Writers: Jake Coburn & Ben Sokolowski
Director: Glen Winter
THE ONE WHERE: As Oliver confronts Slade in his own home we flash back to the storming of the Amazo…
THE VERDICT: I recently moaned that the island scenes have felt fiftful and inconclusive this season. “The Promise” addresses that particular exasperation. It’s an episode unafraid of flashback mode, confident enough to devote chunks of its runtime to Arrow ’s secret history, unpacking the events that led to Slade’s bloodfeud with Oliver. But it also unfolds a parallel narrative in the present as Slade invades Oliver’s home and infiltrates his family, the ultimate unwelcome house guest. The two storylines play in tandem, one illuminating the other. It’s a lean, focused, action-loaded 40 minutes that wouldn’t have been half as effective if we’d had to share it with Laurel’s assorted crises.
“We need to talk about tomorrow,” says Sara, and that’s just what this episode does - from a perspective five years in the past. There’s something quietly fateful in the scene where Slade picks up the Deathstroke mask while Oliver opts for the hood: a sense of characters choosing their paths, aligning their destinies. Slade’s vow to bring Oliver to complete despair will no doubt resonate for the rest of this season. I couldn’t help thinking that Oliver’s little training montage was begging to be dubbed with the Rocky theme, mind…
Back in the present there’s an entertaining dynamic as Slade wallows in Moira’s hospitality, trading loaded comments with a clearly disdainful Oliver (I smiled at the moment Oliver tried to stab him with a spare screwdriver as soon as his mother’s back was turned – there was a hint of Craig’s Bond about that). Manu Bennett brings something formidable, equal parts charm and menace, to Slade Wilson, and he’s genuinely chilling in the scene where he kills the captain of the Amazo.
Two random observations: Slade and Sara’s paraglider assault on the Amazo is very cool indeed. And as Roy’s just discovered there’s clearly a contractual obligation in the Arrow club to pose around shirtless. You’ll catch your death, man!
TRIVIA: We’re told that Oliver’s middle name is Jonas, which fits with DC lore.
DID YOU SPOT?: “The Promise” salutes two greats of the comic book industry. Touring the Queen mansion, Thea points out paintings by Curtis Swan – a nod to Curt Swan, famed Superman artist (and the man whose name inspired Christopher Reeve’s character in Smallville , Dr Swann) – and Joseph Kubert, a tribute to fellow DC artist Joe Kubert, best known for his work on Hawkman and Sgt Rock .
DID YOU SPOT 2: Slade mentions Billy Wintergreen, Deathstroke’s butler in the comic books. We met him as part of Fyers’ mercenary unit in season one episode “Damaged”, where he was wearing the Deathstroke mask.
Sara (recognising Slade’s voice): “What’s the biggest gun you’ve got down there?”
Arrow is broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 HD