‘Arrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 5 Episode 7: ‘Vigilante’
It’s time for another installment of 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, “Vigilante,” Team Arrow must contend with a brutal new crimefighter in Star City, while Prometheus plots against Oliver! Gordon Verheul directed the episode from a script by Ben Sokolowski and Emilio Ortega Aldrich.
Chris: Well, there was a lot going on in this week’s episode, but maybe it was a little too much, because it all felt like a mess to me. Not to say it was necessarily bad, but I’m not sure if the actual plots this week made enough of an impression for me to say I liked it either. Except for one part that definitely made an impression, but we’ll get to that later. What’d you think of this week’s show, Emma?
Emma: It didn’t make me angry, but I didn’t squeal with joy, either. A middle of the road episode. It was fine! Stuff happened. Dolph Lundgren was again a delight to have on my screen.
Chris: Yeah, I mean, that goes without saying. When I say anything negative in general about an episode he’s in, it’s safe to assume I’m excluding him.
Emma: We did get to meet Vigilante this week, that was exciting. What did you think of our newest masked man?
Chris: I was really pleased with how well he resembled his various comic book counterparts. If you know the character of Vigilante, then there’s no way you could mistake this Arrow-verse version for anyone else. So that’s great. That said, some of the moments with him were prime offenders on my “Eye Roll List” this week.
This episode just felt like a kind of nondescript blur… even though things clearly happened. Did it feel that way to you at all? Or if not, do you have any idea why this episode above any of the previous episodes this season felt that way? I’m doubling back to this, because even though I was interested in Vigilante’s debut, I’m feeling a little at a loss for what I really think about the character so far above the surface level kind of stuff.
Emma: No, I get that. This episode felt a bit like eating a bowl of oatmeal to me. I mean, there’s nutrients in it, but it’s really just bland. You eat it to get to the next meal, that giant delicious sandwich you’re going to have for lunch. (This is a terrible metaphor, but it’s how I feel about the episode.)
I think part of the reason is that a lot of the subplots from previous episodes --- Quentin’s drinking, Dig’s being a fugitive, Susan Williams’ interest in Ollie --- were followed up on, but in ways that accomplished very little. Susan is spending more time with Oliver, but hasn’t made any real moves. Dig is still a fugitive. Quentin is still struggling. We met Vigilante, but there’s not much there yet to distinguish him. Oliver didn’t reckon with the idea of Vigilante as much as I thought he would. You say you don’t really know what you think about the character so far, and I think Team Arrow is kind of in the same boat.
Chris: That makes sense. I feel like I’m noticing more and more how people walk into rooms to have a conversation that lasts a few sentences and then one of them leaves. Have you noticed that?
Emma: Yes! Scenes, in general, felt quite short, unless there was a fight. I noticed this especially because I was taking notes, and it felt like the story thread was changing focus every other minute.
Chris: Yeah, nothing sat still for long enough to make an impression. Even the scenes with Dolph, which if they’d been placed altogether might have been a fairly memorable chess match between the two of them; but the way they kept constantly interrupting it to get back to the present robbed it of its potential.
Emma: Ooh, good point. After a week of hardcore torture, Kovar brings Oliver out to the dinner table for a nice little meal. He clearly respects Oliver as an opponent; not many people can withstand that much pain. Kovar keeps dropping hints into their conversation about what he knows about Ollie and his past, why he’s here. It was quite fun to watch, really, especially when Oliver manages to pull himself together enough to stab Kovar in the hand with a butter knife, but it would have been nice to spend more time with it.
Chris: Were you able to follow the thread of crosses and double crosses and perceptions of truth? Are the Bratva really the bad guys or is Kovar? Or are they both equally bad?
Emma: I did believe Kovar when he told Oliver that he had made a deal with the Bratva. Despite all their talk about brotherhood, it’s clear that Oliver is on a lower tier within the Bratva. His only true friend in Russia is Anatoly. That being said, Kovar is also a terrible guy. He’s cool with crime, and has no problem with murder or torture. I like Kovar as a character, though, and his musing on what makes a monster hit home fairly well with me.
Chris: As my blood enemy, I, of course, recognize you for the monster you are, so I can understand why that would resonate with you.
Emma: The world is a complex place, Chris.
But really, the difference between heroism and vigilantism relies on where you draw the line. And sometimes that line moves, as it has for Ollie over the past four seasons.
Chris: Speaking of, what did you think of the Arrow Babies digging Vigilante after being such jerks to Oliver last week?
Emma: I’m glad Oliver called them on it! It was a bit hypocritical, but at the same time all Oliver had at the beginning was a list of names and not much in the way of proof. Vigilante as least is catching bad guys in the act (although still murdering them and stringing them up, which is Not Really Cool).
Chris: This is only related to that in that it is about one of the Arrow Babies, but it’s been bugging me for a few episodes, and I’ve got to get it off my chest.
I will swallow an awful lot of ridiculousness and suspend an awful lot of disbelief with these shows, because you basically have to if you want to get any kind of enjoyment out of them, but I simply refuse to believe that there is any way Curtis can go from his normal hair to that tightly braided look he has when he’s Mr. Terrific in the time one would imagine they go from hanging out in the Arrow Cave to hitting the streets because some kind of alarm has gone off. That kind of braiding just takes too long to be realistic, and I don’t even care that the guy next to him is wearing magic rags.
