Warning: spoilers for Arrow episode 516 below.
Arrow season five has been a great season for the show, and therefore it is no surprise that episode 16, titled Checkmate, was another fantastic chapter in the Prometheus story. The episode began with a visit to a training facility belonging to Talia Al Ghul, where Oliver discovers (albeit rather unceremoniously) that Prometheus is actually Adrian Chase. In addition, Talia reveals her full name to Oliver: Talia al Ghul, and states that she too wishes for Oliver to suffer on account of his murder of her father. This is yet another example of how the writers are using previous seasons of Arrow to improve the overall story.
The abrupt discovery of Prometheus’ identity leads to some great character tension throughout the rest of the episode. Oliver, Quentin, Rene and Susan all encounter Adrian in City Hall and in the police department, and although each character is aware of his true identity, they are powerless to do anything about it. An addition of an obstacle which Oliver and co. cannot simply punch their way out of is always interesting.
Josh Segarra, who plays Adrian/Prometheus, truly gets to flex his villainous muscles in this episode. He plays the part extremely well as he taunts Oliver, demonstrating a sadistic enjoyment of his manipulations as he remains ten steps ahead of his foes, from setting up a trap at his mother’s house when Team Arrow goes searching for information to killing police chief Pike when Oliver attempts to out Chase’s identity (and that Prometheus theme. Chills). However, there is a moment in the episode when Adrian is caught off guard, that being when Oliver reveals to Adrian’s wife that her husband is Prometheus, leading to her death. The combination of sadness and rage on Adrian’s face when he kills his own wife is simply another reason for him to hate Oliver and adds another layer of depth to the story. This is followed by an intense, well-choreographed fight between the two, which ends as Talia shoots Oliver from behind with an arrow. Perhaps Oliver should have seen this coming- did he actually expect Prometheus to simply give up Susan?
In addition to the main story arc, Felicity’s Helix arc is gaining momentum as well. As Felicity becomes more and more exposed to the powers of the hacking group, the line between right and wrong is becoming blurred. Sure, she can find the location of a hostage, but in order to do so she must hack a government drone. As she descends further and further into this world, the question must be asked: when will her actions on behalf of Helix go too far?
The flashbacks this week were a bit slow at first, but had a satisfying conclusion as Oliver was finally able to stop Gregor (A+ for the ice-sliding arrow shot as well). However, when Oliver first suits up in front of Anatoly, Anatoly’s message to him is a powerful one: Oliver can never separate his inner darkness from himself; his darkness is a part of him.
Each character on the show delivered this week in another standout episode of Arrow. Stephen Amell conveyed Oliver’s desperation and anger well throughout the episode as he finds himself in a situation where victory seems impossible. Team Arrow as a whole did not see a lot of screen time this episode as Oliver, Adrian, and Felicity were the focal points, but despite this Diggle was able to stand out. After his early-season turmoil, Diggle seems to be returning to his position as an emotional anchor/voice of reason for Oliver and a shoulder to lean on in times of distress.
Overall, Checkmate was a fantastic episode. Josh Segarra’s Adrian Chase was truly the standout as he lorded over Oliver while also delivering a heart-wrenching performance as he was forced to kill his own wife. The episode was intense throughout, and furthered the main story by adding Talia al Ghul to the list of Oliver’s enemies in an unexpected twist. The Green Arrow’s public position is also called into question as the vigilante is now blamed for the murder of Chase’s wife as well as the abduction of Oliver Queen. And Chase’s final promise at the end of the episode hangs in the air as he leaves Oliver shackled in a jail cell: he is going to help Oliver discover who he really is, and by the looks of it, not in a good way.