Warning: This recap for the “Kapiushon” episode of Arrow contains spoilers.
Tonight’s episode ends with Oliver announcing, “I’m shutting everything down.” Of course, since this isn’t the series finale, clearly he doesn’t. But Prometheus has him in his grasp and is making him suffer. It’s possible that not even Slade Wilson has gotten into Oliver’s head as completely as Adrian Chase, and there are serious repercussions coming as a result.
Oliver’s been kidnapped by Adrian Chase, who tortures him to reveal his deepest, darkest secret. He is shoved underwater, shot with arrows, and forced to choose between killing Evelyn (Madison McLaughlin) or being killed by her — before admitting that the reason that he kills is that he likes it. Adrian burns off his Bratva captain tattoo, then lets him go. Oliver returns to the Arrow Bunker after six days and tells the team that he’s quitting.
Before Gregor (David Meunier) dies, he reveals that Kovar (Dolph Lundgren) has something big planned. After his death, Anatoly is the new leader of the Bratva and goes to Kovar to uncover the plot. He discovers that he’s working with Malcolm Merlyn, who has delivered something to a shipyard in Moscow. They go and find canisters of Sarin nerve gas, but Kovar arrives and retrieves them before they can steal them. Oliver tortures one of Kovar’s men, who reveals that he’s planning a coup: The gas will be used at the opening of his new casino, where a number of highly placed government officials will be in attendance. Taiana’s mother (Natasha Vasiluk) gives them access; she’s killed when the betrayal is discovered. Oliver faces off against Kovar and kills him. Anatoly gives him the Bratva captain tattoo and a warning: Using the hood as an excuse to kill won’t work forever. When it fails, “You’re not going to like the man you see underneath.”
“You kill because you like it”
This is a question that has run through the entire show. It’s a question they addressed last season with Oliver vowing not to kill. It’s a question that gets raised again almost immediately because he then proceeds to kill. Why does he do it? It’s not just because it’s necessary; he’s got a boxing glove arrow and a parachute arrow — making a tranquilizer arrow is not beyond the bounds of his technology.
Adrian and Anatoly both believe that Oliver kills because he likes it. Is that true? If so, it would be a pretty serious shift of the character’s portrayal for the last five years. From the beginning, we’ve seen him kill only regretfully and when he has no other choice. If that hasn’t been the case, then he’s less Robin Hood and more Dexter — a serial killer who just happens to have found a suitable outlet for his blood lust. The problem is Anatoly is a gangster (and therefore not that trustworthy), and Adrian doesn’t care about truth; he just knows it’s Oliver’s biggest fear and that hammering that fear will break Oliver down. But even if they’re wrong, the question remains: Why?
50 shades darker
Arrow has gone to dark places before, but this felt like something out of a horror movie. That Mongolian skinner scene where Oliver tortures a guy to death and, when Anatoly says it looks like the victim held out for a long time, he replies that most of the torture was “me practicing”? Then there’s that weird ruse where Evelyn was lying “dead” in the cell for who knows how long like the killer from the first Saw movie. It’s a strange tone for the show and hopefully, now that the Russian story is done and Adrian has released him, we won’t return to it.
Quiverful of thoughts
At the end, it’s revealed that Kovar isn’t quite dead yet, which means he’ll be coming back for a rematch later this season. That’s good because, while the Oliver/Kovar fight this episode was good, this can’t all be over until we hear Dolph Lundgren say — in a heavy Russian accent — “I will break you.”
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.