Though disappointing in many respects, Arrow season 3 did pull off a genuinely great arc in the middle when Oliver was “dead” and the rest of the team had to protect Star City. In “Disbanded,” Arrow does something similar. After Oliver “killed” the Green Arrow in the final moments of “Kapiushon,” it is up to the new recruits (spearheaded by Diggle) to keep up Oliver’s crusade even as Oliver tells them to do a full-stop.

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The Tables Turn Around and Around

Oliver is completely broken after his time in Prometheus’ torture dungeon. Oliver pushes everyone away, including Susan Williams (though precisely no one is complaining about that) and shuts himself off. Oliver has no desire to put the hood back on but he does recognize that Chase needs to be dealt with by someone. Oliver calls in the Bratva to kill Chase which greatly upsets Diggle but this means way more Anatoly than usual in the episode, so it’s perfect for me.

Diggle is right though. By hiring criminals to kill Chase, Oliver is not thinking clearly. Oliver is considering nothing but the bottom line and believes himself to be unworthy of salvation or consideration. Arrow throws around the phrase “selling your soul” a lot on the series. It’s been used so much so that the phrase has lost its meaning, but Oliver is truly doing it now. Arrow has made Oliver doubt himself many, many times before now, but there is something engagingly heavy and real about this new depression. 

It’s just not Oliver who is in a different place. Anatoly is a much more ruthless and less morally complex Bratva captain now. Anatoly is only looking out for himself. Anatoly agrees to Oliver’s offer to kill Chase but only so he can gain some drugs from Star City to take back to Russia and line his own pockets. Anatoly stops at nothing to take down Chase even endangering civilians. Diggle grows increasingly horrified at this all. It leads to a great reversal where Dig decides to lead the team into the charge against Bratva. As Curtis points out, Dig has become the new Oliver, he himself is the new Felicity and Dinah (not Rene) is the new Diggle. 

Earn the Mantle

Dig leads his band of new-ish vigilantes into battle. (I would watch far more than one episode of just this foursome fight crime together by the way.) Together they stop the Bratva as they move to assassinate Chase and his entire private detail of SCPD officers. Chase lives but so does everyone else.

When Oliver hears about this, he confronts Dig and after some punches are thrown, they have one of their great heart-to-hearts. Oliver confesses to Dig that this mission means nothing because Oliver believes that this was all just an excuse for him to kill. Oliver believes he is broken inside. Dig responds by telling Oliver he refuses to think that is true. But even if it is, Oliver needs to earn being the Green Arrow again. Oliver is the same place Diggle was in the beginning of the season and it’s up to Diggle to help Oliver like Oliver helped him. Oliver reluctantly begins to see Dig’s point. 

It’s a great moment between the two, as all scenes between Oliver and Diggle are, but it’s particularly fantastic that Arrow isn’t wiping around Oliver’s confession from “Kapiushon.” Even if Diggle doesn’t believe Oliver is a serial killer, Oliver still believes that about himself. All of Oliver’s issues don’t go away in one conversation. They’re are still there but Arrow season 5 won’t be Oliver constantly moping, which has been good for half an episode, but would grow tiring for the rest of season. 

A Parting of the Ways

Convinced by Diggle that he made a mistake with the Bratva, Oliver tries to call off the gang. Anatoly won’t hear it. Anatoly drops the standard boring line of “if you’re not with me, you’re against me.” So Oliver is forced to take up arms against his old family with his new recruits. When Oliver returns to Team Arrow though, it is really just Dinah, John and Rene waiting for him because Curtis and Felicity are doing their own thing.

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Curtis has followed Felicity into the belly of Helix and discovered that she is trying to find video evidence of Chase being Prometheus. Remember that overly dramatic scene where Chase took off his Prometheus on a rooftop? It comes back to bite him here. Felicity and Helix find the street footage of the moment but it’s encrypted so Curtis and Felicity must break into a tech company to bust down the encryption and finally reveal Chase. 

While Felicity and Curtis are on their (much less impressive) mission, Oliver joins up with half his squad to take on the Bratva. Oliver dons a really stupid mask because he doesn’t deserve the hood right now. (My eyes deserve Oliver to not look totally ridiculous.) As Felicity and Curtis pull off their heist, Oliver and company stop Anatoly and the Bratva. Oliver’s Russian confrontation is fun as far as action set pieces go,  but its more important as it serves as a complete break between Anatoly and Oliver. Anatoly isn’t killed, thank God, but Oliver is no longer one of his favorite Americans. This probably ensures in his next present day Arrow appearance Anatoly will be a straight up antagonist, not a snarky ally. 

While it is horrible to lose Anatoly as friend, Team Arrow does get a big win. Felicity and Curtis’ heist works and with Helix’s help, the video is completely retrieved with Chase exposing himself as Prometheus. Felicity quickly ships the video off to the SCPD and Chase is now a wanted criminal. Chase, of course, escapes killing his armed guards who go to arrest him in the creepiest and bloodiest way possible. Arrow hasn’t defeated their season 5 Big Bad but they have put a nice chink in Chase’s armor. 

So what did you think of Oliver’s new self inflicted guilt trip? Do you think Oliver’s friendship with Anatoly is completely over? How long do you think it will take Oliver to put back on the hood? 

Arrow season 5 airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Arrow Facebook page!

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.