‘Arrow’ 8×05 Review: “Prochnost”

Welcome one more week to another Arrow review!  Prochnost” is a very complete and rounded episode, that gave us a trip to Russia, a reunion with an old friend and many feelings brought to the surface, as well as revealed truths.  Let’s comment everything!

Here we go!

Seeing Oliver tell Diggle that he loves having his children there so much that he doesn’t want to separate from them has melted me. Oliver in father mode is my weakness #sorrynotsorry.

The reality is that Oliver sees being able to live with his children as a gift. He didn’t think he would see them again, much less get to know them and build a relationship with them. But life, or the universe has given back something of all it owes him and made it possible. Oliver knows it’s just an oasis in the middle of the desert.  Soon he will die … that’s why it’s even more special for him to have this time with his children.  Although it is limited … it’s worth it, and he doesn’t plan to squander this opportunity.

Apart from Oliver’s happiness, our Diggle is concerned about the trip to Russia. He knows that Oliver’s past there is dark … and he is worried that Russia’s environment will bring that Oliver back. Oliver’s response speaks, as usual, of the character’s progress.

He tells him that he is now a different man at a different time, and he is absolutely right.  The Oliver of Russia never thought it was possible to have a family or be happy. The Oliver of now is a complete man, while the Oliver of Russia was a dark man, trapped by his demons and carried away by his most violent impulses. Oliver has changed, and his life too. While before his inner light barely shone, now it fills absolutely everything. However, in this show nothing is as simple as it seems.  And so, the adventure in Russia begins.

The moment of William speaking Russian and Oliver’s reaction will remain in the annals of the show’s history. Where did William learn to speak Russian so well? It is a mystery that I would like to know. And is this a good time to say that I LOVE Anatoly?  Well, I love him madly. He is my favorite Russian of all time. I laugh a lot with him.

Mia, unlike me, is not happy. She doesn’t protest too much, but she doesn’t like that her father doesn’t accept the help of Anatoly’s men, it is not logical to reject them. Oliver excuses himself by saying that these men are dangerous and he prefers to keep them away, but the reality is that he is afraid his children will discover who he was in the past. The time he spent in Russia was really dark for him, and he doesn’t want his children to know what he did. He is afraid of them knowing that dark parts of him.

He has just met them, has begun to forge a relationship with them … losing them because of his past actions is impossible to bear. But, as Oliver will learn throughout the episode, if he doesn’t let his children really know him, if he doesn’t trust them to accept him as he is, he can never have a real relationship with them.

That worried voice of Oliver, so low, so scared, when he finds out where Mia and William met, is another detail that has made me fall in love. It is impressive how Stephen achieves such a fatherly inflection.

Mia’s past and Oliver’s refusal to have her do precisely what she did to survive in the future brings the first father and daughter confrontation.

Oliver behaves like a father here. He can’t even think about putting his little ones in danger, it’s just too much to process. The problem is that his kids are no longer kids. They are adults and make their own decisions. Oliver tries to protect them so much that he even intends to ignore their wishes.

For Oliver, Mia and William are his children, his little ones, his kids, and nothing and no one is going to get close to them, he will protect them, even from themselves. But the point is that they don’t need a bodyguard, they need a father to see them as they are: adults who make their own decisions.

But that is so difficult for parents … it’s scary to let them go on, alone in the face of danger. You know they can hurt themselves, you know they can make mistakes, you know they can crash and burn … but you have to. You have to let them stand up for themselves, and take their own path. You have to let them be themselves, even if that means being terribly worried all your life, because in the blink of an eye everything can change.

For Oliver it is even more difficult because the last time he saw them both were just that, children and now … they are not. And that brings its own problems.

In the fight club, when Oliver sees Mia among the people, he feels so angry to see her there, that she has disobeyed him and put herself in danger … that anger is the same anger that makes him win the fight. He can’t see Mia there. Her rebellion causes him a headache. Oliver can’t understand why Mia doesn’t get that he just wants to protect her. But Mia makes her own decisions and takes her own risks, she is no longer a child.

Oliver is so worried about her that, when he is losing consciousness, he fights with all his strength not to, and, when he knows he won’t, his last word is the whisper of his daughter’s name. They can do anything to him, kill him even, but they cannot touch her. 

After the kidnapping, father and daughter meet again, throwing each other’s mistakes in their faces. Mia, as usual, was not going to remain still. She won’t allow Oliver to decide for her. Like her father, she is an action girl and has a mission to fulfill, she needs to prove to herself and to her father that she can do it.

Of course, father and daughter are so alike that they are both set in their ways. But there is something else Mia needs to know. Everyone knows her father in Russia and she doesn’t know why. Oliver explains a little of what happened, and Mia is hurt that he has not trusted her, if not as a daughter, at least as a mission partner. That her father didn’t tell her … is another thing to add to the long list of issues she has against him.

