When the Arrow turns…
When they went there with the whole “Felicity is near death” plot, I figured we’d get an unhinged Oliver going after the bad guy, going back to his old vigilante ways, letting others hold vigil over his love at the hospital while he went out steaming mad to pick fights and get all growley with people. It’s a rinse-lather-repeat scenario we’ve seen multiple times when Oliver’s loved ones are in peril. Yep, he did all those things. Called it. The trouble was, no one called him out on it. They just let him do it. Even Felicity, who was very aware of what he was doing and didn’t freak out. Maybe it was all the pain meds.
Yeah, “Blood Debts” was a pretty uneven hour. It wasn’t all bad, like Quentin and Felicity’s mom carrying on like school children and Laurel finding out and approving. That was cute. Also the martial arts action was it’s usual top notch stuff. It all boiled down to what is essentially the achilles heel for Arrow, plotting. As in, how can we the audience be convinced that this story is rich enough to entice us to hang on until that “four months later” point when Oliver and Barry are standing over a grave? How can this happen with slow and pointless flashbacks, Oliver reverting to old habits after a good chunk of character growth and Thea’s plot being about as thin as tissue paper? At least Thea has a plot, unlike Laurel.
We didn’t get just one bad guy this week. No, we got two! The twist was another bad guy hunting for Darhk, the Machin dude that Thea flambed in an earlier episode this season. Whatever she did, it broke the spell that Darhk had on this ghost and he was most grateful to her in a totally diabolical sort of way, you know, him messing with her head a bit. Oliver, obviously having an irrational moment, let this guy go so he could lead them to Darkh, letting his emotions rule instead of remembering that the guy is nuts and will harm innocent people to get what he wants. Machin wildly succeeds and Team Arrow found themselves saving Darhk’s family in the process, essentially mopping up Oliver’s mess. Then Darhk showed up and things got really weird.
I mean, why even have Darhk show up to face Oliver? Because it was cool? It was a blatant tactic because the writers are clearly stalling. They want to save the big showdown for later in the season and are sacrificing rationality in the process. Remember the midseason finale, when Darhk was so diabolical and horrible that he made a deal with Oliver and then tried to gas his loved ones anyway? So why then would Darhk say it would have been “bad form” if he had killed Oliver right after he saved his family? Darhk even promised he’ll leave him alone for a few weeks before trying to kill him again. Is it inconsistent writing, or does it mean that Darhk’s weakness is his family? I was actually siding with his wife in the end, he should of killed The Green Arrow when he had the chance. The reasoning was irrelevant. Of course we’d have no show if we did that, but she did have a good point. She’s more evil than her hubby. It’s a match made in Heaven!
We did learn it’s not Felicity in that grave. I think she would have been too obvious. Quentin is the number one choice considering he outed himself this episode by using his connections to find Darhk so Oliver could go after him. Oliver even offered his protection, but Quentin is carrying on as usual. Apparently he can take care of himself. Or, he’ll be in that grave. Or it’s Laurel, Thea, Diggle, Andy, Lyla, or some new friend they’ll get to know that gets killed off rather suddenly. I’m not anxious in anticipation yet. Whoever it is, Felicity is the one taking it personally.
Then let’s get to poor Felicity. First, kudos for showing her without her makeup in the hospital. There’s nothing worse than seeing a woman in a life or death situation looking all pretty like she’s ready for a night out. “Oh yeah, let’s get to the rave…ow, my spleen!” Second, I don’t think this paralysis story will stick at all. All she needs to go back to the lab with Curtis and find those amazing healing nanites that saved Ray Palmer last year and she’ll be good as new. Or Star Labs seems to have some technology for that as well. She looked kind of vertical to me in the preview. Letting the contrived scenario go, the scenes between her and Oliver are what pulled this episode out of “total waste” territory. It’s hard not to love those two and the chemistry they have. Without her he is nothing but a vacant, bad guy beating up bully. She must never die.
Actually I’m being harsh, because Diggle’s side story was golden too. This show has been stressing the power of the female cast members this season and this week it was Lyla’s turn. Diggle was too focused on beating the truth out of Andy and Lyla wisely guided him another way. Try to deal with Andy as a supportive big brother, not a disciplinarian. Once Diggle softened his stance, Andy gave him some valuable info. They also got to play cards too, just like the old days. I call that a breakthrough! Watching those two together when they aren’t at odds was a nice change.
I get that 23 episodes in a season are tough, but a little character consistency here and there would be nice. They’ve finally after four seasons got Felicity right this season (fingers crossed she stays that way). I realize that sometimes a contrivance is necessary to setup a good action sequence, but try not to obliterate in one episode what someone worked nine to build show. Now that’s “bad form.” Overall grade, a C-.