[This is a review of Arrow season 2, episode 18. There will be SPOILERS.]
When an episode of Arrow is titled 'Deathstroke,' the assumption is that there will be a great deal of Queen family infighting, right? Well, no. The assumption rightly is that Slade Wilson will be taking center stage in rather dramatic fashion, doing his best to bring Oliver Queen to his knees – presumably before ending the young man's suffering with his bare hands.
As season 2 gears up for its run into the finale, Arrow has instituted a laser-like focus when it comes to plot, and in that regard, the depiction of Slade Wilson plotting his mildly disproportionate revenge against the Oliver Queen and his associates. But with a handful of episodes left until the finale, 'Deathstroke' doesn't merely pit Oliver against a physically daunting villain; the episode reveals the level of dedication, intelligence, and development Slade's willing to put into his master plan.
The magnitude of Wilson's scheme is revealed to be so large, and so all-encompassing that it plainly tells the audience two incredibly important details about the illustrious Mr. Wilson: 1) He's not just an unstoppable killing machine; he's a master tactician, 2) Slade Wilson may be just a wee bit obsessive when it comes to detail. Now, that's certainly an understatement, but it is one that does great things with regard to demonstrating the depth and breadth of Slade's plan, primarily by the fact that it incorporates all the key cast members into one compelling, cohesive storyline.
Last week left off with Thea unknowingly falling into Slade's hands, and when proof of her abduction is broadcast during the Blood-Queen mayoral debate, it sets off a Team Arrow scramble to find Slade and thereby his abductee. Being part of his master plan, Slade makes the first part easy for them, and winds up taking a punch from Roy with a level of nonchalance that demonstrates just how difficult it will be for Oliver and his associates to hurt him – physically or otherwise. Thea is eventually released without a physical scratch on her, but while her abduction was meant to rile the Arrow and elicit a rapid, perhaps poorly thought out response, it naturally served another purpose and carried with it ramifications that went well beyond the Slade-Oliver conflict.
In essence, the value of 'Deathstroke' was that it successfully altered the Arrow landscape in terms of where nearly every character stood. Thea is told the truth about Malcolm Merlyn being her father, while Slade personally stops by Laurel's apartment to unmask the Arrow, so to speak. Meanwhile, Det. Lance is brought up on conspiracy charges, and, unsurprisingly, Isabel Rochev makes known her allegiance to Slade, by conning Oliver out of his ownership of his family's company. The impact of Slade's machinations is deeply felt, as the first salvo briefly appears to rob Oliver of his confidence, convincing him he's "his own worst enemy." In true hero fashion – and with the help of Diggle and Felicity – Ollie vows to fight back, however.
It's a fantastically paced episode that puts its heroes through their paces, and establishes the primary antagonist as someone who isn't merely a physically intimidating adversary, but also a cold, calculating one with the ability to permanently upset the series' status quo.
Arrow continues on Wednesday, April 16 with 'The Man Under the Hood' @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below: