‘Arrow’ Season 2 Recap, Episode 18: ‘Deathstroke’
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, we get the (weak) origin of a villain's name, the (confusing) revelation of a character's secret, and a (baffling) betrayal.
Things pick up right where they left off last week, with Thea riding in Slade’s limo with him. She’s considerably more distraught than when we last saw her. Her breakup with Roy has really gotten to her.
Slade briefly keeps up appearances, giving her a handkerchief and offering some comfort, but soon enough, he’s barking at Thea to get out of the car after they stop in an alleyway. She does, and takes off running. After a few steps, she bumps into Brother Blood. Hey, remember him?
In the Arrowcave, Dig’s reading some foreshadowing on the computer while Ollie trains poor old no-aim Roy to shoot a bow. Roy misses a target and hits a bunch of wires that look like they ought to do something important, but are apparently just decorative. Roy’s still all shook up about Thea, and kind of wants to tell her the truth. Ollie talks him out of it because of the danger that would put Thea in. Then he gives Roy some archery advice: “Aim.” I really don’t think I like Ollie.
Just like the writers suddenly remembered that Brother Blood is a character, they also seem to have suddenly remembered that Ollie is the CEO of a company. Smoak’s got a stack of Queen Consolidated phone messages that Ollie tells her to throw away, but she interjects and says Ollie can’t keep ignoring the company anymore to go fight Clock King or whatever because there’s a big board meeting.
Flashback Island. Sara’s Prison Buddies are tying up Hendrick, who Sara is planning to exchange with Slade to get Ollie back. Hendrick is not pleading his case well, in that he’s threatening to kill everyone. There’s some disagreement among the group as to whether the trade is ethical (the reverend isn’t very happy about it). Sara pretty much sidesteps that whole argument and says, “Hey, let’s kill Slade.”
Queen Consolidated. Ollie shows up for the big board meeting, having remembered that he’s a CEO (but forgetting to hide his Canadian accent). Isabel Rochev (Hey, remember her?) is there waiting for him. The board isn’t there yet, which gives them an opportunity to pat each other on the back for a while. Isn’t it nice that their relationship is now completely different since the last time we saw them? (As still semi-rivals with some checkered sexual history?) Wonder if that’s, like, a setup for some big betrayal or something.
Moira pops in for a sec to say that she hasn’t heard from Thea (neither has Ollie) and quickly brush it away. Then she pointedly asks Ollie if he’s coming to that night’s mayoral debate. Ollie says he will continue to publicly support her campaign, and he will. Mean words are exchanged about lies, as if anyone really has the upper hand on that front.
At the debate, Ollie calls Thea to ask where she is. Blood comes sauntering up to ask what’s wrong, and Ollie explains that Thea seems to be late. “I’m afraid that’s my fault,” Blood says in what won’t be the only instance of this episode getting really heavy-handed with its dramatic irony/misdirection. He says he held up traffic with a motorcade and that probably held her up. Laurel briefly swings by to do Step 9 and apologize to Blood for thinking he killed his mother (which he did).
Then the debate starts, and oh boy. First of all, both candidates have campaign signs on their lecterns. That’s a huge debate no-no, because it makes it look like the campaigns have influence over the debate’s organizers, who are always supposed to be independent. But I can let that slide because it looks good on a TV show. What’s really bothersome is what Moira and Blood are saying (“One percent!” “Job creators!”) and that they keep talking over each other. It’s only after they wind down that the moderator, the reporter guy from Starling’s One News Station, jumps in and meekly says, “No interrupting.” Get in there, guy!
Honestly, it’s like this scene is in there specifically to drive me nuts. Thankfully, it’s over quickly. The moderator says the next question is coming from a citizen, and it’s…Thea. Thea pops up on the screen, asking for help.
Deathstroke’s hand comes into frame and the message, “How much is Thea Queen’s life worth to you?” pops up like it’s a T-Mobile ad.
This seems like terrible politics. Slade’s all but handing murder accomplice Moira the election by publicly kidnapping her daughter during a debate. What was the point of him running Blood’s campaign if he was just going to do this?
At Queen Consolidated, Dig assures Roy that Team Arrow is going to get Thea back, but Roy has his doubts. The two emerge from an elevator and are mobbed by reporters as if they are anything but “Ollie’s bodyguard” and “some young guy in a hoodie” to them. It’s weird.
