‘Arrow’: “Vigilante” Spoiler Review

Another serial killer is on the loose in Star City this week but this time it’s a more righteous one as the series gives way to the rising of Adrian Chase in his new superhero persona, “Vigilante”. The introduction of the episode which features Vigilante taking out several low-level criminals who are part of a human trafficking ring was serviceable, to say the least. More and more the series is starting to feel a lot like Supernatural as we witness opening scenes that feature the death of no name characters to serve as a plot device.

Team Arrow 2.0 is starting to improve, most notably Wild Dog and Ragman although I still can’t understand a word Ragman says when his mask is on. Wild Dog still has to work on his attitude but he’s come a long way since his beginning as a reckless punk. Curtis needs to start taking things seriously. While I still find him to be somewhat funny, his comedy is slowly beginning to teeter into Felicity territory. Considering the end of the episode, I’ll save Artemis for later.

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David Ramsey as John Diggle, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Joe Dinicol as Rory Regan, and Rick Gonzalez as Rene Ramirez in Arrow. (The CW)

Dolph Lundgren makes his second appearance in the flashbacks as the big bad, Konstanin Kovar. The flashbacks were a bit better thanks to his inclusion along with the reveal that Taiana’s mother is actually working for Kovar. The twist that Kovar has made a truce with the Bratva seemed to fatten things up a bit as well. We don’t usually get this much to chew on in the consistently half-baked flashbacks but this episode went against that grain. The end duel was a treat to see Oliver Queen basically taking on Ivan Drago but Oliver is still an extremely sloppy fighter. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering it’s now less than a year before he makes his grand return to Star(ling) City and rises up as The Hood against the criminal element plaguing his hometown. He’s going to have to undergo some serious training if the writers are planning not to completely botch the flashbacks altogether.

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Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen and Dolph Lundgren as Konstatin Kovar in Arrow (The CW.)

Thea and Lance shared a few touching scenes this episode that showed how close the two have grown since working together at City Hall. Thea was able to give Lance the support and the push he needs to stop drinking and get clean. Last week the series tried to trick us into believing that Prometheus is actually Lance but this episode seemed to point away from that. I don’t buy for a second that Lance is getting black out drunk and taking down squads of police and crime lords in a theatrical fashion.

Oliver is beginning to move forward in his personal life. While this plot is the least interesting of the episode it wasn’t bad at all. It’s good to see Oliver putting Felicity behind him even though I don’t think the relationship is going anywhere nor are he and Felicity finished with each other. The show is making it a point to capitalize on the awkward tension between Oliver and Felicity since they began seeing other people and it’s most definitely intentional. Even though Felicity distracts herself with Billy, she can’t hide the way she still looks at him in the Arrow cave.

After a group of serial bank robbers hit several banks, almost being wiped out by Vigilante, the team comes up with a clever plan to stage another robbery in order to draw Vigilante out. What threw me off was that the moment Diggle takes down the security guard both he and Felicity pulled their masks off. I’m assuming Felicity shut down the surveillance system off screen but it was still distracting. Regardless, Mr. Terrific’s blood is most certainly on the bank’s floor after Vigilante beat him bloody and took him hostage before Vigilante took on the Green Arrow in a duel. The fight itself was pretty good but a bit overshadowed by Green Arrow when he bested him before by pulling a cable arrow to zip line kick combo in the alley. Josh Segarra’s performance as Vigilante wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t great either. The problem is the voice he put on to disguise his normal voice. It was like an awful impersonation of Christian Bale’s guttural voice as Batman.

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Stephen Amell as Green Arrow, Josh Segarra as Vigilante, and Echo Kellum as Mr. Terrific in Arrow. (The CW)

Overall the episode was a step up compared to some of the episodes this season but that isn’t saying much. The show is going a bit back and forth between Prometheus’ true identity as Lance. After the seemingly major reveal last week, this episode attempted to shut that down only for Lance to go off to rehab, leaving his location in question shortly before Prometheus appeared at the closing of the episode which then delivered a big twist as Evelyn Sharp was revealed to be ally of Prometheus, working Team Arrow from the inside. The twist itself comes completely out of nowhere. Based on Evelyn’s past, it seems for likely that her motivations would pit her against a Prometheus type. Regardless, I’m just glad the twist wasn’t revealed through the show’s marketing campaign which loves to use spoilers as a desperate ploy to generate more interest in the show in order to boost ratings.

7.5 – OKAY

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‘Arrow’: “Penance” Spoiler Review

So far, season five of Arrow has been a bit of a hit or miss as it struggles to find its way with a mostly new cast. Considering last week’s fantastic entry to the series, it should come as no surprise that this episode was, unfortunately, mediocre, full of implausibility and conflict that didn’t add up to anything.

