'Arrow' 5×21 Review: 'Honor Thy Fathers'

From the very beginning, Oliver Queen’s journey to becoming the Green Arrow has been rooted in his father’s insistence that he correct his wrongs and make a better future for the city he tainted. It’s a tall order for anyone to leave behind a lasting legacy that your parents have insisted upon. But for Oliver, that’s a legacy that has consisted of finding a way to right his father’s wrongs instead of finding a way to honor himself.

This season, Adrian Chase has been trying to find a way to break Oliver in a way that he hasn’t been broken before. The way he’s been doing that – and succeeding in some instances – is through making his crusade appear to be nothing more than an excuse for murder. While you, me, and my mother’s hair dresser know that not to be true, Oliver has always had that fear of being a monster deeply ingrained within him. So, when he was tortured for a week straight, naturally he eventually gave in.

But this crusade – a crusade that has saved thousands of lives, including the ones on the team, including Oliver’s – has been about so much more than honoring Robert Queen’s memory and carrying on a legacy. It may have started that way, but through the efforts of Diggle, Felicity, Thea, Laurel, and the others over the years it has grown into something bigger than all of them.

Team Arrow isn’t about honoring Robert Queen. It’s about honoring this city and all of the people that have lived, fought, and died protecting it.

But while that’s easy for us as an audience to see, we know that Oliver Queen has a tendency to look at the negative and skip the positive. Oliver loves to carry the weight of the world upon his shoulders. At this point, it feels like he’s just accepted it.

“Oliver, I’m not the man you think I am.”

Those were the words that have haunted Oliver for years. Words that have made Oliver second guess the foundation of this crusade. Those words resonated in “Honor Thy Fathers” as Robert Queen’s ugly past was put on display courtesy of Adrian Chase.

Chase has been trying to convince Oliver that he’s a killer. And he even seceded for a hot second. Only now, Chase decided to flip the tables. Show Oliver that his father was just like him: a killer. Almost as if Oliver was always destined to be one.

Oliver knows his father was far from perfect and did some unspeakable things. And Oliver has taken that unnecessary weight on his shoulders. To become a much better person and leave a better legacy than his father before him. And sure, that’s how things might’ve started. But that’s not how things have been in the present.

This season has had several significant nods to season 1, which was when Robert Queen’s influence loomed large. So, it makes sense that this topic would come up again. But Oliver isn’t the same person he was back in season 1. He’s evolved. He’s opened up. He’s become a hero.

It might’ve started with his father. But this crusade hasn’t been about his father for years.

“Leave the past in the past.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the events that have defined you up until the present. Especially when you’re Oliver Queen. And especially when you’ve done the things that you’ve done. And while your past will always be a part of you, it shouldn’t always define you. We’ve seen people get hung up on the past, much like we’re seeing Adrian Chase and his relentless pursuit of Oliver. All Chase sees is the past.

But as Felicity tells Oliver in one of their beautiful heart-to-hearts (God, I’ve missed those), you need to look to the future and stop living in the past. If you don’t do that, you’ll never be able to move forward. And Oliver’s journey is all about moving forward.

The moment that Oliver decided to finally put the Green Arrow suit back on was the moment he decided to finally put the past behind him and start living in the present for the future. And it was damn beautiful.

And it’s something he passed along to Thea.

It showed that Oliver, despite everything that he’s done and has experienced, wants to be so much more than the person he once was. For as he’s been clinging to this idea of Team Arrow being about honoring Robert Queen, he’s been clinging to a past version of himself that hasn’t existed since he brought Diggle and Felicity aboard. Everything changed then, including Oliver.

Team Arrow became about more than just one person. It was a movement. And as we’ve seen over the course of five seasons, Team Arrow is something that’ll continue to evolve and thrive because the people at its core will it to.

Let’s break this down, shall we?