A whole bunch of people, including the police, are assembled in Ollie’s office as a sort of nerve center for the search for Thea. Blood’s on the TV announcing that he’s going to suspend his campaign to help with the search. Officer Lance asks Moira if there’s anyone who might want to get to her through Thea, and she zaps a memory of Malcolm Merlyn (Hey, remember him?) into the audience’s brains. She lies and says the victims of the earthquake, maybe.
Ollie screams at the cops a bit to ask what they’re doing to find Thea before going over to Rochev, who’s doing some screaming of her own at a reporter who has some “invasive questions.” (What’s she doing taking press calls, anyway? Does QC not have one PR person on staff?) Ollie thanks her for her toughness, and she says taking things off his plate is her job. The one thing she can’t take off his plate, though is the highly important voting in of new officers! No getting around it! It’s an SEC thing! They can suspend a whole mayoral campaign, but this cannot be stopped, so Ollie unilaterally hands over his CEO power to her, temporarily.
“Have Thea thank me when she’s back safe at home,” Rochev says. I guess it’s supposed to sound fake, but good heavens does it sound fake.
There’s a lot I don’t get about this scene. First off, weren’t Rochev and Ollie suppose to be co-CEOs already? What has her actual role been this whole time? Why is her attitude toward Oliver and the Queen family completely different? (I mean, we’ll know soon, but she has never acted like this before.)
Team Arrow regroups in the Arrowcave. Smoak has tracked down a car registered to Slade. Dig wonders if the whole thing isn’t too easy. Hey, all right! Someone recognized a trap! Sara has the team covered some arrows she rigged up with Tibetan pit viper venom. She’s the best. Also, Roy’s coming, I guess.
Flashback Island. Sara has taken Knyazev out to a land mine so he can remove the explosive and they can kill Slade. He does it with a healthy dose of complaining. Sara reveals her plan—Hendrick is basically going to be a suicide bomber—and Knyazev says she’s scary. She hasn’t even met the League of Assassins yet, either!
Arrow and Roy show up at Slade’s to ask where Thea is. Roy punches Slade in the face and he no-sells it because he got more mirakuru, I suppose. “What are you gonna do, kid? Kill me?” Slade asks. “But then who would tell you where your beloved Fee-urr is?” Maybe Slade should have kidnapped a character whose name Manu Bennett can actually say.
Ollie tells Roy to call Officer Lance to come arrest Slade. Then he shoots Slade with a KO arrow.
At police HQ, Slade sits in an interrogation room while Officer Lance and Sara look on. There’s a whole lot of characters being in places where they would never be allowed here, just to warn you. Lance asks Sara if Ollie knows she’s working with Arrow. Sara tells him Ollie doesn’t know anything about Arrow and…he buys it? Come the eff on, dude.
Ollie and Moira rush in (the camera shakes because this is a crisis) to ask what Slade knows about the kidnapping. The lieutenant tells them that Slade has been in Costa Rica for the past three days. He can even provide “flight manifests, phone records, even some video.” So he’s like Tracy Jordan from 30 Rock when he went to Africa? Can’t Ollie immediately poke holes in that alibi considering they found that car of his out driving around? It’s just a little flimsy is all.
The lieutenant starts chewing out Officer Lance about the arrest and threatens him with criminal charges.
Ollie goes into the interrogation room to talk to Slade (they don’t even lock the doors in this place, jeez) and tells him they (I assume he means the press) are calling him Deathstroke now. There’s no good reason for them to call him that, by the way. All he’s done publicly is kidnap a rich girl. There’s nothing “Deathstroke” about that at all. All the deathstriking he has done has been in private. Anyway, Slade says he likes the name.
Ollie asks how Slade got off the island (he assumes Slade isn’t going to say where Thea is, so he’s just making conversation). Slade says he swam the whole way, and the mirakuru regenerated his body. So he’s Wolverine, more or less. (Less. One eye less.) Ollie’s next question: “Why are you doing this?” as if the filmstrip of Shado from the two episodes ago wasn’t some sort of clue. Slade says he can’t mentally get away from the island, nor can Ollie. Ollie begs for Slade to blame him rather than Thea.
Shouldn’t this interrogation room in a police station have a camera in it? We know it has a two-way mirror that people can look through. These guys are being awfully open about all this stuff in there. Did they sweep the perimeter first?
