Slade deals with the repercussions of broken promises, and John comes clean with the team

By Sara Netzley
November 17, 2017 at 12:55 AM EST
Jack Rowand/The CW

This week’s Arrow is all about the promises we make and the promises we break.

First, a flashback to seven years ago: Slade’s recovering in an Australian Secret Intelligence Service medical ward with a bandaged eye (was it me, or did that bandage travel from left to right eye depending on the shot?) and nightmares about the Amazo fight with Oliver. When he wakes up, his son Joe is there, and Slade hugs him tight, promising never to leave him again.

In the present, Joe informs his father that he now goes by Kane in his role as leader of the Jackals, and with Deathstroke’s help, they’ll be able to intercept a shipment of the high-yield explosive Semtex.

Flashback, six years ago: Joe and Slade spar in an A.S.I.S. training center. Joe gripes, “How are you better with one eye than I am with two?” then hands Slade a “happy one year back from the dead” bottle of booze, which triggers more island flashbacks.

A prototype suit that’s destined to become Deathstroke’s sits in a glass case in the training room, but Slade’s not interested in that. He and Joe resume sparring with escrima sticks, causing Slade to recall training Oliver in the same manner. The memory makes him too aggressive, and he leaves Joe bleeding. Suddenly, ghost Shado appears to taunt Slade for not keeping his promise to her.

In the present, Oliver makes contact with Slade, and they agree stop the Jackals’ plans, despite Oliver’s warning that Kane is dangerous.

When the Jackals attack the Semtex truck, Kane busts Slade for not taking kill shots, then gives him a chance to prove his loyalty by presenting him with Oliver, who was caught lurking nearby.

Flashback, five years ago: Slade trains (is that all he does at A.S.I.S.?) as his Mirakuru-induced Shado hallucination gets more severe, taunting him for being too cowardly to keep his promise to make Oliver pay. Slade shouts that Oliver is dead, but she just directs his attention to the training room TV, which is showing a report on Oliver’s miraculous recovery.

“I keep my promises,” Slade growls before kissing ghost Shado, which has to look goofy for anybody in the training room watching this all unfold. He sets his sights on the not-yet-Deathstroke armor, and eventually an extremely bloody Slade makes it to Joe, explaining that everybody got in the way of him keeping his promise to Shado. He knocks Joe unconscious and peaces out with the Deathstroke outfit.

In the present, Oliver is tied to a chair, and Slade threatens his eye with a sword. Oliver frantically reminds him about their joint promises to their sons, which informs Kane about William’s existence. Well, that can’t be good.

Slade moves behind Oliver and dramatically lifts his sword, looking very much like he intends to kill his old frenemy. But in the end, he cuts Oliver’s bonds.

Oliver tells him that performance was a little too convincing, and Slade admits that he really was tempted to stay with his son. Oliver reminds him that they’re actually dealing with Kane, not Joe. Slade worries that in his anger and resentment, Kane’s modeled himself after his father — but the Mirakuru monster version. Oliver urges him to try to reason with Kane and show him the man Slade is now.

The Jackals plan to damage a major water system, so Oliver acts as a one-man fighting machine taking down henchmen outside while Slade and Kane face off inside. Kane demands to know why Slade forgave Oliver, and Slade says it’s because Oliver forgave him for worse.

As they fight, Kane spills some secrets: He saw his pre-Mirakuru father kill that Chinese spy on their camping trip years ago. Little Joe wanted to be exactly like his father and ended up making his first kill six months later, so his current path can’t be blamed on Mirakuru. Yikes, camping trip Joe was young. Oh, he’s also got a brother named Grant, whom his mother tucked away to keep him out of this dangerous life.

When Slade says he’s not Deathstroke anymore, Kane loses all use for him and prepares to deliver the, well, the death stroke. But Oliver shoots the sword out of Kane’s hand. Kane hisses that he wishes Slade had stayed dead, then tosses a grenade and disappears.

The Jackals are all arrested, but Slade’s not willing to give up on his sons — either of them. Oliver, who really is too pure for this Earth, offers to help, but Slade sends him back to William. (Next page: John comes clean)

Now, let’s head to Star City, where Dragon, a new player in town, is stealing parts for military-grade 3D printers, and John’s still hiding his hand tremor.

And hey, here’s Lyla! We learn how she feels about John’s new role: At first she felt like he did when she took over for Amanda Waller, but now she says it suits him. In fact, it suits him so much, she beckons him to the bedroom.

But he makes a pit stop to give himself a quick injection from the case that’s not locked or even very carefully hidden in the living room. Yo, John, I’ve currently got Christmas gifts in more secure hiding places. Be more circumspect! He discovers he’s all out of his drug when an anonymous text pops up on his phone, saying, “No more this week.” How did John’s dealer time that so perfectly??

