Arrow Review: “Eleven-Fifty-Nine”

ArrowSeason4

Jim’s Thoughts

The last couple of weeks have been rough for Arrow. Coming back from another break, I’d hoped it’d come back strong, and it didn’t. This week, I can say the show found some meaningful momentum again, and the reason for that is what I’ve been saying all season, and that’s Darhk. “Eleven-Fifty-Nine” got back to telling the best part of the story, and so while it wasn’t a perfect episode, it held my interest.

The flashback scenes didn’t bore me as much as they have been. The tie-in to the present day was more apparent, and that may be why. The exploration of the notion that a person can be redeemed has been done to death and then some on this show, so it wasn’t the freshest material, but it made those scenes not feel quite so much like a tangent.

The conflict between Ollie and John Diggle was reasonably well done, though again, we’ve seen this question of trust before. There’s something to be said for recurring themes, so it’s not necessarily a bad idea to revisit these elements, but it doesn’t do a lot for long-term character development. What may have saved it was the bit of role reversal. Where Diggle once warned Oliver not to be blinded by family ties, that was Ollie’s line this week, and they mentioned that in the episode. What I really liked about this segment is that Ollie was right. The way he’s flubbed things with various members of the team, it felt like  Ollie needed one in the win column, and he got that, with grim consequences.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The rest of the episode is difficult to talk about without giving anything away, so consider yourself warned for spoilers. The big, emotional ending to the episode, and indirectly, the grim consequences I just mentioned was that Laurel died. I’ve made no secret out of having disliked her character in past seasons, though Felicity definitely surpassed her as Laurel actually became downright tolerable. Her heart-to-heart with Ollie just before her death felt very much like telegraphing the punch, and I can’t get too invested in their romantic past. The fact that they each seemed to there at the end made me wince, because I can’t forget that Ollie became stranded on Lian Yu when he ran off with her sister. Simply put, this show (and Flash) do relationships very badly. Kyle and I spoke recently about the many (MANY) “loves” of Oliver Queen, and it’s become impossible to take any of them seriously. Hey, even Felicity was smitten with Barry, “in love” with Ray Palmer, and ditto with Ollie within the course of a couple years if you take the show’s timeline seriously. That also made Laurel’s use of her last lines as a plea for Ollie’s relationship with Felicity all the more annoying.

I realize the producers of the show have stated this death will be permanent (read: no trip to the Lazarus Pit), but as Kyle and I have both pointed out, Flash has also used time travel and breaches into alternate universes. Add to that the fact that they’ve confirmed we’ll get a look at Earth 2’s Laurel Lance as Black Siren, and it gets tough to know exactly how seriously we need to take this death.

***END OF SPOILERS***

As we get the buildup for the final confrontation with Damien Darhk, I’m hoping the show won’t distract us with too many more villains-of-the-week. Darhk really has been the selling point for this season, and the show does best when it recognizes that.

Kyle’s Take

Agreed. “Eleven-Fifty-Nine” did a good job reintroducing the one thing that’s worked on the show this season: Damien Darhk. The silly thing is that Arrow keeps getting away from him, and the last two weeks watched like a dare. How bad can we make this show? Thankfully, “Eleven-Fifty-Nine”–despite its flaws–was watchable.

The death won’t stick (Arrow will take a mulligan just like they did with Sara), the Diggle-Ollie drama was old hat, and there has been so much “love” in the air that it affects my sinuses.

I forget at times that Arrow and Flash are part of the CW, the same network that brought us One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, Roswell, Charmed, and Dawson’s Creek, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that complicated love pentagrams take shape. What was wrong with the classic love triangle? Even with love’s jagged edges, I enjoyed Arrow this week. If we see more episodes like this one and hopefully some better ones, it’ll hold my interest until the season finale.

Thanks for reading.

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