Welcome back, Arrow fans! We’ve thankfully suffered through our last hiatus of the season and it’s full steam ahead for the last batch of episodes. This week’s outing, “The Man Under The Hood,” picks up right where “Deathstroke” left off, with the war between Oliver and Slade in full swing. No momentum was lost during the week-long break, though, and we’re treated to more dramatic and even darker turns that should help set the stage for a great showdown between Deathstroke and the Arrow.
Things get off to an explosive start when Felicity, Oliver, Diggle and Sara take the offensive for a change, and blow up Queen Consolidated’s Applied Sciences division in an attempt to slow down Slade’s ploy to construct a Mirakuru-enhanced army of escaped convicts.
The sequence was a lot of fun, and gave each character a little moment to shine. It’s great to watch Felicity out in the field, and it’s also funny seeing how worried Oliver gets when she begins to doubt her own plan. Additionally, after so many nights of lone crime fighting, Oliver working with his team is a refreshing sight, as opposed to just yelling at them via Bluetooth.
Last week, Slade told Laurel the truth about the Arrow’s identity, finally giving her an interesting story arc and a reason for her existence in the show. We see her really grapple with the new knowledge this week, not sure how to proceed or who to tell. I like that the knowledge about Oliver immediately led to the discovery that Sara is the Canary, which really must have made her feel like an idiot. I mean, let’s be real here, how did she fall for those domino masks and voice-changers? Hasn’t she known these people for her entire life?
Anyway, I digress. Laurel confronts Officer Lance, who’s currently in prison for aiding the Arrow’s vigilantism, and they share a great moment where Lance confesses to not caring about who the Arrow is. It’s not just that he didn’t know, it’s that he didn’t want to know. He talks about how knowing would only remind him that the Arrow is a person, with family and loved ones. It reminded me a lot of Commissioner Gordon’s opinion about Batman’s identity, but it worked well here and highlighted how far his relationship with the Arrow has come. He started off hunting and hating the guy, but now respects him and is thankful for all that he’s done for the city.
Team Arrow’s plan to slow down Slade doesn’t work for long, and he retaliates by attacking them in the Arrow Cave. His swift and relentless attack was one of the best sequences the show has ever delivered, and proved just how formidable and powerful he really is. He not only mops the floor with the likes of Oliver, Diggle, and Sara (awesomely catching her, by the throat, while she’s in mid-air), but shrugs off bullets without so much as a second’s hesitation. His attack is quick and brutal, and hammers home just how much of a threat he poses to our heroes. The writers have done a terrific job of building up his character over the course of the season, making him a bigger threat with each passing week.
Meanwhile, the Queens are at risk of losing their entire fortune now that Isabel Roshev has gained control of Queen Consolidated, forcing Oliver to confront Thea to sign some documents needed to protect their trust. I felt that this was a simple and effective way to include Thea in the proceedings. She’s often forgotten once the larger story arcs start taking hold, but the writers found a way to weave her story in flawlessly with the Slade plot this week. The revelation that Isabel was one of Robert Queen’s lovers was a nice touch, and helped shed some light on his knowledge that Thea wasn’t in fact his daughter. Though the revelation did little to ease Thea’s newfound disdain for her family, it was a great piece of character development that helps connect all of the expansive threads that have been tossed about this season.