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TV Review: Arrow - Season 5 Episode 12 "Bratva"

Episode 12: "Bratva"

Synopsis: A mission takes Oliver, Felicity and team to Russia where they meet up with Oliver’s old friend, Anatoly. Meanwhile, fresh out of rehab, Lance returns to the mayor’s office ready to get back to work. However, when Susan asks for an interview with Lance to discuss his addiction, he balks and it’s up to Rene to help keep things on track.

Arrow, The CW, DC Comics, Superhero, Comic Book, Stephen Amell, TV Review

Review: I cannot be the only person completely bored by Oliver Queen's adventures in Russia. Two seasons ago when Oliver first left Lian Yu during his five years away from Star City I was groaning at the sheer stupidity of taking him around the globe with almost no one putting two and two together about his identity. Still, this season has reached a new low in regards to the flashbacks as Oliver has joined the Bratva, a Russian brotherhood of crime, where he learns to kill. On top of that, we were given a brief glimpse of Konstantin Kovar (Dolph Lundgren) who turned out to not be so scary after all. Now, Oliver is training with Talia Al Ghul and finally adopting his persona as The Hood which will lead directly into the first episodes of this series. Still, even with all of that going on, the flashbacks feel incredibly disjointed and uninteresting. So, this week the writers decide to double down and give us a story set both currently and in flashback in Oliver's old Russian stomping grounds.

I will admit that the continuity with events from prior seasons is admirable as this episode connects Oliver's dealings with a Russian thug back in season two to his time in the Bratva. It also takes his brief foray back to Starling City where he kills Thea's drug dealer into account which drives home even more so how Talia Al Ghul helped turn Oliver from the burgeoning assassin into the proto-Green Arrow we came to see in season one. But, coupled together, Oliver's return to Russia is not for a Bratva reunion but rather to help John Diggle get revenge and catch the runaway General Walker who has fled the country with aims to sell the stolen nuclear device to terrorists. Using the intel Felicity gathered from Pandora, the team (minus Rene who gets to stay home and coach the recently returned Quentin Lance for a television interview) heads overseas under the guise of a visit to Star City's sister city in Russia where they actually plan to stop Walker.

Arrow, The CW, DC Comics, Superhero, Comic Book, Stephen Amell, TV Review

What follows is a loose attempt to show how Oliver is still toiling with his past in the Bratva compared to his redeemed ways while John and Felicity begin to tread down a dangerous path. Diggle beats the hell out of one of Walker's men in an aim to discern the General's location while Felicity uses data on the USB drive to blackmail a Russian man into giving them information. Both of the dark sides of Felicity and John are on full display and tease much more out of the two characters than we have seen thus far. Oliver feels that he is the one who should tread in darkness and not his friends but they soon realize that they work best as a unit and make each other better. This doesn't change the fact that they still need to stop Walker which requires Oliver and Dinah to perform a Bratva task for Anatoly which involves beating some people in a threat from the Bratva. Dinah and Oliver have a heart to heart about how these actions don't define him as a man and that gives Oliver the recharge he needs for their final attack.

With Anatoly's men in tow, Oliver leads an assault on Walker's meet with the terrorists. Oliver and Dinah take down the truck but it does not contain the nuke. John deals with whether he should kill Walker but defers to his good conscience and decides to bring him home to stand trial, even with the General threatening Diggle's family. Felicity tries to disarm the weapon but the time begins to tick faster which gives Rory the idea to use his rags to muffle the blast. It works but it destroys his costume and renders it's powers useless. The team celebrate with drinks when Anatoly drops the big reveal of the episode: Oliver's oath to the Bratva was a lifetime one and they will call in another favor.

Arrow, The CW, DC Comics, Superhero, Comic Book, Stephen Amell, TV Review

By the end of the episode, Rory has told Felicity he is leaving the team while he tries to find a new way to be of use now that he can no longer be Ragman. Felicity gets a message from her hacker compatriots who urge her to continue using the intel on the USB drive, to which Felicity whole-heartedly agrees. Rene reveals to Quentin Lance after their tumultuous preperation for Lance's interview with Susan Wells that Lance was a beat cop who gave Rene a second chance as a child. Wells and Oliver finally seal the deal and in the afterglow of their lovemaking, she asks him questions about his scars and time on Lian Yu. Oliver deflects, but there is an odd look on her face. We then see her meet with a contact who reveals that at the same time Oliver was in Russia, so was Green Arrow, leading her to connect the dots as to Queen's alter ego.

Overall, this was an enjoyable episode if not for the fact it was set in Russia. All of the connections felt like they should have been more significant but come across very telegraphed and lacked any true gravity for this season or the flashbacks. Clearly, whatever happened to Oliver in Russia could not have been all that terrible as he is able to return with minimal difficulty. But, the reveal that Oliver's cover may be blown at the end of the episode begs the question as to why no one was able to make this connection sooner. With Oliver having been to multiple locations around the globe during his five years away, how is it only now that people are beginning to figure out what the heck he was doing all of that time? And how is this the first time that someone realized Queen and Green Arrow tend to parallel each other's schedules? It feels like a monumental lack in logic that will hopefully be explained in the coming weeks.

Next on ARROW: "Spectre of the Gun" airs February 15th - A traumatic attack on City Hall triggers painful memories for Rene about his family. Flashbacks reveal how Rene went from simple family man to a hero named Wild Dog. Meanwhile, Oliver must deal with the perpetrator behind the attack and realizes the best way to do so is as Mayor Queen instead of the Green Arrow. Tensions run high in the Arrow bunker.

Source: JoBlo.com

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