Arrow — “Honor Thy Fathers” — Image AR521b_0152b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): David Ramsey as John Diggle/Spartan and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

That Almost Seemed Too Easy…

When something appears to be too easy, it typically is. Such was the case for the pursuit and capture of one Adrian Chase, who appeared uncharacteristically not in control and uncharacteristically gave himself up. Chase has already proved himself to be a master manipulator. And he proved so again with this little plan he’s concocted.

As Oliver and Chase met for the first time in a few episodes, there was this palpable tension in the air. Here we had to similar men that could not be more different in their intent and character. Oliver and Chase were so similar that Chase used that tactic to be consistently ahead of Oliver. That is until Oliver finally got a trump card of his own in the form of information about Chase’s dad.

Oliver told Chase that he father was ashamed of him, and that he was actually looking to disown him not because he was illegitimate but because he was just crazy as f**k. It was an interesting parallel between Oliver and Chase’s fathers, who Chase tried to sell as similar and once again draw a focus to the many similarities between he and Oliver. But Chase’s father was ashamed of him while Oliver’s father, while far from perfect, loved him in spite of everything. That’s the difference.

But the motivation is the same. Much like Oliver began his crusade to right his fathers wrongs and create a worthy legacy, Chase began his vengeance as a way to honor his fallen father. The only difference is Oliver has made his crusade about more than himself and his father while Chase continues to let his crusade drive him.

As Chase surrenders to Oliver, he tells him to get it over with. The “over with” here meaning, “Just kill me like you’ve killed others before.” Once again, Chase is setting out to make Oliver the monster that he isn’t but is always afraid of becoming. But Oliver doesn’t kill him. He decides to deliver justice the right way. You know this is Oliver telling himself, “No killing,” ala season 2. But sometimes killing is necessary. Because not killing Chase might actually make things worse here in the last two episodes, just saying. But I admire Oliver for not giving into Chase’s manipulation and choosing not to subject himself to the past but live in the present.

As we’ve watched these past several episodes play out in terms of the interactions between Oliver and Chase, it’s become clearer – especially with the theme of “living in the past” – that this is a vendetta from the past.

Chase is seeking justice for his father against the man, Oliver Queen, that killed him four years prior. But Oliver isn’t the person he used to be. He’s changed. He’s evolved. Chase is trying to pick a fight with the man that murdered his father four years ago. But Oliver’s isn’t that man. Not anymore.

It kind of makes you stop and think and really witness just how much someone’s past can drive their actions even years later; even when they know things have changed. But emotions have a funny way of latching on in a way that can come off as obsessive and crazy. Although I thoroughly believe Adrian Chase is a crazy as hell.

But let’s get back to the “that almost seemed to easy” portion of our program. Because Chase’s turning himself in and giving up so easily was the equivalent of a thousand red flares shooting off in the sky. KNOW YOUR ENEMY. KNOW THAT THIS IS MORE OF HIS MANIPULATION.

Obviously even if he’s trying to play them they’re still going to capture him. That I get. But what I don’t get is this instantaneous sigh of relief coupled with a sense of security that baffles me. They’re not the least bit curious as to why Chase turned himself over? They don’t in the least bit suspect something else at play? Why are they so happy? This isn’t The Flash.

That smile at the end, as Chase watched Oliver’s press conference, said it all. They straight up got played. AGAIN. And they have no idea. This is Chase once again making them feel at ease right before he strikes.

So, what’s next?

Well, obviously with two episodes left things are about to hit the freaking fan. This is when Arrow really knows how to dial it up. Chase is locked up in an ARGUS cell that should appear to be secure but doesn’t in the slightest awaiting his next play. But how does he play from the inside? Teammates, that’s how.

This is around the time when Black Siren is supposed to make her return, which means that Chase is probably using Black Siren as a means to take out Team Arrow. Also, don’t forget Talia al Ghul. The ladies are coming for Team Arrow as Chase sits back and watches the show. Until he’s freed, of course. The finale is already shaping up to be epic, terrifying, and emotional as hell. I’m so ready.

