Arrow 2.18 “Deathstroke” REVIEW

Episode 2.18
Writers: Marc Guggenheim & Drew Z Greenberg
Director: Guy Norman Bee

THE ONE WHERE: Slade kidnaps Thea just as Moira prepares to contest the Mayorship against Sebastian Blood…

THE VERDICT: “Everything is proceeding as planned,” declares Slade Wilson, in impeccable supervillain style. And he’s not wrong. A fine, focused, utterly involving episode, “Deathstroke” sees a conspiracy begin to tighten around Oliver Queen’s life, a vengeance plot that’s clearly been years in the planning. “It’s the slow knife that cuts the deepest,” as Talia al Ghul would say.

All rasp and alpha male glower, Manu Bennett continues to make Wilson a credible antagonist. No, more than credible: he’s terrifying, frankly, loading pure, concentrated threat into every syllable as he declares “You’re not going home, Thea.” A moment later he roars “Get out!”, and it’s a gear-change to chill the blood. He radiates power on an almost molecular level: punched in the face, he casually spits on the ground. But Bennett brings a deft twinkle, too. It’s hard not to smile as he acknowledges his comic book monicker: “It’s pretty flamboyant. I like it.” He looks good in the full Deathstroke gear, too – one of the more impressive ports from page to screen.

This episode may be short on the show’s traditional action beats but it’s big on character moments. Oliver and Moira’s reconciliation is genuinely moving while Slade’s declaration that his and Oliver’s psyches are still haunted by their time on the island is a confrontation that sees leading man Stephen Amell visibly raising his game. It’s an episode with an assured grasp of its ensemble cast’s dynamics, the story’s twists and manipulations striking sparks between its players and pushing them to interesting places. Watch the scene where Roy tells Sara “Of course you’d take [Oliver’s] side, you’re screwing him!” – it’s not just the startling bluntness of Roy’s words, it’s the reaction shot of a quietly wounded Felicity that completes it.

Slade’s masterplan is bringing a real dramatic impetus to these closing episodes of season two. “Now we fight back,” says Oliver. Take your seats, people.

TRIVIA: Isabel’s reference to “the sins of the father” hints at further revelations to come. In the comic books she was romantically involved with Robert Queen during his sojourn in Russia. She believes herself to be his true heir.

DID YOU SPOT?: Felicity says “I told a boy the truth once – he got hit by lightning” is, of course, a reference to Barry Allen AKA The Flash.

DODGY ACCENT OF THE WEEK: That Russian guy on Flashback Island sounds as though he’s stepped from a low-grade ‘60s spy flick.

Felicity (to Oliver): “Do you remember where you put your business suit – or do you keep it in a cool glass case too?”

Arrow is broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 HD

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