‘Arrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 5 Episode 5: ‘Human Target’
It’s time for another installment of Pointed Commentary, the feature where returning Arrow watcher Chris Haley and newcomer Emma Lawson dig into the details of Team Arrow cleaning up the filthy, crime-ridden streets of Star City.
On this week’s episode, “Human Target,” Wild Dog has been captured by Tobias Church, and Team Arrow is desperate to find him. Laura Belsey directed the episode from a script by Sarah Tarkoff and Oscar Balderrama.
Chris: Plenty to talk about once again this week. For the most part I enjoyed this episode, but how about you, Emma?
Emma: I enjoyed it, but not as much as the first few episodes of this season. Something didn't quite flow as well. The action was great, as usual, but some of the character moments didn't work for me. And I finally felt how you do about Felicity --- her mugging with the Human Target’s rubbery face masks turned me right off.
Chris: Oh, thank god that bothered you too. There may be hope for us to not have to be blood enemies forever after all.
Emma: Yes! Somebody just got shot a bunch of times, and you’re playing around with a fake face? Ollie and the Human Target were fine, okay, but what about the mayor’s bodyguards? And at this point, Church was still out and about; the problem had not yet been solved. Focus, Felicity!
Chris: In thinking about that scene, as it is emblematic of my problem with her, I realized that I could do a fan edit of this series that takes out all the moments like that, and I would enjoy it so much more.
Emma: And I would do a fan edit with just scenes of Ollie punching people and telling them, “You have failed this city.” I know where my priorities lie.
Chris: I would watch that supercut.
Emma: Anyway, this episode brought us the end of Tobias Church. What did you think of his arc?
Chris: Well that’s jumping right to the end isn’t it.
Emma: Okay, fine, we can talk about that later! Ollie and the Arrow Babies did manage to rescue Wild Dog after his torture by Tobias Church, and it comes out that Rene gave up Ollie’s secret identity. Did you think he would fall apart under torture? It seems like he didn’t think that about himself.
Chris: Yeah, he certainly didn’t seem like he had any intention of talking, and if he hadn’t already after 20 hours of torturous violence, I’d be inclined to think he just wasn’t going to. But having said that, one can only imagine what something like that does to you over time, and he did say he barely even remembered telling him, so… I don’t know.
I’m glad they didn’t show all of that happening, because that’s not what I want from my superhero shows, but it also seemed a little odd that they didn’t show the scene of him giving up the information. It’s not hard to imagine how it might have played out, and how potentially powerful it would have been when we see Rene’s will finally give out.
Emma: True, but I think they wanted us to think that everything was fine and dandy (except for Rene’s face) until we find out it isn’t. This way the viewers are in the same boat that Team Arrow is, which isn’t usually the case. But I agree it would have been a powerful scene. I had enough trouble looking at Rene’s face during his scenes with Dig, though, that I don’t think I could have handled it. His poor eye! Props to the makeup department, Rene looked appropriately gross.
Chris: Yeah, same here. Honestly, I think what most surprised me was how well Rene was handling it all after the fact.
Emma: He handled it surprisingly well, but his discussions with Dig suggested to me that he wasn’t really dealing with it. I really liked the scenes with Dig and Rene! Dig seems to understand him and relate to him in a way that Oliver can’t. Maybe it’s the military background?
Chris: I liked those scenes too! I wasn’t expecting the two of them to play off of each other so well, but I think I’m seeing the beginnings of a brotherly relationship between the two of them that’s going to really benefit them both. Especially with Rene and Dig both mentioning their past problems with their family members. Rene had an abusive dad, and Dig’s little brother betrayed and tortured him --- and then Dig had to kill him --- so the show’s got a chance for a really easy layup here by making Dig the protective older mentor figure Rene never had, and Dig gets a new little brother to look after.
Emma: That relationship is going to make it really obvious how poorly Ollie can relate to Rene, but I think that’s okay. As the team leader, Ollie needs to be a bit aspirational. He doesn’t need to be everyone’s best friend, and in fact, he shouldn’t. A little more supportive than he has been, maybe don’t beat all the Arrow Babies up all the time, but he is definitely getting there.
