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Arrow 5.22 Review – ‘Missing’

May 17, 2017 | Posted by Michael Haigis
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Arrow 5.22 Review – ‘Missing’  

‘Missing’ is the most eventful and engrossing episode of Arrow‘s fifth season, an unsurprising fact considering how long the season waited to set in motion the final act of Adrian Chase’s byzantine vengeance storyline. The episode is packed, having to sort out most of Chase’s plan in just an hour after the series spent the few weeks preceding ‘Missing’ clearing its throat. For the most part, the episode gamely handles the task: finally, Chase’s intentions have been made clear, and the stakes for a final confrontation are established. But coherence and satisfaction aren’t necessarily related, and the rapid pace of ‘Missing’ dulled some of the episode’s emotional impact, and gave an anticlimactic air what would otherwise be a compelling endgame.

Last week ended with Chase in captivity, but clearly (thanks to some not-so-subtle smirking by Chase) not finished toying with Oliver yet. I wrote then that comic villains orchestrating their own capture is unoriginal and almost always illogical; while ‘missing’ mitigates some of that gratuitous illogic when revealing Chase’s intricate plot, a sense of contrivance still lingers. The episode opens with a reference to Mad Dog, still missing after apparently bailing on a custody hearing. The Arrow Team celebrates their victory over Chase with surprise birthday party for Oliver, a celebration that lasts only one night before Dinah and Curtis both go missing. Oliver and the what team still remains accounted for uncover the truth swiftly – Curtis and Dinah have been apprehended, and Rene has ostensibly met the same fate. Chase allowed himself to be apprehended, so that the team would lower their guard and Chase associates (Black Canary, and the eminently hateable Evelyn) could kidnap them one by one.

Discerning viewers would wonder about why Chase needed to sacrifice his freedom to complete his task, when his presence at-large would allow him to manipulate Team Arrow’s whereabouts at will. ‘Missing’ addresses this, when Chase uses the safety of Oliver’s team to leverage Oliver into helping him escape from a prison he only inhabits because he wanted to. The absurdity inherent to Chase’s plan is undeniable, and shared by the plan of any villain who orchestrates their own custody. Arrow uses Chase’s particular orchestration as a lazy shorthand, a way for Chase to display his dominance over Oliver – to remind Oliver that he has never stopped pulling the strings. This contrived development would have fit nicely at the season’s midpoint, a false ending before Arrow‘s midseason hiatus. Instead, it smacks of unreality, a convenient way for the season to find it’s ultimate conclusion, back on Lian Yu, where Oliver’s saga began.

After revealing that he had apprehended Oliver’s son William, Chase successfully convinces Oliver to release him from custody. After apprehending John and Felicity, Chase transports Oliver’s team to Lian Yu, baiting Oliver into a final confrontation on the prison island. It’s one of a few nice bit of a symmetry in an episode that – for whatever flaws Chase’s plan may bear – neatly tied up a few of the season’s themes. This year did begin with four weeks of hand-wringing over Oliver’s ability to welcome new allies, to make himself vulnerable once more. That the season should end with those allies both in grave danger and as chinks in Oliver’s armor is fitting and thoughtful. ‘Missing’ doesn’t merely paying off some foreshadowing, though; the episode enlists a handful of Arrow veterans from other seasons to help Oliver rescue his team. Malcom Merlyn, Nessa Al-Ghul, and Slade Wilson each appear, ready to assist; they will each likely be on hand next week, in the season’s finale.

These cameos are catnip for longtime Arrow fans, and for fans of the DC comics universe, but calling them gimmicky would be an understatement. Like Chase’s self-imprisonment, this is a touch that would have fit earlier in the season; the appearance of Wilson, Merlyn, and Al-Ghul this late in the season is equivalent to deus ex machina by committee. It strains credulity, and makes Oliver’s success feel inevitable, fated by the sprawling universe of frenemies and old ghosts that surround Oliver.

If nothing else, ‘Missing’ mostly refrains from long stretches of strained, didactic dialogue and brooding faces – a welcome reprieve after weeks that felt overly packed with such sequences. The episode moves swiftly and purposefully, clearly springing the traps Chase has laid for Oliver. Surprise and emotional impact is sacrificed because those traps were only laid a week or two ago, but to lament that loss is futile. Arrow, despite being consistently dour and overwrought, doesn’t do well concocting dread. ‘Missing’ represented the best possible outcome for Arrow with only two episodes left in the season: the stage is at last set for an outcome that will be action packed, somewhat satisfying, and hopefully interesting.

7
The final score: review Good
The 411
'Missing' is the most eventful and engrossing episode of Arrow's fifth season, an unsurprising fact considering how long the season waited to set in motion the final act of Adrian Chase's byzantine vengeance storyline. The episode is packed, having to sort out most of Chase's plan in just an hour after the series spent the few weeks preceding 'Missing' clearing its throat. For the most part, the episode gamely handles the task: finally, Chase's intentions have been made clear, and the stakes for a final confrontation are established. But coherence and satisfaction aren't necessarily related, and the rapid pace of 'Missing' dulled some of the episode's emotional impact, and gave an anticlimactic air what would otherwise be a compelling endgame.
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article topics :

Arrow, Arrow Reviews, Michael Haigis

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