Oliver falls to an assassin’s bullet (but not really, of course) and we say goodbye to a great villain

By Sara Netzley
November 03, 2016 at 03:59 AM EDT
Dean Buscher/The CW

The good tonight: Tobias Church. The fights. The torture. Hilariously realistic masks. Elite bodyguards. The bad tonight: Rezoning. Shady journalism. PR boondoggles. Closure.

Let’s recap! We open with some shirtless torture time. Rene’s trussed up, and Church and his men have worked him over so much he periodically dribbles blood onto his chest while his captors discuss Church’s philosophy on information extraction.

“It’s not the pain that breaks people. It’s fear. Fear of the pain. Of what that pain brings. Of what happens next,” Church says. (I’m sorry, did I accidentally turn on The Walking Dead?)

But no, we now jump to the Arrow Cave, where Oliver shocks everyone with his optimism about finding Rene. He skips off to be Mayor Handsome while John meets the rest of the team and Felicity screens a call from boyfriend Billy (and tells Curtis it’s a telemarketer). That’s cold, Fi.

At City Hall, Oliver and Quentin agree that after Church’s attack on ACU, they need to recruit more cops. Meanwhile, Thea’s stuck talking about a rezoning vote to expand low-income housing in Orchid Bay. It needs four-fifths approval from the city council. The problem is council member Kullens, whom Oliver describes as “decidedly anti-residential,” opposes the proposal &;l#$adgad%&slkjasgjl… Sorry, I dozed off a bit. Someone free Thea from this dull plotline, please.

Thankfully, Green Arrow and his Arrowlettes extract enough information from low-level stoolies to let Felicity run an algorithm (always with the algorithms!) to track Rene to where he’s being forced to dig his own grave in a forest. If I was ever offed in a gangland hit, this would be my least-favorite part of the process, tbh.

Since Rene’s about to die, Church brags he’s in Star City for the water access so he can consolidate his drug running into the biggest operation the world has ever seen. He’s just waiting for Green Arrow’s imminent death to make his move. The hood in question shows up, slinging arrows and sending Church and his crew scurrying.

Bad news, though: Rene broke. “He knows you’re Oliver Queen,” he says.

Oliver takes this news surprisingly well. Actually, he takes all of tonight’s bad news surprisingly well. He refuses to go into hiding, what with the big rezoning vote coming up, and says his security detail will be sufficient. Felicity and I both nervously LOL over his plan’s poor track record. Plus, John points out, his new team is a little lacking: “What do we have? A Laurel Lance wannabe, a weird rag guy, a lunatic, and Curtis. Curtis just wasn’t who I pictured.” Ha! But John does more than insult; he also proposes solutions. Specifically, he offers to contact a guy he knows who could help.

Back to the rezoning plotzzzzzzzzzz. (Sorry.) Not only is council member Kullens refusing to sign off on the low-income housing, he’s being shadowed by sketchy TV reporter Susan Williams for a story (yet there are no cameras in sight) and he tells Oliver a similar rezoning from 25 years ago ended with Queen Consolidated and other crony capitalists squeezing out the needy families. He refuses to change his vote and sweeps out.

“Okay, maybe you should just put an arrow in him,” Thea mutters. This plotline, I swear. Let our Thea go!

Speaking of those a good chunk of the fandom wants to put an arrow in, Billy met up with Felicity for a little afternoon delight, after which he tells her he’s joining the ACU. He wants to know if reporting to her ex-fiancé will be weird — and oh, by the way, Felicity did tell Oliver they’re seeing either other, right? Felicity lies (poorly) and says sure, yeah, of course, it’s all good, mumble mumble…

“I thought you hired me to kill the Green Arrow,” says the new mask. (If he’s a DC Comics character, I didn’t recognize him. Sorry.) Church replies, “Nope. You’re gonna kill the mayor.”

Oh, Mayor Handsome. He’s agreed to an off-camera interview with Susan Williams, to which I say, huh? She’s a TV reporter; she cannot do her job without using video. Anyway, Oliver gets her to give him a month without any attack pieces so he can win her trust and prove he can help the city. That’s…not how journalism works.

Susan agrees and gives him her cell phone number for, well, you know. I repeat, that’s NOT how journalism works!

NEXT: Rumors of Mayor Queen’s death have been greatly exaggerated

Council member Kullens is back, just in time to be blackmailed by the Queen siblings who learned his shell company benefited from that 25-years-ago rezoning. Turns out he opposes this rezoning because he wants to redevelop the area in question for commercial businesses. Oliver threatens to turn the information over to Susan Williams, and Kullens capitulates.

The Queens leave their meeting, and Church’s hitman shows up and drills Oliver in the chest, over and over — killing him in front of Thea’s horrified eyes. Cut to Quentin telling the press corps Oliver died in the attack as a shell-shocked Thea stands nearby. Um, this is not the way to handle this situation. This is not how government works. What is happening tonight?

Of course, Oliver’s just fine. He’s in the Arrow Cave when his body double strolls in, removes a hilariously realistic Oliver mask, and tosses it to Felicity…who holds it to her face and growls, “You have failed this city.” Ha!

The Oliver double turns out to be John’s bodyguard buddy, Christopher Chance. Comic fans will recognize him as a spy who stands in for people marked for assassination — a human target, you could say. TV nerds will recognize him from the Fox TV show of the same name that ran for two seasons in 2010-2011. Either way, he’s delightful.

Unfortunately, we don’t get enough time with Chance this week. He says that when he takes on a job, he doesn’t just put on the face; he has to become his clients. He’s the one who cowed Kullens and got Susan’s phone number. He’s also the one who met Billy and learned the cop is Felicity’s new sidepiece. (Why couldn’t we have seen more of that unfold and less of Thea fussing about council votes? It’s a shame so much of this happened off camera!)

