Arrow Season 5 Episode 16 Review: Checkmate

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Are Oliver Queen's days as the Green Arrow numbered?

That was questioned on Arrow Season 5 Episode 16 when Oliver found out the truth about Prometheus. From the outset, it was evident this was going to be a big episode. 

Closer To the Truth - Arrow

Talia al Ghul was in the present, so the stakes could not have been higher. Oliver turning to her for help was an exciting development, but I was pleasantly surprised Oliver had no idea Talia was Ra's al Ghul's daughter. 

You killed his father and I helped him in the pursuit of vengeance because by then, you killed mine.


Somehow, I felt like he already knew that little nugget of truth. Talia's demeanor is completely different to the woman we got to meet in the flashbacks. 

I was holding out hope that she would change her mind about helping Adrian because it's not like her father was a saint, anyway. Did she not stop to question the fact that Oliver was stabbed by him and subsequently made Ra's al Ghul?

arrow 516 c

When I think about it, I just can't get on board with her being that mad about Oliver killing her father. I'm sure there are many more twists in the tale, but I ain't buying what she's selling. 

Adrian is a sociopath, so the very notion that he would stop his tirade of terror against Oliver if Doris asked him to was pretty darn hilarious. 

Prometheus - Arrow Season 5 Episode 9

It was the latest in a long line of errors in judgment on Oliver's part, and it's getting tiring. I expected him to reel in Human Target to pose as Adrian's dad in some sort of plan to capture him. 

Student: Who are you?
Oliver: I'm her former student.
Student: Former - which means you are not welcome here.

What we got was Adrian killing Doris, and it was rather uneventful. It's difficult to really care about a character who has spent most of her time on the periphery. 

If anything, it increased Adrian's drive to destroy Oliver. I enjoyed the long chat between Adrian and Oliver while Pike was in the hospital. 

Adrian's words struck a chord with Oliver. Would he be able to continue with his life if someone else died under his watch? For me, that's an interesting question. 

How does one come to grips with everything falling apart around them? Oliver's bad decisions are, well, bad. He very rarely makes good ones, and that's a big fat flaw in the character. 

Adrian's continued efforts to break Oliver will probably come to fruition, and it will give Stephen Amell something better to play than the superhero who seems to be trying fake it 'til he makes it. 

This episode peeled back the layers on Susan. It made me question whether she would be able to keep quiet about her ordeal in the name of keeping Oliver safe from being hacked up into tiny pieces and sent to his friends and family. 

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I'd like to think that she knows Adrian is above the law at this stage and can do whatever he wants and get away with it. It sucks, but if she wants to survive the season, she's going to need to lay low. 

Her shifting loyalties now appear to be a thing of the past, and I can see her becoming an integral part of Oliver's personal life. Whether she's the one to pull him back from the brink of self-destruction when all of this is over, I don't know. 

There is still a possibility Susan could go all Gail Weathers and write a tell-all exposing everyone, but that would probably pave the way for her death. 

If she survived this episode, she could survive for at least another season. 

Felicity finding out where Susan was being held was predictable, and I did not like the way the chick from Helix went about it. I get that they probably felt like Felicity was not contributing much to their cause, but she was under the gun. 

Oliver needed to check in with her to make sure everything was okay. I don't think she's fully grieved the loss of Malone, and I see her becoming very self-destructive if she manages to get more power with Helix. 

arrow 5x16

As a short-term solution to the terrible sub-plots on this show, Helix is working, but it will be at great expense to Felicity.

It was interesting watching the likes of Rene and Quentin react to Chase becoming a huge villain. They've been advocates for the character in the past, so they must feel utterly betrayed. 

Diggle is probably mostly confused by all of it because Adrian was the one who fought for his freedom. He fooled everyone into a false sense of security, and that's what master manipulators do. 

Taking Adrian and Talia down is likely going to be the biggest challenge for the characters to date. Talia trained Oliver, so she probably knows what cards he will play before he even thinks of them. 

It's a pity she didn't give him some training on how to make a decent decision, but at least she taught him how to become a vigilante. 

With the betrayal of Evelyn, no one can trust anyone right now. Alliances appear to be shifting on an episodic basis, and a team built on lies is not a solid foundation to save the residents of Star City. 

Before all of this is over, Adrian is going to have the whole team exposed so they can't join in the final fight without being arrested by the most incompetent police force on all of TV.

arrow 516 b

"Checkmate" started off as my favorite episode of the season, but it quickly faltered when Oliver started doing stupid things. Did he not think that Pike would be attacked? The show is going in an interesting direction, but the key to it being worthwhile will be the execution. 

Pointless storylines that meander for episodes on end are not going to keep viewers satisfied. For the most part, this hour succeeded in bringing us back to Prometheus being the villain, and I'm quite okay with that. Now, we just need some payoff. 

Other tidbits from the episode:

  • Curtis sure got over Paul in a hurry. It's just a shame his outfit is god awful. He looks like he's stuck in the '80s. 
  • Were my eyes deceiving me, or did Adrian not look bruised in the final scene? Could there be two of them?
  • The callbacks to all of the people close to Oliver who were dead made me realize just how much I missed the old days. I would not be opposed to Oliver waking up and saying the last three seasons were a dream. 
  • The fight scenes were awesome, but I wanted to see Dinah, Curtis, Rene and Diggle with the chance to pound some hits onto the villains. 
  • Josh Segarra has been good as Prometheus, but there were a few scenes when he was trying to put on a scary voice that made me chuckle. Why does he need a voice change just because he's a villain?

Over to you, Arrow Fanatics. What did you think of all the drama? Hit the comments below!

Remember you can watch Arrow online right here on TV Fanatic. Get caught up on all the drama now!

Note: Arrow Season 5 Episode 17 airs March 22 on The CW!

Checkmate Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (60 Votes)

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Arrow Season 5 Episode 16 Quotes

You killed his father and I helped him in the pursuit of vengeance because by then, you killed mine.


Student: Who are you?
Oliver: I'm her former student.
Student: Former - which means you are not welcome here.