‘Arrow’ 6×05 Review: ‘Deathstroke Returns’

While Arrow’s sixth season has managed to get the show back to its winning formula, its fifth hour has failed this fan.

I have to say, any episode that succeeded last week’s incredible hour was bound to be a letdown anyway. “Reversal” was nearly flawless in its storylines, characters, and execution. But somehow “Deathstroke Returns” just felt like a letdown. For the first time this season, I was a bit bored.

It certainly didn’t help that Arrow ignored a pretty significant plot point in the name of Oliver Queen’s relationship with Slade Wilson. Sure, Oliver owed Slade a favor. But this favor turned into Oliver caring and trusting a man that he should want to murder on the spot.

Slade Wilson brutally murdered Moira Queen in front of her own children. Slade Wilson tortured Thea. Slade Wilson nearly murdered Felicity. Slade Wilson left everyone on Lian Yu to die.

But, sure, let’s trust the guy.

To make matters better (sarcasm), I just learned that Slade’s return isn’t just one episode. It’s two. That means we get another week of Arrow pretending Oliver and Slade are friends and Oliver’s reaction towards Slade is believable, which it’s not.

If anything, the best parts of this episode — apart from the nice conversation between Oliver and Felicity — had to be FBI Agent Watson, who continues to prove that she’s no idiot. Watson is us. She’s not falling for this shit.

With that said, even this episode doesn’t come close to the letdown that was Arrow season 5. And that’s certainly progress. Because shows aren’t always going to hit home with viewers on every episode. Some people probably really loved this episode. Others, like myself, weren’t enthusiastic about it. But that’s to be expected. Thankfully we’ve escaped the nightmare that is season 5.

Let’s break this episode down:

In No Universe Should Oliver Queen Trust Slade Wilson

The CW

Let me preface this by stating that Slade Wilson has been my favorite big bad in Arrow’s history. Arrow’s second season was a work of art, right down from the character development to the creation of the villain. Oliver Queen and Slade Wilson’s history has been something that’s had a lasting impact on this show. I’ve even been clamoring for Slade’s return.

But as a villain. Why? Because, yes, Slade is still a villain.

I don’t care what Arrow says, what Arrow wants me to believe, Slade Wilson is a horrific human being. He killed a lot of people. Brutally. He’s only in this life for himself.

And yet, Arrow wants me to believe that Oliver Queen trusts this guy?

Look, I understand Oliver fulfilling the promise he made to Slade. Slade helped Oliver find William. Only makes sense that Oliver repay the favor and help find Joe. But the part of the equation that makes absolutely no sense is that we’re supposed to believe that Oliver trusts Slade.

Slade, the man that killed Oliver’s mother, tortured his sister, and threatened to kill his soon-to-be wife. I’m sorry, but there’s no world in which Oliver Queen would forgive Slade. And that’s just for killing his mother.

I understand there’s this excitement when it comes to bringing Slade Wilson back to Arrow. I’ve looked forward to it, as well. But it made sense when he was the villain. I understand the Mirakuru excuse. But Slade didn’t have Mirakuru in his system when he played cat and mouse with Oliver and Thea on Lian Yu. Or when he left Oliver’s friends to die on Lian Yu. What’s his excuse for those?

Are you trying to tell me that Slade has all of a sudden “changed?” Because, as we saw in this episode, that wasn’t the case.

That doesn’t mean I don’t feel for the guy, because obviously he’s been haunted by the unknown of what happened to his son. But he doesn’t get a pass for what he’s done. And he doesn’t get forgiveness from his old friend, as he murdered his mother. That’s not how this works.

I repeat, there’s no world in which Oliver Queen would forgive Slade Wilson for what he’s done. Even if Arrow tries to make me believe it. Because I remember their history. I know that this storyline makes no sense in context of Oliver and Slade being “friends.”

The Significance of Olicity in Oliver’s Journey

The CW

Yes, I’m going to talk about Olicity because 1) I missed out on that opportunity last week (thanks ill-timed NYC vacation), and 2) It deserves to be discussed.

