Arrow Review: “Dark Waters”

ArrowSeason4

Jim’s Thoughts

Well, Arrow is done until January 20th, so we’re officially at the mid season point. Damien Darhk has definitely been the strength of the season. This has been the closest the show has come to recapturing that slow burn we had watching Slade and Ollie’s relationship develop while waiting for the big confrontation we all knew was coming. It’s really as simple as having a single villain be built up as opposed to the baddie of the week formula.

Unfortunately, ever since last season, the Ollie/Felicity “Olicity” love angle has weighed the show down, and the midseason finale had that in spades. I found myself checking out during their scenes. I’ll go so far as to say I’ve begun to turn on Felicity as a character, and I think doing away with their romance would work wonders toward getting the show back to what made it most successful.

The angle with Diggle and his brother isn’t necessarily bad, but there’s still no payoff to it. We just got more angry exchanges between bars without telling us anything new or moving any plot forward. I like Diggle, and I like the idea of giving him a separate storyline, but it’s being buried under everything else happening on the show, and it’s beyond repetitive at this point.

The flashbacks this season have been another underwhelming element of the show. We’re meant to feel Ollie is in danger at this point. He’s been discovered, and that’s intended to leave us on a cliffhanger. The nature of flashbacks, though, is that we know Ollie survives the experience, so there’s no tension there. It’s not an effective cliffhanger, and the entire thing is just another waste of screen time.

If you haven’t seen the episode yet, I’ll tread lightly here and just say the show wants us to believe we know who is in the grave now, the grave Oliver was flash-forwarded to earlier this season, but I smell misdirection there. I think we’re being set up for a fakeout, and that made it an unsatisfying close to this leg of the season.

Kyle’s Take

But if the character Jim thinks is in the grave actually is in the grave, it would fix the show. I didn’t even preface that with a spoiler alert, so spoiler alert: the possible dead character is Felicity. If she was six feet under, we wouldn’t have the all-consuming Olicity melodrama. But I don’t think she’s dead either, and even if she or anyone else was, death ain’t nothing but a thang on Arrow. On a somewhat different note, I laughed when I saw Ollie climb through the car’s cabin and not get a scratch, while Felicity hunkered on the backseat and got hit. That type of logic may work on Earth-2, but it doesn’t work on this planet. Ollie was the bigger and easier target. When did HIVE sleepers become Stormtroopers?

Moving on, I’m liking the slow burn with Damien Darhk too. The scene we get of him hugging his wife and child contrasts Ollie’s personal life and colors Darhk as Ollie’s mirror opposite. The Darhk family revelation—possibly the only great revelation—also makes what Darhk does for HIVE all the more chilling because he knows how to be a caring human being. Does he kiss his daughter goodnight right before he kills hundreds of people? On one of our recent Arrow secrets pages, I joked that Darhk watched Brave because he called Thea, Merida, but the truth is that he probably did watch Brave with his daughter, and that’s down right creepy.

I buy into Jim’s premise that there must be a villain a comic book show builds up toward every season. The Batman TV series of the sixties used the villain of the week formula, but so did the Batman comic book at that time. Comics have changed and the shows that portray them should adjust to the source material, but I’m not sure a villain of the week formula can’t work on any show; it just doesn’t work for Arrow. But I like something else Arrow is doing for a recurring character: Malcolm/Ra’s al Ghul. He’s playing nice for now—he even dressed as Green Arrow in “Dark Waters”—but I see him throwing his hat back in the ring as a potential big Arrow villain in the not-so-distant future, and that’s a fun development.

As far as the rest of “Dark Waters” is concerned, I averted my eyes and ears whenever the Olicity storm rolled onto the screen. Did we really have a scene where Felicity and her mom shrieked like high school girls? I don’t know; I blacked out. Diggle-to-Diggle isn’t going anywhere. John yelling at himself in the mirror would be more productive than what he’s doing with his brother. And those flashbacks don’t work. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if Arrow wants to show us flashbacks, give us the time we missed between seasons.

I’m sure we’ll see what the grave scene is all about when Arrow returns. But even though Jim and I could do without it, Olicity is a popular item for many Arrow fans and whatever the fallout from “Dark Waters” is won’t be as profound as the show let on this week, and if nothing comes from what happened in the midseason finale, it would mar an otherwise good beginning to Arrow’s fourth season.

Want more Arrow? Check out our Arrow secrets page here. Thanks for reading.

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