Oliver’s past starts to catch up with him on a few levels in “Bratva.” He’s in his office, swamped by paperwork, with Thea once again out of town. I’m starting to wonder if Willa Holland quit the show and they’re keeping it quiet. Oliver’s flirting with his girlfriend, reporter Susan Williams, gets interrupted when Quentin shows up. He’s out of rehab and ready to get back to work. He’s even agreed to an interview with Williams, which no one on Team Arrow thinks is a good idea.
At the press conference Williams is there to cover, Oliver thanks DA Adrian Chase for helping prove Diggle’s innocence. I still say that’s one of the weirdest things I’ve ever heard on a “cop show” (which arguably this is), having a DA suddenly jump to the defense side of the aisle. Their good mood evaporates when Williams gets a bulletin on her phone that Diggle’s nemesis, General Walker, has escaped from the maximum security prison he was in (what is this, the intro to the A-Team?). In short order, the team learns that Walker has fled to Russia, and he still has at least one of the nuclear devices he framed Diggle for selling.
The team springs into action and decides to go on a field trip to Russia. Well, except Rene. He gets left behind, both to help Quentin prepare for his interview (because Rene is a PR expert?) and because Oliver didn’t want him causing an international incident in Russia (that, I buy). So Oliver, Dinah, Felicity, Rory, Curtis, and Diggle are off on their international adventure. What could go wrong?
Well, for starters, Oliver didn’t leave things in a good place with the Bratva last time he dealt with them. He gets greeted at the airport by Anatoli, who punches him in the face and leaves. There’s an odd exchange when Dinah says she never thought she was signing on to help stop an international arms deal, and Diggle responds that he never thought he’d be fighting aliens. Dinah seems surprised by this. Did they really manage to cover up the entire alien invasion a while back? That seems unlikely, especially with all the property damage and the death of the President.
After that warm greeting, Oliver and the team set up in an ARGUS safehouse that isn’t being used, and provide a vague excuse why ARGUS isn’t handling this. Oliver tells the team about his falling out with the Bratva after Slade Wilson killed off Oliver’s last contact. Diggle points out how much trouble they’re in, and Oliver grudgingly goes to talk to Anatoli, taking Dinah along as backup. Oliver and Anatoli eventually hit a stalemate when Anatoli won’t help Oliver without a favor in return, which is pretty much the Bratva way. I don’t know what else Oliver was expecting.
At the safe house, Dinah is practicing with her powers. She still has a ways to go in terms of control, but she’s impressing Curtis, who babbles about how he thinks her abilities work. Dinah provides some insight into Walker being a creature of habit, which gives Felicity a lead. Felicity dips in to her cache of stolen information she recently acquired, and goes to blackmail a phone company executive. I think one of their bright ideas is to send Felicity down some dark path this season, and I’m not a big fan of “Dark Overwatch.” Rory is troubled by what he sees here.
Diggle has been acting a bit odd about this entire pursuit, and we get to see the depth of his obsession when they try and capture someone in a church. It’s a trap they barely escape from, and Diggle seems to have lost any concern he once had for civilians. Dinah manages to save them and helps them capture one of the bad guys. They try to interrogate him, which goes badly both from his resistance and Diggle’s impatience.
While Rene tries to help Quentin face some tough questions, which goes about as well as you’d expect, Team Russia has assorted problems. Felicity confides in Rory about her new treasure trove of information, and he compares it to the power of his rags. They get interrupted by Oliver, who wonders why Felicity isn’t hunting for Walker. Then, they get interrupted again by the screams of Diggle torturing their prisoner. Oliver finally realizes that they need to get this wrapped up, and goes to Anatoli to take his deal.
Oliver and Dinah end up going on a mob enforcer kind of mission, beating up a business owner who evidently isn’t doing what the Bratva wants. I’d think the Bratva would have their own muscle they could send on this errand, but for some reason or other, this was Anatoli’s price. Dinah and Oliver end up debating their morality of their actions, and she points out Oliver is making things harder on himself than he has to.
Oliver has a heart to heart with Diggle and Felicity and encourages them to be better people, to show him how to do that. It’s certainly a fair point with Diggle these days, and also with Felicity, even if Oliver doesn’t know it yet. Finally, Team Arrow teams up with Anatoli’s thugs and goes after Walker and company. It’s an ugly fight that goes badly in a lot of different ways. Diggle captures Walker, beats on him, and then unmasks from the black stealth outfits the team has been using instead of their usual costumes. Why Diggle decided to do that I’m not sure, but he hasn’t really been thinking clearly this episode. Walker leaves behind a nasty booby trap in the form of the unexploded nuke. When Felicity can’t disarm it, Ragman Rory contains the blast with his magic costume. All’s well that end’s well and everyone goes home.
Not quite. Oliver and Susan finally sleep together, and she traces his scars and tattoos. That’ll come up again later in a not good way. Quentin and Rene have another talk, and Rene reveals a secret from his past that involves Quentin. Felicity and Rory have another talk, and Rory tells her the cost of his heroism in Russia. And we get a hint about what Susan is really up to, and it’s not looking good for Oliver or his secret. Then again, Oliver and company are really bad with their secret identities.
What I liked: While leaving Rene behind as media coach didn’t make a lot of sense, it led to some amusing scenes. I was glad that Dinah called Oliver on his brooding (someone needs to). And this hopefully looks like the end of the General Walker story line.
What I didn’t: I don’t see why they brought Curtis to Russia. He really didn’t do anything. This seems like a cheap way to get Rory off the show. Diggle is going dark quickly, as is Felicity, and I don’t like either choice. And if Susan’s doing what it looks like she is, I really don’t like her at all. I hope they do something to explain Thea’s ongoing absence soon.
I think this was one of their less-coherent episodes. I don’t like a lot of their choices in this one. I’m giving it a low 3 out of 5 and hoping they get better soon.