If last week’s episode was about Team Arrow 2.0 learning to trust Oliver, then tonight’s outing was about Oliver learning to trust his new team. We’ve been with Oliver for five years now, so it’s no surprise he has an incredibly hard time putting faith in his team — to be fair, they don’t give him much reason to. But overall, this was an important step for the group in its development.
Flashback: Five years ago
Before Oliver can learn to trust his team, he needs to learn to trust the Bratva, a.k.a. the Brotherhood. Oliver is still upset his success led to the deaths of several innocent men. Anatoli tells him he needs to trust Bratva, and reveals one of those men was a killer and his death was for the mother of one of his victims. Furthermore, the only chance Oliver has to take down Kovar is if he has the Bratva as his army. Basically, his only option is to stick with initiation.
This sways Oliver, who decides to put his trust in Bratva. In his next test, Oliver must prove his loyalty to his brothers by letting them slice his back with knives.
Arrow has always struggled to tie the flashbacks to what’s going on in the present timeline. Most of the time, the show’s attempts feel incredibly contrived, but there are moments when they hit the mark and that’s the case tonight. Part of the reason the flashbacks work in this episode is because the story line is, at least now, genuinely interesting. The other reason is Oliver’s initiation into Bratva is a natural parallel to the team building going on the present. The Russia flashbacks are one of the few reasons I’m optimistic about this truly being a comeback season for the show.
Team Arrow 2.0 still isn’t gelling. Oliver forces them to remain in the satellite Arrow cave and watch him chase drug dealers across roofs, instead of having them out there in the field with him. Obviously, they’re starting to feel restless, especially hothead Wild Dog, who is incredibly annoying and my least favorite new character. Tonight, Oliver is trying to trace the origin of a new drug called Stardust. Wild Dog offers to hit the streets and use his connections to get some leads, but Oliver shuts him down.
Wild Dog, being the wild dog he is, disobeys Oliver and goes looking for a Stardust dealer with Evelyn Sharp in tow. Rene’s instincts prove to be true and he tracks down Derek Sampson’s base of operation. In the moment, he decides to turn this recon mission into a takedown mission and blows up Sampson’s spot. In the ensuing fight, Sampson falls over into a vat of acid comprised of Stardust and some mystery element.
Everyone assumes Sampson died after falling into the vat, which pisses off many people. First, there’s Star City’s new D.A. Adrian, who was hoping to flip Sampson and find his supplier. Then there’s Oliver, pissed because Adrian is pissed and because Wild Dog disobeyed an order. Wild Dog doesn’t think he did anything wrong, making him just as stubborn as Oliver.
NEXT: Welcome to the Arrow Cave