Let’s get one thing straight: Arrow villain Adrian Chase may have risen to the upper echelons of Oliver Queen’s rogues gallery by being a proficient serial killer (not that Oliver has a leg to stand on there) but also because he’s a massive jerk par excellence. That’s really the key to creating a quality nemesis that too often goes overlooked these days. Now, you’re more likely to find a big bad who is menacing but has just enough charm thrown in that, should the powers that be decide they deserve a spinoff or some shot at an (overplayed) antihero redemption, there’s a foundation in place to turn the so-called villain into a leading character. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Prometheus, who has demonstrated time and again that in addition to killing anyone who gets in his way, he’s more than willing to hit below the belt, and, when the time is right send his prey a care package that goes heavy on the symbolism.
Last week, Chase was all but absent as Oliver and Felicity took time to work out their relationship while struggling to survive as their bunker became a death trap thanks to – you guessed it! – Prometheus. He appeared in a closing scene in which the villain managed to track down Oliver’s son William. That two-for-one low blow is now followed up by the killer reminding Oliver of the importance of legacy and the reason why this mess got started in the first place: Like many comic book heroes (and villains) it all has to do with some pretty severe daddy issues.
With just a couple episodes to go, Arrow is ramping up the personal nature of Prometheus’s attacks on Oliver, making it clear that this season is on the precipice of a clean slate, as it would seem all of the hero’s questioning of his past and his legacy will be a part of confronting the villain determined to blow his life up. And since Oliver’s tenure as the Green Arrow began with his father, ‘Honor Thy Fathers’ has a real chance to see the series turn a corner on its examination of the titular hero, especially now that his heroism has become so questionable.
There was plenty going on throughout the hour, but even the addition of Cody Rhodes as Derek Sampson, or Rene’s cold feet when it came to taking the first steps toward regaining parental rights over his daughter didn’t derail things like similar subplots have in the past. Season 5 has been, in many ways, a rebuilding season for Arrow and although there were certainly some examples of the show reverting to some bad old habits in order to pad an hour here or there, the season has, for the most part, exhibited a much more focused storytelling sensibility. ‘Honor They Fathers’ was largely intended to set up the circumstances that will lead to Chase’s endgame, but despite some distractions, it managed to keep its eye on the proverbial ball.
Surprisingly, that ball wasn’t necessarily Chase or his hooded alter ego. Sure, Oliver and the rest of Team Arrow were preoccupied with locating the villain and bringing him down, but the episode itself was far more interested in getting to the bottom of Oliver’s identity issues, especially after Chase digs up his father’s corpse and has it FedExed to the mayor’s office along with proof that Robert Queen was guilty of murder, knowing both would find their way to the press in quick fashion. It’s a low blow, even for a guy who, barring a major reversal in his methodology, has already kidnapped Ollie’s kid. But what Chase can’t possibly have predicted (or maybe he did, who knows?) is that Oliver’s response to the sight of his father’s exhumed corpse and proof that he was a killer too is to pull a Don Draper and leave the past in the past.
The decision doesn’t come too easily, and in fact Oliver needs a face-to-face with both Felicity and Thea in order to realize he’s been too hung up on his (arguably tainted) legacy to think about the future, which is precisely what his nemesis wanted him to be doing all season long. Moving beyond his past puts Ollie back in the Green Arrow costume and puts the rest of the team on a collision course with Sampson, his crew, and of course, Prometheus. The end result of that conflict is, surprisingly, Chase’s surrender after learning his father planned to disown him – which is likely all part of the villain’s master plan.
With two episodes left in the season, Chase’s surrender was perhaps too leading to have any impact beyond knowing Oliver was likely walking right back into one of his adversary’s traps. But at the same time, that sort of escalation is precisely what is needed at this point in the season.
Arrow continues next Wednesday with ‘Missing’ @8pm on The CW.