I think it’s really significant that Oliver confesses everything when he sees Mia in danger. They can do anything to him. In fact, he has endured horrible torture, but his daughter … she is above all. He won’t let something happen to her, no matter what price he has to pay. She is more important than everything.

When they challenge Mia, Oliver tries, once again, to go to her rescue, ordering her not to get on that line. Oliver knew what was going to happen and didn’t want Mia to go through that. But, again, he is wrong in the way he does things. Just orders, doesn’t explain, just overprotects. He doesn’t let Mia make her own decisions, he doesn’t trust her to overcome anything. Again, he treats Mia as the kid she no longer is.

Therefore, Mia’s reaction, in an act of rebellion, is to get in that line. She doesn’t care for anything, she simply wants to prove a point to her father and make it clear that even if he doesn’t believe in her, she can do this. 

Of course, the problem is not that Oliver doesn’t trust her just that … thinking of her being in danger is like a knife to his heart, and he can’t stand it.

Oliver holds his breath while Mia is put to the test and when he sees that she can’t ring the bell, he knows what’s coming. Mia too. And, suddenly, fights, reproaches, orders no longer matter … there is only the most absolute terror. Terror of losing each other.

They look into each other’s eyes and tell each other everything with that look. “I love you” “forgive me” “I wish we had more time.” That look speaks more than everything that has been said so far. They both feel it, they both regret having spent more time fighting than really together. No one looks away, wanting to be the last thing the other sees … it’s only a second but it’s the longest of their lives.

And then, the relief they both feel when that gun is not fired is so great that they could almost cry. They have a new opportunity.

However, Queens are nothing if they are not stubborn. Oliver can’t help doing the overprotective thing again. He wants to leave them out of the entire mission and, as usual, they disagree. Both were responsible for getting out of there alive, deserve that credit and to be part of the mission. They have proven their worth.

But for Oliver it is not about that, but that they are his kids and his first mission, above all, is to protect them. That is the first mission of any parent, but that mission cannot go above letting the children develop themselves, make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons.

Mia and William try to make Oliver see this. They can handle anything. They do it in the future. But for Oliver they are children. So recently he said goodbye to Mia when she was in her crib, so recently he left William with his grandparents. He just can’t … visualize them as more than children. But they are.

Oliver promised Felicity that he would keep them safe. And that promise and the person to whom it was made are so important, that there is nothing, including the universe, multiverse, supernatural event or crisis that will prevent him from fulfilling it (raise your hand if you melted here again).

Of course, Mia and William have things to say about his way of keeping them safe.  That caused his family to break up and cost them a chance to grow together. Oliver will take being hated as much as they want, but he believes he is doing the right thing. And he asks forgiveness, forgiveness for all the damage caused by his decision (it is the first time he asks Mia) but … their safety is above all, even his own life.

What happened, what he suffered, everything was worth it when he sees them grown up, healthy and strong. When he sees them alive. All the sacrifices were worth it. It was for them. They can hate him if they want, but he won’t put them in danger.

This is not what William and Mia mean. They just want Oliver to value them and treat them like the adults they are. They want him to realize that, as he and Felicity did, they choose their own life and the risks they want to take. They just want Oliver to let them be themselves, and stop overprotecting them.

In the subsequent conversation between Oliver and Anatoly (by the way, I love these moments) we see many things clearly. Of course, Oliver doesn’t want to put his children in danger, but a large part of him doesn’t want his children to discover his past in Russia. Oliver knows that if they get mixed with the mission, his past and present will collide and that will reach his children. They will discover who he was then, and may reject him because of it. 

The relationship between them is still very fragile, and it may not resist that blow. Oliver has seen how they look at him. Like a hero, but if they discover what happened in Russia … Oliver is afraid that they will only look at him with contempt, with disgust. He couldn’t stand it.

Anatoly tells him a great truth: his children are old and can handle it, they can understand it. The only way for them to learn to be heroes is to discover that the heroes have their light and their darkness, and that sometimes you have to overcome demons so horrible that they destroy you inside, before reaching the light.

The Oliver of Russia did terrible things but also did good things. His children deserve to know who their father really is. He must stop protecting them and hiding that part of himself.

We protect kids from some difficult and painful truths, truths that they could not understand. But when they are adults, they can understand and handle it, they can think for themselves and know how to differentiate between the past, and the person now in front of them.

Mia and William deserve that benefit of the doubt, they deserve to have Oliver overcome all his fears, and be honest with them. 

Oliver must stop over-protecting them. The grief, that fear is something a father never gets rid of. It’s always present, no matter how grown up the children are. It is an intrinsic part of being a father. But parents should let kids fly, they should let them develop and take their own risks, they should let them decide for themselves, and have the confidence that they will do well. That’s what Oliver must do.

