Arrow is not in a happy place - "Kapushion" Review


Talk about a huge bucket of water in the face, to all the Berlantiverse fans who were glowing and tapping and singing after yesterday's fun The Flash musical episode. I mean, Arrow and The Flash have always been tonally different, since their inception, and that was a purposeful decision. If Arrow went dark, you could always count on Barry and the gang bring a touch of brightness in that universe. Even during their crossovers, Oliver is usually srz bizness while Barry is lightening the mood.

But never before has there been such an abysmally wide crater between the two tones of the show, in the same week.

Spoilers beyond the fold, and strap in, because it's a pretty bumpy ride.

I will admit, I wasn't expecting the dark, dark place this show went. I mean, it seemed pretty obvious that Prometheus was trying to turn Oliver dark, and I assumed that the episode would go like this: Prometheus abducts someone he cares about and tortures that person in front of Oliver, while the rest of the gang rushes to save them both from imminent death.

So I was basically predicting your typical run-of-the-mill superhero tv episode.

That's not what we got.

Last week, Adrian Chase had our hero chained up and promising to get Oliver to see what he really is. This week, Adrian spends the episode in a totally unhinged state, become increasingly furious that Oliver seems incapable of figuring out whatever it is Adrian's point is. Color me as confused as Oliver, because I didn't really understand what it was he wanted Oliver to admit.

If you've been ignoring the Russian Bratva flashbacks all season because of how incredibly slow they were to get to any kind of point, stop that now. This episode brought the Russia storyline front and center and made it integral to the current Adrian Chase plot. Back in season one, the flashbacks were an interesting and well-used gimmick that started to get real old, even downright obnoxious, by the time we got to season four. And in season five, I didn't necessarily mind them as much as I had season four's, but I tended to skim over them, even in my reviews.

I make this bad guy shit look good...

But they matter. Not just for plot reasons, but because goddamn Dolph Lundgren popped up every now and again and he is a scene-stealing force of nature. And he was front and center in "Kapushion" so it was totally worth not skipping over the Russia scenes. Basically, Oliver helps Anatoly take down Kovar, but in doing so, goes to a really dark place several times. And several times Anatoly tells him he can't separate the monster inside of him from the man, despite Oliver insisting that he can. Ultimately, Anatoly sees that when Oliver channels the monster, he enjoys killing.

And that's apparently what Adrian Chase sees too. But he can't just out and say that. He wants Oliver to get there, to admit that he is a monster and not a hero.

Fair warning, this episode contains a LOT of torture. Adrian puts Oliver through physical torture, and then decides to use some psychological torture as well, in the form of Evelyn Sharp. Does that name sound familiar to you? She was that silly girl they wasted the superhero name Artemis on, who starts out with Team Arrow and then ultimately turns on them because Oliver is a murderer, so of course it makes perfect sense to help out the actual psychopath instead of the guy trying to be a good person.

If I sound contemptuous, it's because I am. I have no use for Evelyn Sharp. She was a poorly written character who was never given a chance to shine, I was not overly impressed with the actress, and worse of all, her reasons for turning on Team Arrow were shoddy at best and incomprehensible at worst. If she had never come back to the show, I would have been fine. And Adrian pretending to snap her neck in front of Oliver barely registered on my GAF meter. Maybe a slight blip of annoyance that they were killing a female character, but then I don't think I ever really bought that she was dead. Turns out I was right, because it was all part of the torture and Evelyn was in on it. The minute Oliver admits he enjoys killing, she gets up with a snooty comment and walks off. Keep walking, hypocrite. You literally just watched a man get tortured for days in some of the most horrific of ways, and somehow you feel vindicated? GTFO.

I can't even muster up the care to write something witty for this screen cap, because I DGAF about this character so hard. 


I don't have a lot to say about the plot, because I honestly have no idea where the hell this story is going. As an audience member, what am I even supposed to do with the information that the titular hero of the story likes to kill? On one level, the debate over whether heroes should kill bad guys has been raging for decades among comic book fans. Some people think Batman is wrong to let the Joker keep escaping Arkham, because every time he does, new innocents die. And some people have thought since season one that Oliver isn't a real hero because he did kill a lot in that season.

So is this ultimately an anti-hero's story? Maybe. I mean, it's not like Oliver's journey hasn't been understandable. He started out as a snot-nosed rich brat who knew nothing and whose greatest dilemma was how to escape his loving girlfriend and sleep with her sister, to having to survive on a hellish island where survival absolutely meant kill or be killed. It's not really surprising that he learned to kill. I suppose the surprising part is discovering, during the Bratva scenes in this episode, that he appears to enjoy skinning enemies alive "for practice." Christ. At least The Punisher is content with just killing his enemies quickly so he can move on to the next bad guy.

At the end, Adrian just lets Oliver go, and our broken hero stumbles into the Arrowcave, much to stunned and horrified expressions of his team, and tells them that he's done with everything.

Team Arrow: "I literally can't even..."

I mean, after what he just went through, I don't blame the guy.

Ultimately, it appears that Prometheus has done exactly what he wanted to do from the start: he has broken Oliver's spirit completely. When Stephen Amell delivered the final line of this episode, it was heartbreaking: "I don't want to do this anymore."

Speaking of Stephen Amell, this episode featured him in every scene, and while "Kapushion" was hard to watch just for the sheer level of darkness and internal and external torture, there's little doubt about it that Arrow's leading man was at his peak here. He was nothing short of absolutely fabulous in every scene. When screaming at Adrian during the torture scenes, Amell was raw and powerful. When torturing Russians or beating the crap out of Dolph Lundgren, he was awesome. And when he drags his broken self into the final scene, I believe him when he says he's done.

Josh Segarra continued his A+ performance of the very scary Adrian Chase, although I must say... Prometheus seemed unhinged and almost out of control in some of these scenes, out of sheer frustration that Oliver Queen just didn't freaking GET the point of his master plan. Dude, Segarra is killing it this season.

I have no idea what's going to happen to Oliver going forward, but I'm with you, Arrow... it's been a helluva ride, but season five is shaping out to be some of Stephen Amell's finest moments, both in and out of the suit.

But after "Kapushion" I think I really need to go watch "Duet" again, just to shake myself out of that dark, dark place Oliver is in.

On a final note... Oliver totally got the raw end of the deal this week out of the CW shows:

Arrow airs on Wednesdays at 8/7c on the CW.

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.