Arrow: “Disbanded” Season 5 Episode 18 Review

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How do you follow up a spectacular episode like “Kapiushon?” In true Arrow form, there were some missed opportunities, but it could have been a lot worse. Part of the problem with “Disbanded” is that, like Oliver turning his kill switch on and off, Oliver claims that his journey as Green Arrow is over about once a season. It’s not going to be as long as the CW keeps building and expanding this version of the DC universe (Black Lightning, coming this fall!), so the tension just isn’t really there.

But this episode also has the benefit of piggybacking off of last week’s brilliance. Oliver wanting to quit his night job is more justified now than any other time he’s made that claim. Plus, putting Anatoli in the forefront of both the present and the flashbacks keeps the symmetry going from last week, though not quite as cleverly. Oliver hires Anatoli in the present to kill Adrian Chase, paying him by letting him get away with an epic drug heist while in Star City. This is where the episode plays off of Oliver’s dark realization best. At his most emotionally weak, Oliver believes turning to criminal exchanges and hit jobs is well within his loose moral fiber. After all, if he likes killing so much, what’s some dealing with the Russian mofia by comparison?

Dramatically speaking, there were some very clever ideas thrown around as the Bratva hunted Chase and the remainder of Team Arrow fought them both. The fight choreography and editing could have made this a standout set of conflicts, but they were treated like every other action scene on the series. It’s a shame because, for the first time in a long time, the drama was actually there to support the action, but the fight choreography wasn’t up to the task, a complete 180 from Arrow‘s usual problems.

But by episode’s end, Oliver is back fighting with his team, thanks to some encouragement from Diggle, which also wasn’t played up enough for the emotional power this scene could have relayed. Felicity’s absence from it all really didn’t help either. Regardless, Anatoli is driven from Star City while Prometheus finds a way back in after his identity is exposed to the whole city, another huge moment that could have been played up a little more.

For the amount of dramatic potential for this episode, Arrow was business as usual. The plot points were all there, making this entry exciting nonetheless, simply because last week’s episode set up such strong conflicts for the future, but events were underplayed when this show is usually so overplayed. For once, I really cared about what was going on on Arrow, but Arrow didn’t seem to share the same enthusiasm. Sadly, it looks like last week’s borderline-masterpiece was a fluke in this dry slog of a season. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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