ThroughoutÂ ArrowÂ Season 5, Adrian Chase, aka Prometheus, has been continuously telling Oliver Queen that he doesn’t want to hurt him or kill him; no, he wants to destroy him. But how can you destroy someone like Oliver, a man that has suffered so much physically, mentally, and emotionally throughout his life, a person who has lost so many people he’s loved and holds dear?Â “Kapiushon” gives us the answer to that question, resulting in one of the most brutal and intense episodes inÂ ArrowÂ history.
There’s no comic relief or witty one-liners to be found throughout the hour; hell, Felicity, Diggle, and Curtis don’t even show up until the final two minutes of the episode. This isÂ ArrowÂ at its darkest, and while the series wouldn’t benefit from doing episodes likeÂ “Kapiushon” every week (all comic-book shows have to let themselves have some fun every once in a while), the serious tone and bleak nature of tonight’s events work for the story that the writers are telling.Â “Kapiushon” isn’t an episode about a superhero fighting back against his nemesis and surviving his torturous methods. No, this is an installment that forces Oliver to confront the darkness that he’s tried to keep at bay for so many years, the darkness that he’s tried to extinguish with the light and hope he receives from people like Felicity, Diggle, and Thea, and it’s an episode about the internal destruction of Star City’s hero, as he’s forced to admit that his crusade to fight crime when he returned home was never as noble as he tried to make it out to be.
For most of “Kapiushon,” Chase physically and psychologically torments Oliver by shooting arrows into his chest, threatening to kill everyone from Felicity to Oliver’s son, and even appearing to snap Evelyn’s neck right in front of Oliver’s eyes. All of these twisted methods are used for one reason and one reason only: to get Oliver to tell Chase his deepest, darkest secret, something that he’s never been able to bring himself to tell Diggle or Felicity. Ultimately, after nearly a week of this constant torture, Oliver finally breaks down and tells Chase what he wants to hear: he didn’t kill criminals when he became The Hood because he had to but because he wanted to and he liked it. With those words, Oliver acknowledges that the monster inside of him that he tried to separate from the man that he wanted to be overtook him throughout that first year he was back home in Star City. While Oliver tried to paint his mission of ridding his home of crime as a noble quest that his father had laid out for him, in actuality, he used the list of names as an excuse to feed his hunger and passion for killing; there was never anything heroic about his actions at all.
While I’ve already seen some fans complain about this reveal, calling the secret “underwhelming,” I want to point out how important this admission from Oliver is. For the past five years onÂ Arrow, we’ve been watching his journey to be a better hero, and more importantly a better person, unfold, but something has always been holding him back. No matter how far Oliver pushes the darkness inside himself away, it always returns to corrupt him, and it causes him to revert back to his more violent, lone-wolf ways. By admitting his desire and enjoyment of killing, though, Oliver has finally purged himself of his original sin, the lie that he constantly told himself and others to make his killing seem more acceptable and less blood-thirsty. For the first time inÂ Arrow‘s run, Oliver isn’t trying to separate the man from the monster anymore; he’s accepting that it was and will always be a part of himself, and that for a good portion of his life, he let that monstrous side of him take control under the guise of something more heroic.
Now that Oliver has finally addressed this secret and spoken it openly aloud to himself, he can finally become the man that he’s always wanted and hoped to be. We’ve seen so many starts and stops when it comes to Oliver’s evolution, his journey from the darkness toward the light. It’s a story thatÂ ArrowÂ loves telling and re-telling, but with this revelation, the show proves that there’s a final destination in sight, a true, noble hero that Oliver can transform into now that he’s confessed this lie, this false truth that he’s been trying to make himself and those around him believe for the past five years.
Will Oliver revert back to the darkest version of himself, though, before he’s able to fully embrace the light? Judging from that final scene of tonight’s episode, in which he tells Dig, Felicity, and Curtis that he doesn’t want to do this anymore and that he’s shutting Team Arrow down, I’d say the answer to that is yes, and I expect that we’ll have to endure more than a couple episodes of “Dark Oliver.” But as the saying goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn, and now that Oliver Queen has confronted his darkest secret and allowed himself to feel the pain and guilt of it, he can truly become the hero that his city needs. And hopefully, he realizes that he can admit this secret to his two greatest strengths and sources of light, Diggle and Felicity. They’ve seen him at his worst before and have never left his side, and if Oliver is finally ready to expel the monster that has been living inside him for years, he’ll need the two people who love and inspire him the most to do it.
- A good portion of this episode (probably more than half of it) is spent in Russia, and the flashbacks don’t disappoint this week, especially from an action standpoint as we get not one, not two, but three major action sequences, including an incredible fight between Oliver and Kovar. More importantly, though, these flashback scenes do a really terrific job at showing just how violent and cruel Oliver was before he came home and began his vendetta, as we witness him not only shoot and kill men with plenty of arrows but also skin a man alive and stab Kovar in the neck. I also really appreciate the sense of history that these flashbacks have, as Anatoly compares Oliver’s recent actions to that of Slade Wilson and Anthony Ivo, and we also see Oliver interact with Galina, the mother ofÂ Taiana and Vlad, as he tries to keep the promise he made toÂ Taiana on Lian Yu.
- Malcolm Merlyn also surprisingly pops up in the Russian flashbacks, as he makes the deal with Kovar that allows him to obtain the sarin gas that he uses for his attempted coup, and he also helps save Kovar’s life after Oliver stabs him. Of course, neither Oliver or Malcolm run into each other or hear one another’s name, which makes sense given the confrontations between them inÂ ArrowÂ Season 1.
- Although it originally appears that Chase has been torturing Evelyn and that he kills her in front of Oliver, it’s revealed near the end of the episode that Evelyn is still on his side and that she’s actually still alive. Chase “killing” her is all part of their bigger plan to try to destroy Oliver and make him confess his secret.
- Stephen Amell absolutely kills it in this episode, delivering one of his best performances of the season (I’d rank it up there with his work in “Invasion!” and “Who Are You?”). I especially love the guttural, almost primal screams he delivers when Chase threatens the ones that he loves, and of course, the loudest and angriest one comes when Chase threatens Felicity’s life. “I swear to God if you hurt her!” Oliver yells, and Amell absolutely nails the delivery. Kudos to him for his work in this episode.
- There are many reasons why I love Adrian Chase/Prometheus as a villain, but the biggest one has to be that he attacks his adversaries more psychologically than he does physically. He understands that physical wounds heal faster than the emotional and mental scars that we carry around with us, and that makes him more dangerous and a hell of a lot more compelling to watch than other villains we’ve seen recently in the DC TV Universe.
- You want to know another reason why this is one ofÂ Arrow‘s darkest episodes in a while? In any other episode, Oliver somehow finds a way to rescue Galina from Kovar. InÂ “Kapiushon,” he only finds her after Kovar has viciously killed her.
What did everyone else think about this week’s episode ofÂ Arrow? Comment below and let me know.
[Photo credit: Robert Falconer/The CW]
Arrow Season 5 Episode 17 Review: "Kapiushon”
Prometheus makes Oliver suffer, and the Bratva tries to take down Kovar in a brutal and intense episode of Arrow.