Oliver learns the identity of this season’s big bad though before he has the chance to do much about it, Prometheus throws another devastating hand his way.
Just short of “What We Leave Behind”, this episode is one of the strongest that this season has to offer. With his identity outed, the shackles are off and Josh Segarra is simply a delight as Chase/Prometheus. Whereas “Fighting Fire with Fire” didn’t really make or break Prometheus after we learned his identity, “Checkmate” is a giant stride in the right direction as Arrow looks set to make amends after two seasons of disappointing big bads. Segarra is the star of the show. Each scene he’s in just pushes the episode up that little bit more.
Oliver learns the truth fairly early on, which was surprising (and also in the trailer hence why I’m mentioning it), but it sets up the episode really well. Arrow ploughs into things as Chase continues the “game” Oliver hasn’t figured out they’re playing yet and in which he always feels ten steps ahead; even during the third act when Oliver and Diggle play their trump card Chase bats it off in chilling fashion.
He encounters the majority of the Team Arrow members during the episode and deals them with such glee, it just makes for brilliant viewing.
If they carry this on, Chase/Prometheus is the best big bad they’ll have done. Period. Manu Bennett was fantastic as Slade, but the material here combined with Segarra’s performance is well on its way to topping it.
Stephen Amell, meanwhile, looks set to get some really meaty material as the season heads on. Whereas Oliver felt bizarrely neglected towards the end of last season, this time around the show has him locked in a gruelling psychological battle. He’s aware of who he’s up against now and beginning to uncover his plan, while he’s handed another setback with a fresh reveal this episode, and Amell conquers them all. Oliver is genuinely on the ropes psychologically. Chase is winning this war. There’s a particularly destructive scene in the foundry which is a perfect example and a really good watch.
Elsewhere, the Felicity-Helix storyline, right now at least, lacks a direction. It’s difficult to see where this is really going and as the scenes crop up, you’re waiting for the episode to get going again as opposed to being engaged with what’s currently on the screen. The flashbacks pack a punch as the Bratva disputes continue, including an innovative finale quite literally on ice.
Strap yourselves in, “Checkmate” is the fuel we need to drive this season towards its end.
Some teaser quotes:
1. “I guess you know what I’ve been up to, huh?”
2. “Are you still dating Susan Williams? I gotta tell you buddy, it’s been a little hard to keep track.”
3. “I’m ten steps ahead of you and you haven’t even figured out what game we’re playing yet.”
4. “You’ve got some nerve showing up here.” “Why wouldn’t I? I take my job very seriously.”
5. “Let’s find out how much more loss you can take.”
“Checkmate” airs on Sky 1 on Thursday 23rd March at 9pm.