The Wednesday, Jan. 20 episode of “Arrow,” 410, “Blood Debts,” is primarily about what Oliver does after Felicity is injured: beat up ghosts and search for Damien Darhk, making some bad decisions along the way. Also, another glimpse into the future yields good news (someone’s not dead!) and bad news (but…).
First things first, the flashbacks continue to be the worst part of “Arrow.” They come at the worst times and slow down the pace of the rest of the episode, making them more annoying than anything, and it’s hard to even care about anyone (does that woman have a name?) or anything in them. Basically, Conklin gets whip-happy, the markings Constantine left on Oliver glow, and Oliver and the woman are thrown into a cell. One or more of those five flashback scenes would have been better served in the present, showing more of Felicity in the hospital, perhaps with Oliver or Donna or Diggle, or another conversation between Oliver and Donna.
Oliver instead spends the majority of the episode hitting the streets and ghosts in search of Damien Darhk. A lead comes when he finds dead ghosts and Anarky’s calling card left behind where Lance met with Darhk, and so finding him becomes the focus. Anarky seems to be one step ahead of them, so in hopes of finding Darhk’s location from him, Oliver tracks him down and holds him prisoner. However, the others disagree with his methods, leading to Laurel giving his location to the police. Oliver then breaks him out of police custody and sends him after Darhk. “You were holding a man prisoner as some personal vendetta,” Laurel argues, and now there’s a murderous psychotic loose. He brings up the very valid point that she did the same thing with Sara, but this doesn’t mean either one of them is right to hold people captive and then risk innocent lives.
Oliver’s plan to track Anarky fails when his tracker does, but they still manage to track him down where he’s holding Darhk’s wife and daughter captive. Because he freed them, after a brief fight, Damien offers the Green Arrow a bit of a reprieve. However, his wife isn’t too happy to hear that. (What else would you expect from someone married to Damien Darhk?) She thinks he should’ve killed the Green Arrow. Genesis is almost ready, and they’re too close to play games. But she’ll get the new beginning he promised her, once they’ve brought this world to its end.
With Anarky back, Thea seems a likely target considering she burned his face off in a “fiery fit of Lazarus rage.” Yes, her bloodlust may have been satiated by Darhk’s touch, but she feels like she’s responsible for the bloodlust that has been awoken in Anarky. But he’s happy about it; he thinks she saved him from himself, burned away his weakness in a “baptism of fire” and sees a part of himself in her. But she’s able to control it, as she proves when she misses on purpose with her arrow, and yes, he escapes, but she’s proven to herself that she’s stronger than she thinks she is. So when better to officially begin a new romance with Alex?
The team’s attempt to locate Darhk leads to Diggle turning to Andy in hopes of getting something from his brother. First, he uses his fists and then, following Lyla’s advice to try to reach out to him as a brother, with his words. Make him see the man who will go to the ends of the earth for the ones he loves, she tells him. “Darhk hurt a friend of mine, a close friend, a woman better than you and me put together,” Diggle tells his brother. (Andy’s intel initially seems to lead down a dead end, but helps when they cross-reference it with Anarky’s tracker.) And the episode ends with Diggle and Andy taking as close a step to normalcy as they can considering the latter is locked in a cage with a game of cards. But if nothing else, the episode showcases one of the best parts of the show: Diggle and Felicity’s friendship. Hurt her, and you have an angry Diggle on your hands, one who doesn’t hesitate even when it comes to his brother.
As for Felicity, after looking wrecked as the doctors work on her when she’s first brought in, Oliver isn’t at her bedside. Instead, the others are there before the latest surgery that will hopefully fix the nerve damage. She’ll be fine, Felicity tries to assure them when the nurse comes to get her. However, when she comes out of surgery, Oliver can’t stay away any longer. “I should’ve been here,” he agrees when Donna asks where he’s been, but he can’t offer her an explanation. The damage to her spinal cord is permanent, she reveals, and Felicity is never going to walk again. Though Oliver is in denial, wanting to call in another doctor, Donna informs him this is the other doctor. And again, Oliver leaves the hospital upon finding out that Anarky was arrested.
When he does finally go to see Felicity with the others continuing to urge him to do so – she needs him, and he needs her, Diggle tells him – he apologizes for not coming by sooner, calling it “unforgivable.” But she knows he’s been out there looking for Darhk and hopes he hasn’t gone off the rails. He can’t help but think that Darhk is winning because he hasn’t been wiling to go far enough, that if he had, she wouldn’t be in there right now, he admits. If he can’t protect the people closest to him, what’s the point of being the Green Arrow? “What is the point of doing it if you lose yourself in the process?” She counters.
However, there’s something else they need to talk about: her diagnosis. She can’t help but wonder if the real reason he hasn’t been there is because of that; after all, they didn’t exchange vows, so “for better or for worse” doesn’t apply. He stops her and takes out her ring, explaining the nurse took it off in the ER. “How dare she,” he says as he puts her ring back where it belongs. “For better or for worse,” he promises her. Still, the focus thus far with this episode is how Oliver’s dealing with what happened to Felicity – going off the rails, electrocuting ghosts, risking having psychotics on the loose – rather than how Felicity’s dealing with it apart from her wondering if Oliver hadn’t been by to see her because he wanted out. Yes, it’s a sweet scene watching him put the ring back on her finger and assuring her he’s not going anywhere, but it should not have taken him that long to go see her. The others made time; he should have for his fiancée too.
“She’s stronger than all of us,” Oliver says of Felicity, even though the others are the ones who go out and risk their lives against assassins and metahumans. And it seems that that strength may be tested given the glimpse into the grave scene four months from now. Oliver joins an upset Felicity in a car and asks if she’s okay. She instead throws the question back at him. No, he isn’t. “You know what you have to do, right?” She tells him, echoing his earlier statement to Barry at the grave about killing “him.” But is “him” Damien Darhk or someone else? And while this is confirmation that Felicity isn’t the one in the grave (signs seem to be pointing to a Lance given recent conversations between and about Laurel and Quentin), she’s not wearing her engagement ring, meaning dark times are ahead for Oliver and Felicity. Is it because she finds out about his son? Does something else happen?
“Arrow” season 4 airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 10 “Blood Debts”?