Anyway, Slade starts to say where Thea is ("Your Thee-arrr is…”) but the lieutenant stumbles in and releases him. Slade says a bunch of “Ha-ha! See what we did there” dialogue and walks out to a throng of reporters. He gives them the same Costa Rica story.
Team Arrow converges on Slade, with Dig following in a car and Roy hiding behind a tree like he’s a child. Dig gets cut off by an SUV (he gives up extraordinarily quickly; he doesn’t even try to go around it), so Sara starts tailing on a motorcycle. When she gets to Slade’s car, it’s empty. Roy starts kind of wildly running down the street and gets hit by a car. That’s all he does.
Cut to Thea, being held at gunpoint in an abandoned factory (Starling is the abandoned factory capital of the nation). Slade comes in and gives Thea a report on the Queen family. Thea starts up with a threat and Slade laughs it off. He sets her free, telling her he had to “make a point.” As she’s leaving, he offers to tell her what her brother’s secret is. It isn’t what you think, because it isn’t really Ollie’s secret, just FYI.
In the Arrowcave, Roy is trying to get a little mutiny going. He quite rightly says that handing Slade over to the police was dumb and Team Arrow probably could have gotten something out of him. He’s also been watching the show and finding inconsistencies: “[Ollie] told me to break up with Thea one week after telling me it wasn’t safe to leave her alone!” Roy’s gunning for my job, here. (Frankly, he seems a lot better at it than he is at heroing.) Team Arrow doesn’t exactly bite.
Casa Queen. Ollie and Moira read a touching scene from a one-act play about family and the damaging power of lies. (Honestly, it’s blocked out like something from a stage production, right down to Moira standing center stage, looking at a framed photo she’s holding.) Piano music like crazy.
Flashback Island. Slade arrives with Ollie in tow, and as promised, he hands him over. He’s got Ivo for good measure, too. Slade’s pirates grab Hendrick, who’s knocked out. Slade exposits that the mirakuru heightened his senses and he can smell TNT. He grabs the explosive out of Hendrick’s bag and threatens the Prison Buddies with it. Too bad we already know they all survive.
Slade quickly disarms the bomb (I think) and threatens Sara with his pistol. Ollie steps between them. Then Shado appears behind Slade and says his name.
Back in the Arrowcave, Roy starts getting antsy and begins to leave. Sara asks where he’s going, and he says he’s going to find Thea. Dig retorts that Roy shouldn’t be going out causing trouble with his superpowers. Roy ups the ante and puts Dig in a sort-of half-nelson. Sara shoots an arrow into the wall and says the next one will go in Roy’s chest. Roy finally stands down when Ollie comes in and says to let Dig go. Roy says, “I’m outta heeere!”
As Roy storms out, Smoak gets a message on her computer that sends Ollie to Queen Consolidated. Turns out Rochev has staged a coup and has talked the board into making her permanent CEO. Rochev tells the board to scram and plays an innocent act for about two seconds before revealing she’s working with Slade. She has been the whole time! She was the bait to bring Ollie back to Starling to begin with. And she knows Ollie is Arrow.
“As of 30 minutes ago, the company belongs to me,” she says. This seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what a CEO is, by the way.
And, quite frankly this plot twist just doesn’t work. Maybe if Rochev had been playing the honey trap game from the beginning, it would make more sense, but in her first few appearances she hated the Queens and desperately wanted to take over the company herself. Her agenda was pretty clear. It’s only really been in this episode (and arguably the trip-to-Russia-episode) that’s she’s been building up trust.
Anyway, she and Ollie fight for a few seconds after she implies that she and Daddy Queen had an affair. Ollie quickly gets the upper hand and asks where Thea is. Rochev gives up the info with plenty of half-hearted cackling and empty threats.
Ollie goes back to the Arrowcave and gears up. Team Arrow tries to offer help, and Sara points out this is probably a trap, but Ollie pitches a fit and Smoak tells him to go. He rides his motorcycle to the old warehouse and beats up some goons like this is a level from Streets of Rage. There’s no final boss and no one to save, though. Deathstroke’s busy stopping a prison transport by standing in the middle of the street and being called an “asshat” by a guard. Deathstroke slices that dude up and shoots another, then he invites the prisoners to come out to him and hear his “proposal.” (Deathstroke’s decision to marry a bus full of prisoners is highly progressive.)
