Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “Human Target”:

2016 has been something of a slog, but I’m sill surprised to remember we’re only five episodes deep into Arrow this year, as of “Human Target.”. It was definitely time to start wrapping up the Church arc regardless, especially to flesh out whatever Prometheus’ role in Season 5 will be, and while I’m sad to see Chad L. Coleman go, learning Oliver’s secret identity does tend to accelerate mortal exits. It almost seemed as if “Human Target” wanted to handwave that at first, by Oliver doubting Church would be able to share the news from behind bars, and certainly Coleman brought enough personality to the early-goings of Season 5.

Arrow has a certain habit of covering weak transitions with flashy guest stars (See: Constantine covering up the absurdity of Sara’s resurrection last year), and it seems that role fell to Christopher Chance (Jessica Jones star Wil Traval) this season, awkwardly* at that. I suppose given the nature of the character, it made the most sense to introduce him with the fakeout of an important character’s death, but it still took over half the runtime to realize that idea, and made things especially confusing thereafter to realize Oliver’s successes with Susan Williams and the zoning board holdout weren’t actually Oliver at all. Stranger still, we missed out on an entire offscreen conversation between Billy Malone and “Oliver” that turned into an important plot point later on.

*It’s one thing to saddle Traval with enough exposition and personality for a potential spinoff, and another to randomly insert him at the very end of Oliver’s flashback. It makes sense a few minutes later as a means of explaining that Oliver was sighted off-island during his exile, but felt absurdly jarring in the moment.

Arrow Human Target Review
Moreso, when you wonder what people do with those masks after he discards them.

In any case, a lot of what worked about “Human Target” owed to the buildup of Rene as a viable character, and while the actual danger to his life was pretty short-lived, the choice to pair him with fellow disgraced ex-soldier Diggle was a notably strong one. There’s something very cool about two actors of color portraying servicemen and helping one another through PTSD, and my only wish is that “Human Target” had more time to meaningfully explore that bond, without losing runtime to flesh out Christopher Chance. You could tell in the early moments of Rene’s torture that some of those overheard details would prove important, but twenty seconds of guided meditation to retrieve them very much shortchanged the bond.

Reintroducing Diggle into the mix is also much more fun than having to wade once more into the Olicity pool, but I like that “Human Target” kept the couple’s awkwardness over Billy to a merciful minimum, considering we didn’t even see the scene where Billy spoke to “Oliver” about it. Maybe “Human Target” struggled will keeping all those plates wobbling in uniform, or at least needed to duck around the obvious coincidence of a certain masked character* equally invested in getting closer to Oliver Queen.

*I was referring to Prometheus, but it’s worth asking if anyone caught a name for Church’s masked bodyguard/assassin. Executive producer Wendy Mericle referred to him in promos as a DC character named “Scimitar,” but I … can’t find anyone by that name?

The funny thing is, all of this is going to end up feeling a bit sidetracked by the coming crossover (to say nothing of whatever real-world nightmare we’re living next Wednesday), and my only hope is that the remaining 2-3 November episodes give a stronger sense of Season 5’s overall plan for Prometheus, or at least the seasonal arc.


  • I’m counting … three, four times Rory has snarkily inquired about people making dramatic lair entrances?
  • I know it’s boring, but I am all for Oliver actually having to do some work as Mayor. And look, an actor over 50!
  • For the record, let’s not go crazy with these Hub City references, or the upcoming visit. Season 4 went to Hub City too, and we didn’t meet The Question then, either.
  • Definitely got a younger, inexperienced vibe off Prometheus tonight, between backing down from Church’s “freak,” and acknowledging “we’re cool” at the end.
  • You know, if a reporter handed me a personal cell number after mostly tense interactions, and talk of a more professional dynamic, I would not necessarily discern her meaning either.
  • Best not to linger on the Oliver mask, after he’s taken it off. Wil Traval is also noticeably taller, you know.

Arrow Season 5 will return November 9 with “So It Begins,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.

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