Chase holds Oliver and tortures him for six days until he confesses what is apparently his deepest, darkest secret.
*Disclaimer* This episode is super heavy. So, let’s have a chat after the recap. Cool? Cool.
Arrow opens without pulling any punches. We immediately see Chase torturing Oliver by making him experience what his father did when he died. He’s holding Oliver under water for 145 seconds, because that’s how long his father struggled after Oliver shot him with his arrow. He tells Oliver that his name is Prometheus because Oliver plays god– judge, jury, and executioner. And as the story goes, Prometheus takes that power away.
In the flashbacks, we see Anatoly get sworn in as Pakhan as Oliver, too, takes a blood oath. Oliver also meets Taiana’s mother and tells her not to tell Kovar she saw him, in order to save her own life. Then, in a shocking turn of events, we Malcolm talking and doing business with Kovar in his office. Anatoly interrupts and talks about the hood ruining business for them. Anatoly tells Oliver he has to go back to America, since Kovar is planning something big and terrible. He saw the file he was working on, it was about a ship yard. Anatoly tells him this place is not good for him, he needs to go home. Oliver says this isn’t over for him, and he won’t let him get murdered.
In present time, Chase shows him a photo gallery up on the wall of the people he’s killed. He shows him a picture of The Count and Oliver explains the arrows he put in him was because he “had a friend.” Chase clears up the vague reference by adding that it was Felicity he had. Chase tells Oliver to confess or he will suffer the Count’s same fate. He doesn’t, so Adrian shoots.
He shows Oliver Felicity’s glasses and tells him that she didn’t’ even know he was in his apartment. He threatens Chase then, until he pulls out a picture of Oliver’s son to drive the point home. Oliver begins to beg him, but to no avail. Chase leaves and refuses to release him until he confesses.
Back to flashbacks! Anatoly and Kovar are in a gun fight with Oliver as the Hood in the distance.
Oliver goes as the Hood to torture one of Kovar’s men. He ends up killing him. Anatoly finds him and is basically horrified by what he’s done. Oliver says that the hood helps him channel his darkness. Anatoly tells him that separating the man and monster will only make the monster stronger.
Anatoly peaks under the sheet at the man’s corpse. He notes that he must have been tough to endure all of that (Oliver threatened to skin him alive) and Oliver notes he gave in “quickly” that the rest was “practice” in order to be something else. *Gulps*
After speaking to Anatoly and Viktor about needing someone on Kovar’s inside, Oliver goes to find Taiana’s mother. He tells her that her children are dead and that Taiana told him that Kovar was a monster. He asks her to help him keep his promise with her daughter and so she does.
Then, in a short yet still horrifying scene, Chase brings in Evelyn and tells him to kill her or he’ll snap her neck.
Flashback Oliver gets into the casino by killing the guard and then storms into the control room after setting off an explosion. He lets in Anatoly and the Bratva when he sees Taiana’s mother being held by Kovar. He’s threatening her into giving Oliver up, but she won’t. Oliver goes to help her but by then she’s already dead.
Oliver tries to get Evelyn to free him so they can ambush him, but she’s too far gone emotionally and mentally after Chase’s torture. He gets the knife from her (forcefully) and Adrian walks in. He tells her he won’t kill her and Chase is furious. He screams at him to tell his secret, the one he won’t tell Thea, Felicity, or Diggle. He declares yet again that he doesn’t know. Adrian snaps Evelyn’s neck.
Kovar tells the crowd that there were people there to hurt them via a gas attack (his plan), he then puts on a gas mask and reveals he’s going to do just that.
Oliver kills the people standing watch over the gas, but Kovar tells him it’s too late it’s already worked. Kovar tells him to kill him and they go at each other. He rips off his hood and sees that it’s Oliver. He nearly chokes Oliver out but Oliver throws him off. They stumble into the main part of the club where Anatoly has managed to survive with a cloth over his mouth. He tells him that he doesn’t have to do this, he’ll make him face justice, but Oliver insists he does. and stabs Kovar to death.
Adrian tells him the list, the crusade, it was all a ruse. He tells him he doesn’t kill because he has to, then why does he do it? Oliver confesses that he does it because he wanted to and because he liked it.
Adrian asks him how it feels that he knew the one thing he didn’t recognize about himself. Evelyn gets up– they tricked him, explaining that she knew he’d break.
Adrian tells him he infects every life he touches and that he used his father’s crusade as an excuse.
Oliver apologizes to Adrian for whatever hurt he may have caused him. He doesn’t care. Adrian burns Oliver’s Bratva tattoo so that he’ll always remember the torture and his secret.
In the flashbacks, Oliver is getting his tattoo and Anatoly give him back his hood that he left at the casino. Anatoly tells him that the hood is a lie he tells himself so that he can kill, because he likes it. Anatoly warns him about continuing on this path, that he eventually not like the man he sees underneath the hood.
It turns out that Kovar isn’t dead, they managed to save him and Merlyn is in the room. He says whoever did that, he’s glad he’s not him.
Oliver wakes up in the cell and he’s freed, cut to the lair where Diggle, Felicity, and Curtis are looking for him. Oliver stumbles into the lair and tells him that Chase had him and let him go. They’re horrified (particularly Felicity) and he tells them he doesn’t want to do this anymore, he’s shutting everything down.
Let’s… Have A Chat
So that was something, huh? While Chase has most likely become Arrow’s most devious and ruthless villain, I didn’t realize just how far he’d go. Chase hit Oliver where it hurt– his bruised and battered psyche, the place where Oliver is his weakest.
Oliver is strong. He can withstand injury, torture, combat, the works. What Oliver can’t withstand? A verbal attack on his character. Why? Because he believes whatever bad thing is said about him so easily. No one thinks Oliver is as bad as he himself thinks, even if he’s supposedly become “more optimistic.”
While this episode has some poignant moments where Felicity is shown as the end all, be all to Oliver, including his son, I do understand that his life and his hurt goes far beyond Olicity. That said, Olicity’s troubles put everything into perspective now that we’ve discovered Oliver at his darkest.
I’ve had a difficult time accepting the fact that Oliver let Felicity go so easily last year, but it just hit me. While I knew that Oliver didn’t think he deserved her, it’s so clear now just how far that belief goes– he was always waiting for her to leave him. It was an inevitability. He believed that his happiness was fleeting because she’d eventually come to find out that he is the monster he’s told people he was. It’s why he reverted back to the island, it’s why he went it alone, it’s why he made the dumb ass decision to keep his son a secret. Oliver self-sabotaged. He never thought he deserved Felicity and so he made that self-fulfilling prophecy come true. This doesn’t count just for Felicity. It’s why he let his son go, it’s why he has such a hard time accepting people and good things. His feelings of unworthiness overwhelm him, more than I think the audience was ever let to realize.
Does absolve Oliver of his sin? Of course not. But what it does is finally give us the motivation behind one of the most hard-to-swallow decisions he’s ever made. In a dark and twisted way, it all makes sense. Because Oliver’s been dark and twisted deep down all along. It’s why he escaped to Ivy Town with Felicity. He was escaping the part of himself he didn’t want to deal with anymore. He didn’t overcome his demons, he simply put the hood away in the closet and was terrified to take it out again. Because he was still that person. He just wasn’t acting on it.
Now that Adrian has made Oliver face himself (albeit in the absolute worst possible way) Oliver can now come to terms with his actions and decisions. He can finally heed Anatoly’s warning– that there are not two men. There is one man who can only truly evolve and progress unless he lives out in the open and in the light.
HollywoodLifers, are you okay out there after that episode? Wow.