After last week's cliffhanger, it's understandable this episode would have a slower pace to allow for fitting reactions and character depth. As expected, the show's recent development gave Stephen Amell and even Kate Cassidy a better chance to deliver material that's a little more engrossing than usual. Some of the dialogue was a little odd ("I know you like I know my name" and why not open with the part about Blood?), but when secrets come front and center, the show certainly produces some engaging bits. Unfortunately, the same doesn't really hold true for another one of Oliver's family members and the episode felt like it was just going through the motions to plant her somewhere specific.
When an episode is promoted as putting Slade's army forward, you'd expect some action-packed goodness and memorable tension. However, Felicity is absolutely the highlight of tonight's episode. Not only does an earlier scene give her a chance to show off her acting chops, but she later steals the show with some legitimately funny and sharp remarks. Way to go, Felicity.
I really wasn't feeling the flashback segments in this one. The cuts felt sudden and, right when they said someone had to go, we all knew where the show would go (out of those 4 individuals, 3 are alive in the current era, so...). They try to give the scene a little emotional impact by sharing why the character is okay with it, but honestly, I didn't find it all that effective. Sure, it drew parallels to the modern storyline, but the material just didn't feel all that compelling there.
As I said above, this episode brought out some good performances, but it went for an amount of weight and tension that sometimes didn't feel justified. For example, as viewers, we know what Slade meant when he says another person has to die (come on, you know who he means, right? Of course you do.), so to have extended conversations about a road we know the show won't go down takes away from the intensity and instead left me waiting for them to correct this course. Also, was it just me or was Oliver totally talking to himself during that one scene outside? That said, they do make up for this a little bit with the handling of Sebastian Blood's character. Instead of feeling like a rehash of what previously happened or dragging it out, this episode is able to swiftly move forward with the fiend and place him in a variety of satisfying scenes.
I get the program has good stunt work and they want to dish out some fight choreography, but the show just makes Oliver look bad when he gets humiliated by mirakuru goon #42 because he's too stubborn to fight tactically. It doesn't help that the entire time Oliver possessed a trick arrow that could defeat the character, too. Again, I understand they want to show off cool stunts, but I wish it didn't make Oliver look bad in the process -- something which tends to happen a fair amount (like when he previously rushed into hand-to-hand against Bronze Tiger despite knowing the guy has crazy reflexes and skill).
The last time we chimed in on Amanda Waller, Deathstroke was obviously on her radar. This episode then takes steps to establish her as being essentially the super NSA, yet they're awfully oblivious to what's been going on with Slade, and then they don't even seem all that concerned. Perhaps they're just saving the Suicide Squad's return for the big finale, but a little more from this side of things would be appreciated.
Holy abrupt ending, Batman! I mean, yes, it's an ending that has several threads hanging (Diggle's is without question the most exciting one), but man, talk about a jarring switch to the credits. They ended on a note that didn't properly deliver on the chaos that's about to go down. Instead, it felt like they cutaway a little too soon. You know, right before it ends on a "say WHAT?!" kind of moment.
Following-up the last episode isn't an easy feat, and while this one does deliver an appropriately somber tone, a couple of solid performances, and some big developments, it just doesn't pack the same kind of punch as some of the stronger episodes. It's not bad, but it'll definitely have you looking forward instead of positively reflecting on what just occurred.