Review: “Human Target” is Arrow’s Most Explosive Season Five Episode Yet

Thursday, 03 November 2016 - 9:11AM
DC Comics
Arrow
Thursday, 03 November 2016 - 9:11AM
Review: “Human Target” is Arrow’s Most Explosive Season Five Episode Yet
Season five of Arrow has been making a vigorous attempt at a return to form for the show. Though last week's episode, "Penance," felt slower than usual, it was definitely made up for this week with the most explosive episode yet of season five, "Human Target." Complete with twists, thrilling action sequences, and a big payoff to Ollie's conflict with Tobias Church, "Human Target" has all of the elements of the show's glory days, yet it still manages to be innovative and provide a fresh feeling to Arrow. Seasons three and four may have been the lowest points in the show's run, but if this week's episode is any indicator, season five could be one of its greatest highs.

"Human Target" begins with the team searching for Wild Dog, who is being tortured for the identity of Green Arrow by Tobias Church. Though he puts up quite a fight, Church gets to him in the end - something that's only revealed when Ollie steps in to rescue Wild Dog as he's literally digging his own grave at Church's command. With his identity compromised, Oliver continues performing his duties as mayor, making him easy to access for the assassin Church hired to take him out. The twist? Oliver hired a double to take his place and wear his face for the day; a plot that is paralleled in the flashbacks.  

Meanwhile, the team faces some of their own dilemmas. Wild Dog deals with the guilt of his confession to Church, but is encouraged by Diggle to use his skills as a vigilante to help find redemption, just as he is. Likewise, Felicity's new boyfriend receives a promotion to Ollie's special task force, and so Oliver finally finds out that his ex is seeing someone else. Finally, Oliver takes down Church using intel from Wild Dog, and when the criminal is getting shipped off to the pen, his entire police escort is executed by Prometheus. Desperately bargaining for his life, Church gives up Green Arrow's identity to the villain - a favor that earns him death at Prometheus' hands.  

"Human Target" hit on so many levels this week, and genuinely feels like it took all of Arrow's greatest traits and hit "amplify." There are thankfully no obviously fake punches, and the fight choreography in the show was near-perfect. Likewise, the plot and its twist are expertly paralleled in the flashbacks, and real character development took place for a number of the focal characters. Ollie learns to move on as Felicity reveals she has, and Diggle and Wild Dog both learn to overcome their guilt and fight for a cause; each of these slower moments is aptly placed in between all the action and suspense, creating and releasing tension as needed. Just as well, the build up for Prometheus finally reaches its boiling point, and with a vacancy being opened for the show's main villain, it looks like fans are going to be seeing more of him very soon.  

In the end, "Human Target" hearkens back to Arrow's glory days, perhaps more so than any other episode yet of season five. Though the characters have changed, the explosive action, pacing, character development, suspense, and unconventional story structure are everything that fans loved about the first two seasons of the show and are also what makes this week's episode so memorable. Arrow is succeeding in its attempt to course correct in season five, and just like some of the show's characters, is finally finding a bit of redemption for the past two seasons.

Arrow returns next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.
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