Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Arrow reviews here.
Arrow has shown much improvement in Season 5, but I’ve spent the past few weeks waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for the moment Arrow fumbles and disappoints me again. Luckily, “Human Target” put those worries at ease, continuing Season 5’s upward trajectory with the promise of more greatness ahead.
Following Wild Dog’s capture last week, Team Arrow embarked on a rescue mission, saving him early in the episode—but not before Rene revealed Oliver’s identity to Tobias Church.
This immediately raised the stakes for the rest of “Human Target”, especially coming right off the heels of scenes depicting Rene’s torture. This strong opening imbued the episode with an energy and intensity that kept me hooked throughout.
What helped keep this intensity going was the way “Human Target” was quick on the payoff. No stalling or deliberating here. Rene’s revelation led to an assassination attempt on Ollie—who survived only by faking his death. This in turn led Ollie to find and confront Church. And defeat him with a ruthlessness and competence that was missing from Green Arrow’s characterization in Season 4.
With that, “Human Target” managed to tell a complete story in a way many other episodes do not.
I have next to nothing to complain about this episode. Perhaps my one sticking point is the introduction of Christopher Chance (the titular Human Target), who made a great first impression as he helped Ollie fake his death, but did come a bit out of left field.
But other than that? The action was excellent, the directing strong, and the dialogue snappy. Oliver and Felicity had a conversation about her new boyfriend that was refreshingly mature and free of unnecessary drama. Rene keeps improving as a character, and the returning Diggle was the perfect person to get through to him. “Human Target” really drove home how important Diggle is to the show.
Even the mayoral duties subplot was stronger than I would have expected. Susan Williams, the reporter whose side-arc I criticized a couple of weeks ago, is stepping up as a promising foil for Mayor Queen. Especially now that she knows Oliver wasn’t on the island those 5 years.
Speaking of which, the flashbacks were once again strong, as Ollie officially became a member of the Bratva. The Bratva storyline is naturally compelling, but there’s no denying that the flashbacks are being handled better this year.
“Human Target” also ended in excellent fashion, as Prometheus made his return to dispatch Tobias Church. After singlehandedly killing a handful of police officers—offscreen, to emphasize the horror element. When he first appeared in the premiere, I wasn’t sure about Pometheus. But after the ending of “Human Target”, I’m 100% sold.
“Human Target” worked as a micro-finale, neatly wrapping up the first 5 episodes of Season 5. In hindsight, those episodes work as a strong introductory story arc on their own. Church is dead, Ollie has found his groove as mayor, Diggle is back, and the new team—especially Rene—are coming into their own.
The groundwork has been laid, and I’m glad Arrow took the time to set up a solid foundation. Hopefully the season can now use it as a launching pad to greatness.