Emma: After finding out that Tobias Church now knows Ollie’s identity, they concoct a plan to fake his death by using the Human Target, aka Christopher Chance, to play Ollie and get shot by Church’s assassin. It comes out that Chance played Ollie for the whole day, including in his meeting with the reporter Susan Williams and a city council member who was voting against Ollie on a re-zoning matter. Watching those scenes, I couldn’t help but think that Oliver could be a really good mayor if he actually put in the work. What did you think of the political events in this week’s episode? Or are you too worried about the American election to even talk about the fake politics of Star City?
Chris: Haha, is it fun watching this all happening from Canada, or is it horrifying?
Emma: A little bit of both. I’ll be watching the election on Tuesday with a bottle of wine like everybody else.
Chris: Best possible way to watch I’d imagine.
As to Star City’s politics, I enjoyed that part, since it went somewhere, and we got to see Ollie being really competent at something, which seems to be like a kind of mandate for helping me enjoy this season. Even though it turns out it really wasn’t Ollie… which was then retroactively disappointing.
Emma: I wish Ollie could have seen the Human Target play him that day. It would have been completely eye-opening for him. He’s a smart guy but his instinct is to do everything the vigilante way. I feel like if Ollie had been in that meeting with the council member, he would have been a lot more physically threatening than the Human Target version was.
Chris: I wish this show would hire you to give them good ideas like that, because Ollie watching someone be him but better would have been amazing. Not just for us as viewers, but for the character. For him to be able to see that “Oliver Queen” is also capable of accomplishing so much… that’d be a big, positive step forward for him.
I think he’s going to get that from what happened anyway (though they’ll undoubtedly drag it way out to fill time in the season), but more than just a quick conversation between the two of them about it would have been nice.
Emma: Hey Arrow producers, I’m local to Vancouver and available to consult. Just saying.
Chris: Speaking of the Human Target, what’d you think of him? He’s a character I enjoy in the comics, but he really seemed underused here. And what are the odds that Dig and Ollie both know him previously?
Emma: I liked him, but he was pretty bland, which I think works in his favor in terms of his work. Easy to impersonate people if you don’t have too much personality yourself to dampen.
I can see what you mean about him being underused. Basically, all he did was wear some masks and get shot. I was definitely asking myself how he could possibly know Dig, because I have no idea how they would have interacted before or become friends. Ollie met him back in Russia, as we see in the flashbacks, but I don’t think he really understood who the Human Target was back then.
Chris: I’m guessing this is just one of those “don’t think about it too hard” things we should just let slide if we want to live happier lives.
Emma: I’m hoping he comes back later this season and we can find out more about him and Dig, but I’m okay not knowing! A guy named Human Target should have some measure of mystery to him.
Chris: Plus, the guy’s already had two TV shows of his own we can track down and watch if we really just can’t get enough of the character.
Emma: I sent you an email immediately after watching the episode last night because it made me so excited by the possibility, but the voice of Prometheus has got to be Michael Dorn, right?
Chris: And I rightfully called us both nerds for even having the conversation. I’m not prepared to say it was him for sure, but it certainly sounded reminiscent of him. And after a little poking around online, I can say you are definitely not the only one who thinks there’s a Klingon in Star City. But I didn’t look into it too much, because I’d rather be surprised… which is not something I ever thought I’d be saying about this show, but here we are.
I’m still kind of stunned at how much this season has impressed me compared to last season. I mean, I guess that’s not a particularly high hurdle to get over, since I disliked last season so much, but I’m genuinely having a good time with Season 5.
Emma: I am actively trying to avoid spoilers, and don’t even watch the episode promos. If our commenters know more about who is who for the new characters, that’s why! Arrow is actually an excellent show in terms of suspense, and I want to feel it!
Chris: Speaking of spoilers, I had to avert my eyes to some speculation about Prometheus’ identity, because I don’t even want any of those ideas floating around in my head as I’m watching. If this show is going to work to try to surprise me, I want to at least give it a fair shot at it… even if so many other possible surprises have seemed very obvious in the past.
Emma: This season has been so good so far, though, so I am hopeful they won’t ruin it by telegraphing the plot twists.
