Since Arrow premiered in 2012, the series has featured its fair share of memorable villains. Like many comic book television series on the air today, each season of Arrow focused primarily on one main antagonist — some of which were more compelling than others. In general, though, for all Arrow's flaws in previous seasons, the series' villains have always been relatively strong.
The first season saw Malcolm Merlyn, aka the Dark Archer, attempting to destroy the Glades in a misguided effort to clean up Starling City (now Star City). The second season featured Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, seeking revenge for what he felt was Oliver's betrayal on Lian Yu. The following year brought us one of Batman's greatest adversaries, Ra's al Ghul, in a story arc that was largely pulled from the Caped Crusader's comic book pages.
Season four, while disappointing on many levels, still featured a relatively strong antagonist in Damien Darhk, who was played masterfully by Neal McDonough (who went on to play Darhk as a recurring character on Legends of Tomorrow). And while some may feel that Arrow as a whole has gone downhill in later seasons, I'm here to tell you that the greatest villain of all was just revealed: Adrian Chase.
A simple goal
To be clear, Prometheus has not necessarily been Arrow's greatest antagonist, at least not to date. While the masked Prometheus has been menacing, with a compelling layer of intrigue surrounding him, it is hard not to harp on the fact that he had been yet another carbon copy of the Green Arrow, much like the Dark Archer. It is a similar issue one could have with The Flash's villains: They are all evil speedsters — reverses of Barry Allen.
Now that Prometheus' identity has been revealed, though, and Chase's face is out in the open for all of Arrow's main players to see, the villain's depravity is all the more clear. Josh Segarra, the actor who plays Adrian Chase, has been solid all season, but in "Checkmate", for the first time, he got to portray Chase as a sick, twisted individual, who will let nothing stand in the way of his revenge. The performance was disturbing, and Segarra knocked it out of the park.
Adrian Chase may also be Oliver's most dangerous adversary yet. And it is his motivations, not dissimilar to those of Deathstroke, that make him such a threat. There is no "greater purpose" to what he is doing. Malcolm Merlyn, Ra's al Ghul and even Damien Darhk, wanted to make the world a better place, at least to an extent, through extremely misguided means. In some aspect, this left open the possibility that they could be reasoned with.
Chase's goal, like Deathstroke's, is much more simple: to make Oliver suffer. And Chase has gone to great lengths to achieve this end.
In "Checkmate", it became readily apparent that Chase placed Oliver's destruction — not death — above even his own life. At one point, while the two stood over an unconscious Captain Pike, Chase basically begged Oliver to kill him. Why? Because in doing so, Susan Williams would also die, and Oliver would suffer yet another loss in his life. And Chase, who lists off names like Moira Queen, Tommy Merlyn and Laruel Lance — all departed — theorized, most likely correctly, that Oliver could not take another death on his conscience.
Chase, more so than any other Arrow villain to date, has Oliver questioning himself at the deepest of levels. While Oliver has more often than not looked to his team — namely Diggle, Felicity and Laurel — for strength, he for a moment fears that they may be his greatest weakness. And this appears to be Chase's goal: to get in Oliver's head and wreak havoc. Even before it was revealed who Prometheus was, his attack was largely mental, as the villain went as far as tricking Oliver into believing, for a moment, that Laurel was still alive.
Chase's psychological manipulation of Oliver is likely to take center stage as the rest of series five progresses. In the final moments of "Checkmate," Chase reiterated to Oliver that he has absolutely no intention of killing him. Rather, he intends to do for Oliver what he claims he did for him: help him discover who he truly is. There is something deeply troubling about this, as Chase believes that unleashing Oliver's true nature will be a fate greater than even death.
It is a plan far more disturbing than any Oliver has yet faced. Oliver's enemy is not only Chase, but an idea. One that could possibly live long past Chase's defeat. And what makes things even more difficult, is knowing that Chase as Prometheus has gotten Team Arrow nowhere.
Hiding in plain sight
Malcolm Merlyn, Ra's al Ghul and Damien Darkh all primarily had to hide in the shadows once their villainy was revealed. Not Prometheus. Adrian Chase has infiltrated the Star City government at the highest levels. He is, after all, the city's district attorney. And his entrenchment in Oliver's world was reinforced immediately after his identity was revealed.
After learning Prometheus' name from Talia al Ghul, Oliver quickly returned to Star City in hopes of confronting Chase. And where did he find him? In a conference room working as the DA. Chase, recognizing that Oliver now knew the truth, responded in the most chilling of ways. He tells the mayor he looks tired, before stating, "is it you have actually been asleep this whole time?"
Throughout Wednesday's episode 16, Oliver stands beside Chase, unable to take any action. After the Green Arrow breaks into Chase's house and tries to convince the DA's wife of who her husband is, Oliver, as the mayor, is forced to hold a press conference condemning the Green Arrow's actions. And who stands right beside him by the podium? The district attorney, of course.
Even after Susan Williams is rescued, and Quentin Lance takes her to the precinct for a statement, Chase shows up. Under normal circumstances, you may ask why Lance doesn't just arrest him, or Susan accuse him of the kidnapping. By revealing him to be Prometheus, the city's deranged Throwing Star Killer, the threat would be over — right? But Chase quickly reminds them that he now has Oliver as his captive. So, again, Chase gets to walk free among his adversaries.
How dangerous is a villain who can stand among the heroes, surrounded by all the city's cops, and remain untouchable? Well, we will likely continue to find out. But what seems to be certain is that Adrian Chase presents a set of challenges for Team Arrow that they have never faced before. And that makes him more menacing, and perhaps dangerous, than any villain that has come before him.
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