lane with the Queens laying the smackdown in Russia.
Oliver’s parenting skills are again the focus this week as he tries to help prepare his kids while shielding them from his dark past. The writing works in that, because he’s so ill-prepared in how to handle his future – an adult William and Mia right in front of him – he resorts to tactics that had ultimately failed him in the past. The nostalgic training session with the tennis balls work in that it’s foreshadowing Mia’s turn with the hood in her upcoming spinoff series. Russia is so relevant because it’s here, in his final fifth year away, that a bulk of his darkness took shape and took hold. The moment in the cage fight where Mia and William see their dad’s brutal side that drives home Oliver’s fear. Stephen sells that look perfectly; he needs to win this match to get the information he needs, but it involves professionally and internally tapping into the monster that had grown within him from Lian Yu onward. His later confrontation with his kids over his choices is well-written. It informs an ill-informed audience of why Ollie’s kids are adults and where Oliver’s emotional state is. The writing team are doing a better job of dealing with this dynamic than the writing team that handled Barry and Nora last year on The Flash. It’s not an instant connection; all three wrestle with what their roles are and how to handle this awkward arrangement the Monitor forced them into. Even seeing Mia go through the Bratva initiation he had undergone brough a lot of baggage to the surface. And of all people, it’s Anatoly Knyazev that’s the voice of reason.
This is also an episode where former villains show how far they’ve come in growth. Anatoly, Oliver’s oldest friend and one-time enemy, is a patient observer in his “brother’s” new situation. He provides the subtle levity where needed, and returns to his former role as mentor to a confused Oliver. It’s also ironic that he’s the one that advises openness with Mia and William given his past. Nostalgic nods to previous conversations between them – i.e. “Living is not for the weak” – works in that it’s nostalgic and builds on that foundation. The monologue at the end is not overplayed and it works. David scored big laughs with his “fun uncle” crack as to where he falls in this new family dynamic. It is also very poignant since this is the last time Stephen and David will share the stage in this series. Their characters first met in the second season, and have been through war together and at war with each other. The writers had taken Anatoly so dark in recent years you expected him to evolve into his DC villainous persona, the KGBeast, machine gun arm and all. Thankfully, the producers kept things grounded and started him down the path of redemption. Seeing them hug one last time and Ollie saying “Goodbye, brother” is very layered. It may not have been as emotional as Stephen and Willa’s hug, but it’s still good to see Anatoly leave the show on a good note.
Laurel Lance, after being tempted last week, is tested in multiple scenes. Katie makes it work by keeping her tone steady and sharp. Bookending Lyla’s orders to her and her rejection is brilliant in that the events of this week influence her decision. Through interactions with everyone except Oliver, she keeps viewers guessing as to which way she will turn. Katie has great onscreen chemistry with Kat, and you’ll see more of them together on Green Arrow And The Canaries. This episode sets up what last season teased. Further, seeing this version of Laurel choosing the harder path of rejecting turncoat Lyla’s offer instead of a coward’s way back home proves she has changed. I know I say it almost every other week, but you don’t see the villainous version of Laurel Dinah Lance fans were introduced to in season two of The Flash. Black Siren is dead, and Black Canary III lives. She even sets Lyla up for exposure, which sadly ends in vain.
Roy’s path this week parallels Oliver’s with regards to his shame about his past. Bringing Colton back in this way was smart, as was having Diggle be the voice of reason. Besides Oliver, John served as a big brother to Roy, especially in the third season when Oliver was thought to be dead. After last year, it made no sense for him to exit the series with just a mention; Arsenal’s path has been just as difficult as anyone’s, and moreso with his Lazarus Pit rage. The creative decision to have Diggle pull Roy back in so he can avoid his self-imposed exile in 2040 is a callback to Dinah’s advice last week. Plus it fits in with how Diggle conveys a lesson. The “we’re-stronger-together-than-apart” motif is the unspoken truth that prevails. It will be cool seeing Ollie and Roy working together and seeing him interact with Mia and William. Colton and David are at their best this week.
William feels like the weak link this week. After last week demonstrating his genius, he seems to fall back behind Oliver and Mia. Yes, he stuns his dad with his mastery of the Russian language, but beyond being the promoter for Oliver and Mia, there wasn’t much for him to do besides the sit-down-and-look-pretty riff and just being “the money.”
I give this week 4 out of 5. The chemistry between Stephen, Ben, and Katherine is building and works in the long run. Great sendoff for the Oliver-Anatoly brotherhood and welcome back Harper. Again, poor underuse of William.Great cliffhanger and can’t wait to see where things go next week. Grabbing my vodka shot and saying “Prochnost!”