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Arrow - Disbanded - Review

26 Apr 2017

Arrow “Disbanded” was written by Rebecca Bellotto and was directed by JJ Makaro. Bellotto’s only other writing credit is last season’s “Broken Hearts,” and it would have taken a much more experienced writer to make this plot even remotely feasible. Makaro is better known for stunts on the CW super-shows but has also directed The Flash, so as expected, the stunts and fights are nicely captured in the episode. As should be obvious even this far into this review, I was less than impressed with this episode. How many times are we going to replay the same scenarios? There are just too many logic problems with this episode to wave my hands at. The show is getting badly off track and really needs to refocus its vision.

The episode begins where we left off with Oliver (Stephen Amell) once again wallowing in self-doubt, and really self-pity at this point. Once again, he’s been convinced – as Dahrk and Slade did before Chase (Josh Segarra) – that everyone near him suffers or dies. Diggle (David Ramsey) tells Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Curtis (Echo Kellum) to leave and then lets Oliver chase him away too.

The rest of the team meet at Felicity’s. Diggle tells them that they aren’t just the anti-Prometheus team – there are other criminals to stop. Meanwhile, Rene (Rick Gonzalez) has been banned from City Hall because Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) doesn’t trust him to keep his temper and Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) just doesn’t seem to have to work… Diggle tells them that Oliver just needs time.

At City Hall, Quentin wants to know what Oliver’s plan is because he assumes he has one. Oliver tells him that Chase has won, and they aren’t going to do anything. Amell does a good job playing a thoroughly defeated and demoralized Oliver. Maybe he feels the same way having to play the same storyline over and over? Chase taunts him with a knife – a knife that leads into the Bratva flashbacks.

Oliver also further isolates himself by breaking up with Susan (Carly Pope) – another pointless relationship in the end. Susan actually grew on me a little bit as she is also expecting Oliver to corroborate her story with the Police and to do something.

Back at the lair, Oliver has boxed it all up, including the costumes. And he has done something that he hopes Chase won’t expect – he’s called Anatoly (David Nykl) to ask for the Bratva’s help. There was some potential for the flashbacks to actually make some sense here and be a nice parallel to the present action. In the flashbacks, we see that Anatoly is actually acting like a Robin Hood, stealing to help provide medicine for the sick. In the flashbacks, Oliver, however, is simply a killing machine, a gun for hire – though he’s technically helping Anatoly as a favor. Oliver is determined to return to Lian Yu to cover up what he’s been doing for the last five years. Anatoly doesn’t want him to go, telling Oliver that he’s a force for good in his life. Really? The guy who was the gun for hire, a killing machine?

In the present storyline, Oliver wants Anatoly to kill Chase, but Anatoly wants a down payment first. Naturally, the team show up – without their costumes which was sad – when Anatoly and his men break in to steal diabetes medicine. Anatoly recognizes Diggle.

Diggle confronts Oliver, and Oliver tells him that Anatoly is there to kill Chase. Diggle insists that they don’t hire criminals and wants to know if Oliver is prepared to sell his soul. Oliver insists he is if it means that neither Diggle nor Felicity nor any of the rest of the team have to. Diggle tells him it’s a mistake he can’t come back from and that it’s a bunch of crap that Oliver is responsible for every horrible thing that happens to any of them. And really? Diggle has told him this so many times before – and is hiring a killer really a huge step up from doing the killing yourself?

Interestingly, when Diggle tries to get Felicity to back him up, she actually thinks maybe they should stay out of Oliver’s way on this and let Bratva kill Chase! But then, she’s continuing down her own dark path. Felicity works with Helix to reverse engineer some tech to de-pixelate the photo they have of Chase. It is pretty funny when Curtis shows up at their lair…

Diggle is appalled when he finds out that Anatoly is trying to get drugs for a super-drug because Bratva needs money. He tells Oliver that he dedicated five years of his life to Oliver’s crusade, so he gets to decide when he needs protecting. He tells Oliver he’s his brother, but Oliver insists that he doesn’t want him as a brother because his crusade was just an excuse to let him commit murder. He tells Diggle he’s beyond redemption and that Diggle and the team need to keep their distance, let Bratva work, and let the crusade die.

Diggle is determined that the team get Chase “the right way” and save Oliver’s soul. There’s a nice car chase and fight over Chase, ending with Anatoly furious with Diggle and Chase in witness protection – at Oliver’s insistence. Chase is impressed that Oliver tried something, and Oliver is finally back in the game, telling Chase it’s not over.

Oliver then goes to Diggle’s and punches him. Diggle tells him to stop pushing him away. And there’s some more protesting but really Diggle has convince Oliver again to do the “right thing,” so he calls off the deal with Anatoly – who tells Oliver that he’s either a Bratva brother or a Bratva enemy – and they’re not leaving.

Oliver calls the team back together, they pledge to help him, and we’re off to the final fight with Bratva. Now, while it’s a great fight sequence, there’s an awful lot of stupidity going on here. First off, Dinah doesn’t clear the room when she comes in. Even if she’s a crappy cop, didn’t she see Silence of the Lambs? Also? Why doesn’t Bratva kill any of their hostages? They just stand there and let themselves be taken out! In the end, Oliver shoots the alarm rather than killing Anatoly – and they get away.

Felicity shows Oliver the footage of Chase’s unencrypted face – and they have him! Oliver is thrilled – this is the something unexpected they needed… except, of course, Chase gets a heads up and he takes out his guards and then sails right by the police who are coming to arrest him.

In the final scene with Anatoly, Anatoly tells Oliver that he betrayed all of Bratva. Oliver thought their friendship meant something, and he’s upset that Anatoly would betray him over a payday. He tells him that he’s now no better than Gregor. Anatoly tells him that he became what he had to to keep Bratva and himself alive. And this resonates with him telling Oliver in the flashback that he doesn’t want Oliver to leave because he’s afraid of what Bratva will become and what he will become without Oliver’s influence. So clearly, without Oliver’s influence, Anatoly has become the killer without a conscience – while Oliver has apparently become the killer with a conscience. It almost makes sense, but doesn’t quite make it there in the end as a storyline.

The episode felt like so much tire-spinning to me. It’s a re-tread of a storyline – how many times does Oliver have to have the very same dark night of the soul? And how often do we have to see the bad guy get away for no good reason? I am sad to see them throw the character of Anatoly under the bus, however. Sadly, his character has been getting less and less coherent. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.