We’re a little later than usual with this “Arrow” review thanks to the redesign that we’ve been working on for CarterMatt (hope you like the new look!), but better late than never, right? Plus, there is so much to talk about with “The Promise,” one of the show’s most-pivotal episodes to date, that it absolutely cannot be ignored.
First of all, hats off to Manu Bennett for what he managed to do here in playing a rage-driven villain that never comes off as cheesy. Thanks to the way in which the writers set up the Slade Wilson character, we know that he is not an evil man. Instead, he’s basically poisoned like someone with a drug addiction. Unfortunately, this drug is something that can never leave his system, and it distorts his emotions in a way that turns him into a monster. This makes for a far more layered villain than a man who is just evil for evil’s sake. The first scene between Slade and Oliver inside of the Queen manor? A brilliant combination of understated emotions, and it led to a chess game that constantly had Slade a move ahead … even with him playing the game at Oliver’s home base.
When it comes to the present, this was almost an “Arrow” bottle episode, and a bold move given that CW series rarely tries something so daring as relying on a setting to help tell a story. But you had this in the present, and then the island in the past as we saw the most important story that we’ve probably ever seen since Oliver was first there in the pilot. Here’s the interesting thing about it: Nothing really happened that was a complete surprise to us. We knew from before Christmas that Slade was likely the Big Bad, and that something happened between him and Oliver to turn him into the man that he is in the present. Also, it was obvious that Shado was involved. Even still, though, there was enough quality here for us not to care about how much we guessed in advance … especially since our mind is dancing around the possibility of Dr. Anthony Ivo having a connection to someone in a way we hadn’t really thought about until now. Is it weird that we want him to be related to Felicity? While it’s more than a little coincidental, it would still be cool to see Oliver’s emotional reaction to it.
To be honest, we entered “The Promise” feeling like it was one of those episodes where the hype wouldn’t match the product. After all, Stephen Amell and the producers had hyped this as something great, and we are pleased to say that it actually lived up to most of what was said about it. You had the dichotomy of former friends at war, and then a reunion that was equally intense, even without a single punch being thrown. Grade: A.
Want more “Arrow” news? Then be sure to click here, and we’ll have more scoop soon leading up to the next episode “Suicide Squad” (a nice move into Diggle territory for those of you who want more of him. You can also sign up now to get even more news and updates courtesy of our CarterMatt Newsletter.
Photo: The CW