“Down the rabbit hole…”

This week on Arrow, Oliver finally descends to Level Two, coming face-to-face with The Demon, and the true horrors of Slabside. Meanwhile, girl power sees a break in Oliver’s case, and Curtis is a pawn in an A.R.G.U.S. operation.

Things go from bad to worse for Oliver (Stephen Amell) this week, as after his “therapy” sessions with Dr. Parker (Jason E. Kelley) left him questioning his entire identity, he is deemed fit to join Level Two’s other inmates. Unfortunately, this comes with its own obstacles, as Oliver is equipped with a cuff that acts like a shock collar for the prisoners. Transferred into an even darker, danker cell than before, Oliver quickly learns that there is no visitation permitted to inmates on Level Two – a fact which ultimately may help see our leading man released.

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Shock cuffs aren’t the worst this basement floor has to offer, however, as many of the inmates are taken into a mysterious adjoining room – and they don’t come back out again, at least not alive. If the inmates behave, all is well, but any incidents see them dragged away for punishment – it’s a sobering sight for Oliver, who is already turning his back on the violent lifestyle that led him to Slabside. But, when The Demon comes calling, so does Oliver’s former self.

The reveal of The Demon, while shocking, is all too underwhelming. It’s no coincidence that The Demon shares a moniker with Ra’s al Ghul – in fact, they share far more than that, as it’s revealed that Oliver’s mystery harasser is none other than his former trainer, Talia al Ghul (Lexa Doig). After barely surviving the events ofAdrian Chase’s Lian Yu explosion, Talia, with the help of a drug from Diaz, managed to get back on her feet. So, naturally, when Oliver turned up at the same prison as her, Diaz saw it as time to call in a favour, which led to the attempted hit on Oliver in the prison showers.

Her appearance couldn’t come as a worse time for our leading man, as he is trying to break the cycle of violence that saw to his imprisonment – a cycle which he believes she began when she translated his father’s dying wish for him. However, when she comes to Oliver with a promise of a way out of Slabside, he eventually agrees to help her. As the two of them fight each other, and over a dozen prison guards, it’s easy to recognise that Talia was one of Oliver’s trainers, as they fight in a very similar fashion. But when the time comes to escape, Oliver cannot leave, not to be a fugitive forever on the outside.

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Elsewhere, the unlikely team of Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) add another member to the girl gang – Dinah (Juliana Harkavy). After finding she cannot visit Oliver, and being told by #1 Oliver Queen fan Stanley (Brendan Fletcher) that her husband now resides on the prison’s infamous “Level Two”, Felicity decides to investigate the mystery part of Slabside which now houses her beau – and why Dr. Parker works there, when the prison doesn’t have a psychiatric program for its inmates.

With Dinah and Laurel by her side, the group search through hundreds of the SCPD’s files in order to find any allegations of malpractice against Parker, but what they find is more distressing. In the past, Parker has “treated” people by trying to eliminate their violent tendencies, and when that didn’t work, his patients were left with amnesia-like symptoms, unable to even identify themselves. Their case against Parker is aided by Oliver and Talia’s escape, in which they are able to copy all the data from the doctor’s computer, that’s delivered by Talia to the ladies – not that they know this. With the case against Parker shutting down the entire Level Two operation, and returning Oliver to a floor with light, Laurel points out that this development may well help them secure Oliver’s release. How this will work is a mystery however, because Oliver did actually break laws, and secure a deal with the FBI in which he would go to prison in order to protect his friends – so surely, Oliver’s release would see former Team Arrow members put in the legal line of fire?

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Finally, this week also sees Curtis (Echo Kellum) return to the field as a pawn in an A.R.G.U.S. field operation where he must play a French scientist who has been making some dodgy deals. It’s a story which explores Curtis’ reticence at returning to the dangerous world he was a part of as Team Arrow, which has cost him so much over the years – but, honestly, it’s a little redundant overall, as it’s just another link to the mysterious deals going on in within A.R.G.U.S. While spending a little more time with Curtis and John (David Ramsey) isn’t a bad thing, it seems as though Arrow is just slowly working its way through a plot point which might pay off down the line, as well as reminding us that these characters are also still around.

VERDICT:

With Oliver’s freedom hanging in the balance, and only a few weeks until the big crossover event, Arrow has a lot of ground to cover, and not a lot of time to do it in.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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