There are some people that, whenever we get a scene between Oliver and Felicity, like to say, “Too much romance!” or “Romance is ruining the show!” or, my personal favorite, “This isn’t a soap opera!”

But, as us intelligent people know, love is essential when it comes to human beings. It’s, as Oliver Queen once said, “The most powerful emotion.” It has the power to lift you up to your highest high and bring you down to your lowest low. It’s why wars are waged, people killed, friendships lost. Love is the driving force behind everything.

So, no, there is no such thing as “romance ruining a show.” If anything, Oliver and Felicity’s dynamic this season has proved that. Yes, last week’s “Reversal” was Olicity-centric, which was fantastic. But that doesn’t mean that every week Olicity is going to be the focus. We saw that in “Deathstroke Returns.” And yet, Oliver and Felicity’s relationship was incredibly important in terms of Oliver’s character.

If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that Oliver will do whatever Felicity asks. Also, Felicity knows Oliver better than himself. So as Oliver internally debated whether or not he was going to join the man that murdered his mother his friend Slade Wilson on his mission to find his son, it was Felicity that offered Oliver the clarity he needed.

Felicity reminded Oliver that, while he’d made a promise to William, he also made a promise to Slade. And this is coming from the woman that despises him — for good reasons. While Oliver was worried about going along and betraying the promise he made to William, Felicity told him that he should tell William what he was going to do — that he was going to help a friend. No lying. Just honesty, which is also a new trait Oliver Queen is trying out this season.

Oliver wanted Felicity to tell him not to go. Because, as we know, if it’s Felicity asking, Oliver will do it. But Felicity reminded Oliver that, if he didn’t go, he’d blame himself if anything were to happen. He wouldn’t be able to forgive himself for falling through on the promise he made.

And that, right there, is the importance of Oliver and Felicity’s relationship. This isn’t a romance show. This is a drama where the characters define the story. Their relationships with each other are a big part of that. When Arrow made the stupid decision to split Oliver and Felicity up, they lost something that brought clarity to the show.

The main complaint I always see with Olicity is that “it’s only about Olicity,” when, in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This episode was proof that Oliver and Felicity’s relationship doesn’t need to be “in your face.” This show is perfectly capable of utilizing these characters — going both ways, for Oliver or Felicity — in a way that’s going to help drive the character’s journey while not being the complete focus.

Olicity isn’t going to be the focus in every episode. It wasn’t in “Deathstroke Returns.” But it’s the underlying significance that’s important in Oliver’s — and Felicity’s — journey. We get to see how these two individuals, who are strong individually, are even stronger as a team. They can lean on each other. They can rely on each other. They can protect each other.

Oliver and Felicity’s relationship — whatever it’s been from season 1 through the present — has always been one of the centerpieces of Arrow. It’s been a dynamic that has defined these characters, that have helped them evolve, that have challenged them, and that have sparked conversation in the fandom. Now that Olicity is back — with wedding bells perhaps on the horizon ;) — Arrow is recognizing the importance of this relationship in the bigger picture. And it’s those small moments — even when it’s not the focus — that mean so much.

Dinah’s Connection to Vigilante

The CW

While Oliver was busy helping Slade in Kasnia, Team Arrow was dealing with the returning threat of Vigilante, who was finally unmasked in what was probably the most underwhelming reveal in a while. And there have been a few underwhelming reveals.

I feel like most of the fandom had glommed onto this idea that Vigilante would wind up being Adrian Chase’s twin, which would mean that Vigilante would wind up being Josh Segarra, which would mean that we got Josh Segarra back in our lives. The fact that Vigilante wasn’t Chase’s twin is just utterly disappointing.

Instead, Arrow decided to tie Vigilante’s story with Dinah’s, as we learned that Vigilante was actually Dinah’s ex-partner (both personally and professionally) Vince Sobel. The fact that Vigilante was anyone other than Josh Segarra makes me salty. But I’m also intrigued by how this is going to advance Dinah’s storyline this season.

