Arrow 2-18: “Deathstroke”
Slade Wilson, everyone. Slade Wilson.
So Slade picks up Thea, who is heartbroken and morose after her breakup with Roy. Slade seems kindly and sympathetic at first, acting like everybody’s favorite uncle and telling her, “Heartbreak is something I know all too well.” Then he stops the car in a dark alley somewhere and orders her out. Shocked, Thea runs for it… and promptly gets nabbed by Sebastian Blood.
Total dick move, Slade. I approve.
Unaware of Thea’s current predicament, Oliver puts in a rare appearance at a Queen Consolidated board meeting. Since Oliver has been a ridiculous disaster as a CEO, Isabelle Rochev has been quietly keeping the company afloat in his absence. Isabelle! Good to see you! Where’ve you been, girl? I thought this show completely forgot you existed.
Moira pops up at Queen Consolidated to browbeat Oliver into attending her upcoming mayoral debate against Sebastian. She offhandedly mentions that Thea seems to have disappeared, though neither she nor Oliver think this is any cause for concern. Er… let’s examine this for a second: Thea was last seen walking home alone at night from Verdant, smack in the middle of the crime-ridden Glades, distraught over Roy. She’s either been living with Roy, or she’s still living with Moira at the mansion, and since she obviously didn’t spend the night at either of those places, and since Oliver knows full well Slade might target her, why aren’t warning bells going off right about now?
In any case, both Moira and Oliver forget all about Thea, apart from grousing a bit about her unreliability when she fails to show up for the debate. The debate is kind of a mess: both Sebastian and Moira keep interrupting and talking over each other in clear violation of established political-debate protocol, and then the whole shindig comes to a dramatic halt when someone airs a creepy video of a panicky, teary Thea at the mercy of an armor-clad Slade.
Everyone—Oliver, Digg, Felicity, Roy, Moira, Isabelle, Quentin, assorted SCPD officers—assembles at Queen Consolidated for an emergency summit about Thea’s kidnapping. Preoccupied with concern about Thea’s predicament, Oliver, the dumb bunny, temporarily signs away all his rights as CEO to Isabelle. You know, the woman who tried to steal his company from him in the season premiere?
I wish I could say this was Oliver’s single biggest blunder in this episode.
After Felicity locates Slade via the GPS on his rental car, Oliver, Roy and Sara head out to take him down. Oliver, who is chock full of crappy decisions, urges Roy to give in to his mirakuru-enhanced rage. Roy ineffectually punches Slade in the kisser, and then Oliver shoots Slade in the chest with a poison arrow (an arrow filled with the super-deadly venom of a Tibetan pit viper, to be exact—thank you, Sara). In yet another monstrously ill-advised decision, he then calls Quentin Lance and asks him to arrest the temporarily-incapacitated Slade. Who, of course, has super-strength and invulnerability and thus could break out of his handcuffs, slaughter everyone, and waltz out of the police station any time he wishes, so hooray for the super-awesome plan, Oliver! At the station, Oliver slips into the interrogation room to beg Slade to release Thea.
It will no doubt shock you to hear that this strategy proves ineffective.
Anyway, it turns out Slade has a concrete alibi—apparently he’d been in Costa Rica for the past three days and thus couldn’t have kidnapped Thea—so grouchy Lieutenant Pike releases him from custody and rips Quentin a new one for conspiring with the Arrow to arrest Slade without any evidence. Slade magnanimously urges Pike to go easy on Quentin: “I’m not one to hold a grudge.”
Heh. Good one, Slade.
As soon as Slade leaves the police station, Felicity, Digg, Sara and Roy secretly trail him, hoping he’ll lead them to Thea. In rapid succession, they all manage to get outwitted and outmaneuvered. This is downright embarrassing, guys.
No doubt realizing that kidnapping and terrorizing a heartbroken teen girl might not be his finest moment, Slade, the big softy, lets Thea go. First, though, he spills the beans about the big secret that Oliver and Moira have been keeping from her, i.e. that she’s Malcolm Merlyn’s daughter.