In addition, the time has come for Oliver to accept and overcome what happened in Russia. He must forgive himself and find peace over everything that happened there. Oliver has to stop hiding from his children, and himself. Finally, he does. In the fight he recognizes the name they gave him in Russia and later, he is able to be honest with his children.

At the end of the episode, Oliver’s invitation for Mia and William to go with him to the mission is his way of recognizing that they were right and that he needs them, that it’s time to treat them as the adults they are. The acceptance of both to that proposal is a speechless communication that they accept that apology from Oliver.

That forgiveness materializes in the final scene when Oliver puts his apology into words. He will never stop worrying about them or wanting to protect them, but he will treat them as the adults they are, and let them take their own risks, hoping they know how to manage them.

In addition, in that scene Oliver finally begins to open up to them and tells them the other part of the reason why he didn’t want them to participate in the mission: the fear that they would discover who he was. Oliver is aware that he was not a good person. He did horrible things and simply didn’t want his children to know that part of him for fear of rejection. But that dark part of him is a part of himself. And he just has to explain everything to his children and hope they understand that he was a different man. But his children must know him, all of him, even the darkest parts. That’s why he starts telling them his story and everything they want to know. He doesn’t have to hide anything from them, not anymore.

Our experiences mark who we are today, Oliver is no exception to that. Yes, he did terrible things, but he also did good things and everything he lived, dark and bright, good and bad, has led him to be the man and the hero he is today and his children deserve to know that man, both, lights and shadows . Now is when they start doing it.

The relationship between Mia and Laurel continues to strengthen with a view to the spin off. It was Laurel who managed to get Mia to open up a bit, and say part of what she was feeling. Apart from her problems with her father, she feels useless. She had a challenge ahead of her and she couldn’t ring that damn bell on time. That ruling could have killed her father and her.

In addition, Mia has seen that Oliver has his own tricks and exceeds her in several things. That makes her feel disoriented and insecure. All of that added to the fact that she couldn’t save Zoe. All her training and her skills didn’t save her, just as they didn’t help to be able to ring that damn bell in time, or to be able to defeat her father.

This, coupled with the fact that every time she tries to prove to her father and herself that she is useful and necessary, her father frustrates all her attempts. She needs more than ever to prove to herself that she is not useless, but she also needs to prove it to her father, he needs her to see that she is not a little girl. More than ever, she needs his acceptance and his approval. No, his respect. And her father doesn’t give it to her. She has always wanted to have her father by her side, to have him look at her with pride, to include her in his life and now … he doesn’t. That frustrates her, it hurts her.

Of course, she is not useless, it’s just that sometimes missions go wrong and her father has more experience than her. And Oliver doesn’t protect her because he doesn’t trust her or doesn’t respect her, he does it because that’s the way he is, he can’t think about his daughter being in danger and not protect her. It’s not in him not to protect those he loves.

But Mia doesn’t understand that. She feels so … inferior. Not good enough to protect Zoe. Not good enough for her father to include in his plans. And not good enough to overcome a simple fighting challenge. Laurel prevents Mia from getting caught up even more by her own demons.

She must only be herself, not anyone else. In  life she will suffer losses and sometimes she will fall … but the crux of the matter is that she never give up. And as for Oliver … it’s just as he is, he can’t leave her in danger. He will fight to protect her as much as he can, even fighting against herself and her decisions. It’s not right, but Oliver is human.

In parallel to the mission in Russia, we have seen a solo mission of Diggle and Roy.  After knowing what happens in the future, Diggle goes to look for Roy, to try to prevent him ending up on the island, isolated from his whole family. Roy has tried to move on and overcome his thirst for blood, but feels unworthy of being with Thea, or with the rest of the team, putting on his Arsenal suit. He doesn’t look like a hero, but the opposite.

Diggle tries to make him understand that in the end he will overcome his thirst for blood, but he will only do so to live prisoner of his own demons. John has come to him to change that. He doesn’t have to live like this. The thirst for blood can be overcome, but he needs help. The team is his family and Diggle just wants to help.  That’s what the family is for, to help with anything, without asking anything in return. Isolation is not the solution.

Roy was tested in this regard, having to knock out a guard. It has not been easy but with the help of Diggle, he has been able to stop on time and that, luckily, convinces him to fight alongside his family and let himself be helped by them. Roy already knows the future of the road he was traveling: isolation in Lian Yu.  But the thirst for blood doesn’t prevent Felicity, or the rest of his family from trusting him, nor should it be an impediment for him to trust himself.

I’m very happy that we are going to see Roy again in the team, it is the best farewell that could be given to the character who found his way thanks to Oliver and the rest of the team.