Dinah is a character that I want to know more about. She’s the only newbie that hasn’t annoyed me. Her portrayal is honest, her motives convincing, and her goodness evident. She’s a badass with a heart of gold. So I’m glad that we’re starting to get more of her personal story.

Dinah was obviously affected by learning Vigilante’s true identity. Initially, she saw Vigilante as he had presented himself: a psychopath. It was remarkable because she watched him get shot point-blank in the head. But the dark matter that gave her the Canary Cry also made Vince, like, healing?

When Dinah, with some help from Diggle, was able to look at this situation for what it really was — someone that had gotten lost and, like Dinah, needed some help to right the ship. Don’t forget when we first found Dinah, she was driven by vengeance and revenge. It was with the help of the team that she discovered her purpose. So didn’t Vince deserve the same?

Only Vince didn’t seem willing, much like Dinah early on. Ever since he was shot and developed this abilities, it’s been like a second chance at life. He realized that he hadn’t really accomplished anything in his life as a cop. So he’s using now to do that. Dinah doesn’t agree with his methods, but there’s a part of her that longs for the man she used to know. So much so that she lets him get away. And that’s obviously not going to sit well with the team.

Good Luck Fooling This One

The CW

I have to admit, I’m feeling awkward when it comes to Agent Samandra Watson. On the one hand, she’s trying to bring Team Arrow down so, naturally, she’s the enemy. On the other hand, I love Watson’s candor and no-bullshit attitude oh so much.

If Kara Danvers existed on this Earth, Watson would be the one to say, “You’re obviously Supergirl. Those glasses aren’t fooling anybody.”

Watson isn’t stupid. She’s smart as hell. She’s cunning as hell. And she’s someone that looks like she always gets her way. She’s a legitimate threat to the entire team. Not just Oliver.

Despite everything Team Arrow has thrown back at Watson, she’s not yielding. She’s no dummy. She can see when Dinah goes missing when the lights go on, which happens to be the same time Black Canary shows up. She knows when Felicity is getting messages from the team. She knows Diggle isn’t a sniper but it up to something fishy. Watson knows her targets. And she’s going to take her time until she has what she needs to bring them down. Then, I’ll full-on hate her. But also respect how she’s not letting anything get by her.

10 Things About “Deathstroke Returns”

oliverxfelicity
  1. Wait, you mean there’s more with this Slade Wilson storyline? Ugh. One hour was enough. And this is coming from someone that considers Slade to be my favorite villain in this series.
  2. I’m sorry, why does Oliver trust Slade? The man murdered his mother, tortured Thea, and nearly killed Felicity. There’s no world where Oliver is okay with any of that.
  3. Leave it to Felicity and Diggle to be, us, the sane ones. They don’t trust Slade, and rightfully so.
  4. I’m loving Agent Watson, even though she’s trying to expose my crew. She’s such a refreshing character in a world that can feel repetitive. She’s smart. She’s cunning. She’s no bullshitter. Ain’t nothing getting past her.
  5. Well, that Vigilante reveal was a complete letdown. So much for Adrian Chase’s twin being Vigilante. (I’m going to need Josh Segarra back, please.)
  6. I love how much Felicity knows Oliver better than he knows himself. Their conversations are so important to this show and these characters. I live for the small, impactful moments like we got in this episode.
  7. I’m enjoying getting to know Dinah as an individual, which includes bringing someone from her past back into her life. I’m curious as to how this is going to continue to affect her personally and on the team.
  8. Of course, Joe Wilson is the leader of this terrible group.
  9. Of course, Oliver went after Slade.
  10. Of course, this is a two-part episode.

Arrow airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.

Alyssa Barbieri

Senior Managing Editor

Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment. Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes. Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters. TV Editor and Sports Editor. I write about DCTV, This Is Us and so much more.
Contact: alyssa@fangirlish.com.

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