So far, season five of Arrow has been a bit of a hit or miss as it struggles to find its way with a mostly new cast. Considering last week’s fantastic entry to the series, it should come as no surprise that this episode was, unfortunately, mediocre, full of implausibility and conflict that didn’t add up to anything.

The episode opens with Team Arrow 2.0 in the midst of a training exercise as they attempt to stop petty criminal sporting a cheesy gold chain from committing a burglary. The scene does nothing but shows us that the trainees have not made any progress in their training from last week. At this point, the only members with a fighting chance are Wild Dog and Ragman. Evelyn and Curtis are going to get themselves killed if they don’t start improving fast. They are both sloppy and it’s impossible to buy them as formidable crime-fighting vigilantes.

While I’m not a big fan of Ragman’s look, Joe Dinicol’s performance at Rory is fantastic. Unfortunately, most of his scenes were bogged down by Emily Bett Rickard’s insipid performance. She just can’t play the emotion needed to bring the scene to life. Her acting feels contrived as she lacks conviction in almost all of her scenes. Even Rickard’s doesn’t seem to be on the side of her character when she’s arguing with Oliver for the sake of conflict. She really has no business telling Oliver or Lyla what decision to make and her attitude makes it extremely irritating. I used to be a huge fan of her character in the first and second season. I was even a fan of Olicity. But at this point, scenes with Felicity are tiresome and make me yearn for her exit from the show.

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Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak in Arrow. (The CW)

The flashbacks continue to slug along in Russia as we get four quick scenes dispersed sparingly throughout the episode. I would say that they were pointless and really amounted to nothing if it wasn’t for the fact that it was Oliver’s was finally accepted into the Bratva, something I thought actually happened when he passed the test last week. But no, we had to go through another few quick scenes to get us there. The problem with the flashbacks are consistent with the last two seasons. They feel generic and uninspired. You can tell it’s a chore for the producers to fit the flashback storyline into the script and the budget. They are just trying to skirt by with a serviceable storyline until it catches up to the first season and they are no more.

Tobias Church had the only clever storyline of the episode as he staged a burglary to smuggle in an explosive device into the evidence lock-up at the police station. Unfortunately, it all collapsed on itself as his motives were never clearly explained. I have no idea what he was trying to achieve. And did anyone see that goon in the sunglasses? Seriously, the costume design for criminals has always been whack on Arrow but this episode took it to all new heights. At least the ones who were wearing hats had hats that actually fit and weren’t cocked to the side like goofballs in previous seasons.

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Chadwick Boseman as Tobias Church in Arrow. (The CW)

Adrian Chase’s viewpoint that vigilantes are a superficial solution and that if it takes them to solve the city’s problems the criminal justice department isn’t doing their jobs well is accurate, however. His turning point felt organic after he was rescued by the rookie superheroes of Star City, making him realize the ones who wear a mask can be an effective force for good in a crime-ridden and corrupt city such as theirs. While I still can’t buy him as a future crime fighter, the motivations are most certainly falling into place.

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Joe Dinicol as Ragman, Echo Kellum as Mr. Terrific, Madison Mclaughlin as Artemis, and Rick Gonzalez as Wild Dog in Arrow. (The CW)

The prison break was fun but a bit underwhelming. There just wasn’t enough action and Oliver sneaking in through the laundry was totally silly. The immature and unprofessional prison guard didn’t help either. But it did bring us a fantastic scene between Oliver and Diggle that reminded me of the brotherhood that the two share that made this show so excellent in the first place. Diggle still has a lot of healing to do after murdering his brother, but it seems Oliver – as his new brother – got through to him, making him realize he can still find redemption resuming his crusade as Spartan. Unfortunately, the silliness reached an all-time high when Lyla flew a military cargo plane over the prison and extracted the two from the prison yard much like skyhook program used by Batman in The Dark Knight when Batman extracted Lao from China. Considering the show’s budget, I think they reached a little too far with that one.

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David Ramsey as John Diggle and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in Arrow. (The CW)

Ultimately, this episode got the job done breaking Diggle out of prison and getting him one step closer to returning to Team Arrow. His presence in the Arrow cave is sorely needed especially given all the new mentees Oliver has taken on in his struggle to keep Star City safe. Episodes like this only highlight why 23 episodes per season are far too many. As we see with shorter seasons, they allow for a tighter more compelling and engaging narrative that doesn’t feel like it wasted our time, which is exactly how this episode made me feel.

6.5 – WASTE OF TIME