Fresh off Oliver running into Slade Wilson for the first time off the island (AHHH!), and a three-minute trailer for the rest of the season that had fans foaming at the mouth, Arrow followed it up with one of the best episodes of the season.
Why? Two reasons, though both are connected. 1) More island. 2) More Slade = More Better.
Ollie has no idea what to make of the situation he walks in on: Moira and Slade are finishing up a business meeting, in which Slade has made a sizable donation to Moira’s campaign (I forgot she was having one). The pair of them teaming up is likely the worst thing that Ollie has ever seen (and he was in love with Laurel), so that’s why the internet is littered with gifs dedicated to his reactions throughout the episode:
Slade brings out some Australian rum (is that a thing?), and the trio drink to “friendship.” Ollie is rude, obnoxious and on edge (props to Stephen Amell, who was in top form this week) for the entire sequence of events at the Queen mansion, to which Moira attributes to her presence, and not the guest of honor.
Manu Bennett is also perfect in this episode, as the Big Bad comes forward, casting aside Sebastian Blood, Cyrus Gray and everyone else. He’s fantastically charming, smarmy and handsy around Moira and Thea; each time he touches them it’s like daggers raking at Ollie’s side.
But how did we get to this point? What happened that made Slade say this:
(Manu Bennett is contractually obligated to be “brothers” with a hunky male in every one of his projects; #IAmSpartacus)
“The Promise” delivers the answers, as Slade has finally come out of the cold and announced his intentions to fulfill the promise he made Ollie five years ago on the island. Rest assured, it’s not a happy promise.
Back on Caprona (the land that time forgot), Ollie gets a thrilling training montage, where he’s a few steps from where he is today, but leaps and bounds from the guy who first stumbled onto the island. He’s hitting the targets on the trees, and he can do pull-ups, just not these patented crazy ones:
But he finishes his routine with a bullseye, and it’s clear, he’s as ready as he’s going to be for the impending assault on the freighter. After biding their time for a few episodes, the Island flashbacks are beefed up and killer this week. Sara makes some sort of concoction to give to Ollie, they burn the Mirakuru to prevent Anthony Ivo from having it, and Sara advises Oliver to kill Ivo before he can twist the truth about Shado to Slade’s benefit. Obviously, this exact scenario is going to happen, and it’s one of the few times Sara is right on point.
Like in the flashback, they have Australian rum that Slade has miraculously found. After a toast (not to friendship, foreshadowing), Ollie and Sara agree to tell their loved ones about the other if they don’t make it. Slade’s the third wheel again, and is pissed, so he barks at them to go to sleep.
Ollie has a terrifying nightmare about Shado, where she stabs him repeatedly. It’s brutal, and a great sequence, though slightly ruined by the TV/movie magic that follows, where Ollie wakes up, and it’s exactly the right time for him to have awakened (as if Shado’s stabs were an alarm clock), just in time for him to suit up…for the first time.
On the boat, the prisoners are riled up, and Ivo grabs Russian Ally Dude (Anatoli Knyazev is his actual name, played by David Nykl), and is prepared to pluck his eye out, until Ollie has a Game of Thrones moment trying to shoot a flaming arrow. Instead of Brynden Tully/Slade taking over, he gets it right, and lights a pile of sticks aflame on the shores. The plan is on (though it’s not as badass as Blackfish). Ivo and company fall right into it.
He sends a couple crewman ashore, where Ollie draws their attention, trips on a tree root (purposefully or hilariously), and gets captured, brought back on-board the Amazo. There he meets Reverend Thomas Flynn (James Pizzinato), who clearly has some importance, but as far as I know, isn’t a character from DC Comics canon. Then he’s dragged away for interrogation time, where Ivo gives him truth serum and demands to know where Slade, Sara and the Mirakuru is. Instead, Ollie sends him into a trap (and we learn Ollie’s middle name is Jonas), because Sara made something that would counteract the serum, because she knows how Ivo works/biology.
