Arrow S05E15 “Fighting Fire With Fire” REVIEW
Essential plot points:
- Oliver and co fight their way through a press scrum at City Hall to the Mayor’s office, where Oliver tells the team that Prometheus is behind the leak over the autopsy. He’s determined to hold onto the job as otherwise Prometheus wins.
- DA Adrian Chase offers to resign – he’s the one who ordered the autopsy report to be changed, and says it will give the council its pound of flesh instead of impeaching Oliver. Instead, Oliver hires him as his lawyer for the hearing.
- Curtis is developing his T-Spheres, devices to help defend him in the field, which he hopes will convince his husband Paul that it’s safe for him to remain a vigilante — despite some mocking from Rene.
- Oliver wants Felicity to try and smooth things over with Susan Williams for him, as she is refusing to talk to him following her sacking. Unsurprisingly, Felicity’s a bit uncomfortable with this.
- The impeachment hearing is told by the coroner that Chase ordered her to change the autopsy, on the mayor’s direct orders, while police captain Pike confirms Oliver told him the Arrow was responsible for Detective Williams’ death.
- Felicity tells Diggle about Helix and her hacking activities. He’s not impressed.
- As Oliver, Quentin, Dinah and Thea leave the first hearing at City Hall in their limo, it’s attacked by Vigilante, who is now targeting the Mayor. Oliver confronts him, but the police arrive before Vigilante can finish the job.
- The team work the streets trying to track down Vigilante but Thea also wants Felicity to dig up any dirt from the Pandora files on Councilman Kullens, who’s heading the impeachment proceedings.
- At the crash site, Dinah discovers a piece of Vigilante’s mask was broken off during the fight. She tells the team — but Chase takes it from her and says he’ll bag it for evidence himself.
- On a nearby rooftop Vigilante gives chase to Prometheus. The two fight, and eventually Prometheus throws him off the rooftop. However, looking over, he cannot see any sign of a body, so instead unmasks and phones in a Vigilante sighting to the police, revealing himself to be… Adrian Chase!
- Felicity finds out through the Pandora files that Councilman Kullens’ wife had committed suicide, rather than dying in a car crash as previously thought, and that the councillor had covered it up. Diggle berates her for using private, tragic information like this.
- As Dinah retrieves the fragment of Vigilante’s visor from the police, Oliver confronts Thea over her plan to use the information about Mrs Kullens.
- Curtis’s spheres get a fix on the circuits used in the visor and allow the team to track Vigilante – he’s set up a sniper position opposite City Hall, where Oliver is going to give a press conference. Curtis, Rene and Diggle get into a fight with Vigilante, who shoots the latter two before Curtis manages to stop him killing them by using his spheres, although Vigilante manages to escape.
- Oliver tells the press that the Green Arrow has gone rogue, and is a cop killer. Susan comes to visit him and tells him she’s been reinstated after a hacker came forward and admitted setting her up. She realises Oliver wasn’t behind getting her fired, and promises to protect his secret identity.
- Chase reveals the council has voted against impeachment. However, Thea tells Oliver she’s quitting because she’s getting too into dirty politics, and wants to sort her head out. Oliver thanks the team for saving him.
- Curtis heads out to meet Paul, thinking it’s a date for the two of them to try and get back together. But instead, Paul presents him with divorce papers.
- Felicity meets with Kojo Sledgehammer and tells her she’s ready to be a part of Helix and help out with their hactivisim.
- In flashbacks to the hospital in Russia, Anatoly strikes a temporary bargain for his and Oliver’s life, calling for a vote by Bratva members on who they support — him or Gregor. Oliver sneaks out and obtains evidence from Kovar’s house of Gregor being given extra payments not passed onto the rest of the Bratva. The gang members initially back Gregor, but once the new evidence is revealed, they’re split 50-50. Gregor and his men open fire on the others.
Okay. Cards on the table time. We did not see the big twist coming.
With a TV show that’s drawn from a comic book, when characters from the comic are introduced you expect they’ll largely be drawn from the legitimate continuity.
At times, though, Arrow has played fast and loose with characters’ backgrounds; Wild Dog being Rene Ramirez rather than Jack Wheeler, for instance, or their version of Anarky. But by and large they’ve either kept faithful to the original characters, or invented new ones entirely to fill the shoes.
So taking Adrian Chase, the name of Vigilante in the comics, and introducing him as a character in the same season you introduce Vigilante to the series, you’re leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for fans of the DC comics (or who can google) to follow. Credit, then, is due to the Arrow producers. Because we suspect a lot of people, and hands up that includes us here at MYM Buzz, followed that breadcrumb trail as blindly as Jeremy and Jemima into the Child Catcher’s van.
It was a brilliant bit of misdirection, helped even more by the big reveal coming not at the end of an episode, but midway through, as Vigilante and Prometheus clash on the rooftop. It also makes sense within the show; we know little about Chase other than his temper, his occasionally dodgy behaviour and the fact that he’s been very close to Oliver throughout the series… hiding his real identity in plain sight. Kudos.
Of course, it does throw up another curveball — namely, who on earth is Vigilante? As neither Prometheus nor Vigilante use the real character’s voice (Prometheus as we’ve established is being voiced by Michael Dorn, and voice actor Mick Wingert’s been providing Vigilante’s gruff tones), there are no clues in the show other than, for it to work, the reveal has to be a male character (we’re presuming male from Vigilante’s build) who’s been in the show already. Otherwise it’s just a dude in a suit we don’t have any investment in.
