Arrow: “Bratva” Season 5 Episode 12 Review

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There’s a lot going on in “Bratva,” some of which doesn’t totally make sense. In a way, this feels more like an episode from season six. In another way, it closes out one of season five’s most tedious storylines. But with Dinah seemingly integrated into the team and Oliver reuniting with Anatoli as if Arrow had already told most of their story, there was a rushed sense to this episode. Still, a three-way arc shared between Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity is rare these days, especially with all these new team members running around. It’s pleasant and reassuring that Arrow hasn’t completely lost itself to see the main trio hashing out some emotional conflicts with each other, as repetitive as they might’ve been in “Bratva.”

With intel finally coming in on General Walker, the military man responsible for setting up Diggle earlier in the season, Team Arrow heads to Russia to find the man and bring him to justice. For Diggle, that means killing him. We saw Diggle go through an arc featuring murder last season after he ended up killing Andy. This brief one at first seemed like a repeat, but the divide between himself and Oliver slowly steered Diggle’s arc into fresh territory. When faced with Walker at the climax of the episode, Diggle holds back, letting the justice system take care of him.

Felicity, meanwhile, hasn’t refused contact with an illegal hacker network, using their resources to find Walker to begin with. This arc wasn’t quite as well-founded. Oliver is a vigilante who flips his “willing to murder” switch whenever he damn well pleases, but Felicity using a network of hackers to gain useful intel is suddenly unethical? I get that Felicity has an entirely different code of ethics from Oliver, but there just wasn’t much here to justify an arc, other than it gives Rory a nice way to depart from the show for now. His heroic sacrifice as the nuclear weapon goes off was well done. Ragman is pretty easily the most likable and visually interesting (when the show’s budget allows him to be, at least) of the shiny new set of heroes, which is why I’m sad to see him go, for however temporary he promises it is.

But the big draw of this episode was Oliver interacting with Anatoli in the present, which was a bit confusing when the basic principles of storytelling are taken into account. Remember back in season two when we saw the seeds to Slade’s hatred toward Oliver in the flashbacks while he was getting integrated into the present as the season’s main villain? The season five flashbacks haven’t been quite so fruitful, at least besides the last two episodes with Talia al Ghul making her first appearance. We don’t know how Oliver’s time in Russia comes to a close yet, which makes some of their early interactions, especially Anatoli’s punch, a bit confusing. As Talia shapes Oliver into the Hood in the flashbacks, with a full 11 episodes of season five left to go (honestly, ugh), this interaction lacks context. Meanwhile, Anatoli’s final promise feels like something he should be promising in the flashbacks instead of the present. That said, Team Arrow eventually having to deal with the forces of the Bratva head on could be fun to watch.

Beyond all of that, there was still time for a subplot in Star City between Lance, finally returned, and Rene, who had to babysit Lance after rehab. There was really nothing here to latch onto. It’s great to have Lance back, but there was never a doubt that he would be back. Now his problems are seemingly resolved without any sense of an arc. Rene tosses in a cute anecdote about how Lance spared him the corrupt system as a kid, but it’s too little too late.

And if all that wasn’t enough for you, Oliver’s new journalist girlfriend really wants to have sex with him. That’s another thread throughout this insanely packed episodes. But get this: once she does, she report his tattoo to a source that knows Oliver was in Russia five years ago, and that the Green Arrow was as well. She’s all but figured it out. This could go somewhere interesting, especially considering that Oliver is mayor now, but this is a plotline I kind of already want to be over. Shouldn’t this show be focusing at least a little bit on Prometheus? So far season five’s big bad remains practically a no-show. To gain some steam, Arrow needs to change that very quickly. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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