‘Arrow’ Season 2 Recap, Episode 15: ‘The Promise’
The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along to see how he fares.
This week's flashback-heavy episode features a ship raid, a chokeslam, an art tour, and a lot of loaded dialogue.
This episode leaves off right where the last one did, with Ollie and Slade shaking hands in the living room of Casa Queen, looking at each other like they want to do piledrivers on each other. Moira explains that Slade is there because he has just written her a big, fat campaign check.
But he's running Sebastian Blood's campaign, too! One eye, two faces, this guy has!
The discussion that follows is full of boring political stuff mixed with beat-you-over-the-head dramatic irony. Moira and Slade both say things that have very obvious double meanings, all intended to make Ollie feel bad. Again, it is not subtle.
A faceless maid rolls in a serving cart loaded up with glasses of rum. Moira explains that Slade brought a bottle of "authentic Australian rum" to celebrate the new partnership. Ollie looks at the bottle like he's about to pass out, but he drinks up when prompted to drink to "friendship."
For one of the richest people in Starling City, Moira really does seem impressed by of imported liquor. Like she's a Boardwalk Empire character.
Slade notices a model ship in the room and starts asking about the yacht accident that stranded Ollie on Flashback Island. He's a lot better at needling Ollie this time, and it leads to a pretty cool scene transition into a flashback of Ollie doing Rocky IV montage-style training for the raid on the Amazo.
After the title screen, Slade and Ollie make plans to get onto the ship. Meanwhile, Sara's whipping up some smelly foodstuff that will play into the plan somehow. Weird how the Flashback Island family fell into these semi-traditional gender roles.
Ollie and Sara duck outside the plane to talk about whether they should destroy the mirakuru. Slade overhears and agrees to burn it. So Proto Team Arrow just sticks a metal box in a fire and calls it a day.
There was just no time to take the vials out of the box!
While standing by the fire, Sara reveals that she read the script for this episode and that she knows that Professor Ivo will try to make Slade think it was Ollie that killed Shado, not him. She suggests killing Ivo before he can do that.
Back in the plane, Slade walks in with a very familiar looking bottle of rum, to celebrate what Proto Team Arrow thinks will be its last night on the island. They all toast to different things (Sara: "taking the freighter," Ollie: "getting off the island forever," Slade: "Shado") and drink.
All it takes is one sip for Ollie to get all maudlin and tell Sara to inform his family he's not stupid anymore. Instead of begging to differ, Sara asks that Ollie tell her family she died in the boat crash.
Ollie has an extremely literal dream about Shado asking why he chose for Sara to live instead of her. Ollie likes dreams to move the plot forward. He wakes up in a sweat while Sara and Slade pack up to raid the freighter. Ollie hoods up and Slade grabs his old Deathstroke mask.
Meanwhile, in the brig of the Amazo, we're introduced to Rev. Thomas Flynn (James Pizzinato), a devout man in Harry Potter glasses who is bullied by other prisoners. The ships captain comes in and demands that Anatoli Knyazev meet Ivo in his office. Ivo's on the radio talking to a doctor who says some unnamed person is deteriorating more quickly than anticipated when Knyazev is thrown in and strapped to a torture chair. Ivo threatens to remove his eye. Are we sure Geoff Johns didn't write this episode?
In a semi-clever twist on the moment that opened the pilot Ollie shoots a flaming arrow at a pile of sticks and misses. He eventually gets it, and it explodes with a big ball of fire just like sticks always do.
Ivo notices the explosion through a porthole and tells the captain to go after them and ignore Knyazev. The pirates drive out to the beach on a motorboat and Ollie allows himself to be captured. (If he was just going to stand in front of it, why did Ollie have to shoot an arrow to light the thing? I guess he's just a showman.)
After some cliched prison chatter with Flynn and a tough guy named Hendrick (Artine Brown), Ivo's goons grab Ollie and strap him to the torture chair. Ivo asks where Sara and Slade are. When Ollie refuses, Ivo administers some truth serum.
Back in the present, Slade continues needling Ollie and asks Moira about the art in the house. Moira goes to check on it, and Ollie tries to stab Slade in the neck with a screwdriver. No, really. How exactly was he going to explain that to his mom?
Slade catches his hand, though, and Thea comes walking through. The two mortal enemies go back to keeping up appearances while Thea takes everyone on an art tour of Casa Queen.
Flashback again. Feeling the effects of the sodium pentothal, Ollie reveals that the bonfire on the beach was a distraction and that Sara and Slade are in the Freighter's engine room.
But ho-ho! That's a lie. The smelly stuff Sara was preparing earlier was a concoction that counteracts truth serum. Ollie, who has been acting the whole time, starts beating up the guards in the engine room while Slade and Sara parachute onto the deck of the freighter.
