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

Boy, did Arrow Season 1 write itself into a corner. I can’t say for certain if killing was always something producers intended Oliver to grow out of (and eventually circle back to), but it wasn’t anything Batman Begins steered them toward, and it’s harder still to imagine a Flash Season 1 where Barry struggled with killing his enemies. Oliver’s murderous tendencies have always been a dark cloud over this series, making the central “confession” of tonight’s “Kapiushon” all the weirder.

I mean … are they really asking us to re-contextualize the whole of Arrow into Oliver as a serial killer who enjoys wanton murder, but … took a break for a few seasons? Is Arrow just Dexter in a green hood?

I have faith the remaining episodes of Season 5 will write around that, as Season 6 is already in development, and there’s only so much to be done with the arbitrary roadblock of Oliver shutting down his vigilante operation. At least getting to that point in tonight’s hour was harrowing enough, with a tightened, flashback-centric focus really sharpening Oliver’s brutal Kovar rampage as the point of Chase’s “confession” torture in the present. This was a dark, dark episode of Arrow overall, between Chase (fake) killing Evelyn* or Oliver apparently skinning a man alive in the past, and all this just one day after Flash and Supergirl put on their dancin’ boots.

*I appreciate that Evelyn’s betrayal wasn’t dropped altogether, but there’s still a bit of formlessness to Prometheus’ actual plan here. Talia was nowhere in sight to clear things up, and it seemed a bit uncharacteristic of Chase to actually spare Evelyn, to say nothing of whatever purpose is served letting Oliver go.

“Trust me, never give them time for a training montage.”

Still, if we are to reconsider Oliver as a serial killer – and it wasn’t terribly hard to guess that’s where Chase was leading – Stephen Amell certainly had a hell of a time playing those pained realizations, as well as Oliver’s broken disdain in the final scene. “Kapiushon” was basically Arrow by way of the Saw bathroom, or a stage play, and there was incredible range on display between Oliver regretfully batting Evelyn away, or screaming in Josh Segarra’s face like that.

Storywise, there’s at least a few things to unpack here, as it seems we’ve formally moved beyond the Russian flashbacks, checked off boxes like the Bratva tattoo, and layered in a few wrinkles like Malcolm Merlyn’s involvement and Kovar’s apparent survival. The flashbacks did surprisingly well tonight to evoke the present-day series, between all the action of Oliver fighting Kovar at the docks, or at the casino, and all the emphasis on Oliver having a partner like Anatoly to hold back his darkness. Actually spelling out that Oliver liked killing was a bit on the nose, after present-day Oliver confessed that minutes earlier, but I might like to go back and re-watch some of Anatoly’s Season 2 scenes now, to see how well their bond holds up.

Just a brutal, tightly-focused hour overall, and I’m already drained thinking about how much darker this can get before Season 5 drops the final curtain.

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • Yep, completely forgot how Taiana and her brother died.
  • Remind me to look up Bratva customs, to see if they’re just making up these ceremonies.
  • Definitely lost a bit of dialogue between Kovar and Anatoly, and even Chase and Oliver in some of the more intense moments.
  • All that talk of government security, and Oliver had to … put one guy in a sleeper hold, and use a keycard.
  • Kovar apparently has face blindness, that he didn’t recognize Oliver Queen until the hood was off. Dude’s not even wearing grease paint yet!

Arrow Season 5 will return on March 29 with “Disbanded,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.

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