Arrow: “Human Target” Season 5 Episode 5 Review

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Just so we’re all clear, no, you were not supposed to know who the Human Target (Wil Traval) was before his titular episode. Arrow sure made it seem like we were being re-introduced to someone we’ve seen before, as in not just in the flashbacks. Even Diggle had a more familiar rapport with him than the rest of the crew. But I Googled it, because I thought I was crazy. Turns out I’m not, as the final moments of the flashbacks show Oliver being saved by Human Target in a Russian brawl five years ago. They exchange maybe two lines in the past and the sequence is over. Maybe he’ll be showing up in the flashbacks or the present from here on out, but the familiarity of his introductions was downright distracting. It wouldn’t be that unbelievable for Arrow to bring on some guest star from season one or two that was in a standalone episode everyone already forgot about. But nope. Brand new. Ironically, it was his treatment as a familiar face that made this new addition to the team as uninteresting as they come. Arrow‘s stunt team might have no idea what they’re doing with Ragman, but at least the writers gave him a backstory. Meeting Human Target was like meeting that friend of a friend from out of town that you’re only going to meet this one time.

Aside from that debacle, “Human Target” was actually a pretty solid episode. That was thanks to an abundance of Tobias Church, the only new face of season five with enough screen presence to make him worth giving a damn about. His interrogating of Wild Dog at the top of the episode wasn’t entertaining because of the new vigilante’s resilience, but the villain’s ham-fisted smirking and Scarecrow-esque monologue about fear (for you Batman fans out there).

Sadly, however, the inciting incident of the episode happens offscreen. Once Green Arrow rescues Wild Dog, we learn that his torture led him to reveal the Hood’s identity as Oliver Queen. That means Church is going after the mayor rather than the superhero now. Aside from this big deal being frustratingly treated as a small deal, this revelation allows “Human Target” to have some fun with the Team Arrow dynamics. There’s of course the obvious fakeout in the shooting scene, but the reveal that Oliver was still alive was quick enough that no real damage was done. From there, some fun moments come out of Oliver not being able to show his face in public, like his way of arriving to his and Felicity’s surprisingly mature late-night appointment.

It honestly helps that Diggle is back in the fold as well. His and Wild Dog’s heart to hearts don’t really amount to anything substantial, and having a key member of the team back so quickly sort of makes an annoyance out of all these currently underdeveloped sidekicks that all came in at once. But the moment where Artemis gets excited about “the real Spartan” was a nice touch.

The whole climax worked well, with Church beating Wild Dog only to be easily overpowered by Green Arrow. But it’s what happened after that’ll likely have the biggest impact on the rest of the season. As is the nature with a lot of live-action superhero adaptations, once you get a good villain, they’re killed off. Prometheus’ haunting mass murder works though, better than any of the characters’ other appearances thus far. It’s sad to see a fun villain like Church go, but maybe this means Arrow will finally get itself together for the season. The lighter tone of “Human Target” and just flat out having Diggle back make for a good start. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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