There are major spoilers for both this episode and all previous Arrow episodes!
If you’ll remember from Season 1 there was a flashback-heavy episode entitled The Odyssey that used Moira Queen’s shooting of Arrow to put Oliver in an unconscious state following his rescue by Felicity – allowing for the good portion of the episode to tell the story of Slade Wilson and Oliver Queen’s attempted escape from the island, as strangers rather than brothers. At the time it was the second episode to feature Slade Wilson, and the two characters attempted to escape the island as virtual strangers rather than, as Slade calls them now, “brothers.” There’s a heavy layer of friendship between Slade and Ollie when they head to destroy the Professor Ivo’s ship, and with Sara in tow, they have a better chance than ever to escape. However, Professor Ivo is a manipulator – and if he tells Slade, who is unstable following the injection of the Mirakuru, that it was Ollie who was responsible for killing Shado, then nobody is quite sure what he will do.
In the present day however, Slade Wilson demonstrates an incredibly bold move in the previous episode and that’s to go right into Ollie’s house and hold a conversation with his mother knowing full well what Ollie can do. However, in order to keep his mother in the dark, they don’t initiate a full fight there and then – and it’s clear that Slade has something else in mind when he whispers “Not yet, kid,” to Oliver. Manu Bennett is easily one of the best, if not the best actor on Arrow and he really demonstrated why he’s so good just here (even more so on the flashback sequences) with a great performance as Deathstroke to establish that clearly he’s so much more of a threat than Malcolm Merlyn is and I really hope he sticks around to become a major long term villain rather than just being dealt with at the end of the series. A standout scene in the present was the scene where Team Arrow (with Roy, for once) – were all rushing to the aid of Oliver to defeat Slade after he contacts Felicity, and it was great to see the team working together and this is probably the sort of thing that we’re going to expect in the future episodes. It was also a nice nod to see Roy meet with Slade on the front entrance to the Queen family household – any fan of him in the comics will know that Roy has a shared history with Deathstroke so it’ll be interesting to see how they tackle it in future episodes.
The Promise has, much like The Odyssey, joined the rank of my Top 5 favourite episodes (Sacrifice, The Odyssey, The Promise, League of Assassins & Three Ghosts) mainly due to its flashback material. But unlike The Odyssey, the present day sequences are just as gripping – in The Odyssey, we knew that Ollie would make it out alive, because well – he was the main star in his show. Here in The Promise, the present day scenes have a lot of suspense going for them – there’s a lot more tension, and the payoff is great. Although If I have one problem with the episode it’s that the hidden cameras in the Queen Household don’t really look that well hidden, or that small, and it would be fairly obvious to anybody who bothered to take a closer look.
There are still questions left to be asked and it’s going to be a great ride to see how the show deals with them. We still have more flashback sequences to pan out, and it’ll be very interesting to see how they happen with the new status quo. There’s also Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey cropping up in the next two episodes – with a teased Harley Quinn appearance (which would be so awesome) and things look very good for the future indeed. Whilst Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is struggling to get to grips with how much elements from the comics it should bring in, Arrow is blazing ahead in that department and it’s only a matter of time before it is connected to the wider DC Universe.
One thing’s for sure though, if The Promise is anything to go by, then the ride is going to be great. This show is just that good.