Warning: spoilers for Arrow episode 517 below.
Arrow just keeps on delivering standout episodes, and Kapiushon is no exception. The episode mainly focused on Oliver’s torture at the hands of Adrian Chase, but also centered around the Russian flashbacks. Although the flashbacks seemed to have slowed down in recent episodes, it is now clear why- the episode delivered an incredibly satisfying conclusion to the Kovar arc, but as seen in the end of the episode, the arc may not be truly over. In addition, Prometheus’ torture of Oliver was brutal, harrowing, and we as viewers truly got to see Oliver’s psyche stripped bare.
Let’s start with the flashbacks. Following the death of Gregor, who left Oliver with a haunting statement that everyone he loves will wither and die, Anatoly is made the new pakhan of the Bratva. Not everyone is happy about this, especially Viktor. Viktor’s resentment of Anatoly and Oliver might have been a bit overplayed, and as such his betrayal of Anatoly later in the episode is rather predictable. Nonetheless, Oliver and Anatoly’s dynamic continues to improve, as a true bond is felt between the two. However, Anatoly becomes increasingly disturbed by Oliver’s actions as the hood, as he finds Oliver has skinned a man alive, killed Kovar’s men, and eventually Kovar himself (or so we think). Anatoly’s warning that Oliver cannot hide behind the hood forever rings true with the Prometheus arc.
The flashbacks also reveal that Kovar’s plan, which is to gas Russian government officials in order to gain control of the country, relies on the assistance of an old enemy of Oliver- Malcolm Merlyn. Merlyn’s presence in the episode is unexpected, but it is revealed that Kovar might have had a hand in season one’s Undertaking. In addition, later in the episode Merlyn is shown reviving Kovar, which is an interesting twist that will further the flashback story. However, this felt like a satisfying end to the arc, and I am not convinced that additional story is necessary (besides getting Oliver back on Lian Yu, as was shown in season one and as Stephen Amell recently teased).
Beyond the outstanding flashback arc, the best parts of the episode came with Adrian Chase. His torture of Oliver, which included water torture, shooting him with arrows, and plenty of psychological torture, was brutal. Photos of Oliver’s victims are hung from the walls of his cell and Evelyn, whom we have not seen in quite a few episodes, is used by Prometheus in an attempt to break Oliver. All the while, Adrian taunts Oliver, stating that all he needs to do to escape is reveal his secret. Both Segarra and Amell pull off incredible performances in these close-quarters and intense one-on-one scenes. Amell displays how over time, Oliver’s mind begins to break down as he desperately screams at Adrian that he does not know what “secret” the villain is referring to. In the end, however, in a thrilling sequence which cuts between Oliver’s final fight with Kovar and the torture cell, Adrian forces Oliver to reveal his darkest secret: Oliver does not kill for justice, he kills because he likes it. Adrian unshackles Oliver and releases him, a broken shell of his former self.
Kapiushon was, in my opinion, the best episode of the season. The flashback arc was able to come to an exciting, satisfying conclusion, while Prometheus’ torture of Oliver allowed Segarra and Amell to truly flex their acting talent. As seen in previous episodes of the season, the series’ history is being used to the story’s advantage as the show-runners continue to flesh out both the story of this current season and the series as a whole. Anatoly’s chilling comparison of Oliver to Slade Wilson is a superb example of how this history can be used to cement a point in the viewer’s mind. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season unfolds, as Oliver reveals in the final moment of the episode that he is shutting down Team Arrow for good.