Anyway, Chance tells Oliver he’s got a pretty sweet gig going as the mayor, and reminds him “Nobody moves forward in life when they’re hiding behind a mask.” Naturally, this leads Oliver to rappel down onto Felicity’s loft balcony (“Front doors are more for people who haven’t just faked their own death”) to talk about their love lives. As you do.

He says he’s not upset she’s seeing someone; it’s that she didn’t tell him. She clarifies that she wasn’t keeping the door open for the two of them. Instead, she was waiting until she was sure it was something real, which hasn’t happened yet. So…good talk?

Over in the Diggle HIVE hideout, John’s trying to get Rene to talk through his recent captivity to see if he heard anything that might help them stop Church. Rene is torn about betraying Oliver, but John gently prods, saying his own brother tortured him. Rene, in turn, admits he was dishonorably discharged from the Navy for instigating his own interrogation of a prisoner he was transporting, after intelligence officers couldn’t get what they needed out of him. He screwed up then, he screwed up now, and he doesn’t want to relive it with John.

Still, John takes him back to his imprisonment. He remembers hunger and pain from the zip ties. Then he remembers Church saying something about Brace, and it all falls into place. In the Arrow Cave, the team figures out Brace is an old airfield, and that night, Church is bringing his drug-running crews together to start their new operation — in a town with cops in their pocket and no Green Arrow.

They all mount up, but Rene wants to stay behind so he doesn’t screw up again. John tells him to snap out of it. “When it comes to guilt and recrimination, the line forms behind me,” he says. “I’m wearing this suit again because I think it’s a path to redemption. And it could be for you, too.”

NEXT: A moment of silence for a fantastic villain

At the Brace, Spartan and the Arrowlettes mix it up with the nest of baddies. Chance is there, too, dressed as one of the gang members in a ridiculous gold chain. Church escapes into the hanger, where he encounters a breathing Green Arrow. Fight, fight, fight. Green Arrow shoots him in the shoulder. I dunno… With all the murders Green Arrow’s committed, plus the fact Church knows his identity, I don’t understand why this isn’t an arrow-straight-to-the-heart situation.

Anyway, Green Arrow takes Church into custody, but not before Church warns him Prometheus is coming for him.

On the steps of City Hall the next day, Oliver apologies for perpetrating a deception on the city but says it was a worthwhile gambit to capture Church and the other gang leaders. Seriously? This is not how governing works, Oliver! Oh, and the low-income rezoning passed, so yay.

In the mayor’s office, Felicity shows up as Chance is leaving (come back anytime, dude, you were fun!) and starts to babble at Oliver. Things are awkward, and they agree they should embrace new romantic opportunities. Still, Oliver says, “I care about you. And I will always care about you. It’s a mortal lock.”

Okay, Olicity haters, please skip this paragraph: Yeah, uh, does anybody buy this? They’ve still got crazy chemistry, and any love interests tossed in their paths just feel like temporary fixes until we can get back to these two. They simply must be end game. Grr.

It’s safe again, non-Olicity folks. Let’s talk about the this-is-not-how-you-do-journalism journalist Susan, who pays off a guy who says it was Chance who took the bullets for Oliver. Oh, and he also gives her pictures of Ollie in Russia when he was supposed to be on an island.

Seems like a good time to flash back to five years ago. In Russia, Oliver and his wig are sitting through the world’s scariest job interview. He faces Anatoly and two other Bratva and tells them, “I have no family, I have no home, I have no name. I am Bratva.”

Anatoly replies, “We are Bratva.” They embrace and head to the only bar in town, where it becomes very clear that Bratva member Viktor isn’t feeling very fraternal towards Oliver. He’s so non-fraternal, in fact, he’s hired two dudes to murder Ollie in an alley. (Ollie in an Alley is the name of my new bluegrass band, by the way.) But a tough Russian jumps in, kills the assassins, and tells Oliver his boss owes him the other half of his fee within the hour. Once he’s out of Oliver’s sight, he takes off his mask…and we see the face of Christopher Chance! Dramatic chipmunk!

Since Anatoly knew Viktor wanted Oliver dead, he hired the human target to stop the hit — only they can’t kill Viktor because he’s too connected. Oliver wants to know what he got himself into. So do we, Mr. Queen!

Okay, back to the present. Church is being transported to Iron Heights by a heavily armed police escort, but he’s as nervous as a cat in a room of rocking chairs. And sure enough, an explosion stops the procession, and we hear gunshots and arrows from inside the van. Church begs his guard to stay inside and avoid getting killed.

The guard doesn’t listen and, unsurprisingly, is killed immediately. Prometheus has taken out everyone, and Church bargains for his life with the identity of Green Arrow: It’s Oliver Queen. “You will be the only person who knows,” he says.

Never say Prometheus isn’t a man of his word: Church doesn’t get a third warning. Instead, Church gets a throwing star to the neck, and thus dies my favorite Arrow villain in forever.

Farewell, Tobias Church. You were a delicious menace.

Thoughts for your quiver:

  • Things we know about Rene beyond his dishonorable discharge: His dad taught him how to take a beating and he doesn’t listen well, according to his ex from episode 2. I dig how they’re slowly releasing facts about him this season, especially when compared to the dramatic Rory info-dump.
  • Wouldn’t Curtis and Felicity be more curious about Chance’s incredibly authentic masks? What’s that technology like? How long do they take to make? How durable are they? So many questions those scientists should have asked!
  • Who played Christopher Chance better, Wil Traval or Mark Valley? Do you wish we’d gotten to see more doppelgänger hijinks tonight?
  • Will you miss Tobias Church as much as I will? Let me know in the comments!

Episode grade: C+