Arrow Re-Nocked: Taken (4×15)
As we move into the final episode before a three week hiatus, the Arrow writers’ team usually likes to give us a mid-season finale-esque episode to leave us wanting more. I think they did a pretty good job at making this episode one to remember with a live action Vixen appearance, but the drama during this episode was something written to make us left feeling raw and shocked. Unfortunately it didn’t quite do that. I think the highlight of this episode was actually the action. The episode keeps going back and forth with #Olicity ups and downs but the ending of this episode made me laugh out loud followed by a slow boiling anger. I’ve recorded my first impression thoughts, being that I recorded them immediately after the episode aired, with my fellow writer Sarah Belmont. If you’d like to hear our Arrow/Flash Hiatus Special podcast click here!
Warning: SPOILERS will follow!
So because we got Vixen as the “hero of the week,” that left us with Damien Darhk as the episode villain. I’m almost always excited, especially as we get closer to the season end, when the villain of the week is the big bad… but is he? Sure, Damien has been in the foreground, but he gets arrested at the end of this episode. This makes me think that Ruve is the real puppet master here. That would make Damien right hand muscle. I really liked how Darhk got the jump on Oliver and Felicity to break the news that he has William. He totally knew that Felicity hadn’t known and wanted to just throw a wrench in Oliver’s happy life once again; this time with less bullets. We got to see Darhk take on Oliver and Vixen in his penthouse suite, and I really loved this scene. It is always fun to see Team Arrow employ something or someone that Darhk totally doesn’t expect. Darhk was smart though and manages to vanish and rethink his approach now that Vixen and her necklace totem has entered the arena. This takes us to the final fight scene. I wasn’t aware that Darhk could still force choke Thea, or more than three people at once, but these were both things that happened. Once his magical totem or masque was destroyed, Darhk went down like a punk. It’s interesting that he only had one magical item giving him his powers. I guess now that he has no powers, it’s up to Ruve to either, be the leader she’s secretly been, or she’ll be in temporary charge until she can break Darhk out of jail. I’m wondering if Darhk will end up getting to the actual prison or if the writers will give us the cliché and most probable escape during a prisoner transport scene. We’ll see…
Let’s talk about Oliver’s exes… no not Felicity you goons; they’re going to work it out. I’m talking Samantha and Laurel. Samantha Clayton appears once again in this episode and is faced with everything she was trying to avoid by keeping William secret from Oliver and his friends. To be fair though, this would have happened whether or not Oliver had found out or not, because the way Thea and presumably the others found out about William was through clerical errors by Moira Queen. It would have just been Oliver who was surprised as well. Samantha had some really good scenes this episode. I was glad Oliver revealed his heroic side to Samantha, because it needed to happen for her to rationally trust Oliver to get her son back. It’s also nice for her to finally be clued in that he’s not the college frat boy she once knew. I hope this allows Samantha to ease up the restrictions on Olivers life with William. That is… if Samantha or William aren’t in the grave. Who am I kidding? It’s still Laurel in the grave! Speaking of Laurel… she was actually pretty good this episode. In all of the action scenes, Black Canary was actually really fun to watch. Even though she doesn’t use her Canary Cry when she should, she was using a HIVE Ghost’s own gun to bash their head in. It was funny how Laurel and Mari (Vixen) somehow knew each other. You never see Mari and Laurel meet in CW Seed’s Vixen series, so I guess we’re supposed to assume she was still involved during the animated show? My podcast co-host Sarah didn’t think the timeline for Vixen’s show even allowed for Laurel to have been Black Canary then. Who knows? The one person she did know though was Samantha. I know they’re planning for a Laurel flashback episode later in the season, which I would guess might show Laurel’s connection with Samantha, back when Ollie was testing all kinds of different waters; so to speak. Laurel’s emotions regarding this reveal of her having been cheated on not once but twice, one which resulted in a kid, was pretty well done. It makes sense that her pretty much dead and gone romantic feelings for Oliver would peek its head back up. I think the writers are setting us up for Laurel’s demise by building sympathy and character until her end. We’re going to see Laurel the DA going after Darhk. She’s heading into dangerous waters.