Island flashbacks: Sara prepares to hand an unconscious Hendriks over to Slade in return for Oliver. Some of the released prisoners from the freighter object to this, insisting that Slade will murder Hendriks as soon as the freighter’s engine is fixed. While I’m not sold on this logic—Slade has no specific vendetta against Hendriks, and all things being equal, wouldn’t you want to have a competent engineer on board, alive and unharmed, just in case the engine fails again?—but the point is well taken that Sara is prioritizing Oliver’s life above Hendriks’s. Sara then shows exactly how little she values Hendriks’s life when she proposes strapping dynamite to him and blowing him up after handing him off to Slade. The trade goes as planned—Slade exchanges Oliver (he throws in Dr. Ivo as an unwanted bonus) for Hendriks—but Sara’s scheme backfires when Slade uses his mirakuru-enhanced senses to sniff out the dynamite (I’m relatively certain the writers pulled this “mirakuru heightens all the senses” concept out of their collective asses just for this moment, but whatever). Slade is all stoked at the idea of slaughtering everyone, but a weirdly smug and malevolent ghostly vision of Shado appears to him and advises him to leave Sara and Oliver to die on the island.
Back in the lair beneath Verdant, Roy, who is still hopped up on the effects of the mirakuru, gets tantrummy and vicious, trash-talking Oliver for all the disastrous decisions he’s made lately. While I adore Roy, and while he’s absolutely right about Oliver making some terrible blunders this episode, I’m downright sick of his rage-induced hissyfits in recent episodes. Roy is a delightful character when he’s not being a surly twerp. Anyway, Roy hurls venom and abuse at everyone for a while, then he roughs up Diggle and flounces off in a huff.
Meanwhile, Oliver discovers Isabelle secretly assembled his Board of Directors for an emergency meeting, at which the board elected her as the new permanent CEO, thus cutting Oliver out of the picture. Isabelle: “I’d say they lost faith in your leadership, but unfortunately, there wasn’t any.” The thing I like best about this episode is the way Oliver gets called on the carpet, comprehensively and repeatedly, for all his bullshit. Lying to Thea, neglecting his corporation, doing a half-assed job of training Roy, all of that comes back to bite him in the ass.
Oliver figures out that Isabelle has been in cahoots with Slade from the start—her attempted takeover of Oliver’s company at the beginning of the season was orchestrated by Slade specifically to lure Oliver back to Starling City. Oliver and Isabelle beat each other up a bit, then Oliver pins her down on the table and threatens to kill her with his bare hands unless she tells him where Slade is keeping Thea.
So, just to recap, in his relentless quest to find his kid sister, Oliver lets the Starling City cops handle big, meaty, super-powered, invulnerable Slade, but beats up and threatens a very small woman himself. Heroic.
Isabelle tells Oliver that Slade’s keeping Thea at an empty warehouse. When Oliver shows up, he’s attacked by various low-level flunkies. Slade, meanwhile, dons his full Deathstroke armor and releases a busload of prisoners being transferred to the newly-rebuilt maximum-security prison, whom he then recruits for his own dastardly purposes.
Upon being released by Slade, Thea makes her way to the police station. She’s furious with Oliver and Moira for hiding secrets from her. Oliver insists he was trying to keep her safe; Thea’s having none of it. And then everyone lets the traumatized kidnapping victim, who was snatched off of the dark and dangerous streets of Starling City while walking by herself just the previous night and whose kidnapper is still at large, walk home alone at night again.
Good job, everyone! If Slade were in a really self-amusing mood, he’d kidnap Thea again.
Roy watches Thea from the shadows, then takes off by himself, driving out of Starling City in what is almost certainly a stolen car. Not sure where his plotline is going, exactly, but I’m hoping it involves finding some way to get rid of the mirakuru in his system.
And even though it turned out that Quentin and the Arrow were 100% right about Slade being the kidnapper, grouchy Lieutenant Pike decides to turn a potential PR kerfluffle into an outright disaster by throwing Quentin in jail for… arresting the right suspect?
Slade, Isabelle and Sebastian meet to discuss their nefarious schemes: Now that Isabelle is in charge of Queen Consolidated, she’s devoted all company resources to creating a whole mirakuru-enhanced army. We see that Slade is still hallucinating visions of Shado even in the present-day plotline.
Back in the lair, a glum Oliver confesses to Felicity and Digg that he knows he botched everything across the board: He mismanaged his company, he drove away Roy, and he alienated Thea. It’s actually a good moment for him. I like it when Oliver becomes cognizant of the fact that he’s kind of a douche.
And then, as the delightful cherry on the top of a pretty solid episode, Slade forces his way into Laurel’s apartment, cheerfully informs her that Oliver is the Arrow, and saunters off.
Well played, Mr. Wilson.