'Arrow' Recap: Dolph Lundgren Is Still the King of Russian Bad Guys

Warning: This recap for the “So It Begins” episode of Arrow contains spoilers.

For the first time in a while, Arrow‘s flashback is more fun than the main story. We get our first taste of the man Oliver’s been chasing since last season, Konstantin Kovar (Dolph Lundgren), while Team Arrow desperately hunts for Prometheus, who is going on a killing spree in Star City.

The Plot

Prometheus is on the loose and killing people seemingly at random: The media dubs him the “Throwing Star Killer.” The team figures out that Prometheus is killing people whose names form anagrams of names from Oliver’s original list. Finding out that Oliver used to kill people on a list freaks out Evelyn, who thinks about quitting. When she faces off against Prometheus, though, Oliver saves her and she reconsiders. After stealing crime scene evidence from him, Felicity reveals to Billy that she works with Green Arrow and figures out that Prometheus’s stars are made from Oliver’s old arrows melted down. Quentin is drinking again and wakes up with blood on him and one of the throwing stars next to him.

The Flashback

Oliver is now being trained to build explosives, which he is very bad at. Kovar (Dolph Lundgren) declares war on the Bratva by ordering a drive-by that almost kills Oliver and Anatoly (David Nykl). Oliver is sent on a mission to infiltrate and blow up Kovar’s new casino, but he’s caught by Kovar.

“I Will Break You”

The low point of last season was the flashbacks; they were poorly paced, emotionally nonsensical, populated by bland characters, and they had the burden of explaining some of the sillier aspects of the magical realm in the Arrowverse. None of that is in evidence now. The story is straightforward, none of it feels like filler, and characters like Anatoly are fun to watch. And now things get taken to another level when we meet Kovar.

Whoever had the brilliant idea to cast Ivan Drago from Rocky IV as Kovar deserves to have their own series (the CW still needs a comic book show on Friday, right?). Not only is it a fun callback to the ’80s, Lundgren excels at just the sort of scenery chewing that makes the ideal Arrow villain. Damien Darhk had it, Slade Wilson had it, Malcolm Merlyn had it. Chad L. Coleman had it — even though he only got to display it for a few episodes. The only troubling question is, when the identity of Prometheus is revealed, will he be able to hold his own? With just a few minutes of screen time, Kovar is already 10 times as interesting a character.

Who Is Prometheus, Anyway?

Well, it’s almost certainly someone we’ve met before; what would be the point of building up to taking off the mask and it’s just some guy we’ve never seen? Maybe Deadshot really isn’t dead? Maybe Roy Harper’s had his brain washed? What if the Prometheus persona is a red herring and it’s really just Malcolm Merlyn back to stir up trouble? It’s clearly not Quentin Lance, even though that last scene where he’s bleeding and holding a star is meant to make us think that. Whoever it is, we’d better find out soon because “The Throwing Star Killer” is the least engaging Arrow villain we’ve seen in a while. So far, he or she is coming off more like an obsessed fan than a genuine threat.

Quiverful of Thoughts

Bummer that we didn’t actually get to see the Star City Nights concert. If this were the early 2000s, we would have seen an up-and-coming band playing their hit single while Team Arrow danced.

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Of course, if Arrow took place in the real world, it would have been the Bay City Rollers. Without any of the original members. Because putting together a music festival in under a week is the least believable thing to happen in a show that has magic, supersoldiers, and an earthquake machine.

“I need a clean-up on aisle 12. And also, I’ve got a list of potential victims.” How long has the Arrow Bunker had that PA function, and why hasn’t Felicity been using it to make grocery store jokes all season?

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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