After a month long break, Season 5 of Arrow returns. We last saw Chase blissfully fleeing a crime scene and Team Arrow clueless in how to find him. Dangerous Liaisons sets up the last stretch of the season with more problems for Team Arrow whilst still being clueless in how to find Prometheus.
Dangerous Liaisons starts off the episode with Team Arrow in an arcade they believe Chase might be. Instead of facing Chase, they encounter a list of booby traps, reminding us how formidable the villain of Season 5 is. Even on the run and his alter ego revealed to the public, Arrow reminds us of how calculated and evil he is, always continuing to be ten steps ahead. The episode continues with Chase in no sight, as the focus goes straight to Felicity and Helix.
Running out of options, Felix returns to her new best friends, who inform her about a biometric tracker able to locate anybody, created by the founder of Helix, Cayden James. One small issue stands between her obtaining the tracker. Cayden is in the custody of ARGUS, and when you go through ARGUS, you go through Lyla, going through Diggle, going through Team Arrow. Felicity’s path throughout Season 5 made it almost inevitable for an ultimatum to occur. Her disconnect with Oliver and the team continue to rise as she dived deeper into her hacking life, keeping secrets from everyone.
The showdown of the episode was more of a moral one, made by Felicity. As she and her new team try to free Cayden, the rest of Team Arrow try to step them in their paths. Team Helix are by no means physically capable of withstanding the force of anyone on Team Arrow. This was apparent as the henchmen of Helix posed almost no threat. However, when Oliver faces Felicity, she stops Oliver with high tech lasers. While her intentions are good, and she still wishes to find Chase and stop him, she makes it very clear that she has priorities, and they do not align with Oliver’s.
There would have been a far greater emotional payoff, and make a lot more sense if Felicity continued to be a part of her new team. Instead, somehow all is well and forgiven. Felicity gets her tech, Helix run off into the sunset with their founder, Lyla doesn’t seem too angry about the whole debacle. It does sort of make sense, seeing as how Oliver has repeatedly kept secrets and lied to Felicity, for the sake of the greater good. However, the season has revolved around redemption and correcting the past, almost counter productive to repeat the same mistakes viewers go through time and time again, even if it’s not Oliver.
Two other characters had their own side arcs in the episode, Diggle and Rene. Diggle’s issues with Lyla reflect Oliver and Felicity’s struggle very well. Diggle is concerned with Lyla’s role in ARGUS, as she rises to be an Amanda Waller type character. If Lyla’s road continues, the same mistakes will be made, with the possibility of seeing of a clash between Diggle and ARGUS in the future.
On the other hand, Rene continues to struggle with his past mistakes with his family. Even though it was revealed previously that he wishes to regain custody of his daughter again, the writers needed to add another dramatic point that he accidentally hurt his daughter. Rene was already set up as a very troubled character and didn’t need anymore disposition to feel even more guilty, yet the melodrama added in to progress the growth of his character was added in. The Rene subplot greatly mirrors the entire episode, a filler episode to set up the last few episodes of Arrow.
It is almost a guarantee for a season to obtain a few filler episodes in the 23 episode formula. Although Season 5 has regained the form of earlier seasons of Arrow, episode 19 did not utilise what could have been a much better premise to the end. Even without any flashbacks this episode, it failed to build-up the showdown between Oliver and Chase, and any oncoming mysteries with Artemis and Talia al’Ghul. Instead, we got to see a masked Cayden James, who might be revealed to be a greater foe, perhaps even to be the return of Deathstroke.
Arrow airs on Wednesdays on The CW.