If you forgot to breathe during tonight's episode, I'm right there with you.
"The Promise" was easily the most tense episode of Arrow ever produced even though the majority of it was set five years ago. That episode structure meant producers would have difficulty surprising us since we more or less knew what was coming. But even without many surprises left to dole out, this was a great episode that filled in a lot of necessary backstory.
The flashbacks to the past open with Oliver in a training montage. He misses a few targets during target practice, but by the end, he's ready. Island Oliver has come a long way since Season One and he's more than ready to attack the freighter.
Before that, Oliver and Sara agree to burn the mirakuru, and even Slade agrees.Sara, however, also wants Oliver to kill Ivo without Slade knowing. She's afraid Ivo will spill to Slade that it was Oliver who chose to save Sara instead of Shado. Oliver isn't sure about killing Ivo in cold blood, but clearly the guilt was getting to him as he dreamed that night of Shado being angry with him and eventually attacking him.
The next morning, we see Oliver and Slade try on their "costumes" for the first time ever. Oliver dons a hood and Slade takes out the Deathstroke mask. Oliver lights a bonfire on the island to get the attention of the men on
the freighter. They come and capture him, and Oliver is brought before
Ivo, who promptly injects Oliver with sodium pentothal--truth serum.
While under the influence, Oliver confesses the entire plan, but then during a flashback within the flashback, we learn Sara gave Oliver something that would counteract the sodium pentothal. While Oliver told Ivo that Sara and Slade were already on board the freighter thanks to a raft, in truth, they were coming in via parachute.
When Slade makes his way on board, he's a virtual killing machine. Oliver, meanwhile, busts in on Ivo who starts to blame Shado's death on Oliver, while Slade is conveniently listening. He goes ballistic and is about to snap Oliver's neck when an explosion on the ship knocks him out.
Oliver runs out and rescues Sara, who is pinned down by the bad guys on the boat after she's freed a number of the prisoners. He tells her that Slade knows. They're about to escape together when Slade literally grabs Oliver as he's jumping off the freighter and pulls him back on. With Oliver locked up in one of the cells, Slade easily kills the captain of the freighter - even after he shot a bullet into Slade - and tells everyone else that it's his ship now.
While Sara made it safely back to the island with a few other prisoners, Oliver is brought before Slade who orders Ivo to show him how he killed Shado. Ivo points his gun at Oliver, but before he can do anything, Slade chops his hand off and has him taken away.
If you wanted Oliver and Slade to drop the act and just try and kill each other--you had to wait a long time in the episode for that moment to come. Oliver waits until the exact second Moira leaves the two of them alone before he tries to stab Slade. Thea then enters, killing any chance Oliver has to mount another attack.
Slade has asked for a tour of the house to see the family artwork.
During the tour, Oliver makes a secret call to Felicity. She thinks it's a butt dial and broadcasts it for everyone in the Arrow Cave - Diggle, Roy and Sara - to hear. Sara realizes nearly instantly that it is Slade and Diggle; Sara and Roy head out to save Oliver and his family.
Roy gets inside first and shakes hands with Slade, who lingers and notices Roy has a strong handshake. Sara comes in and her appearance noticeably catches Slade off-guard, though he's able to hide it.
Oliver calmly asks Slade, "What would you like to do now, Mr. Wilson?" Slade looks around, weighs his options with Sara, Roy and Oliver ready to strike, and instead says good night to everyone. As he's leaving, Sara tells Oliver that Diggle has a sniper shot outside and Oliver offers to walk him to his car.
Outside, Oliver accuses Slade of conspiring with Cyrus Gold and the man in the skull mask--something he doesn't even deny. But he also tells Oliver that Diggle has been taken care of, but is still alive. He also tells Oliver that he's there to fulfill a promise he made to
Oliver five years ago. That he'll make him suffer before he dies.
Other Odds and Ends
- Love the idea that Oliver asks Sara to tell his family that he was a different if she made it off the island, but he didn't. Sara wanted the opposite--she wanted her family to remember her as a good person.
- Ivo once told Sara that he was doing all his experiments to help "save humanity." Turns out that may be stretching the truth a bit. We learn tonight that he's trying to cure his sick wife, Jessica, who likely has something like Alzheimer's.
- Before Oliver, Slade and Sara infiltrate the freighter, Ivo was going to have a prisoner's eye taken out as part of his experiments. Is that how Slade eventually loses his eye? The shot at the end of the episode show a perfect hole in Slade's face which would seem to indicate his eye was removed, not destroyed while in his head.
- Slade planted cameras all over Oliver's house during his tour. While that footage is going to be useful to Slade, I can't help but wonder if this is a plot device that will lead to someone else discovering something they shouldn't--like say Thea overhearing Oliver and Moira arguing over Thea's true parentage.
Arrow airs 8pm Wednesdays on the CW
(image courtesy of the CW)