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Arrow: 218 “Deathstroke” Review

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Reviewed by Phil Boothman.

As if the title for last week’s episode wasn’t a big enough tease for comic book fans, along comes ‘Deathstroke’: long known as the alter ego of Slade Wilson, Deathstroke represents the culmination of a character arc started in the middle of the first season when we first met Slade, Oliver’s new ally on the island. He’s gone from a gruff but likable Australian Intelligence officer to a super-strong, near-unkillable adversary gunning for Oliver with everything he has and nothing but vengeance on his mind; and while he has been largely lurking in the shadows thus far, operating through the man in the skull mask, ‘Deathstroke’ is the beginning of his endgame, and shows his emergence from behind the scenes to centre stage. And frankly, it doesn’t look good for Oliver.

So after picking Thea up at the end of last week’s episode, Slade quickly makes it abundantly clear that this is an abduction and he is going to be holding Thea against her will and doing potentially nasty things to her. She runs away, but heads straight into the creepy arms of Sebastian Blood in the skull mask, who kidnaps her and takes her to one of the many abandoned factories in Starling City (I know they have the earthquake as an excuse for why there are so many of these buildings, but this is getting kind of ridiculous).

Over in the Arrowcave Oliver is training Roy with limited success, while Diggle shows him that his ‘no-killing’ rule has filled the local prisons up quickly, and Felicity reminds Oliver that he has to act at least a little bit like the CEO of Queen Consolidated and go in for a board meeting, which he does reluctantly. He meets with Isabel Rochev and thanks her for picking up some of the slack, when Moira turns up and throws a few barbs at Isabel before acting like something of an ice-queen to Oliver as well, but tells him to come and support her at the mayoral debate, which he also reluctantly agrees to (Oliver is pretty reluctant to do anything except trying to find Slade these days).

So Oliver shows up at the debate but can’t find Thea anywhere, and part way through the debate a video message is broadcast showing that Thea has been kidnapped by Deathstroke, asking ‘how much is Thea Queen’s life worth to you?’. Oliver’s office quickly becomes the control centre of the investigation: Moira thinks it could be Malcolm Merlyn and Oliver signs over temporary control of the company to Isabel in desperation so he can concentrate on getting Thea back.

Meanwhile Felicity outclasses the police once again by tracking Slade’s car to a disused bar, Sara whips up some snake venom for Oliver to shoot Slade with, and Oliver takes his newest weapon: Roy. They confront Slade in the bar, where Thea very obviously isn’t, and Oliver shoots him and knocks him out with the snake venom, allowing him to be taken into custody. He has a tense confrontation with Slade in the interrogation room, where Slade pretty much just reiterates what he has always said: that he will destroy everything Oliver loves and then kill him and so forth. However, it turns out that Slade has an airtight alibi that places him in a different country during the time of Thea’s kidnap, and he is allowed to walk.

Slade then returns to Thea and tells her that she is free to go, but if she stays then he will tell her Oliver’s secret: however, it later turns out that this ‘secret’ is that he knows about Malcolm Merlyn and Thea’s true parentage, something which Thea doesn’t take too kindly to when she returns home. Elsewhere, Roy argues with Oliver about his methods, saying that they should have dealt with Slade themselves instead of handing him over to the police, and storms out of the Arrowcave.

And then Slade’s masterplan starts to kick into gear: Isabel Rochev takes complete, permanent control of Queen Consolidated, revealing that not only is she working for Slade but she also has some kick-ass combat skills and a vendetta against Robert Queen, which has now transferred to Oliver instead, as the ‘sins of the father are the sins of the son’; then Slade recruits a bus full of prisoners being transported to Iron Heights prison and takes them to Queen Consolidated’s Applied Sciences division to inject them with Slade’s mirakuru-infused blood.

Finally, as Quentin Lance is arrested for aiding the Arrow, Slade pays a visit to Laurel, where he gives her a single devastating piece of news which leaves her reeling: Oliver Queen is the Arrow.

Over on the island, Sara rigs Hendricks up with a Japanese landmine as they arrange to hand him over to Slade, but Slade hears the inner workings of the mine and threatens to kill them. Until, that is, he is interrupted by the ghost/hallucination of Shado, who tells him that the island should be their prison, and he agrees, abandoning them as he returns to the freighter.

Verdict: 8/10

A seismic shift in the world of Bonkers Superheroes has now occurred, and it feels as though things are not going to be quite the same ever again. The endgame has truly begun, and all that’s left is to watch how Oliver reacts to the steady destruction of his life by an enemy more powerful than he knows.

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