Warning: This contains spoilers.
After a vengeful Malcolm Merlyn spilled the beans to Damien Darhk in the cliff-hanger to last week’s episode, it would have been extremely aggravating if the show had kept Darhk in the plot cupboard for yet another week. Thankfully, that’s not the case and everyone’s favourite big bad makes a welcome return for Episode 14 of Arrow Season 4, while things finally hot up in the Mayoral race for Ollie and his opponent.
First, however, there’s the ever-so-slightly tedious matter of this week’s Big Theme to get through. The theme this week, Arrow fans, is Secrets and Lies. Specifically, the existence of Oliver’s secret son, William, and whether or not he should tell Felicity about him. This is frustrating on a number of levels, not least the fact that it’s ridiculous that Oliver would agree to keep a potentially relationship-destroying secret from the woman he loves, rather than just lie to Samantha (William’s mother – keep up at the back there) instead, and trust Felicity to keep it a secret.
This plotline gets even more annoying, when Thea runs some sort of check on Oliver to make sure the media don’t surprise him with anything during the Mayoral campaign and uncovers the uncashed cheque that Moira wrote for Samantha all those years ago. Thea quickly works out that Oliver has a secret child and the pair have a heart-to-heart about it with Thea – the same Thea who freaked the hell out when she found out everyone had been lying to her for her own protection – advising Ollie to lie to Felicity for her own protection.
Oliver’s secret son presents something of a problem for the show, since the writers clearly have no idea what to do with him or what purpose he serves. Consequently, neither the audience or Oliver have spent any significant time with William, so there’s no emotional connection there at all. This makes William a strong candidate for the season-long Who’s In The Box? mystery, although, personally, I think Samantha’s a better bet, as I can’t quite see the show killing off a child.
As if all the angst and hand-wringing about Oliver’s Secrets and Lies weren’t bad enough, we get a series of painfully on-the-nose lines, such as “You and Oliver are one of those couples that everyone believes in – you don’t lie to each other ever” and “You’re only as sick as the secrets you keep”, so you just know this whole thing is going to blow up in Ollicity’s face and potentially split them up for good. Oh, and just in case you’re still wondering what this week’s theme is, it’s strongly echoed in the Donna / Quentin relationship. Mama Smoak and Captain Lance are also on the outs, because he keeps lying to her (and Felicity tells her that maybe Quentin has his reasons – oh, the irony, etc), only Quentin does the decent thing and tells Donna the truth about his involvement with H.I.V.E. and they get back together. Awww. I’m actually a big fan of the Quentin / Donna romance and I’m really hoping that neither of them end up in the box at the end of the season.
As for the main plot, Episode 14 revolves around the Mayoral debate between Oliver and his newly-announced opponent, Ruve (pronounced Roo-VAY) Adams, aka Darhk Wife. It turns out that Darhk has hired the Demolition Team (an old-school D.C. Comics gang of bad guys) to blow up the hall in the middle of the debate. It’s not entirely clear how Darhk intends to protect Darhk Wife from said hall getting blown up, but that’s not important right now. At any rate, Team Arrow foils the Demolition Teams evil plan with the aid of fisticuffs and the debate goes ahead, with Ollie and Ruve both making amusing barbs (e.g. “Nice applause. It’s enough to bring the house down. Almost.”) that indicate that they know what their opponent is up to.
Annoyingly, we don’t get any of the actual debate, but a Channel 5 news broadcast tells us that it went really, really well for Oliver, so I suppose we’ll have to take their word for it. (Couldn’t they just have nicked a couple of speeches off The West Wing or something?)
What we do get, however, is a series of impressive action sequences, courtesy of returning director James Bamford (the show’s fight co-ordinator, who helmed “Brotherhood” earlier this season), most notably a genuinely tense sequence where Laurel and Quentin race to escape a collapsing building. Bamford’s fights are consistently fun to watch, and he uses a number of inventive angles and perspectives that really heighten the action.
Anyway, after Team Arrow take down the Demolition Team (including a good bit where Diggle knocks one of them out with their own hammer), it seems like everything is all set for a happy ending, so everybody kicks back at Felicity and Oliver’s engagement party. This leads to Curtis showing up and presenting Felicity with a newly-invented bio-chip (or something) for her spine, which could allow her to walk again. I have to say, I’m a little annoyed that the show doesn’t have the guts to keep Felicity in a wheelchair on a permanent basis – even till the end of the season would have been nice, but at this rate, it looks like she’ll be up and about again within the space of three episodes.
Anyway, the cliff-hanger for the show has Damien abducting William for a play-date with his daughter (Samantha is nowhere in sight), so the stage is set for a proper showdown. Will William survive? Does anyone care? And so on.
Meanwhile, on Flashback Island, Oliver kills Conklin for some reason, but not before Conklin manages to tell him that Baron Reiter plans to kill everyone on Lian Yu. I am still failing to see the point of the flashback sequences (and, indeed, Baron Reiter) this season, so I hope they’ve got a decent climax lined up.
All in all, this is a decent episode that delivers exciting action sequences and brings the main plot back into focus, but it gets horribly bogged down in its increasingly ludicrous attempts to justify Oliver continually lying to his fiancée. After all, it’s not as if the lie actually prevents William from getting kidnapped, is it?
– Who’s In The Box? My money is still on Samantha. Basically, I can’t quite believe the show would kill off Thea, Laurel, Diggle or Quentin, although I am enjoying the idea that the show-runners are dangling the threat of the coffin over each of them to stop them asking for a pay-rise for Season 5.
– I very much like Oliver frantically asking Felicity if she could hack the system to evacuate the building and Thea just pulling the fire alarm. “I learned that in high school.” Yeah, please don’t kill Thea, show.
Arrow: Season 4 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
Where can I watch Arrow online on pay-per-view VOD?
Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.