Back in present day, Moira inquires about Slade’s lovelife/hits on him. Slade mentions that he loved someone once, and is clearly still hung up on Shado. Ollie makes a subtle comment about moving on, to which Slade disagrees, unable and unwilling. Moira leaves for some reason, and Ollie is at Slade’s throat in a flash, but Slade stops him instantly and easily. Then Thea arrives, to pile onto Ollie’s real-life nightmare.
On the Isle of Perpetual Tickling, Slade and Sara manage to parachute perfectly onto the Amazo, right after Slade mentioned that it had never been done. Then it’s war, as bullets and arrows fly, and Slade, Sara and Ollie take on Ivo’s crew. Or I should say Slade and Sara fight, while Ollie tracks Ivo, who’s on his phone talking to Jessica, whomever the $@#% that is. It’s clearly who he’s trying to get the Mirakuru for (to heal her a la Mr. Freeze), but Ollie interrupts the phone call, and has an arrow trained on him. Instead of killing him when he has the chance, he lets Ivo tell the story of what happened to Shado, and the guilt Ollie must feel…and of course, Slade (in the original, more awesome, not-hockey Deathstroke mask) is listening to the whole thing.
Ollie does feel responsible for Shado’s death, but in the stupid, unlucky heroes’ guilt sort of way, because he really didn’t cause Shado’s death in any way. But, since Slade’s brain is addled with the Mirakuru, his heart is broken, and Ollie doesn’t deny it, Oliver is now the villain, Dr. Ivo practically forgotten. I don’t really like that THIS is how Slade turns on Ollie and hates him forever now, but at the same time, the end results are so awesome, that I hardly care.
At the Queen manor, Ollie manages to call Felicity, and from the audio, Sara and the team figure out that Slade Wilson is alive, and back, and they’re all terrified. It’d be a lot cooler if Caity Lotz wasn’t one of the worst actors on TV, but the “Oh shit” on all of their faces was priceless. There’s a hilarious moment where Sara realizes that Roy Harper has also been injected with Mirakuru, and asks if she can trust him. His response? To literally turn around NOT to face her, and grunt out “I’m fine” or something to that effect. BWAHAHAHA. Oh Roy.
To Lilliput: Ollie, Sara, Anatoli, Big Dude and Thomas Flynn are set to escape, and jump off the boat for land, hoping for escape another day. They all get off, save Ollie, who’s grabbed and dragged back to the deck by the superhuman and supremely pissed off Slade Wilson. It’s awesome. Slade locks Ollie up, and gouges the eyes out of the man who thinks he’s captain of the Amazo, now that Ivo is MIA (for like a minute). The guy deserved death, since he shot Slade in the chest, when not only is he wearing a bulletproof, he’s friggin’ invincible. Maybe go for the unprotected face, guy.
After a luxurious tour of the Queen’s art collection, led by amateur art historian, one Thea Queen, Slade decides to depart. It might be because Roy and Sara both arrive at the mansion as their real selves to boost the odds in Oliver’s favor, while Diggle sets up outside for the headshot to end this. But it’s clear Slade is completely in control of the situation. The shot never comes, as Ollie walks Slade out. One of Slade’s men has taken Diggle out and Slade…
“It” being the promise to make Oliver suffer, know complete despair and THEN kill him. Slade speeds away in his super fancy sports car, and we all let out a sigh of relief. I mean, wow. Way to go Arrow.
Because the island flashbacks will go on as long as Arrow does, Sara, Anatoli and Flynn wash up on shore, wondering where Ollie is, who’s still trapped on the Amazo.
There’s one last mini ending, where Moira scolds Oliver and doesn’t want him in the house anymore if that’s how he’s going to treat other people when around her. Of course, Slade is watching, because he set up cameras all around the mansion during the tour. While he could’ve killed Oliver several times…it’s clear Moira, Thea, Felicity, Sara, Diggle and Roy are all also in the crosshairs. The way Arrow is handling itself right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if not all of them make it out alive by season’s end. Either way, I can’t wait to find out, and for more Deathstroke.
GIFs come from the lovely Queens Arrow tumblr.