Chris: We live in hope.
Emma: We got some more time with Felicity and her boyfriend this week. As much as I don’t like Ritter Sport, I did really enjoy seeing Felicity get some. Even though she is a beautiful blonde woman, she’s also a nerd, and female nerds tend to not get to be sexual beings in media unless they’re fetishized in some way (see: the sexy librarian). I love being able to see a woman having sex, enjoying sex, and not getting punished for it. Felicity tells Ollie later during their heart to heart that she’s not even sure it’s going to become a serious relationship, which makes that scene even more awesome to me. You go get yours, Felicity.
Chris: At the very least, I’m happy that you’re happy, but they are definitely a couple I would not like to be stuck on a double date with.
Emma: Oh, it would be the worst double date ever. I don’t like them as a couple, but we haven’t really gotten to know Malone yet.
Chris: And he’s possibly a bad guy? Was that him or someone else I’m thinking of from earlier? I can’t keep all these cops straight when we know next to nothing about any of them.
Emma: I don’t think he’s a bad guy? He’s a more compelling romantic adversary for Oliver if he’s actually a decent person. I suspect we’ll see Felicity torn between the two men by the end of the season. But yes, it’s hard to keep track of anybody on this show. All the villains have variations of the same costume and the cops are basically interchangeable.
Chris: On The Flash, there’s no way you’re going to mix up the giant shark bad guy and the giant gorilla bad guy, and I appreciate that.
Emma: As we talked about earlier, Diggle comes back to the Arrow Cave in this episode and meets the new recruits, but he doesn’t seem to think highly of any of them. Do you think he’s being too harsh?
Chris: I don’t think he’s really down on them, I think he’s just got that mindset of being tough with people initially to see how they react. It’s more like he’s testing them. I’m sure he actually respects and admires the fact that they’re trying to make a difference. Plus, he was probably wanting to see if Ollie would stand up for them.
Emma: Which he did, kind of… It was a pretty wimpy response.
Chris: Nah, he knows they’re unpolished, but he knows they’ve got potential and a lot of heart. Plus, he’s still very new to this whole "being a good leader" thing, but he’s working on it. Man, I cannot believe I’m defending characters on this show and asking someone else to cut them some slack. Season 4 Chris Haley would never believe this.
Oh! I do have one question! Who was that video game-looking bad guy assassin? Did I miss the part where they explained who he was, or is he a character from seasons 1-3?
Emma: No, I had no idea who that guy was either. If he was a character from previous seasons, I do not remember him. Apparently, the producers have referred to him as Scimitar, but I don’t think he was named in the episode.
I also have a question! Are they going to mention that Curtis was an Olympian in every single episode?
Chris: Well, I mean, I’d certainly bring it up if I was a genius and an Olympian.
Emma: I guess I would brag too, but it’s not always Curtis bringing it up! If you’re going to mention it every episode, at least show us his shiny medal.
Chris: Speaking of shiny things, before we wrap this up, let’s talk about the shiny thing Tobias Church got in the throat from Prometheus. I have no idea why Prometheus suddenly decided to kill Church after he’s clearly no longer a problem, but what I really don’t understand is this: if Church has one piece of information that could possibly keep Prometheus from killing him, why on Earth would he give that piece of information up before Prometheus has even had a chance to tell him whether or not he wants it?!
Emma: Prometheus killed Church because he messed up. Three strikes and you’re out, buddy. Prometheus doesn’t seem like someone you could really reason with, or bargain with, which I think Church knew --- which is why he looked so scared as Prometheus approached. But yes, dumb move on Church’s part. You would think as a criminal mastermind he would know better.
Chris: That is exactly what I said out loud as I was watching it.
Emma: Even we know better than to reveal vital pieces of information for free! It seemed like Prometheus already knew the Green Arrow’s identity. I’m thinking his beef is personal.
Chris: That makes sense. I guess we’ll find out more next week when Prometheus takes a page out of The Crow’s playbook and leaves Green Arrow the cryptic message, “So It Begins” burning in rubber cement on the parking lot. Be back here next time, Arrow-Heads.