Arrow Re-Nocked: Broken Hearts (4×16)
Arrow returns from hiatus with “Broken Hearts,” an episode that comes fully equipped with it’s own drinking game; take a shot every time a character says the word “love.” Overall the episode is heavy on the romantic overtures, light on the action, and uneven on plot progression. Guest Star Amy Gumenick reprises her role as a misguided love-obsessed criminal, Cupid. An obvious choice from the writers to capitalize on the current, shattered, state of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Felicity Smoak’s love affair. Thank you, Cupid for finally bringing this couple to the alter, too bad they’ve broken up. In addition, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) begins to prosecute Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) in a preliminary hearing. The flashbacks continue to run in circles, but the statue did provide a small tie in between past and present. I’m a bit broken hearted myself after this episode due to my anticipation for it’s return… I guess Cupid was right, “Love is an arrow in the heart,” now drink.
“It’s like a symphony of talents, Curtis and Paul, they’re kind of the perfect team,” says Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) as she finishes packing up her stuff. Anyone else confused about how much time passed in between this episode and “Taken” (4×16)? Only a few scenes later Felicity’s informing the team of their breakup and practically healed overnight; she heals fast, literally. Both the opening and ending scenes between Amell and Rickards are superb, especially considering their undeniable chemistry. There’s a clear arc from tip-toeing around one another in the apartment, post-breakup, to a clear break up on every relationship level. “She wants to stay on the team, that’s a good sign,” until it leads her to the alter with an ex-boyfriend; nope Felicity is choosing to walk away from everything. An interesting choice for her character to make considering how much “purpose” fighting crime has given her over the years. Essentially, in this moment, we have Felicity claiming to become independent of both the man and the hero. A decision that proves, just like there’s a part of Oliver who will be “the man on the island,” she’ll revert back to the independent woman before a vigilante “walked into her cubicle.” The writers hinted at this decision all the way back in “Lost Souls” (4×6). Now Oliver needs to learn about how to be his own light and not reliant on Felicity to guide his way. “You brought me into the light,” says Oliver, but he really needs to learn about how to live in the light with, or without her. I am a huge #Olicity fan, mainly because the writing almost effortlessly tackles real relationship issues, and this current breakup is proving to be no different. My own personal belief is that you can only be in a mature relationship after defining yourself as an individual; Felicity Smoak is helping to prove my point.
“Your engagement, that horrible shooting, your miracle recovery, it was all just a fairytale,” explains Cupid to Felicity after she shoots Oliver with an arrow. This brings me to a few minor issues I had involving this episode’s #Olicity plotline; too much. I fell in love with this pairing due to the subtext and reliance on small moments that aid in Oliver’s overall evolution into a true superhero. The alter scene was too long and felt heavy handed with Oliver’s love declaration, Cupid’s interruption, and Felicity’s heartfelt sermon. While, watching “Broken Hearts” I actually found myself missing all the extended fight/chase scenes… really something just felt off. The few action scenes in this episode were fleeting and at times comical; like the limo crashing through the “brick wall,” all I saw was cardboard. The missing Arrow action only increases the imbalance found in our central #Olicity plotline. “You know no matter how much you love me there will be a part of you that defaults to the man on the island… alone,” explains Felicity after returning the ring once and for all. I love this point, because it relates their relationship struggles back to Oliver’s overall progression into a superhero; unfortunately, the point gets lost in the shuffle as the scene continues, only to end on a very melodramatic beat. I keep looking back at the previous episode “Blood Debts,” a solid return from hiatus, with #Olicity at the center; they set a high bar that “Broken Hearts” did not meet. Fingers crossed that this episode is not an indicator about the remaining seven episodes, or I’ll be looking as grim as Oliver Queen.
Laurel Lance finally returns to the courtroom during a preliminary hearing, a plotline that definitely foreshadows the road ahead. “Dad, I’m not going to let you incriminate yourself,” argues Laurel after her father, Detective Lance, suggests that he takes the stand to testify against Damien Darhk. In my recent Arrow 4B Speculation piece I make my case for Laurel being the one in the grave during that infamous flash-forward scene. I couldn’t help, but notice that Detective Lane makes both mine and, ironically, Laurel’s case. “I’m the one who got into bed with Darhk and I should be the one to pay the consequences for that decision,” well that’s not necessarily how dramatic storytelling works, Detective. Really, it’s basic dramatic irony to have a character’s actions result in them losing the very person they were trying to protect. At the very least, Detective Lance was able to set the record straight about how much he loves “his baby girl.” Too bad he also stole the spotlight from her, after so much build up for DA Laurel Lance taking on Darhk. The writers could have easily used this plot point to parallel with Oliver’s own choice to use his public persona to fight against HIVE; instead it really further fleshed out the father/daughter relationship, with Detective Lance at the forefront. After all it is his testimony prompts the judge to move the case to trial; something about that ending scene with Darhk behind bars makes me believe it’s all going according to plan. Is his wedding band another mystical totem that he can draw power from? I am totally on-board with this possibility, considering the paralleling between #Olicity and Darhk’s marriage with his own wife, Ruve Adams.
“The difference between insanity and faith, lies only in the believers,” explains Baron Reiter (Jimmy Akingbola). Okay, minus this line, I am about as lost in the flashbacks as Oliver and Tiana (Elysia Rotaru). We do learn that Reiter finds the same mystical totem that Darhk has been using in the present as a source of power. “AWOL” (4×12) subtly hinted at this villainous connection, I’m just trying to figure out the bigger picture at this point. How do these events on the island lead Oliver to become the man we met in season one? Please let me know if you foresee where this Lian Yu plotline is headed, because I cannot see the light at the end of those underground tunnels. I do foresee a tension-filled prison break episode in our future after reading the synopsis for “Eleven Fifty-Nine” (4×18). In addition, we are headed to Monument Point after showrunner Marc Guggenheim revealed the title for episode twenty-one. This follows on the heels of “Genesis” (4×20), so maybe Star City falls and the survivors seek refuge in this nearby town. A place that has ties to the Justice League of America and a storyline featuring a hero [Jay Garrick] being declared mayor. Mayor Queen, well it sounds like he can certainly provide light for others, when times are darkest… he’ll eventually get his girl back too.
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