Okay so I need to rant about #Olicity. As a massive sap and one of the few guys out there who swoons over the #Olicity relationship, this episode was supposed to hurt right? While I was initially worried for the couple after the secrets were out in the open air, at the end I was left angry at how the show-runners pulled this break up off. After Darhk’s reveal to Felicity about Oliver’s son, Felicity shuts down and doesn’t talk until the couple get back to Arrow Cave 3.0. I feel like Oliver didn’t fully grasp why Felicity was upset this episode, but I also didn’t think Felicity allowed herself the time to sit and contemplate on everything. She knows that Oliver was a horrible liar for the first three years they knew each other. She shouldn’t be surprised by this, she should just be angry that he went back to his old ways; which she is. I just think that her talk with Samantha in the middle of the episode should have been enough to cool her jets a bit and start thinking of what Samantha had said. Yes, it was Samantha’s fault that Oliver had kept the secret; she put him in an impossible situation. I don’t think anyone in the world can blame Oliver for choosing his newfound son over not getting to be his father. If you watch The Flash, just think about Joe’s reaction to having a long lost son that he never got to know or see grow up. This is close to the same thing that Oliver was feeling during the crossover episodes. Unlike Joe, Oliver has the opportunity to get to know William before he hits his teenage years. As much as I love #Olicity, I wouldn’t love the couple if I didn’t love each Oliver and Felicity as well individually, and I think Oliver showed his heroic side by wanting to do the right thing for his son and protect him at the same time. So that makes the end of this episode even worse for me. I would understand if Felicity needs time alone to mull this all over, which is what I think she’s ultimately doing here, but the way the show-runners did this scene was rushed and sloppy. Felicity is 100% justified in still being hurt even after everything that happened, but when she got up and walked away after having been paralyzed was absolutely hilarious and just terrible. The reveal that she could suddenly walk again was ruined for both us viewers and Oliver by her going out the door. He was so surprised and excited when her foot moved. She doesn’t even acknowledge it. If the next episode doesn’t begin with Oliver chasing after her (which he could do very easily), I’ll be pretty upset with the writers of the show. They can’t just trash TV’s best romantic couple with sloppy writing. I know they’ll be getting back together before the season is out, I just wish they would have given this end scene just a minute or two more. After Oliver’s amazing scene recording a video message for William’s 18th birthday, this break up ruined the emotion.
Real quick I’ll talk about this week’s flashback. There wasn’t a whole lot that actually happened, but there is a lot to predict here as well. So following Conklin’s death, Baron Reiter is finally starting to get scary. He ends up using both Ollie and Tiana in his scheme due to Ollie’s protection ward tattoo that John Constantine gave him back in “Haunted” (4×05). Reiter can assumedly feel the presence of evil (ghost Conklin?) in the cave that he found under his base, so he is throwing the two prisoners at it to see what happens. For him, this is a win-win situation. If Ollie and Tiana get turned into mush or whatever evil spirits can do in this universe, then he can rethink how to approach knowing the results. If Ollie manages to bring back what Reiter wants unharmed, then the Baron can just take it from him. What Sarah and I believe is in the cave is a Mother Box. There are different Mother Boxes with different powers, but what we really hope happens is that the Mother Box that Reiter wants will either make him immortal or able to time travel. This could allow for the best and biggest twist in this season, which is pulling Baron Reiter and Jimmy Akingbola’s amazing acting into the present day storyline. How bad ass would it be if Reiter showed up and killed Darhk making himself the real big bad for the season? I would freak out. I am going to assume that this cave exploration will take an episode to show, then it’ll conclude with Reiter disappearing and Ollie rescuing the slaves and heading to Russia to meet the Bratva. Throw in the Laurel flashback episode and there’s just enough time for all of that goodness before season end.
So Vixen got met with a few mixed reviews this episode, but overall I really loved her. That being said, Mari was a bit weak. When she was out of costume, Mari didn’t really seem consistent in her character compared with the animated version and with herself throughout this episode. She is usually a very strong and sarcastic character. I feel like she had that side to her for most of the episode, but she also showed a very “valley girl” attitude during some of her scenes as well. I get that Mari is a fashion designer and model, but the director should have tried to have Megalyn Echikunwoke hold fast on one personality and stick to it for all of her scenes. They did a great job showing different sides of Mari throughout the episode, I just think they could have done it better. Speaking of different sides… those animal spirits though you guys… amazing job. I really loved how they were able to portray Vixen’s powers exactly like they had animated them in the Vixen series. I came into this episode thinking, if they make Vixen fly I’m going to give her an A+, and they totally did. I think overall they really did Vixen justice. It was fun to see her take on Darhk and really show what a kick ass heroine she is. I am really hoping CW is smart and gives Vixen her own live action show, or at least a full time gig on Arrow. I’d also love to see her appear on The Flash. Since both Barry and Cisco met her in her own series, they already have a link for it. Plus, it would be cool to see Vixen with the cheetah spirit trying to race Barry. It wouldn’t be a contest, but she’s just such a cool heroine and I think CW’s test in building interest for her succeeded.
Overall this episode was pretty good, but I think the lows really hurt the highs. Speedy was definitely a high point in this episode. She didn’t get a lot of screen time, but her actions and choreography this episode were really top notch. Leaning backwards on the moving motorcycle to shoot dudes was awesome, followed by a dismount and immediately taking out two more on foot. I think I’m finally liking Thea’s Speedy over Roy’s Arsenal after this episode. Let’s not forget her confronting an ever darkening Malcolm Merlyn about his lies. Thea has really come into her own character this season. Diggle shared a few great scenes with Oliver showing how well these two bros really know each other. Diggle totally understood why Oliver did what he did, I feel like since Felicity has known Oliver almost as long she should have too. I’m sad that there isn’t going to be an episode the next few weeks. I’ll be looking forward to continuing this slowly ramping up story. Let me know what you are thinking or predicting in the comments below.
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Check out the promo for the next episode below:
There’s no way that this episode of Arrow beat The Flash‘s “King Shark” in my weekly competition between the two shows. Vixen was bad ass, but not gargantuan man-eating shark-man bad ass. All of the special effects during The Flash‘s battles topped Arrow‘s action by a mile so The Flash gets the point. Check out guest writer Jon Reyes’ version of The Flash Zoom-In: King Shark (2×15) here!