Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “Bratva”:

Boy, “Bratva” was a busy episode of Arrow. I don’t mean that as a knock, but considering the hour had time to take us all the way to Russia (sneaking in the odd reference to our previous time there), ingratiate Juliana Harkavy’s Dinah Drake into the team and detonate a nuclear bomb; it’s nigh-miraculous there was still space for flashbacks and a C-story of Rene prepping Quentin for an interview. Mind you, we never actually saw that conversation onscreen, despite Susan Williams recurring at the top and bottom of the episode (no innuendo intended), and I suppose we were lucky to have Quentin back at all. Thea’s still gone, and now Rory’s off the team for the foreseeable future.

In any case, “Bratva” actually managed to keep the majority of those plates spinning pretty soundly, between Diggle teetering over the edge in their pursuit of General Walker, and Felicity flexing a bit of her own dark tendencies* to continue relying on that Pandora intel, and even intimidate someone into giving her access to their server. On their own, both turns might have seemed a bit extreme, but Oscar Balderrama & Emilio Ortega Aldrich’s script neatly dovetailed both with Oliver’s Prometheus-inspired concerns about his morality infecting others. Even better, was that Diggle would be the one to reframe Oliver’s thinking as the original Arrow trio keeping one another in check, as well a sign of growth from Diggle’s reaction to Andy threatening Lyla.

*I suppose the closest analogy for Felicity relying on said hacking shortcuts are some sort of drug, or performance-enhancements? Perhaps we’re leaning into our Dark Willow phase?

“Sure, but let’s be real. Billy was no Tara.”

At this point in Season 5, it seems like Arrow doesn’t have the time to take things too slowly; between Dinah quickly connecting with different members of the team (her reassurance of Oliver was a quick indicator of their chemistry), or the flashbacks champing at the bit to move on from the Kovar story and back to Starling City. There’s still a long road between Oliver busting up a drug deal in his hood, and ending up back on Lian Yu (to say nothing of where Talia’s involvement in all of this is going), and I’d doubt if Dolph Lundgren has too many more episodes left in his contract.

One would hope the expediency is leading us back to the identities of Prometheus and Vigliante, considering Season 5 still has unanswered questions of Susan’s ultimate endgame with Oliver, or if Talia has any role in the present day. Not to mention, the emphasis on Rene’s past with Quentin is likely leading us to a showcase episode for the former, and my only hope is that the back half of Season 5 so deftly keeps even divided episodes like “Bratva” humming along.

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • Was … there a strategic purpose to Talia trying to shoot Oliver in the face?
  • I presume they’re going to tell Quentin about Black Siren, right? At least reference it as a conversation that took place off-screen.
  • Oliver and Dinah talk about not letting their pasts weigh them down. They do remember murdering people last week, right?
  • “What happens in Russia stays in Russia, remember?” Aww, remember Summer Glau?
  • I’m sure they’ve gotten lots of use out of it, but that was clearly the “Invasion!” warehouse, right?
  • Yeah, maybe … stop using nukes in your stories, Arrow. It always comes off way more ridiculous than they’re prepared for.
  • Incidentally, why wouldn’t Walker have it in his own interest to disarm the bomb?

Arrow Season 5 will return next Wednesday with “Spectre of the Gun,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.

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