The revelation, of course, formed the core shock of the episode but shouldn’t overshadow what was a rollocking hour of television.
The big difference between this season and season four is that last year this point we knew what that climax was going to be, and it was going to be big. We knew it would be a confrontation between Team Arrow and HIVE, and that the stakes would be significant. This time out, it’s a far more personal, almost small-scale threat which Oliver and co are facing, meaning the direction the show is going to take for the back eight episodes is hard to predict.
Not least because we’ve still got some odd pieces on the board with Evelyn and Rory currently AWOL. We’ve a post-breakup Curtis. We’ve got Felicity stepping to the dark side of her hacking beliefs. And we’ve got Thea starting to go to the dark side as well. Oliver’s speech thanking them for their work as a team feels as much a set-up for another fragmenting of the Arrowcave residents as it does a validation of their work.
However, the Thea stuff has been… odd. With Willa Holland having been in and out the show like a yoyo this season, the return last week, and her becoming more a devious mandarin behind the scenes seemed like the start of a slow burn. Indeed, as we see her suggesting chucking Billy’s reputation under the bus, then looking for blackmail material on the council members voting on impeachment, it felt like they were setting up something significant. But instead it gets kiboshed, Susan gets her job back, and Thea ends up quitting her job because she’s getting in too deep.
Unless Holland has professional commitments elsewhere that necessitated writing her out again, it all feels a bit rushed when a slow burn of her becoming more and more like a satanic Leo McGarry would have been more effective.
We’ve mentioned before that one of the problems of this season has been this expanded cast leaving the producers juggling screen time, and in some ways this feels like a victim of that. We’ve had Rory leave, now Thea’s gone, and we’ve still got a huge cast kicking around.
Interestingly, too, the flashback sequences are continuing to unfold, for the third consecutive week, as part of an immediate narrative. Rather than being segments of the past that tie into this week’s story, usually thematically, the last couple of weeks have told their own self-contained story and, although ending on a cliffhanger, that comes effectively mid scene.
Michael Schultz, a veteran of film and TV, knows how to get the best out of this show, bringing a nice visual sensibility to shooting, especially around the Mayor’s office. The set-piece fights look good too; the half-built building for the final scrap offers a change of scenery compared to the warehouses we often get, and the limo crash and firefight is a spectacularly well executed stunt.
All in all, though, “Fighting Fire With Fire” is a great episode of Arrow. It’s pacy, revelatory and feels like a key point in the story, with things starting to unfold and, in some cases, unravel as we start on the final lap of the season.
- The Rene and Curtis double act continues to be fun, even if the balls jokes were getting a bit laboured by the end.
- There’s some impressive stunt-work in the episode, not least the Limo flip, but also credit too to the rooftop fight between Prometheus and Vigilante, leading to the big reveal. Two masked characters, neither of which we should be rooting for, and it was still an impressive piece of staging.
- We love Thea’s throwaway line about never getting in a Limo with Oliver again. His track record for horrible things happening in them – Felicity’s shooting, Deathstroke killing his mother – is really mounting up now…
- There’s an increasing lack of drama to folk getting shot in Arrow if they just stand back up again and say, “Well, thankfully Cisco fitted me out with new kevlar.” C’mon!
- And we’re back in Star City’s one hospital room once again. Honestly, Oliver, as Mayor you really need to fund an expansion of the medical facilities in your city.
- Was it just us, or was Oliver’s presumption that Dr Schwartz is, “prescribing him a girlfriend,” waaaay inappropriate? We just presumed she meant a counsellor to talk to.
- Right. Stepping away from the MYM Buzz hat for a minute — this next bit is written as Iain, a 20-plus year newspaper journalist rather than your reviewer – but the whole Susan Williams/plagiarism/hacking stuff is, to use a technical term, absolute bollocks. US media takes the idea, and even the suggestion, of plagiarism extremely seriously. Fact checkers confirm the details in stories, stand up quotes and in cases where plagiarism is claimed, will go through every former story by that hack with a fine tooth comb. They do not fire someone as depicted in Arrow, and they certainly don’t reinstate someone on the strength of an anonymous hacker saying, “Actually, it’s me that set her up, sorry!” Media, and especially US news media, is incredibly strict about these kind of claims, and this was bullshit. Sorry. Rant over.
And the Random:
- Remember last week we asked how long until Mister Terrific’s T-Spheres from the comic were introduced, in the wake of his new costume? Well, the answer turns out to be precisely a week. In the comics, the T-Spheres usually hover around Terrific and can act as sensors, bombs, hologram projectors and data recorders. Most of which we see here.
- Nice to have Michael Schultz back in the hot-seat for his annual Arrow outing; he’s popped up every so often since the show started, most recently in last year’s “Beacon Of Hope” episode. Although mainly a TV director these days he also directed ’70s musical films Car Wash and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, in a career dating back 45 years.
- Just how many hacks do Channel 52 need to doorstep Oliver at the City Hall? There’s at least three 52-branded microphones in the press scrum, which seems somewhat excessive. Deploy your resources better, news director.
Review by Iain Hepburn