It isn't the greatest special effect ever, but it could be worse.
Proto Team Arrow regroups on the deck. Slade masks up and announces his plan to kill Ivo. Somehow, it looks really silly. Manu Bennett looks like a foot shorter in that mask.
On the Casa Queen art tour, Slade launches into a speech about how people are obligated to honor the memory of the dead, and Ollie dials up Smoak in the Arrowcave. Smoak puts it on speaker and Sara recognizes Slade's voice. She kind of freaks out and rallies the troops, as she probably should.
Back on the freighter, past-Sara lets everyone in the brig out of their cells, and Hendrick, who doesn't like her very much straight-up chokeslams her onto the floor. Flynn knocks him out and saves her. It's full-on chaos after that, with Slade killing dudes left and right, Ollie clearing the deck, and prisoners running rampant.
On the bridge, Ivo calls up his wife and tries to have one last conversation with her about trying to find a cure for her unnamed mental condition that makes her repeat dialogue over and over. Ollie interrupts the call and holds him at arrowpoint. Ivo starts playing mind games with Oliver, trying to convince him he's responsible for Shado's death. Ollie says he kind of does hold himself responsible, and, of course, Slade heard it all. Slade is all ears this episode!
Ollie tries to tell Slade that Ivo will say anything to shift the blame from himself, but Slade's pretty upset. He starts swinging his sword at Ollie, and then lifts him up over his head. He tells Ollie he's going to kill him, but the freighter hits some convenient ice and Ollie manages to escape onto the deck, where a firefight has broken out.
Ollie meets up with Sara, Flynn and Knyazev, who are all ducking behind crates. Sara says there's no way they can stay on the ship, and Ollie eventually agrees. Sara, Flynn and Knyazev get over the side, but Slade catches Ollie by the foot and slings him back onto the deck. He throws Ollie in the brig.
The captain, who seems to have wrangled control of the ship back, tells Slade to get in a cell, too, but Slade crushes his skull TV style (where there's no actual blood or evidence that he did anything but squeeze his temples a little).
Slade claims control of the ship.
Present-day Team Arrow convenes on Casa Queen. Smoak's got thermal imaging to see where the Queens and Slade are, Dig's got a giant sniper rifle, Canary swings up onto second level and Roy just pops in through the front door. He crashes the part and shakes hands with Slade as they size each other up. Sara comes down from upstairs and Slade looks up at her like she's a ghost (and she kind of is).
After a tense attempt at small talk, Slade stares down everyone in the room and eventually says he should be leaving.
Ollie asks if he can walk Slade to his car. Dig prepares to shoot Slade, but gets slammed by an unseen assailant before he can. Ollie says he knows Slade was behind Solomon Grundy and Brother Blood (though he doesn't use those names). Slade says he has taken Dig captive and gets in his Ferrari.
Hey, how'd he get rich anyway? Anybody can just come off an island with super strength and get rich, huh?
Slade says he wants to keep a promise he made to Ollie five years prior, and drives off.
Flashback island. Sara and the prisoners crawl onto the beach just to prove to the audience they're safe. On the freighter, Slade has a goon pull Ollie out of a cell. He's got Ivo at gunpoint. He's also got a pocket full of mirakuru (the Spin Doctors' second album, I believe).
He says Ollie burned a box full of dirt instead of telling him he was a dummy for not opening the box to begin with.
Ivo tries to prove his usefulness and beg for his life, but it doesn't really work out for him. Slade orders Ivo to kill Ollie like he killed Shado, but before he can, Slade slices his hand off. (I swear Geoff Johns ghost wrote this one.) Slade tells Ollie that killing him would be a mercy, and that he needs to know complete before he dies. "You will. I promise," he says.
In the present, Moira tells Ollie he was positively rude to Slade and he shouldn't come to the house anymore. Then we see Slade in front of a bank of screens, all displaying images of Casa Queen. During the art tour, he was setting up tiny cameras.
He also has his eye patch off. It's gross.
I have to say that I didn't take a little bit of sadistic pleasure in seeing a guy repeatedly referred to as "Mr. Wilson" making everyone on Arrow's life miserable. That was fun.
And though the dialogue in some of the present-day parts felt a little too forced and it was super dumb for Ollie and Sara to burn that box as it was, this was one of the best episodes of the season. The flashback stuff has always had the most potential, and while I hate that a lot of the tension in those scenes is undercut by virtue of the fact that you know who's going to survive, more or less, the way Proto Team Arrow's plan unfolded and went awry was undeniably entertaining.
That's two in a row I liked! Let's keep this going.