WARNING: SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
As I said above that the theme was sacrifice this episode, but the writer of this seasons story Jake Coburn really throws us for a loop when it comes to who is actually sacrificing what. At first we can take it to mean Roy sacrificing his freedom for Oliver, which does happen with the help of Laurel Lance who makes a short appearance. Oliver gets released and Roy gets sent to Iron Heights Prison where there are hundreds of inmates incarcerated solely because of The Arrow’s vigilantism. Needless to say but these inmates all way Roy dead. With Roy in prison Oliver needs to call upon the help of Ray as The A.T.O.M. to stop the crime spree being committed by Deathbolt, but as we’ve seen before Oliver never likes to accept help from others. This is another sacrifice being made in a way… Oliver has to give up his role as the city’s protector now that The Arrow is gone. I really like that they played it this way and forced Oliver to solve problems without his alter-ego. Although we all know The Arrow or hopefully Green Arrow will return to the streets, for the time being this will add a new element to the show.
Ray was the real star of tonight’s episode though. Unlike a lot of Arrow reviewers, I’m really enjoying Brandon Routh’s character. He’s lighthearted and eccentric which is sorely needed in such a dark show, even more so now that Felicity has been so conflicted with Oliver and is finding herself a good match for Ray. It’s a really cool thing they’re doing with The A.T.O.M. in that they’re highlighting the flaws of Ray himself by having him lose every fight he gets in. He flies in confident to take down this meta and gets his butt whooped quite fast. Unlike Iron Man in his films, Ray’s suit isn’t what makes him an instant hero. Oliver teaches Ray this episode that if he is relying solely on his suit, then sooner or later it will get him killed. He needs to learn to trust in himself first, which he eventually does in the final confrontation with Deathbolt. I loved watching The A.T.O.M. rise beaten and half broken to defeat Deathbolt solely because it’s fun watching new heroes learn and become who they are striving to be. I absolutely love The A.T.O.M. and am a bit sad that he will end up being shoved into another spin-off show, because Arrow can use his lightheartedness to brighten up the city.
Oliver’s backstory this episode was running in parallel to his interactions with Diggle and Felicity as well. We got to see Ollie and Maseo (Karl Yune) break into Argus and eventually a US ARMY base to try stop the army from releasing a deadly omega virus on Hong Kong. In the end of that flashback Oliver wants Maseo and Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) to take their son and get out of the city before it’s too late. In the end they refuse his pleading and tell him he needs to learn to accept the fact that sometimes he just needs to let others help him, which is exactly what Diggle and Felicity tell him as he fights with them about wanting to break Roy out of prison. The flashback this episode didn’t do a whole lot for me. I am intrigued by the scene with Amanda Waller in this episode though, as it made me wonder if she was lying as per normal, or actually was kidnapped and beaten by the US ARMY. I feel like in the current timeline Oliver doesn’t like Waller but he doesn’t completely mistrust her, so she may have been telling the truth.
To bring the review full circle we’re going back to the main theme again… sacrifice. In the entertainment news this week we learned that this episode was going to be the last appearance of one of the main characters in Team Arrow. Well they throw a major red herring at us this week when Roy gets stabbed in the gut by a prison guard. Detective Lance arrives in Thea’s apartment to tell her of his death after he had warned her that this would happen. Oliver takes Roy’s death pretty hard only to have Diggle and Felicity arrive in the “Arrow Cave” with Roy in tow alive. They had a special agent from A.R.G.U.S. stab Roy in a way that would fake his death, in turn killing The Arrow and Roy’s identities allowing for Roy to get out of the city. I was glad Roy hadn’t died and felt that the only thing missing in this scene was a tender hug between Roy and Oliver, showing how much Roy actually meant to Oliver, alas Ollie refused to drop his dark barrier and just shook his hand before he left. So no one actually dies and Roy just leaves the show by leaving the city… wrong. Red herring remember? Usually the last scene has a fun teaser for the next episode, but this was a bit more as Ra’s Al Ghul shows up in Thea’s apartment and shoves his blade through her heart. I was absolutely shocked by this scene but I knew the minute Ra’s showed up there that she was dead. It was Thea’s sacrifice that will be required by Ra’s to convert Oliver over to his destiny.
Overall this was a great episode. With the exception of Sarah (didn’t ever like her character), the writers of this show always build up characters I previously didn’t like, Thea for example, to the point where I really start to enjoy them… then they kill them off. I was finally liking this new confident ass kicking Thea. Hell I even got excited that she managed to attack Ra’s for the short time he allowed her to. This end kills off the last remaining member of Oliver’s family. I’m not sure where this will take his character but it won’t be pretty. I really liked how they threw in the surprise of Thea dying when we all assumed it would be Roy, especially with all the spoilers we get in the news for this show. I hadn’t expected Thea’s character to play a big role in the future but didn’t expect them to completely kill off Oliver’s family. I am really hoping the last few episodes pay off. I want Oliver to get through this incredibly dark season with his humanity intact. I would say this week The Flash and Arrow are on par in terms of my personal scoring system, but just barely. Barry’s scenes rounding up criminals with Joe and Eddie at the start just edge ahead of the enjoyment of watching The A.T.O.M. fight, but the short scene of Ray asking Cisco how Deathbolt eats and poops in the S.T.A.R. Labs prison really made me laugh. I can’t wait to see where Arrow goes and I can’t wait for another The Flash/Arrow and now The A.T.O.M. team up! This episode also gave us a major surprise in The Flash/Arrow CW universe as well, by discovering that Deathbolt was no where near the S.T.A.R. Labs reactor when it exploded… so meta-humans don’t all come from that accident. That is game changing!