Arrow S05E07 “Vigilante” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- A human trafficking group is attacked by a mysterious figure. At first they think it’s the Arrow, but after they’re all shot dead and two are dumped outside SCPD headquarters, it becomes clear there’s another vigilante in town.
- The recruits wonder if the vigilante is doing them a favour, but Oliver and Diggle want him stopped.
- At City Hall, Oliver meets with Susan Williams, who knows about the Vigilante attacks. She agrees to sit on the story, but invites Oliver out for a drink and eventually he agrees.
- A bunch of skull-mask wearing bank robbers hit Star City National. The recruits head there, but discover the Vigilante has beaten them to it, and has killed one of the robbers.
- Quentin gives Thea his resignation. She visits him at home and he reveals he’s been blacking out, before admitting he woke up last week with a throwing star and a cut arm. He doesn’t think he’s Prometheus, but that Prometheus is targeting him to get to Oliver and Thea. She takes him to a rehab facility to get help.
- Meanwhile the recruits work the streets to find out who supplies the Vigilante with his bullets and equipment, and where the Spooky Gang is targeting next. Diggle loses his temper, leaving the others worried, and he reveals he had to miss his son’s second birthday as US Marshalls are watching Lyla.
- Team Arrow tracks down the Spooky Gang as it hits the next bank, and finds itself in a face-off with the Vigilante, who accuses Oliver of going too soft on criminals which the system can’t stop.
- DA Adrian Chase, watched by Oliver, aggressively interrogates one of the captured Spooky Gang, and discovers their leader Dunn is hiding out in a hotel.
- Oliver heads to the hotel, and manages to save Dunn from being shot by the Vigilante, who blows the place up, killing three bystanders in the process.
- Team Arrow stages a bank raid to draw the Vigilante out of hiding, but he turns the tables by capturing Curtis and threatening to shoot him if the Green Arrow doesn’t get out his way. They fight, but Vigilante manages to escape.
- Thea tells Oliver about Quentin – and they realise Prometheus must know who Oliver is.
- Rene arranges for Lyla and John Jr to visit Diggle at his hideout so they can celebrate his son’s birthday, while Oliver and Susan go on another date.
- And on a rooftop, Evelyn waits… for Prometheus. “They don’t suspect a thing,” she tells him.
- In flashback, Kovar sits down to dinner with Oliver after having had him tortured for a week but learning nothing. It turns out Kovar is employing Taiana Venediktov’s mother now. He reveals he’s struck a deal with the Bratva to share money, and the Bratva has abandoned Oliver. Oliver doesn’t believe him, and tries to escape, but Bratva boss Ishmael arrives and confirms it.
So last week we said it was time this season of Arrow started putting some meat on what had been a decidedly bony-feeling run of episodes. And with remarkable timing, the producers have done just that.
Bringing Vigilante into the mix is an interesting move, not least because the character – basically the DC equivalent of The Punisher – steps into the Arrowverse all guns blazing and offering his own brutal brand of justice in the same year as Marvel successfully put Frank Castle into the Defenders microverse over on Netflix.
Whether the timing is deliberate, coincidental or even, depending on your point of view, hugely unfortunate, it’s an interesting move — mirroring the Matt Murdoch v Punisher debate from the start of Daredevil season two.
Vigilante wants to step into the area left by the Arrow’s reluctance to kill, and has no qualms about doing so. Oliver, meanwhile, wants to believe in the wheels of justice — not least because failing to do so undermines both his moral arguments from last week and his position as leader of the city.
And among all that, it would appear there’s a trojan horse within Team Arrow as the cliffhanger — the best since… well, last week, actually — makes Evelyn’s little digs and asides over the last couple of weeks seem to make a bit more sense.
There’s a definite sense over the last few weeks of Curtis being set up for something nasty. All those jokes about his not being up to scratch, to the reminder of his husband, and even the comedy pratfall off the salmon ladder and him being the one beaten up… it feels like this is going from a running gag to something with a bit more foreboding.
There’s a couple of genuinely lovely performances in this week’s episode. David Ramsey and Paul Blackthorne regularly come in for praise in these reviews and this week, sorry, is no exception. The latter, especially, and his tortured performance as Quentin Lance, is the acting standout of the show, along with a quiet supporting turn from Willa Holland.
The other comes from Dolph Lundgren as Russian gangster Konstantine Kovar. Now, let’s be fair, big Dolph isn’t usually often known for the subtlety or the sensitivity of his performances but here he exudes a quiet menace even before we get him punching the daylights out of Olly in a corridor. It’s not a big, arch turn like Neal McDonough last year, but there’s still something of the Bond Villain™ about it.
Ironically, as we lurch into the big crossover week, there’s a feeling of Arrow getting a touch more forward momentum with its main plotlines – Prometheus’ vengeance crusade against Oliver, and whatever he got up to in Russia. Hopefully next week’s break as the whole gang get together won’t derail that.
- That cliffhanger. Kudos, never saw that coming.
- There’s some nice dialogue here; Oliver and Rory’s Moby Dick bit, Oliver’s impassioned speech about them being pissed at him last week; and even Eric Dunn’s speech about how prison turned him bad.
- Oliver’s arrow inventory now includes one that opens to produce a sheet of bulletproof material conveniently wide enough to cover a window. Even Clint Barton’s looking at all these trick arrows and going “Pfffft” these days.
- We’re just going to stick this out there, but Susan Williams is a bloody awful journalist, even by American TV news standards. Giving away your source is bad journalism 101, even if you are on the pull and even if you do have evil ulterior motives.
- Just putting this out there, but Evelyn is supposed to be, at most, 17 years old. Dressing her as a hooker and having her act as bait for an informant Rory wants to shake down is pretty ropey territory.
- It’s nice to see some action taking place during the day, but don’t all those banks look less like actual banks and more like the offices of some Toronto design agency?
- It probably says more about us than the show, but every time someone says Bratva on this show, we keep hearing the Kula Shaker song “Tattva” (and, if we’re being honest, the Shirehorses version “Ta La”. One for the kids there…)
And The Random:
- Gordon Verheul returns to the director’s chair, after making his bow with last season’s “Sins Of The Father”. A hugely respected director of photography on genre telly, he’s been DP on more than 50 episodes, crafting the show’s look, as well as shows such as Fringe, Sanctuary, Stargate and Smallville. He also used to direct Andromeda, but don’t hold that against him.
- So, as we mentioned previously, Adrian Chase is the alter ego of one of the versions of Vigilante in the comics, which would make Star City’s DA pretty much the odds-on favourite to be the man behind the mask. In the comics, Chase was a DA in New York whose family were killed by gangsters. Initially he disabled rather than killed his opponents, but became increasingly casual about collateral damage and started offing villains right left and centre. Eventually, tormented by his behaviour, he ended up committing suicide. His costume in the series is pretty accurate — it also bears a curious similarity to Kick-Ass…
Review by Iain Hepburn