Arrow Review: “Blood Debts”

ArrowSeason4

Jim’s Thoughts

Arrow came back from break rather sluggish, I’m afraid. The Felicity cliffhanger they leaned so hard on wasn’t much of a cliffhanger at all, and given the flash-forward to the scene with Ollie at the side of a grave, it really felt like a cheap attempt at a cheat of the audience anyway.

I think one of the bigger problems with this episode was that Darhk was expected as the focus, and while he appeared, he was watered down with Anarky, and other story elements I’d actually forgotten about during the break. I didn’t remember Speedy’s budding romance with Ollie’s campaign manager, or Captain Lance’s with Felicity’s mom, and that shows how little I was invested in those subplots.

While I’m on the subject of Anarky, seeing him go toe-to-toe with Ollie and Speedy at the same time just underlined the growing problem of believability this show is creating. I can suspend disbelief to a point, but Anarky didn’t earn that level of credibility in terms of hand to hand combat.

Diggle and Andy’s progress came without much prompting, and that rang false. Diggle beats on him until his knuckles bleed, and Andy says nothing, but Diggle finds the right way to ask nicely, and Andy gives him information? That’s just not easy to take.

The flashbacks to the island continue to do nothing but bring the show to a grinding halt, and seeing Ollie take the same approach to attacking Darhk, getting beaten up and having to withdraw is giving me a stagnant feel in the present story as well.

I still have hope that the back half of the season will be strong, but I was hoping for a much more convincing first step than what I saw tonight.

Kyle’s Take

Olicity fans wouldn’t allow Felicity’s death—Arrow’s been in full CW soap-opera mode for a while now—so Arrow’s bait-and-switch shouldn’t have fooled anyone. That said “Blood Debts” got bogged down by side-stories even more than this week’s The Flash.

Diggle and Andy’s relationship hasn’t interested me since Arrow introduced it. Bringing Andy back from the dead is a lot like resurrecting Uncle Ben for Spiderman: John loses the impetus he needs to do what he does. Diggle is a family man and he lost someone he loved, his brother. If he gets his brother back, what keeps him on team Arrow? But beyond that I agree that Arrow hasn’t handled this relationship well and that’s not the only one.

Speedy and Ollie’s campaign manager’s love affair is on snooze. I’d just as much see Speedy dating Anarky. Oh, I’d forgotten Anarky was even in Arrow—that’s how strong of an impression he made—and I wonder how many other Batman villains will grace Arrow’s screen. The Green Arrow doesn’t have the best rogue’s gallery but the show has developed Damien Darhk, a Teen Titans’ villain, into a solid adversary for the man in green and Anarky jacked what should’ve been a Darhk episode. And did we lose a cinnamon challenge? Is that why we’re getting so much screen time with Felicity’s mom? Papa Lance was a good character but he’s fallen and he can’t get up.

Speaking of Felicity, I’ve joked off-line with Jim about Felicity knowing more than the Oracle and not the DC comics’ Oracle but Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi. Now it looks like she may be paralyzed—for a while at least—just like DC Comics’ Oracle. But if Felicity does turn into an alternative DC Oracle, that’ll be yet another something Arrow borrows from Batman.

For every step forward, Arrow insists on taking one and a half to two steps back: look no further than the tired flashback scenes. I’m with Jim that I think Arrow can still turn things around but it better do it soon.

Do you want more Arrow? Check out our Arrow secrets page. Thanks for reading.

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