Have you ever had someone come over to your home and behave so abhorrently, you were completely ashamed, yet were unable to break decorum and ask him to leave? In "The Promise," that someone was Oliver, who in Moira's eyes, couldn't have behaved worse towards her new campaign investor and business partner Slade Wilson if he whipped it out and gave Slade a golden shower. The whole time, Oliver wanted to whip something out, all right, and let loose from his shaft, but he just didn't have his bow and arrows handy. Nonetheless, Slade was in Stately Queen Manor to merely talk and make thinly veiled threats that went over Moira's head but were picked up by Oliver loud and clear. In Oliver's eyes, Slade was there to kill him, his mother and his sister Thea, who conveniently arrived and happily gave Slade a tour of the late Robert Queen's art collection (including a rare "Curtis Swan" - shout out to legendary Superman artist Curt Swan). But Slade was up to something else entirely. For a man gruesomely missing an eye, which Arrow chose to show us in grim detail, by the end of "The Promise," all of Slade's eyes are now on Stately Queen Manor.
Most of "The Promise" is a flashback episode to five years ago on Lian Yu, where Oliver, Sara and Slade made their fateful assault on Anthony Ivo's freighter Amazo. Sara and Oliver would occasionally head off into the woods to discuss what to do with the Mirakuru Ivo is desperately after (burn it), which Slade overhears, while Slade somehow isn't present for their other discussion of why Oliver can never tell Slade he chose Sara over Shado, hence Ivo murdering Shado. For his part, Slade was off recovering a bottle of "authentic Australian rum," Reuther Rum, that he and his old Deathstroke mask-wearing mate Billy Wintergreen hid in the plane wreckage for a rainy day. Oliver has a nightmare of Shado blaming him and stabbing him to death for choosing to let her die; five years ago dream Shado is pretty bitter compared to how helpful and encouraging ghost Shado was in "Three Ghosts." Soon, Oliver dons the green hood of Yao Fei and Slade dons the dual colored mask of Deathstroke, marking the first time these future adversaries would accept the mantle of their dead friends and mentors. I believe "The Promise" is the first Arrow episode where Oliver doesn't actually wear the green hood in the present day timeline, but he wears it plenty on the Island.
In the few days at most Oliver, Slade, and Sara had to plan how they were taking the freighter, Oliver put himself through intense training exercises including pull ups and archery that drastically accelerated his abilities. Almost all of a sudden, Oliver is a capable warrior. He asks Sara to promise to tell his family he's not the same callow idiot he was when he got on the Queen's Gambit if he doesn't survive their mission, and Sara in turns asks him to tell her family she died on the Gambit if vice versa. As we learned last week, Sara has formidable bio chemistry knowledge after her year with Ivo and she whips up an antidote to Ivo's favorite sodium pentothal. Sure enough, as planned, Oliver is captured by Ivo's men and tortured on the freighter by Ivo, feeding Ivo true information (his full name is Oliver Jonas Queen) and false information (lies about Slade and Sara's position on the freighter), while faking being stoned under the duress of Ivo's truth serum. Soon, Sara and Slade parachute onto the freighter, join up with Oliver, and the battle is on. Sara frees the many captives in Amazo's bowels, including Oliver's future Russian Bravta brother Anatoli Knyazev, and a strange new character not from DC Comics named Reverend Thomas Flynn. They and a bunch of others are able to escape the Amazo and swim to the Island, but Oliver is unable to join when when Slade catches him by the foot and tosses Oliver back onto the deck in a physics-defying feat of strength.
For you see, secrets don't get kept long on Arrow. Oliver not only couldn't kill Ivo in cold blood, but he was careless enough to let Slade overhear Ivo's double talk about "oh sure, I pulled the trigger, but it was you, Oliver, who aimed my gun at Shado" nonsense, and that was all she wrote to turn Slade completely psychotic. Slade murders Ivo's captain replacement for the previous captain and commandeers Amazo. Then he makes Ivo confess to murdering Shado and slices off the hand that pulled the trigger like in patented Skywalker fashion. Poor Ivo, it turns out he was doing all this for his beloved wife Jessica, who is back home suffering from dementia. (Or maybe it's MacGregor's Syndrome?) Things don't look promising for Oliver with Slade in charge of Amazo.
In present day, things looked a lot more promising for Oliver when he was clever enough to call Felicity's cell so Team Arrow in the Arrow Cave, including archery novice Roy Harper (whose initiation into Team Arrow made it into the "My name is Oliver Queen..." opening montage), could overhear Slade's pontificating about Robert Queen's art. Sara recognized Slade's gruff Australian voice right away and looked right into the camera to announce Slade Wilson is back. Then, in a fanboy wet dream, Sara as Canary took command of Team Arrow, barking orders at Roy and Diggle, asking for "the biggest gun" Diggle has. It was pretty big. With Diggle positioned outside Stately Queen Manor ready to take a headshot at Slade, Sara and Roy joined the Queen-Wilson Art Tour, making a tense situation even more full of tightened jaws, clinched fists, and intense laser stares. Slade probably could have killed them all anyway if he wanted to, but instead discretion was the greater part of super villainy. Slade opted to leave in his ridiculously swank Lamborghini to murder Queens another day, walking out with Oliver and promising to pay "the promise" he made five years ago to destroy everything Oliver holds dear. Oh, and Diggle was taken out before he could take out Slade -- probably by Amanda Waller's people so he could get shanghaied into the Suicide Squad.
So what was Slade really doing in Stately Queen Manor? Turns out he was planting mini cameras all over the house, so he could now watch all the comings, goings, and doings transpiring in the house of Queen. Why, Slade can just sit back in the Stroke Cave and watch Thea shower if he wants. That dastardly devil!
I hope no one calls Slade's lair the Stroke Cave. #Arrow @manubennett @ARROWwriters @amellywood @mguggenheim pic.twitter.com/THnpESE2aN
— John Orquiola (@BackoftheHead) March 6, 2014