Ollie gets a phone call from Smoak. She says Thea has been freed and walked into the police station five minutes ago. Ollie’s confused as heck, so he heads to the police station, where Dig and Sara explain that the whole thing was a diversion so Deathstroke could hijack the prison transport.
Moira shows up and the family reunites in the interrogation room.
It isn’t a very happy reunion, though, because the first thing out of Thea’s mouth is toward Ollie: “Mr Wilson…told me your secret! How you’ve been lying to me for years!” she says. Ollie steps back and prepares himself for the worst, but she quickly reveals the secret isn’t his being Arrow, but that Malcolm Merlyn is her father.
All right, I’m throwing a flag on this play. Technical foul. High sticking. Low blow. Mixed metaphor. How on God’s green Earth is that Ollie’s secret? He only found out about Merlyn being Thea’s dad a few weeks ago. Sure, Slade could have lied to Thea about that, but even then, Moira’s right there in the room! Surely that would be considered her secret, not Ollie’s. It’s sure a long way to go for a misdirection that only lasts a second.
Ollie says he was only trying to keep Thea safe and she says he sounds like Moira.
Flashback Island again. Ghost Shado tells Slade that death is too good for them, and instead of killing them, he’s just going to leave them on the island to die. Ghost Shado knew that there had to be a TV show six years in the future, I guess.
Thea goes for a walk by herself outside the police station (you’d think she would have learned her lesson about this by now; get a walking buddy, Thea) and Roy watches her from his cherry-red 1995 Mustang, because of course that’s the car he drives. As she passes, he cranks up the car and drives out of Starling. The city limits sign is infuriating, by the way.
You don’t get to do that, show. You changed it. Live with it.
Back at police HQ, the lieutenant tells Officer Lance that DA Spencer won’t press charges for falsely arresting Slade, but only if Lance gives up Arrow’s name. Lance says he doesn’t know it because he is just plain oblivious. The lieutenant puts Lance under arrest for conspiracy and aiding in vigilantism.
In Slade’s office, he, Rochev and Blood watch a report about Moira’s recent surge in the polls because of the whole public-kidnapping-of-her-daughter thing. Blood’s furious, but Slade says the mayor’s race isn’t the big picture. It’s this big Mirakuru army he’s building. Rochev says she has dedicated Queen Consolidated’s entire applied sciences division to replicating a serum based on Slade’s blood. (Didn’t they already have one? Wasn’t that what Blood was administering to Grundy and all those guys?)
Slade assures Blood that everything is according to plan, and for some reason Blood doesn’t note that it seems like they funneled time, money and energy into a mayoral race that was a huge waste and didn’t go anywhere. I’d say that was a valid point.
Slade, spurred on by Ghost Shado, goes to do one more thing.
In the Arrowcave, Ollie has a real come-to-Jesus moment where he realizes he’s been making a lot of bad decisions. “I am my own worst enemy,” he says, revealing himself to be a huge Lit fan (I knew it). Dig and Smoak tell Ollie he’s not alone, and Ollie says he’s ready to fight back. That was fast!
Laurel watches the news at her apartment. The report names Slade as Thea’s kidnapper (he didn’t exactly hide it from her) and states that there’s a warrant out for his arrest. So this exonerates Officer Lance, right? Seems like it’d have to. Anyway, Slade shows up at her door and tells her that Ollie is Arrow. The only way I can describe her reaction to this is “shifty eyes.”
This episode did a perfectly fine job of getting in some dramatic moments. It was full of them. The problem was that a lot of those dramatic moments weren't earned, or they reshaped established plot points to fit what the writers suddenly decided they wanted to do. Slade's been hiding in the shadows (no pun intended) for months now. Why blast out into the open and ruin the mayoral race he's been working on this whole time now? Why not after the election?
Why is his name Deathstroke if all he has done that anyone knows about is kidnap someone?
Since when can a board of directors confer ownership of a company on someone?
And again, how in the world was that Ollie's secret?
I do mostly like where things are heading. Ollie coming to terms with his bullheadedness is a good step, though it's awfully close to his character growth from last season. And Deathstroke's doing some good supervillain stuff.
Just, why does his plan (and so much other stuff) have to be such nonsense?