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ARROW “Human Target” Review

By on November 3, 2016

By Justin Carter

Our preview for this week’s episode of Arrow, “Human Target,” ended on the shocking twist that suggested Oliver would be shot and lie dead at the steps of the mayor’s office.

Even without knowing the details of the episode beforehand, it felt hard to believe. If Oliver could survive five years worth of viruses, super soldiers, and pirates, plus getting shot by his own mother and a sword to the stomach a few seasons ago, there’s no way an assassin in a dumb helmet was going to be the one to put the Emerald Archer out of commission.

Of course, that didn’t make it any less satisfying when Christopher Chance, aka the Human Target, tore off his Oliver mask and formally introduced himself.

The Target is a private investigator best known for his two-season TV show on Fox back in earl 2010, where he was played by Mark Valley. Whereas that version of Chance was just a plain PI that threw himself in front of his clients, Arrow’s version hearkens more back to how he originally was: he takes the identity of his clients so assassins and criminals will come after him instead of them.

Chance is brought along (this time played by Wil Traval, who comic fans will best remember as Will Simpson, Trish’s super soldier cop boyfriend from Jessica Jones) after Oliver rescues Rene from Tobias Church. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to fully resist Church’s torture and let it slip that Oliver and Green Arrow are one and the same. To make sure Church doesn’t go after anyone close to him, Diggle calls in Chance to get shot and so the team can figure out what the crime boss is planning and get the jump on Church later on. As far as ways to introduce comic book characters into the Arrowverse go, it’s probably the smoothest there’s been so far — compared to what Diggle’s seen the last two seasons, a guy who uses masks to become other people has to be on the low end of the “weird” spectrum for him, so why wouldn’t he call this guy in? Traval feels more comfortable working with Chance’s dry humor than the self serious Simpson from Jessica Jones a year back. And it gives a chance for Amell as Traval as Amell to let his Arrow personality out a bit more when he talks to a city official trying to stonewall him on a zoning project, which is always nice.

It’s up to Traval and Rick Gonzalez to drive the plot this week, and both do well with the material they’re given. Rene’s understandably beating himself up over giving up his boss’ secret ID, so Oliver has Diggle step in for a heart to heart from one soldier to another. It’s nice to know that there’s more to Rene besides being “the rebellious one,” and the bonding moment between the two of them is nice. It’s something that I’ve taken for granted the last three or four years, but I sometimes forget that newcomers to the superhero life can be traumatized by torture instead of shrugging it off. Even when Curtis decides to get back in the field after taking a knife to the back a week ago, the vulnerability of these guys is something that the show doesn’t really dwell on unless the situation calls for it.

Overall, I liked “Human Target” a lot — it moves at a fast clip, Traval’s mask game makes for some nice misdirection once he’s introduced, the flashbacks with Anatoly are good scenery chewing, and the Rene/Diggle dynamic is engaging. There’s just one down spot, and that’s the death of Tobias Church by way of Prometheus. I knew it was going to be an eventuality, given that Church was antagonizing Ollie too much to not piss off our new baddie, but I was still hoping that he’d last a little while longer. Especially since we only vaguely get an idea of what his ultimate plan is — something about working with the other crime families to smuggle drugs into Star City — and he lent himself well to fight scenes. One understands that he was just around to serve a purpose, but it would’ve been nice to have him stick around for some more fun; if nothing else, to give that assassin of his some more use.

Arrow’s had some pretty good B-level villains that carry a multi-episode arc, but now it’s time for the main event that is Prometheus.

Additional Notes

  • Evelyn and Rory don’t get much to do, but Rory has established himself as the new inquisitive kid of the team, and I love how everyone’s just amazed that people seem to just walk into the Lair out of nowhere.
  • Chance giving Felicity his Oliver mask and then her mocking Oliver by putting it on her face was funnier than it should’ve been.
  • Oliver’s time in Russia as a member of the Bratva actually led him to unknowingly meeting Chance, and now I’m going to imagine that every random character of surprising importance is just Wil Traval in a mask.
  • “Spartan is so badass.” “Yep.”
  • Seriously, how useless was that assassin? He doesn’t even get a name, and his only noteworthy moment is when he throws a machete at a member of Oliver’s security. (His helmet looks like it belonged in Halo 5, which bothered me immensely.)
  • Felicity’s cop boyfriend (I’ve already forgotten his name) is a member of the Anti-Crime Unit, and the way her and Oliver talk about him may as well have a sign over it reading “he is going to die by Christmas break.”

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