ARROW – 5×05 – ‘Human Target’
Directed by: Laura Belsey
Story by: Greg Berlanti
Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Willa Holland, Chad L. Coleman
After Wild Dog was captured last week, it’s no surprise that this week the episode drops us right in with a good old fashioned beating from Church, while he proves once again that sometimes the simplest methods are the best – although, 20 hours of it seems a little much. Coleman cuts quite the imposing figure on screen, with not much help and therefore it’s easy to see why he’s as intimidating a villain as he’s shown himself to be. And while this episode may well be the last we see of Tobias Church, it’s safe to say that he has been an exceptional villain to open this fifth series with, playing a calculating business man, with a more realistic goal than we’ve seen for a long time and yet still posing a tough challenge for the team.
Oliver’s new team are searching desperately for Rene, and for once they are actually working in tandem – though whether this is just down to the absence of Rene and Curtis is a different matter. However, the praise this week has to go to Mr John Diggle, who takes his place on the Arrow team once more, and almost immediately starts kicking ass, to the point where you have no difficulty believing he could probably deal with all this on his own. Well, at least in the moments where he’s not playing therapist to Rene after his troubles with Church. The highlight of Diggle moments this episode had to be his descriptions of some of the team’s younger members which almost entirely echo that of the audience, especially with the “Laurel Lance wannabe” and accurately summing up Curtis’ Mr. Terrific in the phrase “[he] wasn’t what I thought he would be” – thank you, Diggle. Thank you.
The dramatic centre to this week, however, is that Rene, after taking a heavy beating from Church, has revealed the Green Arrow’s identity. Though at this point, I’m pretty sure that everyone knows that Oliver is the Arrow anyway, and even the Mayoral office has become some kind of over ground Arrow Cave, though a little more boring and political. And when it’s revealed that Church plans to kill Oliver to get the Green Arrow out of his way, John suggests a friend he knows with a ‘specific skillset’ that might be able to help – no, it isn’t Liam Neeson – it is Christopher Chance (Wil Traval), the Human Target, who stands in for Oliver in his time of need. However the real question is not about Chance’s arrival, but the man who tries to take him out (as Oliver). Who is Church’s man in the mask? Could this be the vigilante that DA Adrian Chase has become? Or is he in fact Prometheus, who returns in full force this week, showing himself to be Church’s boss, and someone that the man seems genuinely afraid of. The masked archer is proving to be quite the obstacle this season, and it is difficult to know just how far his reach is – and though it would be nice to believe that this is an entirely new big bad on the scene, it is somewhat difficult to get past the idea that the writers may well just be giving us another ‘Malcolm Merlyn in disguise’ moment.
Nevertheless, he’s back – but then again, so is the fanfiction. Far too much of this week’s episode was taken up with Oliver and Felicity – in particular Felicity’s love life. The writer’s have made a point this week of showing us Felicity with her boyfriend, who then goes on to reveal that he will be working for Oliver (Gasp!) and later in the episode, Christopher Chance lets slip to Oliver that Felicity is dating someone new, who happens to be working for the ACU (Double gasp!). It almost seems that the writers are trying to treat this storyline as some kind of poison, “ingest small amounts and you develop an immunity” – you don’t. And we should make it clear to the Arrow writers now: if we wanted a soap opera, we’d be watching one.
That aside, in a plot-driven moment of meditation Rene conveniently knows just where Church’s big plan is going down, with just 20 minutes to go and though the jump into action is a little clumsy, it’s still mind-blowing to see the action sequences this season, which the Arrow team are consistently pulling off to a high standard. It almost makes up for the past couple of seasons. Almost.
We also intermittently join Oliver with the Bratva, as they make him sit a final interview (it was not a ‘ceremony’, despite what Anatoli said). It seems a little odd that the Bratva sit down would come after the intense trials, as surely that would prove that Oliver was ready, but whatever way works best. However, the Bratva flashbacks are there for more than context as journalist Susan Williams (Carly Pope) receives a picture from her source of Oliver in Russia with the Bratva at the time he was meant to be trapped on an island.
Chance tells Oliver that “no one moves forward behind a mask”, and with information about his past surfacing, it seems that Oliver’s mask may be slipping as we move forward in the season.