Lyla’s betrayal reaches a new high when she goes to see Laurel for help, and both betray Oliver. The truth is that Laurel drops some truth bombs. I also don’t understand why Lyla is hiding this from Oliver and her husband, Diggle. I don’t understand why she betrays those he loves most.

It is clear that she thinks she is doing the right thing to save them and protect them, and that her only intention is to do that. Although there is a high risk of losing them along the way, for Lyla, that is a small price to pay if they are safe. In fact, we see the despair on her face. We see both remorse and the certainty that she is doing the right fight inside Lyla. But is it that Lyla has not learned anything over the years? Secrets are not the best policy.

That said, it is ironic that Laurel is the one who tries to teach Lyla a lesson about betraying her loved ones, when she prepares to do the same.

Indeed, Laurel has gone to Russia ready to get those plans and hand them over to Monitor, in order to recover her Earth. However, something has changed in Russia.  And that something has been the trust of the people around her, and the fact that Laurel has been able to glimpse a very different future to betrayal and distrust. That’s what she always wanted … for someone to trust her and give her a chance.

Oliver has relied on her to obtain the device without any doubt; Mia has told her about the future, a future where she is the safeguard of the city and not her executioner, where she has people to trust, people that care for and trust her, and finally, there is Anatoly.

Their past is murky. The last time they met they both worked for Cayden, with the mission of destroying the city and Oliver and now, they are both helping him. Anatoly didn’t believe in Laurel’s change.

He may have changed in appearance, but he has always been very clear about who he is and he’s always been someone dark who loves Oliver Queen, someone who has a special affection for him, and that makes him want to help him, but also want to destroy him. Anatoly doesn’t know the middle ground. His world is violent, blood, pain and suffering and that is how he loves, capable of giving everything for a brother, but also capable of killing him if he feels his actions as a betrayal.

Laurel, on the other hand, is different. She didn’t want to harm Oliver for perceiving his acts as a betrayal, but simply for the pleasure of doing so, it was a means to an end. Anatoly doesn’t believe that a person can change enough to go from that to helping the person and the city she wanted to destroy. However, we see Laurel really do it, help without expecting anything in return or without having an ulterior motive for it.

Therefore, he acknowledges his mistake, and that is the push that Laurel lacked to make the decision to cut with that vicious circle of betrayals and secrets.

Laurel makes it clear to Lyla that she will not betray Oliver but, moreover, she has confessed everything to him and Diggle, so they know what is happening.

Diggle’s betrayed face while asking “why?” And “what have you done Lyla?” says it all. It’s a dagger stuck in Lyla’s heart, and in my own. And that ending, with a kidnapping prepared, as if he knew Laurel was going to back down. Things look …bleak.

In another order of things, I LOVED to see Oliver training his daughter. It’s like a dream come true, a great little gift. Mia is our new Green Arrow and who better to train her than than the man who will pass her the mantle, her father. In addition, that training scene with the arrows is a reflection of season 1, just as the fight-with-stick training reminds us of season 2. It is like a nostalgic trip to the past, but with the incorporation of Oliver’s legacy. Really special.  Like seeing William in Felicity’s chair.  Wonderful.

As for the stunts, having not been an episode in which the action especially stands out, they have not had much prominence but, of course, highlights are Oliver’s fight and him and Mia in that fighting club, in addition to the  Mia’s solo in the challenge of ringing the bell. Simply WOW!

In conclusion, the episode follows in the wake of the previous ones, and the emotional aspect is the one that stands out the most. It is perfectly well treated and we can understand the motivations and feelings of each character, especially in regards Oliver and his children. The three actors have tremendous chemistry on screen, and that helps a lot to make everything more credible, more real. The truth is that, as happened in the previous episode, they have made us participants in the story.

If in the previous episode we miss more interactions between Oliver and Mia, in this they have been compensated by far. Although it is true that I think we have only scratched the surface between both characters. It is as if at the beginning of this episode there was a thick layer of ice between them, and at the end of the episode, that layer has been broken, but the water that all that ice is still in the way.

We have finally seen a heart to heart between father and daughter, and an open conversation between Oliver and his children. We have witnessed the fears of all characters, their insecurities and their misgivings. But it is only the beginning. There are still many things to say and many wounds to heal. However, everything has a beginning and it was necessary to break that ice that kept the characters away, cold between them and somewhat motionless. This episode has been a necessary first step in Oliver’s relationship with his family, especially with his daughter.

In short, a brilliant emotional development of the characters, along with our beloved Anatoly, a couple of very good action scenes and the occasional final surprise, make the perfect cocktail for a complete and quite round episode.

Agree? Disagree? Don’t hesitate to discuss everything with us in the comments below!

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

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