Arrow — “Underneath”– Image AR520b_0127b.jpg — Pictured: Rick Gonzalez as Rene Ramirez/Wild Dog — Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Rene Doubts His Ability To Be A Good Father

While I wouldn’t necessarily call Rene my favorite character, he’s definitely a character that’s been growing on me over the past several episodes. Really everything has gotten better over these past few episodes, so that’s good. One of the reasons that Rene is starting to connect with me is because they’re giving him a personal story. It’s something that allows us to slowly get to know him through his past and how he deals in the present.

Rene’s storyline with his daughter Zoe is a storyline I didn’t expect to love as much as I have. Then you add Quentin into the mix, and it’s everything that I could’ve hoped for. Here are two fathers. Here are two new friends. Here is a father figure advising a fellow father. There’s so much complexity in their dynamic and a mutual bond and respect that really makes Rene and Quentin one of my favorite new dynamics this season.

When we last left Rene, he had decided to fight for custody of his daughter after some time trying to keep her away from him. You see, Rene feels like she deserves better than him. He doesn’t believe he’s good enough to be a good father to her. But all of that went away the moment he was reunited with his daughter. Seeing her, talking with her, hugging her. That’s all it took to finally light a fire under his ass and fight for custody.

In “Honor Thy Fathers,” Rene had a court date set for expedited custody, which would reunite him with Zoe pretty quickly. Rene, who has been leaning on Quentin throughout all of this, decided to invite Quentin for some moral support. Also, because he’s become a sort of father figure to him.

Only Rene gets all up in his own head again and begins second guessing himself. Zoe deserves better than him. He can’t be the father he should for her. Blah, blah, blah.

But he also doesn’t want Zoe to have to relive the ugly truth of her parents’ past. Her mother was a drug addict who was murdered. Her father was an alcoholic who is the reason why she’s not with her father. But this isn’t about righting the past. You can’t do that. You can only control the present and the future that you want.

Quentin practically pleaded with Rene to show up for his daughter. It’s not about the past. It’s about the future. Just when you thought he’d gotten through to him, he doesn’t show up and the case is thrown out. And I was pissed. How could he do that to his daughter’s future?

But now that I think of it and that promo for next week’s episode, Rene probably had intended to go to the hearing but was taken by Team Prometheus. Which makes me feel like shit. Which makes me angry as hell at Chase. Which makes me want to defend Rene. Which is the strangest feeling I’ve experienced this season.

Arrow — “Honor Thy Fathers” — Image AR521a_0133b.jpg — Pictured: Juliana Harkavy as Tina Boland/Dinah Drake– Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Five Things

  1. Goodness me, I love it when I see Oliver Queen grow in front of my eyes. This season has been terrible in terms of Oliver’s character. But in these past several episodes it’s been night and day. This is the hero that I’ve been rooting for. The man that acknowledges that he messed up and then vows to become better than he once was. It’s all about living in the present and moving away from the past.
  2. Can we keep Thea forever? Also, still don’t get why she left in the first place. The fact that Thea Queen can waltz right into an episode and feel like she wasn’t gone is the reason why she should’ve never left in the first place. I get that it’s about contracts and all of these newbie characters certainly didn’t help. But what this show needs more than newbies are core characters that drive this show. #KeepTheaQueen
  3. No one affects Oliver the way that Felicity Smoak does. Seriously, Oliver Queen takes every word Felicity Smoak says to heart and he tries to aspire to be that person that she sees inside of him. She encouraged him to stop living in the past and start living in the present. Not only did he make the decision to do that, but he’s also inspiring his sister to do the same. He’s quoting his girl and living and breathing her words.
  4. I can’t get over how much Dinah has already grown on me this season. I love what Dinah brings to Team Arrow and her interactions with the team. She’s a complex character that is a badass with a bow staff and a threat with her canary cry. I can’t wait until we learn more about her.
  5. Could Prometheus actually be Human Target? There’s a reason that Human Target was introduced this season. And not just for a one-off. It felt bigger than that. With Chase being captured so easily, there’s definitely something bigger at play.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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