The next day, John heads to his dealer’s lair, where a roomful of people are hard at work manufacturing various illegal substances. He finally meets the boss, Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo), who sizes John up and says, “I wouldn’t want to mess with you.” Ironic foreshadowing! Diaz says they have to be careful with distribution because they don’t have FDA approval yet (ha!) but approves selling some to John.

Later at the Arrow Cave, the team gets an alert about a robbery at Palmer Tech, and when they arrive, John’s shocked to see that Dragon is none other than Ricardo Diaz. (Also, John shoots a trick arrow that seems to make airbags inflate, which works surprisingly well.)

Now that they know his name, the team learns that Diaz/Dragon has been out of a prison for a month, his double life sentence having been overturned due to technicalities. Also, his stolen printers can be used to manufacture cheap, high-end designer drugs, cutting out the middle man.

John’s clearly distracted during this conversation, and why wouldn’t he be? If they stop Dragon’s operation, adios tremor drugs. But he tells the team he’s just rattled because Dragon’s got the drop on him.

And then oh thank God, John heads home and tells Lyla about the tremor and the drugs, which he describes as an experimental steroid. He asks if A.R.G.U.S. is working on anything that might help him. Lyla is as horrified as we are that he’s knowingly endangering his team and wants to know what happened to the moral man she married. He tries to say it’s the same thing as the ethically gray choices she has to make at A.R.G.U.S., but she’s angry that he’s willing to let Dragon continue racking up bodies until John finds another solution for the tremors. The night ends with tension in the Diggle/Michaels household.

The next day, the team’s frustrated at the lack of useful intel on Dragon until John offers an address for his base of operations, saying he got it from a “contact.” Felicity gives John the briefest of quizzical looks before the team rolls out.

When Arrow and Co. arrive, Dragon rather quickly sacrifices his operation (and all his men) by kicking over a barrel of something flammable and setting it on fire. John watches in horror as the flames race toward a huge supply of his “experimental steroids.” He finally tears himself away just before the whole place blows.

Back home, John tells Lyla how tempted he was to run straight into the explosion to save the stash. But a quick cuddle with his wife and adorable son (justice for baby Sara!) rights his equilibrium, and he tells Lyla he needs to go apologize to a few people.

Cut to another domestic scene: Felicity and William are happily playing a video game when Oliver arrives home and hugs William a little tighter than his short trip would warrant. William reports that Felicity let them have rocky road ice cream for dinner, and he got an A on his bottle rocket science project. Glad school’s going better for him!

Felicity stepped in because William was getting sick of Raisa, and she makes sure Oliver’s okay with her being there. Oliver cradles her face and says he’s glad. Aww! Also, his trip reinforced his belief that quitting the vigilante business was the right decision for him and William.

When John texts Felicity with a request to swing by the bunker that night, she takes a raincheck, and the newly formed family head to the roof to watch William demonstrate his sweet bottle rocket skills.

This leaves John with an audience of Dinah, Curtis, and Rene as he tells them his secret, including the rock bottom he hit that night. He sincerely apologizes for betraying their trust. (Public figures offering crappy apologies for their behavior, take note! This is how it’s done.)

Rene realizes that John was having problems when he was injured on the bridge in the premiere, but in the end he says that John’s saved him far more than he’s endangered him. Curtis is just angry that John didn’t ask for his help with the tremor issue and jumps right into science talk.

After the duo leave, John offers Dinah a special apology, and they promise not to keep any more secrets. But she walks away with her supposedly dead, now-meta boyfriend’s origami token in her hand. And left alone, John stands in front of his Green Arrow costume as his hand shakes.

Arrows for your quiver:

  • Best dinnertime ice cream? I say peanut butter cup and will die on this hill.
  • What a huuuuuuuuuuge relief that they didn’t drag John’s secret out any longer. Now we can focus on a cure or rehab or whatever comes next. Unfortunately, Dinah seems to be picking up the “I’ve got a potentially dangerous secret that I really should share” torch that Team Arrow so loves.
  • Manu Bennet simply oozes charisma and danger as Slade/Deathstroke, but it’s still slightly uncomfortable for me to see Oliver embrace him so wholly after Slade’s previous acts. In fact, everybody on Team Arrow’s demonstrating an incredible capacity for forgiveness this season.
  • I mean. Kane’s totally going to kidnap William, right?

Episode Recaps


Billionaire Oliver Queen — under the vigilante persona of Arrow — tries to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.
  • TV Show
  • 8
  • TV-14
  • Marc Guggenheim
  • Andrew Kreisberg
  • Greg Berlanti
  • The CW
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