Slade Wilson is back. And where Deathstroke goes, trouble follows, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. “Deathstroke Returns” introduces us to Joe Wilson (guest star Liam Hall), and explores the relationship between father and son, while Team Arrow learns about the face behind Vigilantes mask.
After last week’s final scene, in which Oliver accepted a phone call from Slade, the man himself has now found his way back to Star City to ask Oliver not just for advice, but for help: find his son and bring him to safety. While Oliver is initially sceptical about returning to the field, Slade is able to convince him because he wants him as the major, for diplomatic reasons, not as the Green Arrow.
Oliver also asks Felicity for advice on what to do, and while he wishes she would suggest he stayed, she supports his decision to help not just Slade, but more specifically his son. She also convinces him to tell William the truth about where he is going, and not to keep secrets from him. It’s almost too perfectly domestic to handle…
In Kasnia, where Joe is supposedly held under a false name, Slade follows up with his contacts. He has brought Oliver along for what seems more like a political photo-op than a mission. Slade’s plan is to get his son released and send him to London right away, rather than catch up with him like a good dutiful father would, and Major Queen is responsible to make that happen.
Oliver learns that Slade’s son has been killed during a prison fight. When they ask for the body to be presented to Slade, the officials claim they no longer have it in their possession. After threatening to out this as an international scandal, the officials reveal that Joe was a spy and he had been taken by a group called The Jackals.
Slade immediately suits up, but he decides to find the Jackals alone. He drugs Oliver and leaves, but eventually runs into trouble. He is captured by the men, one of which turns out to be the first contact person they encountered earlier. The other man reveals that Slade should have stopped snooping, because Joe, as it turns out, is the head of the Jackals. GASP. Because that wasn’t predictable at all.
Just as unpredictable: Oliver following Slade, and likely saving his ass in next week’s episode.
The episode features the first character-centric flashbacks of the season, as we witness Slade and a young Joe bonding during a camping trip. Or rather, trying to bond, over grilling fresh fish and playing football. How very American of them.
Still, Slade is not just lying to his son about what he does for a living – he’s officially working for an Australian airline, apparently – but he also goes off to casually murder another man on the campground.
Slade does not win awards for being a wonderful human being – being under the influence of Mirakuru is only an excuse for so long, and a tiring one at that – and he wouldn’t win any for father of the year either. He used the chance to bond with his son to brutally murder another man, another father even.
Meanwhile Team Arrow is kept busy when a gunman attacks the council woman behind the anti-vigilante legislation. The gun man turned out to be Vigilante, the masked avenger the team had dealt with throughout the previous season. Dinah is quick to follow the man and shatters his visor with her Canary Cry, only to reveal that man behind the mask is her former lover and partner Vincent Sobel.
The reveal of Vigilante’s identity is likely the biggest let down in Arrow history. While the man was someone that had been previously mentioned, it was not someone we would likely have kept in mind (or wanted back for that matter), as he seems remarkably unremarkable.
As we learn in the episode, he was exposed to dark matter as well, which makes him a fellow meta-human. Vincent has the ability to heal, which he demonstrates by surviving a gunshot to the head later on.
When Dinah confronts him not just about his masked alter ego, but also about why he wants to kill the council woman, he gives her a very Oliver-Queen season-one-ish answer about how he needs to fulfill his mission. It feels like Arrow has started recycling characters this season. Lazy.
But Vigilante is not the only threat for the team this week. Agent Samanda Watson continues her vendetta against Oliver Queen by targeting the people closest to him. She asks John, Felicity, and Rene for private conversations. She is closing in on their secret, and everyone knows it.
Felicity would even be willing to lie under oath to protect Oliver’s identity – they all would be. Oliver may not always make the right decisions, but he has carefully chosen the most loyal bunch of friends.
Still, her increasing presence over not just Team Arrow’s professional lives, but after making the personal connections, also their privates. She will continue to be a thorn in their sides, that is guaranteed.
Agent Watson: So, you’re seeing Oliver Queen again.
Felicity: Yeah, these new prescription glasses are really working wonders.
Catch Arrow Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.