Emma: I’ve complained about this on Twitter, it’s absolutely wild. Other folks have also mentioned Artemis’s mask, which appears to just be painted on, but that I’m fine with. Lots of women carry makeup removal wipes in their bags. Curtis’s hair, though! Impossible.
Chris: I know that’s a silly thing to get hung up on, but come on. Also, does it seem like Curtis is kind of terrible at the action scene part of this crimefighter gig? Because I want him to be awesome at it, and he really seems to be having a rough time with not getting beaten up every week.
Emma: In this case, it seemed more like he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Artemis was also outside in the getaway car; presumably she was unconscious while Mr. Terrific was taken as a hostage.
He does need to work on the physical components of crime-fighting, though; he seems miles behind all the other recruits despite his being an Olympian (which they didn’t mention this week, so I had to).
Curtis was awesome when he and Rene were trying to get information about Vigilante from the gun shop owner. They nailed their good cop-bad cop routine, but then Dig had to come in and wail on the guy.
Chris: I’m not crazy about Dig's whole "torn up inside over being a fugitive" plot. If they’re going to keep that going, shouldn’t there be some mention of work they’re doing to clear his name? Am I being too negative this week? I’m really not trying to be, but this episode just felt so odd to me. It was kind of a slog to get through, but it also felt like it was over really quickly.
Emma: They should definitely be doing something to clear his name. Living as a fugitive is not sustainable in the long run, and it’s a terrible life! Solving crimes and getting the bad guys is what Team Arrow does, so they should be doing it for Dig. Simply busting him out of jail was not enough.
Chris: I won’t ask why you know so much about how awful the fugitive life is.
Emma: The world is a complex place, Chris.
Chris: Speaking of complex, let’s skip to the end and jump on that Artemis bombshell. On the one hand, I did not see that coming at all, but on the other, it makes as much sense as anything else, I guess.
Emma: Same. If any of the Arrow Babies were going to be secretly evil, it makes sense that it’s Artemis. Still, I did whisper a tiny “nooooooooo” when it happened. Maybe she’s just gathering intel on Prometheus? Maybe? I can hope! I liked her.
Chris: Yeah. Me too. Sad emoji.
What about Susan Williams? Feeling any better or more suspicious of her after this episode, or did it just feel completely like they had that subplot in a holding pattern as well?
Emma: Definite holding pattern. Susan’s moonlighting as a pool shark absolutely did not surprise me, but I did expect her to do a bit more digging into Oliver’s past, especially given that she knows a bit about what happened in Russia. I suppose she’s still trying to ingratiate herself.
Do you have any thoughts about Quentin’s going to rehab? I’m glad he agrees with me that there’s no way he’s actually Prometheus.
Chris: Haha, yeah, he remains a sensible sort. I appreciate that one of our readers tried to come up with a theory for how it could still be Quentin, but I really hope that that’s not where this is headed, because that would be almost as hard to believe as Curtis’ quick change hairstyles.
I guess we kind of got sidetracked on Vigilante as well; what did you think about the moral quandary he presented Oliver with? He only recently stopped killing people, so I really don’t think it’s fair for Vigilante to say that Oliver’s new non-murder policies aren't working.
Emma: I completely sympathize with Vigilante’s issue with the justice system. It does not always work, it often itself traumatizes those who are struggling to work within it, and clearly Oliver himself doesn’t completely trust it. Even if the Green Arrow delivers the bad guys to the cops, he still doesn’t really trust them to catch the bad guys in the first place. However, Vigilante thinks that collateral damage is a necessary evil, and that’s where my problem with him lies. I’m glad Oliver agrees with me.
I loved the shot of Mr. Terrific’s FAIR PLAY arm right after Oliver says he’s going to fight the war the right way; it was an absolutely lovely visual that supported his statement. Curtis also represents that idea to me the most, which I guess is why he has “fair play” on his crimefighter uniform!
Chris: Look at that! Television is a visual medium and occasionally they remember that you can show and not tell, and clever viewers like yourself will pick up on it! I didn’t even notice, but that’s neither here nor there.
My only other comment about Vigilante is that it does not seem like a good idea to load your mask with explosives in case someone tries to discover your secret identity. I guess if that DA shows up next week looking like Two-Face, we’ll know what’s up.
Emma: Oh, I totally assumed he just had an explosive on him and was waiting for Oliver to get closer. Hm! Guess I missed that.
What did you think about Felicity joining the team as they robbed a bank to lure Vigilante in? I know you hate her, but she so rarely gets to go out on the field!
Chris: Yeah, that seemed like a terrible idea! I mean, that does not seem like a safe place for her to be. Also, holy cow did that seem like a stupid plan.
Emma: If I’ve learned anything from television and movies, it’s that robbing banks is always a bad idea.
Chris: That’s probably some good advice to end on. Don’t rob banks, friends. Let us know what you thought of this week’s episode in the comments and we’ll see you back here in seven!