UK TV recap: Arrow Season 4, Episode 16 (Broken Hearts)
"Love is dead"6
Thea's comedy stylings8.5
Matthew Turner | On 14, Apr 2016Reading time: 5 mins
Warning: This contains spoilers.
This week’s Arrow sees the return of Cupid (Amy Gumenick), whose latest love-related shenanigans provide a convenient thematic excuse for a recently-broken up Olicity to thrash out their relationship issues, after Felicity literally walked out on Oliver last week, thanks to Curtis’ miracle spine treatment. Meanwhile, the Damien Darhk plot advances a little further with some courtroom action. However, ironically for an episode supposedly focused on love, the whole thing feels rather half-hearted.
The cold open features formerly lovestruck archer-slash-supervillain Cupid declaring that “Love is dead” (following the death of her lover, Deadshot / Floyd Lawton, almost an entire season ago) and embarking on a love-themed killing spree, whereby she knocks off Star City’s celebrity couples and then leaves their bodies lying around in cute little heart shapes.
Team Arrow get tipped off as to Cupid’s likely targets, thanks to Thea’s extensive knowledge of the Star City gossip blog scene, something that’s actually entirely in character with who she used to be. The episode’s best moments involve a running gag on this theme, with Thea reacting with shock and everyone else having no clue what she’s on about. Her increasingly embarrassed responses (“Seriously? Nothing? Come on…”) are very funny and Willa Holland under-plays them perfectly.
It’s been firmly established in the show that Oliver’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the box, when it comes to a cunning plan (almost letting all his friends get gassed to death in Nanda Parbat just so he can maintain his cover as Ra’s al-Ghul’s successor comes to mind) and, sure enough, he comes up with a jaw-droppingly insensitive scheme to catch Cupid, namely that he and a still-emotionally-raw Felicity should pretend to go through with their wedding so that Cupid will target them. Slow clap for McQueen there.
To be fair, the plan does actually work, but it’s still a pretty horrible thing for Oliver to do, and it’s not like there weren’t other options available – it’s hard to believe Star City has an inexhaustible supply of loved-up celebrity couples, for example, and Thea’s gossip blog skills could have narrowed down the field of potential targets. Still, the faux-wedding goes ahead, allowing Oliver to deliver a particularly moving declaration of love to Felicity during the exchanging of the vows section (“Our love gives my life meaning, it gives my life purpose. And it’s worth living for”).
To the show’s credit, it could have had Felicity being entirely won over by this speech (Cupid certainly seems moved) and maybe even forgiving Oliver (who, it’s worth pointing out, still hasn’t actually apologised for the whole keeping-his-son-a-secret thing), but it chooses not to do this, effectively having Felicity walk out on Oliver a second time, and making it clear that she’s not coming back to Team Arrow anytime soon. To be fair, she’s got a point – if Oliver wanted to pour his heart out, he could have chosen a much less manipulative method of doing so, but then the show would have had to work that much harder to fit in some actual fighting this week, so maybe the Cupid thing seemed like a good idea at the time.
The whole fake wedding sequence highlights a general problem for the show, which is that it’s not entirely clear just how invested the show-runners are in Oliver and Felicity as a couple. It might be just my own position on the issue, but it feels like the stakes just aren’t all that high – does it really matter if Oliver and Felicity split up at this point? I’m not convinced that it does. I realise that there’s a strong, vocal part of the audience that’s fully behind the whole Olicity thing, but I can’t help thinking the show would be a lot better if Oliver were free to have different love interests in future, like The Huntress back in Season 1. Also, I know she’s hurting and everything, but Felicity is… well, she’s kind of mean, although I like the idea that her usually adorable one-liners have become corrupted into snide little barbs, now that she’s broken up with Oliver. Anyway, it’s looking a lot like Oliver and Felicity won’t be getting back together by the end of the season and I’m pretty much okay with that.
Alongside all the Cupid action this week, we also have Damien Darhk up before the beak (as Bertie Wooster used to say), with Laurel choosing to put Quentin on the stand to testify against Darhk, even though that might mean ruining his career in the process. This all turns out surprisingly well, and Darhk doesn’t seem all that upset about it, which probably means he has something nasty up his sleeve for later. I don’t mind telling you, I’m pretty worried for Quentin right now.
This is generally a good week for Laurel – she comes off well in her role as Assistant District Attorney, certainly well enough to make you hope that the show gives her more to do in that area in the future. (Maybe it’s just that I’ve been binge-watching The People Vs O.J. Simpson, but I’d be more than happy for Arrow to do more courtroom stuff on a regular basis. A spin-off show called Laurel Lance: Assistant D.A. is probably too much to hope for.)
Meanwhile, on Flashback Island, things finally get slightly more interesting. Oliver and Taiana discover a relic that sucks the life force out of the dying, something that Reiter is very keen to get his hands on, for nefarious purposes. So they steal it. Are they actually going to somehow tie the events on the island to the main action? Because they’ve been taking their sweet time about it, if so.
– Thea and Diggle don’t have a lot to do this week, but I like how they form a sort of sidelined double-act, bouncing off each other in an appealing way and making the most of their few scenes together.
– “No matter what, love always ends in death. That’s why it’s in the vows.” Most of Cupid’s dialogue is pretty awful, but credit where it’s due, that line is pretty good. Poignant, even.
Arrow: Season 4 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.