Here we go with the typical roller coaster ride TV shows find themselves on: going from high rating episodes to low all in the one season. Unlike “Second Chance,” this was a relatively good episode. It was a lot like “Who Are You?” It was a decent episode with only minor issues. This episode is titled “Bratva,” and sends the team to Russia where Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is forced to atone for his past.
Looking at where Arrow’s strengths lie, it comes down to the original team and their dynamic. The Original Team Arrow is truly the success and credibility of Arrow. Oliver Queen, John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Richards) give the audience a reason to care, and the writers have provided them with the greatest and strongest lines. However, in saying that, their dynamic and audience loyalty rests with the incredible acting portrayed by Stephen Amell, David Ramsey and Emily Bett Rickards. They are perfectly crafted characters that haven’t been utilised in the beginning of season five, and because of it, the ratings began falling. I’m not a huge lover of the new heroes — not because they are new, but because the writers haven’t given me the chance to love them. They have put them in the same rut as Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) was in: no proper backstory, no focus on their strengths with the only emphasis on their weaknesses and a tonne of lacklustre lines.
This brings me into my next point, where I feel the need to explain my individual thoughts on the newbie characters.
Curtis Holt / Mister Terrific
Curtis (Echo Kellum) is not a total newbie, as he has been present for two seasons now, but as of season 5, I classify him as a newbie because I feel the writers have rewritten him. Curtis is a technological savant, inventor (come on, the dude helped Felicity walk again) and a bronze-medal-winning Olympic decathlete. The guy is terrific, hence his alter-ego, but I feel as though his talents and skills are not being effectively being used in Team Arrow.
The writers have been forcing him into being out on the field as Mister Terrific, but I strongly feel he should be left behind with Felicity as some sort of tech inventor. He has a biochemistry degree, so he is a skilled biochemist, which can come in handy with identifying certain cells and DNA of villains. Combine this with the fact he is an expert engineer capable of inventing new forms of technology. Imagine what weapons, machinery and technology Curtis could create for Team Arrow! It would enhance everyone’s ability when out on the field fighting crime; a perfect example is the sonic scream blocker used against Black Siren. Plus, we already know Felicity and Curtis make an incredible technological team. With the return of John Diggle, maybe the writers will think about this and utilise the missed opportunity.
Rory Regan / Ragman
Rory (Joe Dinicol) was the sole survivor of his home of Havenrock. He uses mystical rags of the Devarim to fuel his magic, operating under the alter-ego “Ragman.” Now, where Rory is concerned, I felt he was the better written characters out of the newbies; we had our backstory, he had a purpose and was the better half of Felicity while Oliver is being distracted. He had a killer alter-ego that worked well within the Arrowverse. But just when I was warming up to him and his character as being a bigger part of the team, they go and get rid of him.
Now his rags no longer work and he retires. Seriously, if anyone should go it should have been Rene Ramirez a.k.a Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez). I still don’t understand his purpose besides causing controversy within the group. I get he is much like young Oliver, but I’m over his attitude and defiance. Rory, in a way, is what Felicity is to Oliver: he was helping her see reason, but I guess that isn’t what the writers want. I guess I can be grateful they didn’t kill him off like they did Laurel (no, I will never let that death go). Let’s face it, the Arrow writers are Olicity fans. Rory was getting too close to Felicity, so now he joins the list of amazing and strong characters in the Arrowverse incorrectly displayed and written. Rory, you have now disappeared along with Laurel, Roy (Colton Haynes) and Thea (Willa Holland.)
A little birdie did reveal Thea is making a return, however, in the next episode. YAY! Maybe it is a “lose one, get one” scenario. Anyway, enough digressing. Diggle has finally reunited with Oliver and Felicity, and the OTA was in full force. How I have been missing these moments and how grateful I am that after the disgrace of last week that they have rewarded me with this reunion. The most emotional scene between them came as Oliver stood in front of Diggle and Felicity, pleading with them to let him be the only one that crosses the line.
Diggle and especially Felicity have always been in the light while Oliver was in the dark; it was Felicity that helped Oliver turn towards the light, too. At one point, they were a strong force working in the light together. But only up until just recently, when Diggle was betrayed by his brother and forced to take a step back from the team. Felicity turning with the death of her ex-boyfriend. Oliver now has to watch the two people who helped him gain light turn towards the darkness fearing that it was his fault. Oliver has always believed he is the worst of the worst; now, he is feeling it all over again in Russia.
Seeing Diggle falling into a dark hole and Felicity is crossing the wrong line, he felt that doing the favour for bratva and sacrificing his morality would remind them to stay in the light and let Oliver be the crosser. He won’t let them be consumed by darkness; to him, that is worse than them dying. Diggle, however, reminds Oliver that they aren’t better; the three of them together make each other better. This is my new favourite line because it is true — this episode was a lot better with the three of them together. Sadly, we know Felicity is still going dark. I love Felicity, but it is just too good of a storyline for me to contest this.
Felicity has been the lightest of all the characters in the Arrowverse, something that has been commented on several times throughout the seasons. For Felicity, her only ability has been her brain. Rory had warned her not to abuse her power, when noticing her lean towards the darker side of the web. The dark web is like the addiction that she left in the past, only now that she is weakened, she has relapsed. She has always been able to hack and access what she wants, but has been strong enough to stop herself. But now Helix has cut that middle part and handed her that information, it’s a different story. After all that has happened in the past two seasons, Felicity feels her bad choices are just. She is fighting fire with fire.
Felicity is the new queen — she is spiraling into her own “island” with her own “book of people’s names.” She is looking past her moral code and is taking on a “whatever it takes” mentality. This was actually the first episode that we saw Felicity embody this approach. Felicity used Pandora to blackmail a Russian into getting information to find General Walker. She had a certain threatening demeanor that even gave me chills, and I can’t help but love this new side of Felicity. Here’s the thing: Felicity’s intentions are good, and regardless of using Pandora to cross the line, I feel she will turn dark only to then turn into Ghost Fox Goddess.
Overall, “Bratva” was a solid episode. We finally got the Original Team Arrow together again, and in a new scenery: Russia. Felicity continues to follow the path of darkness and looks incredible doing so. This episode we also saw the retirement of Rory, but his absence will be hidden with the return of Thea.