The CW’s Arrow The Promise TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 2, Episode 15: ‘The Promise,’ took the time to bring the show’s flashback element mostly up to speed with current events. Those events involved Oliver (Stephen Amell) arriving at the Queen compound, only to have his mother (Susanna Thompson) introduce him to Slade (Manu Bennett), as major campaign contributor. Well that was to be the episode’s secondary plot.
The primary plot took place on the island, where Sara (Caity Lotz) was trying (in vain) to impress upon Oliver the importance of getting over his guilt, and boyscout squeamishness. The idea was to kill Ivo (Dylan Neal) as quickly as possible, to prevent him from redirecting Slade’s murderous rage in Oliver’s direction. The plan seemed to execute well enough (Sara sort of gave a would-be twist away, but only to attentive viewers), but Oliver boyscout blew his key scene. Slade got an earful of Ivo rationalization (this was more than just trying to slime his way out of being killed – Ivo had a near & dear stake in all of this), and both Oliver and Ivo were going to pay.
Island Oliver’s sense of guilt, and white hat nobility is starting to get on my nerves. Having Shado (Celina Jade) literally tear him a new one, in a dream sequence, was not helpful, either. The boyscout in search of an archery merit badge angle made him more of a liability than Slade was. Well, he does get better (less sanctimonious, anyways).
In the present, Oliver managed to compose himself as well as could be expected; but was fortunate that both Moira and Thea (Willa Holland) saw this as contempt for the matriarch. Oliver did manage to tip off the full house, at the Arrow Cave, so a showdown at the Queen place took shape. Of course, Slade was top of this (if only through his association with Brother Blood), even managing to take Roy’s (Colton Haynes) measure, in gentlemanly fashion; but Sara’s appearance may have actually surprised him. It is possible that his own passions were getting the better of him, at that point, but the visit had served its purpose. Slade took his leave without incident – despite Diggs (David Ramsey) and Team Arrow’s best effort.
In certain circles, Slade’s time at the Queen compound could have been considered a “thunder run;” not so much a scoping out of the competition, or even an intent of direct violence (he wasn’t dressed for the part), as a clear projection of strength. The point being a demonstration of one’s ability to intrude into an enemy’s personal space with impunity. Another example would be the Counting Coup, practiced by Native American tribes, where the idea was to make physical contact with an opponent without doing harm (ultimate act of bravery kinda thing). This could be applied to Slade’s handling of the Diggs contingency. Whatever the method, there was a strategic advantage taken, that went unnoticed, and Slade was able to deliver a titular message to Oliver.
Here is where my problem with both the episode, and the season, converged. As tense as Slade’s kitty pawing of the Queen family was, and as decent the action on the freighter, it was all telegraphed. It was clear that no harm would come to either Slade or the Queens, in the present (Diggle could have been a wildcard, but his well being was assured); the writing was on the wall, for the showdown on the freighter, going back to Slade first noticing Oliver and Shado as an item. Worse, I am still having a hard time accepting Deathstroke – one of the best villains/ anti-heroes of the DCU – as a chemically imbalanced, heartbroken emo-kid. The source character was a cool-headed professional. This guy comes across as petty and overly target fixated. Do you really need to be a fan of comics, cartoons, or cliff-hanger films to appreciate the folly of ye olde “you need to suffer for a spell, before I grant you death” course of action?
Well, it’s not over. Deathstroke has yet to really strut his stuff; Blood is still in play; and Roy may have some humiliation in store, before earning his… I dunno – mask? On top of it all, we were promised two second season Big Bads, and I still don’t think either Blood or Ivo fit the bill (“no, there is another”). If it turns out to be who I think it is, then all this telegraphing could amount to one hell of an elaborate diversion.